It was one of those hot, humid summer days north central Indiana is known for, that 3 of us decided to have a retreat one weekend. David, Mike, and I conspired to have an extended family member of Mike's, or was it David's, loan us their lake cabin for a weekend so we could worship, pray, and baptize each other. Each of us were baptized as babies in the respective denominations in which we were raised, but neither of us had been water baptized since believing, so that was the main purpose for the retreat.
My memory however is not dominated by us baptizing each other in the brown water of Lake Shafer/Freeman, though I remember entering the water with some concern that it looked remarkably similar to the water floating in our yard when our septic tank overflowed.
Nor do I remember much about the deep discussions concerning life and where we almost college age young men were going, rather it was the first time I heard the voice of the Lord Jesus. The Father had spoken to me before, and I was getting to know the Holy Spirit's fellowship, but I'd never heard the voice of Jesus.
Frankly, I have 2 other topics I wanted to write about in this space, but I couldn't escape the Father's direction to share what is to me very private and personal; that is how I came to know the Holy Spirit and distinguish the subtle differences between the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. So this is my journey in a nutshell as we say. I know of no other way to teach it than to share my experiences and the Word but feel a little exposed and uncomfortable. Thanks for reading.
Back to the retreat - Purity of heart
Someone put on (Nancy) Honeytree's 'Evergreen' album, which I have on my iPod/phone and still listen to for the purity and passion of just loving Jesus, which characterized Christian music in the 1970's. The last song on one side was written by the now in heaven, Larry Norman, called "I Am Your Servant".
I had 'assumed the position' in worship as I say, meaning I prefer to worship on my hands and knees, forehead to the floor, hands extended, palms up, my mind listening to my passion and love for the Father and Jesus pouring out my spirit through my mouth, 'in the Spirit' as John calls it in Revelation 1:10 and 4:2 - totally unaware of my physical surroundings.
Who am I?
Understand that at that point in my life I really, really wanted to be in ministry, but had such a poor self-image and lack of confidence that I didn't see any way the Lord would ever want me, let alone think about how He could ever use me. On the outside all looked good - I was a star basketball player in our little country school, was in love with a beautiful girl from the big city school, dad was bound by the divorce agreement to pay for my college. Life was good. I even had a 1965 GTO with Thrush mufflers, a Hurst shifter - so what if it burned oil like a West Texas oil well fire, it was loud, quick, and mine.
But inside, I had poor self-esteem, was full of doubt, was convinced I was not good enough for God - in fact the only thing I was confident in was my walk with the Father, but what good was I to Him? And it was an immature relationship - I loved the Father in part because He was there for me when my earth-dad walked out, yet I was still that son feeling I was never going to be good enough for my Father - having transferred all the negativity between my earth-dad and me to my heavenly Father and me.
He spoke to me
The song 'I Am Your Servant' traces a process in a person's heart which you can read below, and at that time my heart mirrored the words of the song (and it still rings true today);
"I a servant. I am listening for my name. I sit here waiting, I've been looking at the game that I've been playing, I've been staying much the same. When you are lonely, you're the only one to blame. I am a servant, I am listening for the call, I've been unfaithful so I sit here in the hall. How can He use me, when I've never given all? How can He choose me, when He knows I quickly fall?"
"So He feeds my soul, and He makes me grow, and He lets me know He loves me. I am worthless now but I've made a vow, I will humbly bow before thee - Oh please use me! I am lonely. I am a servant, getting ready for my part, there's been a change, a rearrangement in my heart. At last I'm learning there's no returning once I start. To live is a privilege, to love is such an art! But I need your help to start - Oh please purify my heart, I am YOUR servant."
Immediately after I sang the last 4 words: "I am YOUR servant" I suddenly heard the voice of Jesus break into my worship, catching me totally off guard: "John! I love you!" I was so surprised, having heard the Father speak to me before, but never Jesus, that I stumbled in my reply: "I, I, I love you too Lord." His reply was gentle and not as loud, "Turn to John 14:27." I asked equally gently, "Now, Lord?" and He said "Yes, now."
Mike and David were still worshipping though beginning to stir as the needle lifted off the record and the turntable turned off. I sat up, grabbed my New American Standard Bible I'd brought with me, and flipped open to John 14:27 which says: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you: Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
With those words I knew the Father and Lord had accepted me into their service. I sat as I am now as I write these words, tears welling in my eyes, humbled, at peace for the first time in my life concerning my future, my self-doubt and low self-esteem erased and replaced with confidence and self-assurance in Christ. I didn't know the future, but I knew it was with my Father and Lord, and I knew that I knew I was loved for me, not on the basis of performance.
Through high school I'd tried various things to find fulfillment: SCUBA lessons at age 15 because I love the ocean and water and thought I could be a professional diver or Oceanographer or Marine Biologist - but it wasn't touching my spirit so it wasn't fulfilling. I quit right before my open water check dive. I took flying lessons and ground school when I was 15 - but quit before my FAA examine and check flight.
But hearing the voice of Jesus- that was fulfilling! I wanted to live in that voice. I wanted to be around that Voice. I wanted to live my life with reckless abandon in that Voice.
Etching it in my mind
There are moments in life that become forever burned into our memories just by the intensity of the moment, and there are others that if we want to retain the moment, we must stop, register what just happened in our soul, and purposely capture every nuance of the event in our minds. We must make a memory. If we don't, the details become lost forever.
This is why for instance, you can be driving down the road, have an amazing revelation you think is so great you will never forget it, then later you can't remember what it was! The reason is the revelation was from your spirit, and you didn't take the time or effort to allow the revelation to imprint in your mind. Revelation doesn't involve the mind unless you make it so.
What I do is keep something to write on in the car to jot something down to cause me to remember, though when I fail to do that I take time to remember where I was driving, what I was thinking, pray in tongues as I do so, go back mentally to where I was, and then the revelation will once again float up out of my spirit. Then I write it down or in some other way involve my mind. Talk to yourself about it, write it down, involve the mind and that revelation from your spirit will be recorded.
(It's one reason I am often up so late writing and studying, because I'll be in bed praying in the spirit/Spirit, thinking on the Lord and things will start coming to me, so I've learned to just give up, get out of bed and go write it down - otherwise it will be lost the next morning - or until I can find that same frame of mind, or 'wavelength' as you'll read below).
That moment He spoke to me was one I could let stand as it happened, mark it on the calendar as the first time I heard the voice of Jesus, which was life changing, and go on. Or I could embrace that moment and then hold that embrace in my soul, not letting Him go, not relinquishing my grip on that feeling, that sound of His voice, rolling it over and over in my mind the way I let dark chocolate melt in my mouth and swirl it around to catch every subtle flavor - and that's what I chose to do with this memory.
Think it through
In the 'old days', we had car radios that had dials we turned to zero-in on a particular radio station. When you got close to that station there would be an overlap of the station closest to where you were on the dial and the one you were dialing towards, and this overlap was coupled with electronic high pitched and scratchy sounds until the moment you dialed that station exactly right to the frequency - suddenly you heard only that station loud and clear!
In my mind, from earliest memory in Him, that's how I sought the Father - I held in my mind, purposely etched in my memory - the sound and feel of His presence in my spirit, from which His voice flowed, and I wanted to find that frequency as a way of life - I wanted to live on that frequency - but it seemed at first that I was hitting near but rarely directly on that frequency. So I'll share examples of the Father's first words to me and what He sounds like...And that's where we'll pick it up next week. Until then, blessings,