You used to move that way.
You used to show up in visions and prophetic utterances, in moments of euphoria and bliss. You used to show up as I spoke in tongues and was slain in the Spirit.
You used to move that way.
You used to move in signs and wonders. I saw the exorcisms and the healings. I felt the fervor of holy prayers and heard the words of knowledge.
Was it all just a sham? Was it just emotionalism that I mistook for power from on high? Were the things I saw and felt and experienced and did all for nothing, all amounting to nothing and emptiness?
See, in my life you used to move that way, but you don’t any more.
These days, you are silent, your words are dry and dusty to my heart, and my spirit is parched in desperate search for the Spirit to touch me. These days, you don’t seem to move at all. At least I can’t see it, feel it, or know for sure at all.
Call it doubt if you will, but I would rather blame you for being the God who hides, who deliberately removes himself from my view. I used to see you all the time, on every page of scripture and in every prayer session. In my prayer language, I heard your Spirit praying for me, and through signs and wonders I knew that you were an active God, living and breathing and among your people.
So where the hell are you now?
Maybe it’s me that has changed. I mean, my theology isn’t as simple as it was back then. It’s changed, mutated, grown, shrank, and become something that feels so far removed from what I believed while I prayed for revival and for your Spirit to fall. I used to believe it was so simple as I prayed for healings, as I prayed to cast out and bind demons. It felt so clear and natural.
I was also so young.
Was this all just the emotionalism of a child? Was this just indoctrination to cult like beliefs and theological frameworks? Is this now just nostalgia, turning a dangerous theology into remembering that stirs my heart with some sort of fondness? I don’t know how to separate my childish naivety from the simple truths I believed. Maybe there was no difference.
Amid all these questions are some truths I can’t deny, things I can’t shake or write off.
I read about how you walked the earth and what your followers did after you flew away. There were wondrous signs, powerful prayers, and spiritual gifts poured out on the earth. You didn’t seem so shy in those days. You seemed willing and able to be among your people as so human but so much still God. When I read about Jesus I’m stuck with his words, “You will do greater things than you have seen me do.” What the hell do I do with those words compared to how you hide these days? But I can’t shake the words, the deeds, the stories that tell me gospel, that tell me of you.
And then there are my own experiences, the things I have heard, seen, felt, and touched with my own hands. The biggest thing is when I first spoke in tongues. Most people I know tell stories of fervent prayers by elders, laying on of hands, and a deep need to see this baptism of the Spirit so they knew you loved them. My story is different. I first spoke in tongues in the middle of the night. September 2, 1989, I woke up in the middle of the night praising you in a language that was not my own. I was nine years old at the time. There wasn’t a bunch of pressure on me to prove my salvation or to receive a second blessing. It just sort of happened, in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping. There was some sort of movement from you and I spoke in tongues. I can’t deny it. I can’t write it off as emotionalism or peer pressure. What do I do with it though? Do I continue to speak in tongues now, even though my theology has shifted and I’m unsure about my charismatic roots?
You won’t let me go about this. You won’t let me deny my past, but you won’t let my past be my future. So I don’t know what to do with this charismatic stuff, with this dynamic Spirit moving but not letting experience become my theology. I don’t know what to do with my past, or what to do with now since you don’t seem to move like that in my life any more.
But you used to move like that. Would it be so bad if you did again?
It would fuck with my theology yet again, but then again that is what you insist on doing all the time. You rarely let me be.
So, you who used to move, help me reconcile this history of signs and wonders with the wilderness that I now dwell in. You are the only one that can.
Then again, you are the only one who moves like that.