The Holy Spirit lives within you as you trust in Christ as your savior as we highlighted in last weeks thoughts. Moreover, the Holy Spirit is a real presence, active in guiding and leading your life. Have you experienced palpable Holy Spirit reality?
Several times in my life I have felt the Holy Spirit very actively working in my life. A little background first. I grew up in a home where although my parents had taken me to church as a little child, social schedules became too busy to continue. Perhaps alcohol, business and dementia also were contributors to a pretty godless upbringing. It was not until I was 42 years old, married with two sons and actively pursuing my career as a hospital CEO, did I experience the first such blessing.
I was driving home from my work as CEO of a troubled hospital in the UP of Michigan. It was after midnight and in a typical mid-winter blizzard near Lake Superior. I was exhausted and had not been home for three weeks. My efforts at turning the hospital around some 14-16 hours a day was taking its toll. I was drinking too much and my judgment was getting impaired as well. I knew something needed to change. It was then through the snow that the word of God came through to me on the only radio station I could pick up, telling me of God’s grace and forgiveness. With tears in my eyes, I knelt in front of the car headlights in in a couple of feet of snow, confessed my sin and need to God, and received God’s gift of salvation through his grace. Immediately I felt a warm embracing power throughout my body. I was lifted to a place of great joy for the remainder of my long ride home. My journey had begun.
Nearly 15 years ago, after moving from the front office to bedside in hospitals, while finishing seminary, I experienced my next Holy Spirit immersion. As earlier indicated, I did not have a very warm and loving environment. My mother was an alcoholic and my father was a senior executive also very active in non-profit boards. Achievement was important for him and therefore me. He was only 9 years old when his father, a business leader had committed suicide jumping off the roof of his factory. He had no modeling. He did most generously provide for my private schooling through graduate school.
One predawn morning as I did my devotions in the basement, I felt an overwhelming presence of God as the Holy Spirit wrapped himself around me. It was as if strong and powerful arms had lovingly embraced and lifted me off the floor, holding me for what seemed more than 15 minutes. I felt the love of God, the Father, intimately for the first time. A love filled me that transcended all earthly understanding and experience.
Perhaps the most amazing experience I describe in my book, “Great is God’s Faithfulness.” In 2000 I lay in my bed, soaking wet with a temperature of 103 for over two weeks. My joints ached torturously, I could not move. I had lost 30 pounds. My whole body and soul writhing in pain, wasted from an unknown illness. I was told that I was dying by the Doctors at the University of Virginia Medical Center, and they didn’t know why or what to do. An empirical (experimental) high dose of the antibiotic Cipro caused an allergic reaction that violently overwhelmed all my senses into darkness. Now three weeks into my illness, unable to eat or sleep or speak intelligibly, lying in my fever-soaked clothes, I felt like the Psalmist in Psalm 22,or even Jesus on the cross, “Why
have you forsaken me?” Then in the middle of the night I cried out Psalm 103:1-4, “Bless the Lord oh my soul and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases, and redeems your life from the pit and fills you with love and compassion...” Darkness was filled with light, trembling ceased, a warm sensation, like hot oil moved from my head to feet, my fever broke as God’s Words were uttered in despair. God had healed me miraculously. Within moments as I lay in awe with the pow- erful presence of the Holy Spirit I knew that I was healed completely. His promises and provision are perfect. Tears of joy filled my eyes as I shouted to my wife and we praised the One who had not forsaken me. Later I was told that the bite of an almost microscopic Deer Tick had brought the deadly combination of Lyme’s Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and Ehrlichios that would have probably taken my life had not God intervened. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Two years ago a forth wonderful healing experience of Holy Spirit power came to me in the midst of depression and a very difficult pastoral experience helping lead my church. I have previously written on this experience of being a staff pastor when our church imploded and three of the four pastors were forced out. The trauma of the turmoil was more than I could handle. I ministered to broken people daily and lead in worship and funerals. At a point of despair, on Pentecost morning, a miraculous intervention of the Spirit took place again. During the service as Acts 2, concerning the Holy Spirit was read, I was again embraced by warmth from head to toe. God’s love and healing coursed through me. My body broke out in profuse sweating, right through my clothes. I was in ecstasy. God had healed me. I was filled with joy, a joy that has not stopped since. I have felt a sense of God’s presence and guidance in ministry as a hospital chaplain when seeing patients. I have experienced special guidance while teaching and preaching at the hospital and church. His counsel and illumination of word and action has made it clear that God is leading me. I am daily submitting to his care and strength.
I do not tell of these miraculous interventions of the Holy Spirit to say that I am someone special, other than being one of his beloved children. No two people experience God’s love and power in the same ways. Yet, he is still actively healing and leading. May He be praised.