Today is my oldest son’s 28th birthday. Happy birthday, Jared! I love you so much!
I worked at a mall in a retail clothing store while I was pregnant with Jared. One night on the bus ride home from work, a girl around my age struck up a conversation with me. She also worked at one of the clothing stores in the mall. I don’t remember how the conversation steered itself in the direction of church, but she ended up inviting me to go to her church with her on Sunday.
I can’t remember a time of not knowing who God was and loving him deeply. I did not learn about God in church, as my family were not regular attendees. There was an Easter service from time to time, an occasional stint at a vacation Bible school, and one horrific week at a church camp while I was in my early teens. My mom just gave me the rundown on God, heaven, and prayers when I was a little girl, and that was plenty good enough to kick start my love affair with Jesus.
Most of my friends were Catholic, and I was kind of jealous of their beautiful churches and their church picnics in the summer where everyone was allowed to get drunk; the kids, the priest, the clown… I think the nuns were the only ones who kept their wits about them.
Sometimes I felt a little embarrassed that we didn’t go to church and that we weren’t Catholic. Our family laid claim to the Methodist religion but we were never members of any particular church. I believe my lack of affiliation to a denomination turned out to be more blessing than curse. My relationship with God was exactly that, a relationship. I didn’t just go visit him on Sunday at the church down the road. My mom taught me that He was with me always and that He would always take care of me.
My relationship with God had gotten a little distant by the time I met this girl on the bus. I had taken a “walk on the wild side” and my life was bearing the fruit of being out in the world and “dancing with the devil”. So like many of us who get caught up in a sinful lifestyle, I kind of shut God in a closet, (yeah right), and hoped he could just turn a blind eye to my mischief. I didn’t bother him with my problems, as I knew I had brought them all on myself. I did still love Him with all of my heart, I would pray for others, I would pray for my unborn child, and I would cower with shame in His presence because I knew He had to be just sick with how I was living my life.
I made it to church that Sunday with my new friend, Teri. She warned me it was kind of a wild church but that it was actually pretty awesome if given a chance. She had recently just started going herself. Like me, she had been hitting Green Bay’s 80s disco scene pretty hard herself. She lived in the same apartment complex that many of the single Packer players lived in. I was surprised that we hadn’t met sooner at one of their parties. We may have, we both laughed, but were probably too drunk at the time to remember one another. Her parents had finally got her to see the “error of her ways”, and she had been going to church with them for a few weeks.
The service was lively, nothing like the Catholic or Methodist services I had been to. I loved the music, with the guitars and keyboards. It was kind of like the music in the bars, except the lyrics were about God.
At the end of the service, the pastor asked if anyone would like to come up and give their life to Jesus. I thought this was a strange request. I was thinking that if these people were in church that was probably a good indicator that they had some type of a relationship with Jesus. I looked around the room thinking maybe there was a visiting coven of witches attending, and, perhaps, the Pastor was chiding them to lay down their broom sticks and love God instead.
Three or four people trickled up to the alter. The pastor prayed with them and they started bawling their heads off, I looked over to Teri and we both gave each other a look, like what in the world? What kind of sin did these people commit that they are carrying on like that, writhing on the floor, carrying on and on? We were feeling pretty bad about our drunken, promiscuous ways, but man, these folks up there must have killed someone, we were thinking.
Actually, they were repenting, we came to find out. If I remember right, (we later would become friends with them), I don’t think they were even out in the world acting up as bad as Teri and I had been.
After church, a group of us, including the Pastors, went over to Teri’s parents house for lunch and what they referred to as “fellowship”. It was there that the Pastors took me aside and explained the whole Salvation thing and I found out there was a little more to this God relationship thing than I had previously thought. They explained to me what the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was as well, and I received this free gift from God, along with Salvation on that Sunday in May, in 1984.
I will never forget how that felt. To this day, it goes down in my history as being the most powerful, and most important moment in my life. To be filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit, is to be filled with the Hope of Heaven on Earth. God’s Grace was now upon me.
Nineteen eighty-four was a big year for me. Some of the worst things happened to me that year but also the best things happened to me that year as well. I am so glad I met the Holy Spirit that Spring, and that He has been living inside of me for 28 years now.
And my son, Jared, he was living inside of me, too, that year. He was inside of me when the Holy Spirit moved in.
It was 28 years ago today that the 2nd most powerful moment occurred in my life. I became a mother! I met my perfect son, Jared, who was born that day, just 3 months after his mother had been Born Again…