Sabbath Evenings – Holy Spirit Hunting
Today the Church celebrates the ancient festival of Pentecost, the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Jesus – the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples and to the church. I look forward to it every year as I would a birthday party. Confetti, please. Jesus has now left one place (the earth) to be present in believer’s hearts. Astounding!
[The prayer]: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.
[A Scripture]: “Electrifying! This first Pentecost was like no other! The wait in Jerusalem was over – the disciples received the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of empowerment as they spread the Good News ‘to the ends of the earth'”(Acts 1:8,GNT).
[What to wear to the party]: Why, red of course!
And now, for a little story.
A long time ago . . . once upon a time . . . when I was much younger . . . about 19 . . . I began a Holy Spirit hunt. I wanted to have an Acts 2.32 experience: tongues of fire, ferocious winds, and being caught up by the Spirit’s power. This hunt was not uncommon. The era of the charismatic movement was in full swing. Christians were seeking the Holy Spirit as though he had just recently been introduced into Christianity. Beloved christian friends who were a part of the movement thought that my life was void of the Holy Spirit. I questioned their assumption at first, but I also noticed they seemed to be nicer and more loving people than me, and besides that – they talked about Jesus like He was their best friend. Curious and eager to be like my friends, my hunt for the Holy Spirit began. Here’s my “personal “Acts 2.32” account:
First, I got alone in my bedroom. Pushed everything out of my way so I could lay completely horizontal, flat on my back with arms spread out. I relaxed and readied myself for the Holy Spirit’s descent [the carpeted floor was quite comfy]. I figured the ancient church’s mantra of “Come, Holy Spirit and fill the heart of your faithful one“ would be a good prayer to get the process moving along, so I prayed: “Come, Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, come. Spirit of the Holy God, come..” [Did you know that back in the 70’s ceilings were painted and texturized with sparkly stuff? This fascinates and distracts me for a moment]. I counted multiple spider webs and what appeared to be floating tissue dangling from the corners of my room. Symbols of the Holy Spirit? No. Just webs. [When was the last time I cleaned my room?]
Where was this fierce Holy Spirit I was hunting? Hmmmm. A different prayer this time, and I’ll do it in three [to symbolize the Trinity]:
“Come! Come! COME! Holy Spirit!” Silence. Nothing.
I turned over on my side. The horizontal position may be a bit presumptuous upon the Holy One of Israel – I’ll avert my face a bit. I tried praying every biblical number of “Come, Holy Spirit” that came to mind: 3, 4, 7, 9, 12, 24 [but not 6, for that is an unholy number]. More dust. I was getting fidgety and feeling stupid. [Thank goodness no one was home].
I rolled over to lay completely prostrate. Nose on the floor. Palms down. Surely, this must be the most humble I could be before my LORD. Again, nothing. “Holy Spirit, I am here, where are you?” A few more minutes of tapping my fingers on the floor, breathing in the ever-present dust, and muttering my mantra ended in a huff. I had given the Spirit 10 whole minutes to create a windy wildfire in my room – like He had in the Upper Room with the disciples. Enough. I’m done. I’ll hunt later. Maybe a different plan. [I guess I’ll clean my room now].
What was my restless hunting all about? And why all the formulaic fuss on the floor to rouse the Holy Spirit’s attention? And what did I expect, anyway? Was I really missing the third person of the Holy Trinity after all these past 19 years we had spent together following His entrance into my heart through baptism? “Holy Spirit, isn’t this Your job? Don’t you make sure that if I seek, you’ll move heaven and earth to meet me here on this floor right here—right now and turn me on to being a vibrant Christian?” Confusion set in. I felt embarrassed, disappointed, and frustrated.
Thirty-plus years later, I look in on that day with a certain ambivalence. I wanted what my friends had, yet I knew the Holy Spirit had always been present in my life. It would take several more years for me to come back to the Bible and seek truth in my Holy Spirit hunting. In the years following my “bedroom experience,” mostly in college, I positioned myself as an elitist Christian, possessing something only for the “truly” Spirit-filled. I tasted the life of charismania. Sadly, along the way, I judged, hurt and alienated many Christian friends and family and gave them the message that I had once been given: “Your life is void of the Holy Spirit.” What I had searched for was not working.
So, what was my hunting all about? Finally, it was about acceptance. A little surprising, isn’t it? I wanted to be accepted by Christian people that I was indeed a Holy Spirit filled Believer. I have replayed this scenario over and over even into my marriage and as a Pastor’s wife. I am still learning and struggle every now and then – but my heart knows and believes that Jesus has accepted me completely. He taught me this by the Holy Spirit through His word (Romans 15.7)
“Holy Spirit, I get it now. The truth is it was not me hunting for you—it was You hunting for me.”