August 28, 2013

2 Kings 5:11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.

You would think Naaman had been to a Pentecostal healing service! It’s amazing, and sad, how often preconceptions and expectations block us from receiving the blessings God desires to pour out on us. Thankfully for Naaman, he had some servants who prevailed on him to do as Elisha had told him, and he did receive his healing. The very fact that it wasn’t in the manner he had expected made a very deep impression on him. God can indeed use any method at all to accomplish His works, and I think sometimes He mixes things up precisely to get our attention, demonstrating gently but definitively that He’s in charge. I have a friend who was at a Charismatic prayer meeting in college. As he tells it, when he saw people gathered around someone sitting in a chair, praying for them to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he thought it was all an exercise in mass hysteria. He loved God, but he thought that was nonsense. When people pressed him to take a turn in the chair he was quite reluctant, and when he sat, he was actually rather defiant toward God. God really dumped it on him, and he spoke in tongues non-stop for several minutes! As a Catholic seminarian, the experience totally went against his liturgical upbringing.

My own experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit was rather the opposite, because I had read They Speak with Other Tongues, 9 O’clock in the Morning, and The Holy Spirit and You. I expected something dramatic, and when it didn’t happen I was very disappointed. It was over a year after I started seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit that a friend pointed out that we have to receive everything from God by faith, and I needed to ask and trust that I had received, without putting any conditions on how it was to happen. It would seem I was a lot like Naaman! My friend’s words convinced me, and I prayed, thanked God, and went to bed, feeling nothing. Two days later, I abruptly realized I was sharing Christ with a total stranger for the first time in my life, and the words of Acts 1:8 came to mind: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” I realized that God had indeed been faithful to His Word and baptized me in His Spirit, and I was filled with peace and joy. It was some months after that that I received the gift of tongues, and have since experienced everything mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 at least once or twice, but God had to first show me that I must not try to dictate to Him how He was going to bless and use me. That’s been a very valuable lesson!

Father, thank You yet again for Your amazing grace toward me. You’ve really had to knock me upside the head a few times to get my attention, but You haven’t let me wallow in my errors. Thank You. Thank You for the privilege of communicating Your grace to others. May I be increasingly effective at that, drawing more and more into Your family for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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