Holly, over at CrownLaidDown, has been sharing events and lessons from her life and I have really enjoyed reading them. I started thinking about some events that happened a few years ago that changed my way of thinking.
Here is a little story that took place about 4 years ago.
I have know for a long time that I wanted to go places in my relationship with God that others might not want to go or even know they could go. I want to do whatever it takes to end my life like -- Fanny Crosby, Corrie Ten Boom, Mary Slessor.
God sent me a friend who could handle my strange way of thinking. Her name was Tracy and we were brought together because we were members of the Maw Maw Club (this is a whole other story). Tracy and I spent hours talking about things of the Lord. Reading books by people who wanted to go further in their understanding of God. People who were using the gifts God gave them no matter what others said.
We were on a journey to see beyond what others were satisfied with. Part of that journey led us to the Brownsville Revival in Pensacola, Florida. It was an amazing experience. That was the first time I sat in a service and felt the overwhelming presence of God. We arrived at 7:00 and before we knew it three hours had passed and we felt like we had just gotten there.
It was incredible. I wanted more.
Next, while watching T.V, I became aware of a woman named Juanita Bynum. She was a Prophetess. This was new territory for this Baptist girl. Not that I did not believe in these gifts-but I had not seen it in action.
Now I do want to say that you have to be careful to test the spirits. I don't believe that every one who claims to be acting in Jesus name, actually is.
Tracy's husband used to give us a hard time about our crusade to go beyond where others were going. He said if we were not careful we would be attending services where they were cutting the heads off chickens. (A little reminder of the Voodoo practiced in the southern part of our area)
He was joking of course-- but whenever we said we were going to a new event he would say we were going to cut the heads off some chickens. It became our joke.
We decided to take a trip to Florida to see Juanita Bynum in person. We saved our money and bought tickets and took a trip that would change my life.
We arrived in Florida and checked into our hotel and dressed in our white. The conference had asked that on the first night we all where to dress in white. When we arrived there were thousands of women all dressed in white. It was to be a sign before the Lord that we were coming before Him pure.
Juanita asked that we fast from several things during the days of the conference-we did. God was dealing with Juanita about the Old Testament Tabernacle. On the stage were several life size pieces of the Tabernacle. She taught on the brazen altar and how the sacrifice was tied to the altar. It should be a symbol to us that we were to offer ourselves up as a sacrifice daily and that there would be times we would want to get off the altar. It was a time of rich teaching.
The pieces of the temple has been done by an artist who built them according the the Biblical specifications. It was very moving to see these items as they would have been.
In the back of the stage was a huge curtain-like the one that would have blocked off the Holy of Holies. After she taught on the other pieces she began to talk about wanting to go into the Holy of Holies and how after salvation the pure of heart could go there. There was so much involved in this session -- I would have loved to have had recorded the whole session.
There were several singers this weekend but only on who stood out, her name was Vicki Yohe. She was incredible. I wish I could remember the name of the song she sang--it was about running to the mercy seat. It took all my control to stay in my seat. But many of the women--driven by the presence of the Spirit, went to the front of the arena. Like an altar in a church--the front of the stadium became an altar for hundreds of women seeking the Lord.
I need to digress just a little to fill in the story details.
Before the evening started Tracy and I sat in our seats in the balcony looking over the edge wishing we had gotten there early enough to be on the floor.
There were three seats open next to me, and as I was looking over to the stairs I saw a hostess signaling me to save the seats for three women she was sending my way. I nodded my acknowledgment just before two other women asked if the seats were open. I told them that they were taken. One woman was a little more than upset. The three young black women moved into their seats and we all sat waiting for the evening to begin--no words were exchanged.
Now back to the story.
I sat watching the women below. All lost in the presence of the Lord as we worshiped Him with songs of praise. I needed to feel the presence of the Lord. Like the blind man on the side of the road, I did not want to be passed my. I held out my hands and asked to be allowed to feel His hands in mine or at least His presence. Tracy sat quietly by my side praying and on the other side the three young women sat praying also.
All of a sudden the young woman close to me jumped up and started flailing around.
Now, you have to know my back ground of straight laced Baptist--it could have been a really distracting situation. I could have sat there in judgment--but I did not. I thought, well she is being touched by God in the way she is used to.
Her friends moved in between her and me--she had bumped me , and maybe they were trying to stop and further unnecessary contact. They also were trying to make sure she was aware of the railing--we were in the second riser. Surprisingly, none of it was bothering me, I was really pouring my heart out to God. Soon things calmed down and the young girl moved back into the seat by me.
I sat there with my hands held out asking God just to touch me--even if it was just to place His hands in mine.
I felt the young lady next to me touch my arm--thinking she wanted to apologize for bumping me-- I turned to her. What happened in the next few minutes I will never forget.
As I turned to her she reached out and wrapped her arms around me. I hugged back, to be polite and sweet--she was my sister in Christ as far as I knew --so why not.
When I reach out for her I can not fully explain what happened.
The first voice I heard was not audible--it was in my head. This is what I heard.
"You asked for my hands, I am giving you my arms."
I started sobbing. I should have been embarrassed to be crying on the shoulders of a seemingly complete stranger--instead I felt awash by complete peace and love. A calmness that was almost like a cape had dropped down over my entire body. I don't know how long I cried while she just held me. These are the next words I heard in an audible voice.
"I have not passed you by. I am here. You will be given a ministry of reconciliation."
It was over then. We turned in our seats and held hands for a long time as we joined the others in the songs they were singing.
The session closed in prayer and the girls got up and left--I did not see them again the rest of the conference.
I sat there not wanting to talk or move. The presence of the glory of God was so heavy in the room that you could barely breathe. Never before had I experienced the glory of the Lord manifested that way. We moved out into the hallway to sit--many women sat around with the same dazed expression on their faces. It was as if we had all been drugged. It was very quiet. No one wanted to talk. Maybe we thought we could hold on to the presence of the Lord if we kept quiet.
I sat against the wall and begin to write down all of the events of the evening so that I would not forget them. Later I would want to be able to ponder the words that had been spoken to me by Jesus.
It would take a few years before I understood what a ministry of reconciliation meant. I'll save that explanation for another time.
Thank you for coming with me on my journey down memory lane. God brought up these memories two days ago while I was reading another sisters blog.
If you have any experiences with God that you would like to share-- I would love to read them.
Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever more.
He is an awesome God not confined to our boxes or expectations.
It is important to take all experiences to the word of God--no word from God will ever contradict the Holy written word of God.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org