I’m starting to wonder if God had the whole thing planned.
Yesterday I posted my blog article about “courtesy falls”, which mostly had been written over the weekend. It got quite a lot of traffic, mostly from lurkers as few actually commented on it in my social networks.
Late Sunday afternoon however, Shaun Wissmann, who I work closely with in teaching the sessions in our Oikos ministry school on a daily basis called me to tell me he’d been very sick and didn’t foresee being able to teach at all the next day. He was going to be taking the first two sessions on prayer, and tag-teaming with me on the third session. I would now need to come up with enough to teach for basically all morning.
No worries, I thought. I’ll come up with something, but mostly I’ll just pray, ask God to help me, and share what I do and how I pray.
Yesterday morning I got up a little earlier than usual, spent some time in communion with Holy Ghost asking Him what He’d have me do, made some notes as I usually do only to realize I was running a little late in the end and wound up being late for our daily prayer meeting at Mark and Anna Burgess’ house. We pray every day at 8:30 but Mondays we take a full hour, in case you want to come join.
I stood at the door ringing the buzzer for about 5 minutes with no answer because, as I could hear from the inside, they were in loud worship. I sent my fiancee Lili a text asking her to open the door. When I got no answer, I gave up and went back home. I thought to myself, I guess I have an hour extra to prepare for today’s classes then.
Knowing how unprepared I still felt, I went into my office, posted my blog article to Facebook, checked a few things, closed the laptop and lay on my face in prayer asking God to give me something for today. I don’t like wasting peoples’ times so “winging it” was not an option for me.
When it was time to get going, I went back over to Casa Burgess to get my white board and dry erase markers, and the students were coming out the door with smiles, looking forward to the day I guess. That’s when Mark saw me from inside his living room.
“Oh Steve, just to warn you, you’re going to have a lot of questions about the Holy Spirit today. So, you’re going to be thrown a bit of a curve ball.” he told me.
I was actually relieved to hear this. I can talk about Holy Spirit. That’s easy. Taking only four hours, that’s hard.
“That’s not really curve ball to me, though”. I responded, to Mark’s contagious laughter.
“No, seriously. We had a wild time in prayer today! Some shaking, some falling. Some laughing like they’re drunk.”
I can’t remember what Mark said after that, but I think it was something like “you’ve got your work cut out for you.”
I immediately found it ironic as I had just posted the blog I did on shaking, falling and pushing people in order to force things to happen in meetings which I hate seeing ministers do.
It’s Never Who You Expect
So I walk into the first floor apartment where the six students and usually us two teachers meet. I explained that Shaun wasn’t coming and that Mark had told me to ask them about the morning prayer meeting. A few of the more vocal and extroverted students were more than happy to tell me that, basically, some of them behaved like drunks while receiving prayer. When they told me who the main culprit was, I was a little excited as it was our quiet and unassuming Saida. That alone was enough for me to realize God must have been doing something.
The conversation immediately shifted towards questions about being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.
Well, this is going to be a lot of fun! I’m supposed to talk about prayer today, so great, I can easily talk all morning about praying in the Spirit.
I facetiously shut the door and told them nobody was leaving until they all spoke in tongues. I was kidding of course.
I had them all to stand to their feet, encouraging them that we were going to experience a fresh touch from the Holy Spirit and that they can expect to start speaking in tongues in moments.
I’m always careful to not try to “prime the pump” and manipulate, and I just encourage people to close their eyes, and just praise God. Thank Him for providing His Spirit. I will go into my methods and how I encourage believers at this stage on another occasion, but suffice it to say, some of them started to sing in tongues.
Then, to my surprise — in that not-really-kind-of-way that God likes to do unpredictable things — one of them started dancing and singing things joyfully. I was thrilled to see this because the man doing this wept in my arms on Friday after sharing with Shaun and I about how he knew he needed to forgive his father for abandoning him very early in life. I saw him in one state being touched by the Holy Spirit in a way that was bringing deep hurts to the surface just a few days ago, and today was now…in an almost ecstatic joy as the Lord touched Him in a profound way again.
Of course there was more laughter, joy and a lot of tongue singing.
Joy and Laughter Uncontrollable
I didn’t plan for any of this, but it sure is fun when Holy Ghost bubble baths like this happen.
We segued into talking about the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 14:13-18 that he’d sing and pray with his understanding, as well as sing and pray with his spirit. So I used the idea of praying in the Spirit without understanding, and that the Lord’s Prayer is a good model of the kinds of things we can be praying for with our understanding.
That’s when Saida shared that while we were praying for her, she felt a fire on her head (ha!) and had a vision about a forest with this specific tree that had very bright green leaves, and a raging river started to manifest that had so much water coming towards her she couldn’t hide from it. This immediately helped us springboard into Psalm 1 which reads:
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
This immediately helped reinforce prayer being like ‘sinking our roots’ down in God and drinking from the river, which we then got from Luke 6:
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
As I try typing this out in a blog post, it feels like I’m trying to make an atomic bomb go off inside a soup can. The flow of revelation into these passages, in a completely unplanned and spontaneous way I think really encouraged us all, especially in light of her vision that provoked this discussion for the rest of our session.
In no time it seemed the class ended. And to think at 8:45 am this morning I was laying on my face prostrate before the Lord putting this class completely in His hands so as to not lean on my own strength or understanding.
I can get up and teach. But the Holy Spirit can manifest intensely and educate. I like stepping aside and letting Him do a better job than I ever could.