We continue with the great verse from Romans about being filled with the Holy Spirit:
16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
This is a big experience Paul is describing here, so let me list a few of the ways people have reported it.
Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of medieval Christian teachers, had published huge works reasoning from both nature and Scriptures to refute the aggressive Islam of his day and to help sceptical Westerners to believe. And then one day the abstract philosophical writings stopped and he began publishing love songs about God and about the Lord Jesus, lyrics we still sing at communion. When his friends asked him why the big change (it was when he was still at the height of his powers) Thomas said, "I have seen things that have made all my previous writings seem like so much straw."
One day D. L. Moody was preaching and then greeting the people as they left the service. Three elderly women shook his hand and brightly told him they would be praying for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He was a talented and committed guy, so this annoyed him for several days. He realized that something was missing however, partly because he got so annoyed. So he went and asked them to keep praying. About a month later he was walking down Wall Street when suddenly the love of God for him became so overwhelming that eventually he had to ask God to stop because he felt he was going to fall flat on the street if God kept loving him so.
As she lay dying, Mrs. Hugh Bryan (we don't know her first name) a person converted by Whitfield, called out, "I see HIm! I see Him! Now I see light!" Then later she called out, "I have seen things that would not be believed if told. Who would die without Christ?"
In fact these testimonies of the visit of the Holy Spirit assuring our own hearts that God loves us as His children fill volumes and keep being shared today. Each visit is a gift and is different. This experience can happen again and again to the same person, but there's no formula for it. Last night I was called to the hospital where a fabulous elderly woman was lying. Her knee had been replaced and wasn't healing well, her dog had died, her cat had died, and she had just broken her arm. She was in such pain she spoke of wanting to go to the Lord. Others had scolded her for wanting to give up and die. I just looked at her and let our eyes gaze easily into each other and said I understood. And then I told her how good it was that she had her hope of being with the Lord. And joy filled us both, and the Holy Spirit assured her that she was the daughter of God and would always be well.
People who experience the visitation of the Holy Spirit don't stay on some high. But they remember the moments when He comes with such tenderness and power. The first time this happened to me I was in a seminary chapel, listening to a sermon I didn't espeically like. My father had died a few years earlier and I had been pondering that a lot with the help of a counsellor. The death had happened when I was 16 and most of the grief had gone unexpressed for about 10 years. The preacher mentioned something about fathers, and suddenly I became just flooded with an awareness of the Father's care and love for me. I've remembered that moment ever since, and I know that it was the reason God called me to the whole seminary experience -- because He had something He wanted to tell me and that is what it took for me to hear Him.
Jesus urges us to ask and seek and knock until God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. I think this is why. When the Spirit testifies to us, then our being is warmed by His love, just as the skin on our arm is warmed by the sun coming through the window. He spent His whole life moving with freedom and grace because He was fully opened to Abba Father, and He wants for our hearts to know the same love. So ask and seek and knock, as I still do these thirty five years later.
-- Jan Dadák Tel: +420 530 334 630 Mobil: +420 731 576 030 web: www.jandadak.com