Since today is Easter, I thought I’d post something from my journal this time last year. Happy Easter everyone.
6 April 2012
It was nearly Easter and my church decided to go on a retreat during the long weekend. I wasn’t planning on going, since none of the people whom I was well acquainted with were going. But then I was told that I was part of the fundraising committee for the event, so as to be able to subsidize the student fees (apparently I have always been one who can never decline requests). Honestly, part of me was reluctant because I thought that I would be doing all this for people that I didn’t even really know, but another part of me loved participating in such things. And so the biggest part of me won––the part that made me a perfectionist, which made sure that I put in extra effort to reach the target. And so week by week our schedules were crammed with bake sales and setting up stalls in UNSW and the Glebe Markets to sell off our used clothes.
To cut things short, weeks passed and we did not reach the target. Yes, it was disappointing, considering the effort that we had put in, but I realised that it was well worth it. And I thought to myself, if I had contributed that much effort into making this thing happen then shouldn’t I be joining in on all the fun? Yes, you’re probably thinking that that was a very selfish thought, but that is the simple truth. And so I decided, I’m going to camp.
I have to say that I made the right decision joining the retreat. I got to know a lot of new people who have been so warm and welcoming, who I can now call friend. I heard empowering sermons and moving testimonials that have been reminders of the true meaning of Easter and of how great God has been in my life. I became well aware that I should always be filled with thanksgiving because of all that I have been given, after having to eat bland camp food, taking showers while wearing sandals, sleeping on dusty bunk beds in a stuffy and bug-infested room, and so forth. But I am mostly blessed because I was able to experience the greatest feeling of all. The gift of the Holy Spirit.
As far as I can remember, I had always asked God for the Holy Spirit every time there was an altar call in church ever since my mum received it. So it must have been such a long time since I first asked. 10 years. People say that when you believe and accept Christ as your Saviour, you have received the Holy Spirit, and that you don’t necessarily have to speak in tongues to prove so. But personally, what I think is that speaking in tongues is the most explicit proof there is of the Holy Spirit living in you. And so I asked. And asked. And asked again. Because I wanted to know for sure.
That night when Ps. Robby Emery called everyone who wanted to experience the Holy Spirit (including those who have experienced it but haven’t in a long time) to come to the altar, no one stood. And I was in a dilemma as to whether I should stand up and walk up front. All these thoughts were stirred up in my head and I was confused, undecided, and most of all, in doubt. The first thing that popped in my head was, if every time I asked for it, it never happened, not even once, why would it happen now? I don’t know why, but that night, my desire for it was above all else. And I decided to get up on my feet and start walking. A few people came forward as well, but I didn’t bother to look around. I was seeped into the worship that night.
The song playing was How He Loves Us by Jesus Culture and since I didn’t remember the song all that well to be able to sing along, I decided to worship in my own words, because I knew that if I was too busy keeping up with the song, I would not be able to concentrate on Him. Moments passed, and nothing happened. The sound of other people speaking in tongues echoed in my ears and I had begun crying at that time. I thought, is my faith not enough, God? You said that if I asked, and believed, I would receive, but why is it that all these years of asking, I’ve never once experienced it? I simply was upset. I was disappointed at myself. But I wasn’t ready to give it up just yet. I decided to speak. And I opened my mouth and said, Lord, I really want this. I’ve always wanted this. And I don’t know what’s going to happen to me, or how it’s going to happen. But I want to know how it feels like. I want to surrender everything to You. And even so, nothing happened. And so I got desperate. I pleaded, God, I beg you. I really, really want this.
Suddenly I felt a tingling sensation on my hands. And there was this rush of joy that started building up in me. I felt like I was superhuman, like I had super strength, and that I was just so empowered. I was just grateful, at that very moment, that I just began worshipping in my own words. And when I spoke, my throat started tickling, and I began to stutter. I stuttered and stuttered, and I knew that I wasn’t the one who was creating that vibration in my throat. It was then that I knew exactly, He is here. He is here with me.
Then I felt a gush of pain in my stomach. It felt like my acid indigestion had come back, but it wasn’t a bad kind of pain. It was the good one, if you know what I mean. When the pain came, I felt like my energy had been drenched. And so I bowed slightly. I then felt weak on the knees. And so I knelt.
I was kneeling and stuttering. And thoughts of how great God had been in my life flashed in my head and I felt like I was at peace. Tears of overjoy trickled down my cheeks and just flowed and flowed and I couldn’t stop crying. I wouldn’t stop crying.
I stayed kneeling for quite some time, and several of my church leaders gathered around me, praying for me in tongues. I hadn’t begun speaking clearly, it was merely a stammer, and in my heart, I remembered what my mum had told me in the past. And so I prayed to God: God, please, block these words that these people are saying from my ears because I want to receive this from You and You alone. I want to learn to speak in tongues from You and no one else. I know it sounds pretty mean that I did that, considering that they were praying for me. But I just didn’t want to be intimidated by their words that I made up words of my own. I wanted this to be purely from God.
After a long time kneeling, I felt the surge of energy come back to me. I felt like I was lifted up, and so I began to stand. My eyes were still shut, and I could feel that my lips were beginning to move on its own. I was unsure of what I had been saying, but I kept on speaking and speaking, and it sure felt great. The feeling was the sort that you didn’t want to ever stop. And so I didn’t want to stop.
You know when your eyes are shut but the lights had been turned on, you’d be able to still sense it anyway? Well, as I was still standing, trembling, stammering, simply drowned in His rush of grace…yes, the lights were turned on. My pastor had begun to talk on stage, and he didn’t realise that I was still standing there. Despite the want to continue on and on, I peeked, and stopped. Because I was the only one left standing on the altar. Everyone was back in their seats. Horrified, I stumbled back to my seat, mumbling “sorry, I’m so sorry,” along the way. Everyone was laughing, but they beamed at me too.
But the thing is, I could not care less about what other people thought of me that night. When all of us headed back to our cabins, my heart was still pounding like it was in turbulence. I felt all jittery and giddy, and I was burning with passion. But I was at peace, and I couldn’t stop smiling. It was the best feeling in the world, and this is the best way I can describe it. But I can assure you, it is much better than this. It is much, much better than what you can imagine.