Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Interactive Spookiness

Call... what is it? Let me tell you some stories, autobiographical ones, so no names will have to be changed to protect the innocent. God talks to people. Not just the folks in the Bible, but folk like you and me. God has talked to me.

As I was finalizing suicide plans my junior year at Penn State, something strange and unexpected occurred: I heard/sensed a communication inside my mind. The words were, "But you haven't given Jesus Christ a shot at your life yet." My suicide plans stopped, and I began to plan a change in direction. Not knowing what else to do, I called my mom who had "gone religious" about six months before, and asked her if I could join her church. A couple of weeks later I marched down the aisle of that Southern Baptist church and publicly confessed Jesus as my Lord.

About a week after getting saved, the most unusual event that has ever occurred in my life happened. This one makes me sound crazy, so I don't often talk about it. Saying it now sets that ship sailing! Jesus showed up in my bedroom as I was praying. I'm convinced he was really there. His presence was so real, powerful, and scary that I jumped on the bed and buried my head under the pillow for fear I would see God and die. I was lost in the experience, but I did get to ask one rational question of him, "How will I know you, how will I know what you want?" He said, "by the Book, you will know me by the Book." That experience is why I believe in the divine inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. Later, in Bible college doctrine was taught that undergirded it, but it's not why I believe it beyond a shadow of doubt. I became a voracious reader of the Word!

I was at North Central Bible College in the cold climes of Minneapolis. My wife and I had dropped our careers, packed up our belongings, and went sight unseen to Minnesota to pursue the call of God on our lives. We had fasted and prayed, sought counsel, and then proceeded to do the exceptionally stupid. We relocated 1100 miles from home, without jobs, with very little money, to an apartment we'd never seen in a city we'd never been to, all in the dead of winter. I was walking home from an evening class, and the weight of it finally came down on me. I called out to God while walking in an alleyway home, "Am I really called, or did I make a big mistake?" His voice spoke to me, "you are called to the ministry of message. I will send you to the hard and broken places." My wife and I finished my preparation and have been following that call ever since.

In February of 1994, I was interceding for my congregation in the auditorium of our facility. I was distracted by my own sense of frustration but was trying to lay hold of God. Suddenly, I was seeing things. Only my wife, and an old pastor friend, know the details of what I saw, it's something I've kept and pondered in my heart. Yet that vision is what has kept me where I am these many years. I have thought about going elsewhere a time or two, but have never been released by God to another vision. It seems a silly thing rationally; "how?" "no way!" are the responses of human logic, but here I am because God speaks to people. He spoke to me.

There have been other instances in my life of his voice invading the spaces of my heart and mind-- directing my course, cluing me in on miracles about to happen, telling me the secrets of some one's heart, comforting me in the journey, telling me what to say.

I am so glad it's not all an academic exercise of literary criticism and philosophy. I'm absolutely relieved it's not a mathematical equation I've been left to figure out. I'm so grateful it's not an entrepreneurial experiment to see what scares up some traffic. God speaks! So here I am, satisfied and at peace, doing what I do in the midst of interactive spookiness.