How I came to experience the Holy Spirit

Behind the facade of the elaborate theatrical setup, the extravagant set display, and the concert-style lights and smoke, the Pentecostals gathered together praying “in tongues” and calling on the Holy Spirit to fill the theatrette before the worship began.

It seems to me that unlike the popular misconceptions that the traditional churchgoers hold about the Pentecostals (Christians who emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit and the direct experience of the presence of God), the Pentecostals seem to be able to worship the way they are known for in every and any setting they are in.

Coming from a traditional Chinese Christian background (I was brought up in a Methodist Church and had my faith confirmed in an Anglican Church), I’ve had little experience when it comes to “encountering” the Holy Spirit, let alone experiencing healing and miracles. And when it comes to my understanding of the Charismatic and Pentecostal movement, my mind was filled with pre-conceived biased opinions about the Charismatic worship methodology.

Over time, it became clear to me that in order for me to uncover the truth, I’ve got to venture deep into Pentecostalism and experience the “touch of the Holy Spirit” (or to be “soaked” in the Holy Spirit as most put it) myself.

By the grace of God, God have placed a handful of Spirit-filled pastors in my life who patiently guided me in the truth about the Holy Spirit. Through patiently answering deep-seated questions about the human Spirit, to patiently guiding my heart and my Spirit to desire for Spiritual Gifts. Through opening the doors for me to attend their Bible Colleges, to giving me the opportunity to serve alongside them. I’m beginning to have my heart and mind opened to the realm of the Unseen.

I was a skeptic when it came to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I used to question the act of falling when the Pentecostal pastor lay their hands on Believers to receive the Holy Spirit. I doubted the ability to speak in tongues and figured that it must be some meaningless tongue exercise. And this skepticism did not change overnight.

One thing did change, though. When I opened my heart to accept the work of the Holy Spirit, I had to constantly tell myself that I cannot harbour any thought of biasness or prejudices against the movement. I’ve to put my preconceived understanding of the “self” down and re-evaluate the make-up of the “self”. On a deeper level, I have to ponder about the existence of the Spirit and how it differs from the soul. After all, it is in the Spirit that our worship to the Lord is pleasing to God. [1]

It took me many months of prayers and preparing my heart before God answered my prayers and open my eyes to the tip of the iceberg. In fact, after I opened my heart to participate in Pneumatological class (the study of the Holy Spirit), it took me an entire week before my heart was right before the Lord.

Then it all changed.

I overcame all barriers and lifted my hands during worship. I closed my eyes as the chorus repeated in a seemingly never-ending cycle. There was a certain wind that seems to circle round my arms (there was no fan, only the standard central air-condition). There was a force that came from above, wrapping my arms, and my head. My feet begin to ache as my body begin to feel as if it weighs 2 times its weight. My sole grew numb.

Flashes of visions that I had in the past reappeared before me. Nightmares that kept me awake when I was a child. Visions for the future? I do not know. But tears begin rolling down my cheeks. Images of people whom I’ve not forgiven appeared. So did the acts that they did that hurt me. I clenched my fist.

“Fight the battle within; break every bond. Forgive all who have hurt you, cut away all the hurt that you’ve had. Christ has given us freedom,” the pastor proclaimed.

An unexplainable pain and sadness came upon me. There was seemingly no words to describe the feeling that I had. No words at all. All that I could manage was a sigh. A sigh that came from within. A sigh that arises from the depth of the heart.

Then, my tongue begin to shake at every breath I exhale. No, it only happens when I sigh; when I exhale [3].

“Da da da da da…”

The movement of the tongue accompanied by the air I exhaled caused me to unknowingly utter my first “words” in tongues.

I got it…! Worship, as it should be, ought to be free. It is the connection between our Spirit and the Holy Spirit. It is the praising of God through the groaning of the Spirit that is too deep for words. It is the complete putting down of one’s self and coming before the Lord in our most natural self. And forgiveness isn’t about forgiving others by one’s own will but by the reliance on the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Music, set, lighting — These tools are but secondary to worship. The Pentecostals do not need these. They worship God, freely, with the added tool of engaging the Spirit’s help to intercede through tongues. And through tongues, they have opened the gates to the Spiritual empowerment to accomplish things they otherwise couldn’t.

And in my humble opinion, this is the Christianity that I know. A faith that is built upon the foundation of divine miracles. We, Christians, rest our faith on a living-breathing God who works miracles for His glory. As for the Church? It’s not just a religious organisation. It’s an Institution that is unlike any other. It’s an embassy for a Kingdom which powers are far greater than anything within the conceivable universe!

Praise be to God.

Footnotes:

[1] – God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. — John 4:24, ESV.

[2] – Likewise, the Spirit helps us in ur weaknesses. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. — Romans 8:26, ESV.

[3] – Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, is a “natural language” unknown to the speaker. Glossolalia, is also known as “tongue language”.

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