By George A. For all intents and purposes my upbringing was secular. I participated in the local Episcopal Church. I was even an acolyte for eight years. But despite the trappings of Christianity I couldn’t really see much of Jesus.
My childhood was extremely lonely. I entered school with a vocabulary that was large and an interest in sports that was tiny. I was outcast and tormented. I entertained fantasies of carrying a machine gun to grade school and mowing people down. It was that bad. During this period I heard Malcolm X say, “We love people who love us, but we HATE those who hate us!” This made much more sense to me than the Sermon on the Mount.
I did find some solace in music. If I didn’t find close friends there, I at least had some companionship in the ensembles. I became very interested in the operas of Richard Wagner. His huge 4-opera cycle, “The Ring of the Niebelung” became a parable about humanity itself. Without going into a detailed synopsis (the operas total about 14 hours of stage time), I will say that a war starts in the first opera and is not concluded until the end of the fourth—at which point the world ends! The world Wagner created had no God, no final authority who stood above it all and could stop the conflict before all was lost. Instead, all the combatants are destroyed. This makes room for a new world order based on Love. I had suffered enough at the hands of my contemporaries to be at least as cynical about mankind as Wagner seemed to be.
Then I went away to college. Shortly after I arrived I was contacted by a member of Campus Crusade for Christ. I was asked to be part of a survey. The man also showed me the Four Spiritual Laws leaflet. It was there that I heard for the first time that Jesus had a personal interest in me. I tearfully accepted Him at that point.
Still, I had doubts and frustrations. Anyone can see the ground beneath his feet. It can be felt as well. But with the Lord I seemed to be dealing with an intangible or something just out of reach. This sent me on a search that took me into at least one church that nauseated me. WASN’T THERE SOMETHING I COULD LATCH ONTO? SOMETHING THAT NO ONE COULD EVER REFUTE?
During this time I became acquainted with a neighbor in my dormitory who was active in a group that met on Thursday nights. Most of them were “speaking in tongues.” I did not object to this phenomenon. I just could not see that there was anything special about it. My neighbor then began to use the lowest tactic of all: He PRAYED that I would come to a Word of God prayer meeting. Eventually I did. But I was not taken to the “Explanation Room.” Thus I was puzzled when I heard “singing in the Spirit.” (It wasn’t in the songbooks.) And when I heard my first prophecy, I all but panicked— “He’s here! He’s in the P.A. system!” Yet by the end of the meeting I was moved to tears—tears of Joy.
Two weeks later I was back, and once again I cried. But something happened. I stopped crying. An overwhelming sense of Peace had blanketed me. This was not the mere absence of conflict. There was something positive, something Loving about. When I signed up for the Life In The Spirit Seminar that night, it was as though someone was graciously asking me to come. I soon realized that this was the SOMETHING I had been seeking for 1-1/2 years. My life has not been the same since. It has not been a life without pain and problems, but it has been a life lived with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I would recommend being baptized in the Spirit to all Christians.
P.S. In recent years the Lord has healed most of the damage done by my grade-school classmates. I still have no desire to see most of them, but the rage is gone. The Sequel/Conclusion
In 1995 at Easter-time I directed three ensembles. One of these appeared at the Community Easter celebration. We did a simple hymn that was well received. Yet, to me, the performance was a disappointment. I wanted to perform a more impressive (and much more difficult) piece by William Billings: “The Lord is Risen Indeed”. As it happened, there were too many problems. (e.g., I knew I was in trouble when one of my singers asked, ”What is this squiggly thing here?” Note: The “squiggly thing” was a quarter-note rest.) You may recall that I wrote about my frustrations in a letter that was printed in the Community newsletter. With the benefit of 8 years of hindsight I can now offer at least a partial explanation why the Lord allowed that performance to turn out the way it did.
In the last 2-3 years something finally sank into my soul as never before: THERE IS NOTHING MORE TO BE DONE. JESUS HAS DONE IT ALL. I have lived most of my life as if I were in a race with a moving finish line. It was always one step ahead of me. Another was of expressing it would be:
I am not acceptable (or lovable) unless __________________________ is accomplished. I have filled that blank with all sorts of things. Weightlifting, skydiving, tough clarinet solos just to name a few. Without realizing it I had taken that same approach to the music group. Our Lord, in His Wisdom and Love, restrained my effort.
Once again: THERE IS NOTHING MORE TO BE DONE. JESUS HAS DONE IT ALL. And I cannot thank Him enough.