... a personal story might help tell you my thoughts about the Holy Spirit, Zerbie.
For months I had experienced what I thought were random ideas of God and God’s relationship to the universe. Despite efforts to push them away, these notions entered my head at the most inappropriate times. I knew, without doubt, that I was slipping into insanity. I wasn’t ready, except there were times that the idea of just letting my mind wander off was attractive.
In April 1996 I made a final, and seemingly fatal, decision. L. (my wife at the time) went to church that Sunday and, as usual, I stayed home. Upon arriving at church the Music Director, Beckie B., asked L. about me. Beckie had been in one of the prayer groups, but she wouldn’t have known me if we bumped into each other. She then offered to be available anytime, should I need to talk, and told L. that she believed God would be knocking soon and I might need help. What occurred concurrently a few miles away seems implausible, but is true.
At basically the same time, I put on my headphones to listen to some loud rock and roll, a favorite Sunday morning pursuit. It helped to chase the voices from my head. I was listening to a song, by the group Blues Traveler, I’d heard dozens of times before. The words ‘Jesus Christ died for your sins’ were clearly audible in the song. The problem was that none words on that CD were discernable and I knew it. I pulled out the CD jacket and the words I saw were nothing like those I was hearing. Shaken, I turned off the stereo and went out to my woodshop in the garage where I turned on the TV. Yes, I had a TV in the garage – it’s where I went to smoke. I was trembling as I changed from one station to another. I had never before seen a TV preacher on every channel, and they were all giving the same message - Christ died for my sins. I knew I had lost it. I wanted to run, but didn’t know to where. I just stood there motionless. And then a blackness, the likes of which I had never seen, enveloped me. I had always described depression as a dark hole you saw yourself descending into. I knew, without knowing how, this was the deepest depression I had ever experienced and I wouldn’t be coming back. I remember picking up my sharpest tool, a drawknife, and resolutely deciding I wasn’t going into that hole. I was ready to die.
The rest of the memory seems more like the recollection of a hallucination, except with much more clarity. I remember, with no sense of time, being aware of all of the times I had hurt others, even in the smallest way. I was fully aware of all my sins, a concept with which I was totally unfamiliar. I had an overwhelming sense of sorrow and remorse while, at the same time, experienced the peace, calm and security of knowing I was all right. I knew, for the first time in my life, the feeling that came with a sense of forgiveness. It seemed as though the thickest, softest comforter imaginable had swallowed me. Accepting that unconditional forgiveness has continued to be a difficulty.
Upon L.’s arrival home she found me face down on the garage floor, knees under my chest, sobbing and moaning. She helped me up, sat me down and, after looking into my face, called Beckie. Beckie talked, prayed and cried with me into the night. She knew I was in a strange place and was feeling very unsure. Logic told me it had to be hallucinations of insanity, but I knew in my heart it was real. I also remembered myriad bible passages and comments, mostly from my mother and her friends, from decades before. They had never made any sense, nor held any interest for me, but now I knew I needed to cling to them. I can now thank God, and the obedience and faithfulness of many others, for my very soul.
I began going to church with L., crying at almost every sermon and song that seemed to bore directly into my heart. I was invited out of the blue to join a small group led by a young couple that had left Liberty some years earlier, and whom I had only met once or twice by accident. Their group was for college students and young adults, but they welcomed this forty-three year-old as one of their own. Over the next two years I was taught and loved by a group of ‘twenty-somethings’. It didn’t stop there. Everywhere I turned were people who could have only been sent by God, at just the right moment. My life somehow seemed orchestrated by and toward God.
Within months of this event in my life, I found the courage to walk away from my suicidal lifestyle.
I believe the HS was active in a number of ways.
At first, the HS gently nudged me, but I did not listen. Then the HS knocked me off my horse, so to speak. The HS was present in the actions of Becky, who responded in unquestioning love. The HS was present in church, this time gently again calling to my heart.
I don't know if this adds anything. I found myself unable to enter into deep theological conversation at the moment, but I do emotion - so I'm offering it as an example.
- Andy's blog
Sins are always worse when they're different than mine