The service was over; the prayer lines processed. Jacob left the piano. Most of the men had left the room and gone to lunch. I was still on the floor and Gene waited quietly on a chair beside me. I was not held there by any physical force of the Spirit. I knew I could get up and leave that moment behind any time I wanted to. But I didn’t want to.
Gradually, the intensity of the meeting faded. The shaking and sobbing subsided, and I rested in the sweet and quiet presence for some time. God did not go away, but he released me. I was physically drained, but euphoric. I sat up and looked at Gene. He smiled. He knew that it was good. We stood and hugged and silently made our way to lunch. Gene didn’t press with any question, he just waited for me to find a few words.
My memory of the rest of that day is a blur. Gene and I sat at a picnic table and talked for a long time. There were two more services. In the evening, someone told of unusual manifestations of the Spirit and showed us ziploced specimens of gold, and feathers, and gemstones God had deposited at other gatherings. The skeptic in me had been subdued, and I told Gene “Doesn’t surprise me at all.”
God had taken the trouble to spend some time with me alone. He had allowed me an intimate glimpse of his heart. I felt the affection that he has for his children – his tenderness and kindness. The little gifts displayed that evening no longer seemed bizarre. God had surprised me. I expected more surprises. I would no longer decide what was appropriate for him to do.
He came to our hotel that night and gave me a dream. The first certain God-dream I think I ever had. I crept to the bathroom where I could write it down without waking Gene. The dream had several scenes and I didn’t understand how they related. Back in bed, God spoke again, connecting the pieces and giving me a clear interpretation of the dream. Wow!
Sunday morning came. We finished up the conference and drove home and I wondered what it would all mean. What had really happened? Was it really God? Would the joy and fire inside me be extinguished by the everyday stuff? Could I return to that place?
That last question seemed a critical one. For several days, I would slip away alone and try to return there. I would put on some music, get on the floor, cry out, wait… and nothing would happen. I couldn’t even get some tears to come. It was discouraging – and reassuring. I could not reproduce that moment at will, but God would visit again many times. A line of scripture; a few words of a song. Sometimes with a new glimpse of his heart, his ways. Sometimes just that feeling of sacredness and power in his presence. Sometimes when I least expected it. And sometimes when I most needed it. And every time, tears would come.
I wrote the letter to my sister. She wrote back. The first steps were taken on a path of healing of our relationship. Our friendship today is a treasure to me.
I began to read the Bible with new eyes. My beliefs didn’t change – I just believed them now. Many passages made sense for the first time. Paul and Peter and John wrote of the things they had experienced in God, but they had been cliché to me. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God.” It was not Paul’s vague imagining; it was something that had happened to him. Now, it had happened to me as well.
Paul told other stories that now aroused my appetite. “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven…” Maybe that sort of thing was not just for apostles. Maybe it could happen to me someday. All things seemed possible now.