THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET
(By: Mary E. Adams)
"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)
I know that I must now spend time to tell you how this all began. No---not with some angelic encounter, but a simple decision to prove the above statement God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah. All the questions, the frustrations and wonderings were put to an end when I set aside one particular morning to take up this challenge. I wanted to know God.
It began while I was seated at the organ in a nominal, Baptist church. I looked up and saw a young man come through the back door, dressed in military fatigues and a parka, but with a guitar slung over his back. At that time, we were living in Alaska...North Pole, Alaska! My husband, Bob, was also in the military and we had left Washington state for this assignment about two years earlier. Both of us had stayed away from church for many years, but concern for our children had convinced us to give them at least a foundation.
There was nothing about this young man that was attractive---indeed, the guitar was disturbing, as we did not allow those instruments to be played in our worship services. And I heard him once or twice say,"Praise God!" when the pastor said something that he apparently agreed with. Many heads turned when he did.
After the service, I noticed he had attracted a crowd of young people at the back of the church and was playing his guitar. I wandered up to them and listened---he was singing about Jesus. I took note that the teenagers were enjoying it. After he finished, I asked him who he was. He introduced himself as "Jim", then began to explain what he was doing.
"I was once in a beer hall down in California. It was hot in the place, so I stepped out the back door to get a breath of fresh air. A couple of my buddies were with me, and as we opened the door, there was a young girl sitting on the steps, playing a guitar just like me. She was singing about Jesus. My buddies began to mock her, and even poured beer on her head. She did not react at all, but continued her singing. After they could not get her angry, they left and I was alone with her.
Finally, she looked up at me and said, "I am about to leave and go to a place where other young people are gathering to worship the Lord. Would you like to come?" I was shocked. "But I am a Catholic" I responded. "It doesn't matter...we just meet Jesus there." And so I went. There I was born again and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit" Jim concluded.
I was not unfamiliar with that term...this was back in the Jesus Movement days, and it was causing a lot of controversy. In fact, just the week before at our regular Wednesday night prayer meeting, the pastor had asked us to pray for a deacon in another church who had 'spoken in tongues' ...something we were not to do apparently.
But Jim kept coming to our church--I could not understand why he did not seek out another place that believed as he did, but I am certain now that perhaps all of this happened just for me.
There was a strangeness about Jim...he never ceased to talk about Jesus. One Sunday evening as we arrived at the church, Jim was sitting on the steps waiting for the church to open. It was about 20 degrees below zero! "Jim! you are going to freeze sitting out here like this!" I said to him. But that statement was completely ignored when he replied,"Oh sister Adams! today I have had such a wonderful time. I have gone from house to house in our little town here. I just knock on doors asking them if I might come inside and sing about Jesus to the little children, and people have let me in all day long." THIS WAS HOW JIM SPENT HIS SUNDAY AFTERNOONS! There never seemed to be an occasion where Jim would talk about any other subject---apparently he was one of those "religious fanatics" I had always been warned about.
But there was something about this young man that bothered me. Why was he so happy?
Weeks went by, and the more I tried to figure him out, the more confused and guilty I became--for here was somebody that seemed obsessed with Jesus. But what could be wrong with that? Weren't we supposed to be that way? There just seemed to be a great conflict between my "religion" and his life in Christ--and indeed there was. The same old nagging questions I had carried with me since childhood.
One day we offered Jim a ride back to his army base. I thought to myself, this would be a good opportunity to find out about this "baptism" he spoke about. And so I asked him. But Jim startled me with his reply, "I will not tell you, but I will give you some scriptures in the Bible that explain it," and he wrote them down on a piece of paper and gave them to me, smiling as he did. The next day I opened my Bible and searched for them. I had never read them before to my knowledge, and two in particular caught my attention:
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost
is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both
in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria,
and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall
they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall
take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall
not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and
they shall recover." (Mark 16:17-18)
Power? Power to witness? I had no power to witness to anyone...I avoided that deliberately, as I did not like religious controversy---I would not even put a tract in anyone's hand! But this Jim--it was something that seemed so natural for him. I was supposedly a "believer," but I did not cast out devils, nor speak with new tongues. And what was this "serpent thing" and drinking deadly things without being hurt? and I had never laid my hands on any sick person before.
Suddenly I had come face to face with scriptures I had never read before--and I was now to either forget it and go on down the road with "religion" or dare to change my life forever...The curtain was mine to close or mine to open wider and wider.
My first idea was to go to my pastor, which I did. After showing him the scriptures Jim had given me, I asked him about them. He turned almost pale, and then replied,"Er-r-r, Mrs. Adams, I will come to your house tomorrow and we will discuss them. Ok?" I nodded, and late the next evening he arrived, sat down and with a serious look on his face said to me, "Mrs. Adams, I know you are a mature enough woman to take what I must tell you---those scriptures do not belong in the Bible." I was so shocked, I was speechless. "You see, the most ancient texts do not include them in the Bible," he explained.
My mind was whirling. But if this was so...why hadn't we been told this before? And how many more scriptures "didn't belong?" Didn't they teach us that the Bible was the complete Word of God? Why have they kept us believing that---yet hiding this secret?
Questions and more questions haunted me all that night---I was in spiritual turmoil....and very disappointed. What was I to do now?
All that night I slept fitfully. I would awaken and wonder at all these events. Why was this question always coming up in my life?
Trying not to wake my husband, I lay there contemplating things. Truly, I did not have power to witness...truly it had never entered my mind that I should cast out a devil---I wouldn't even know how. But yet, I was supposedly a believer. But a believer in what? And then, there was the problem of Jim...he possessed a joy I had never seen in anyone, and certainly did not know in my own heart...a joy that caused him to want to share Jesus more than anything else in life it seemed. And now--the devastating news that the Bible I had been taught to believe in contained statements that were in error. I wept.
The next morning I made a decision. I would settle this once and for all--as soon as my children were off to school and my husband to work, I would take my Bible and go upstairs to my bedroom. There I would prove to myself if there was a baptism in the Holy Spirit--for if there were, I would come out of my bedroom full of the same kind of power that Jim possessed. If not, then there was no such thing and I would drop the matter for good.
And so, when things were set, I went upstairs with my Bible in hand and sat down on the floor and leaned my back against the wall.
Now what was I to do? How did I go about this? Momentarily, I waited. Nothing happened. Oh well...maybe I should just read the Bible. So I opened it---and my eyes fell upon Psalm 6:6:
"I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears."
Suddenly I heard these words in my spirit,"You have never wet your bed with tears for anything you ever did."
I was shocked---and afraid. What was this? Was this God talking to me? And if so, what was He saying to me?
As I thought on those words, a sense of guilt began to rise....I had really never repented to God for anything...in fact, I really had never prayed before. I didn't know how to approach God, to talk to Him. Oh, how frightened I became.
Slowly, I went to my bedside and suddenly, a flood of tears burst forth as I began to unload the heavy weight of sins I had carried for so long. I had not really been saved---just signed a card to become a church member---an unrepentant churchgoer. But in that hour or so, I was emptied completely until there was not another teardrop I could shed. Then I felt something wet on the bedspread...it was my tears! I too had wet my couch with my tears!!
Suddenly what felt like a mantle fell upon me---a mantle of such awesome love and power enveloped me as if I were completely surrounded and caught up in a cloud of glory. I felt accepted, forgiven...I felt so new and alive! I had never known such a glorious feeling of power. I was literally trembling and it lasted for quite some time---until the doorbell rang downstairs.
I ignored it for awhile, but it persisted. WHAT A TIME FOR THE DOORBELL TO RING!
I went downstairs and opened the door. There stood two strange men. The taller one said to me, "We are here to fix your furnace in the basement...your husband put in a work order." Those poor men!...how could they have known that that morning they would knock on the door of a house where a woman has just had an encounter with the Holy Spirit? I must have scared them completely. But as I opened my mouth to reply, nothing came out the way I would have ever said it. I listened to myself talking...but it was not me. These were not MY words! I could not speak except to declare the wonderful works of God...just as had happened on the day of Pentecost to 120 persons in the Upper Room.
They followed me as I led them down the basement stairs, and all the time I am talking about Jesus...
When we arrived at the bottom of the stairs, the taller man said, "You remind me of a preacher that is always trying to get me to church, but I always run when I see him coming."
I can remember my reply, word for word--though they were not MY words: "Sir, no one has ever loved you anymore than that preacher who has a burden for your soul." Suddenly, both men were in tears...and before leaving they said to me, "can we come back for you to tell us more?"
After they left, I was exhausted and limp...still shaking with the power that had come over me. And when I came to myself, then it dawned upon me----He had proved it...the very thing I had required to settle it for all time in my heart: I now had power to witness...just like Jim. Because now I had Jesus and His Spirit within me! No more questions...no more fighting doubts and fears. The matter was settled.
And still is to this very day.
Please click here for Chapter 4
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)