I have been “walking with the Lord” since May of 1988. He, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, chose that I should choose to follow Him (yes, I believe fully in both divine sovereignty and freewill–call me a “Cal-Minian” if you will). In the time since then, I’ve been a member of/attended the following fellowships:
An Assemblies of God church
A Charismatic church
A Vineyard Christian Fellowship
A Nazarene church
A Seeker-Sensitive church
A Calvary Chapel
And now a “Mega” church
Prior to becoming a Christian, the only exposure I had to “churchy” things was during our annual trek back east to visit family. While there, we went to church because grandma did. It had just about zero relevance to me, an angry kid from a broken home (and to be quite honest, I was far more interested in worshipping at the first church of Hefner).
After I got saved, not knowing a thing about normative Christian experience, I was willing to accept just about anything. Including:
“Sit down here brother Chad. Have you received the Holy Spirit yet?” At the time, I’m not sure that I even knew that there was such a thing as the “Holy Spirit.”
What I wish I’d said then was “Holy Spirit? What’s that? I want one!”
But I didn’t.
“I don’t know, but I sure want to,” I replied. “If it’s from God, I want all of it.”
“All right then. Sit on down.” Six grown men promptly swarmed me like locusts, laying on hands wherever they could find purchase. In loud voices, they demanded–in English–that Jesus give me the “gift of tongues,” because this was the “initial evidence” of the “indwelling,” or somesuch.
Interestingly, the dear brothers then lapsed into something that was not-English–words I couldn’t understand. And like Buddy the “Elf,” I was naïve–naïve, and desperate to fit in. So there I sat. But I’m not sure that I felt anything other than sweaty.
“Brother Chad, are ya feeling something?” someone asked.
“Not sure. What’m I s’posed to feel?”
“Don’t worry ’bout it. Just start muttering–it’ll come.”
I had no idea that this was well outside the bounds of normative Christian experience. I didn’t care: I was hungry to experience all that I thought God had for me. (I’ll leave it to you to guess which church this happened at).
In the time since, I’ve grown more tough-minded, more discerning, and perhaps (in some ways) less open. Overall, I would say this is a good thing, except… I’m less hungry. Somewhere along the way I traded my youthful exuberance in Christ for something that feels less. I’ve become tough-hearted, too. I have an uneasy feeling that there’s more, that I’m missing something.
Like what Jaime, the Very Worst Missionary posted on this week: I want that fire back in my bones. I want that hunger. I want my first love.
Do you know where He is?