Thursday, September 4, 2008

On The Subjects of Overcoming Fear and The Filling of the Holy Spirit - My Story

RobbyMac on his site the other day was talking about his first “charismatic” experience or when he sensed the Holy Spirit for the first time.  He challenged those who tend to call themselves post-charismatic to remember the days when it was all right and new.  He asks us for our stories of how we first became acquainted with and eager for the felt presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  I thought I would participate as it is a story that I would like to record for myself and my family.  It is long - sorry.  (I'm breaking my rule believing in short posts.)  If you want to read along, get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine :)

In this post I am going to touch on a lot of sensitive subjects.  Dispensationalism, Tongues, Demons, Deliverance and filling of the Holy Spirit.  I do not mean to alienate any one person.  The people who read here a very dear to me.   Today, I barely care what you think of those subjects.  I am more concerned if you love the Father and understand how He loves you.  I want to know if you are loving God with all your heart and soul and loving others.  So please just read the story and don’t get caught up in the theology of what I believed then or now.  It is my story.  I’m not embellishing.  It was real.  I don’t have chapter and verse for everything I just know what happened to me.  I do not wish to debate any of it.  I just hope it gives hope to someone who is tied up in the grips of Fear or wanting to know if the Holy Spirit can be felt in a tangible way.

I was raised in a fundamental Bible church.  We were there Sunday mornings for the gospel message, Sunday nights for the sermons on the End Times and Rapture and Wednesday nights for Choir practice, youth groups and the Old or New Testament Book studies - verse by verse.  It was there that I first heard about the “abuses” of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.  Mostly we were taught that He was given at Pentecost with signs and wonders and tongues but God did not do all that stuff today.  We were in another dispensation.  Tongues were of the devil.  We were filled with the Holy Spirit at salvation and that’s all of Him that we would ever get or need.  

I want to mention here that I was raised with Fear.  My mom was fearful of everything.  She instilled early on that really bad things were lurking out there.  Mostly, we were not verbally taught this - we just caught it.  I was fearful as a child.  I would have visions of bad things happening to me, my sister or my parents.  I could “See” these things as if they were playing on TV.  God played into this too.  He was to be feared.  He might come back in the Rapture and I would not be taken.  He would cause me to be sick if I sinned.  My life was played out on a tightrope of trying not to be in his wrath or even bad graces.  I was afraid of hell.  Even though we were taught that we would not loose our salvation the church taught that God was not ever really happy with us. - At least that is my take on it.

Along in my 30’s we had gotten involved in a semi-charismatic expression of church.  We didn’t do all the ‘weird’ stuff but now we believed it existed.  The Vineyard was just coming to prominence and we studied the charismatic teachings of Wimber and Jack Deere.  

One thing our church  did believe in and practice was the ability to cast out demons.  We practiced on each other, cast out anything that sounded like it was of the enemy and generally, in my opinion, went way to far with this.  But it was exciting and every once in a while someone’s life truly seemed to be changed.

One night I was called in to help pray for a girl who had a diagnosed brain tumor.  She had severe vertigo and was going in to see the surgeon the next day.  The cat scan showed the tumor plainly.  The pastor of our little church plant/student work, my husband, and I all gathered that night to pray for this girl.  The pastor was leading the session, I was there for prayer support.  They wrestled with the demon that manifested for most of the evening.  Finally I got impatient with them and frustrated that nothing was happening.  Thinking that I could do a much better job, I broke in, grabbed her hands in mine and firmly commanded the spirit to come out of her in Jesus name.  

My hands tingled like they were shocked with electricity and my world spun.  I was knocked off balance and went to the floor.  She was elated as she felt something leave her.  I was panic stricken.  I had never felt anything remotely like this.  I was nauseous and dizzy from that moment on.  As you can imagine I was frightened out of my wits.  The guys prayed for me but the feelings did not subside.  We left that night and I stayed dizzy.

The story is very long from there.  The girl was healed as she asked the doctors to do one more cat scan before they operated.  The tumor was gone, she was no longer dizzy and even other unrelated symptoms like where she had been severely lactose intolerant before that night she now was completely healed.  We are friends to this day.

I was not ok.  I tried to find anyone who could help me. I called the charismatic churches in the area and no one believed my story.  They believed that Christians could not have a demon oppressing them as I described.  I just knew what had happened to me.  I prayed, I fasted, I asked forgiveness for every sin I ever committed.  I asked forgiveness from everyone I knew.  I was sure that some sin had allowed this to enter my body.  (To this day, I’m still not sure what allowed it  - and other than the Grace of God- probably just plain pride if I were to look at my life then)  I read the Bible during this time like it was a lifeline.  I felt that I was going to lose my mind.  I truly feared that I would end up on a psyche ward.  I refused to take meds for this because I KNEW when it had started and knew it was not a normal sickness.

It was during this time that the Spirit of God came to me in a real way that I will never forget.  I was laying on my bed one night.  I had finally gotten to the point where I was tired of being afraid.  I had told the enemy that he might be able to touch my body.  He was certainly able to mess with my life.  My fears of being good enough to win God’s protection had not worked.  So I drew a line in the sand and told the enemy that though he might be able to take everything away from me I was not going to EVER let him have my worship.  I would go down loving God and worshiping Him.  Nothing would deter me.  He could not win this one.  That was my last stand. 

 I then asked the Father to become as real to me as this presence that was tormenting me.  If it was real, then the Holy Spirit had to be just as real.  I told Him I wanted to feel him as real as I felt the dizziness.  

One night  soon after that prayer, I was lying in my bed and suddenly, for no reason at all, I was overcome with joy like I had NEVER experienced.  It was so tangible that it was like liquid honey but with bubbles as light as air.  Joy filled me up and spilled over.  I chose not wake Husband laying by my side.  I just stayed there with joy unspeakable telling Jesus how much I loved him over and over again.  I fell asleep that night in peace.

The next day I was worshiping to music and from out of nowhere a new language bubbled up from deep within me.  I had never heard ‘tongues’ ever spoken in my life.  But here I was joyfully babbling in a language that felt like I was a little girl pretending to speak a different language.  I could start and stop it.  It did not “take me over.”  It was my choice but again I felt that syrupy, bubbly, honey of joy and peace.  This language would become a solid rock for me in a world that was literally swirling in the days to come.

I wish I could say that the dizziness, fear and nausea disappeared that night that the Holy Spirit filled me.  It didn’t.  They were my constant companion.  But little by little I learned that I was not going to choose to be afraid.  In many ways it was like lifting weights.  I could only lift about 2 pounds to begin with and then only do 5 reps.  I could only weakly say to the fear and this thing that I lived with - I won’t be afraid of you.  But slowly, like in lifting weights, I could lift more.  I could command the dizziness to stop and it started to stop.  It would come back and I again would stand against it.  Over the course of a few years I would get so strong in my faith that it became easy.  I would tell it, “GO - GET OUT OF HERE!!”  And it would obey.  It was about a 8 year process.  It does not bother me today except every now and then when I share this story with someone a bit of dizziness threatens to come back.  I now simply scoff at it and throw it out as I would a stray mangy cat that jumped to my dining table.  

I tell this story for a few reasons.  

1) I HATE fear.  Fear of any kind is my personal enemy.  I want to encourage you not to live with it.  Even if it takes years to get its prongs out of you - battle it.  Fear is not normal.  God is bigger - you are stronger!  Peace is possible.  Talk to someone who is hardly ever fearful.  You can be like them.  

2) I truly believe that the enemy wanted to win this one.  BUT God had different plans.  He wanted me delivered from the fear that bound my heart and life.  He wanted me to war against fear.  It was the kindest thing that God has ever allowed me to go through.  It was the worst and best experience of my life.  He could have delivered me with the first persons that prayed for me.  He chose to let me battle this one myself with His help and thus allow me to be strengthened in a way that could not have come otherwise.  I trust His hand in my life with whatever he brings to my life.  God can take the worst of situations and use them for our good.

3)  I tell this story for one other reason.  The enemy played his hand out and to this day I would take a bullet to the head in defense that I KNOW there is a spirit realm.  This is not something taught in my doctrine classes.  This is a real knowledge that I know I know.  I may doubt greater things in my life.  I may doubt sometimes in the very Bible being inspired or infallible (I choose to believe this one).  I may doubt other things that I then choose to have faith to believe but this one thing I do not need faith for.  I know that the enemy is real and the Holy Spirit is just as real.  He is a comforter and he is my peace.  His presence can be felt.  He is real!

17 comments:

Sue said...

Wow, Barbara, THANKS for posting!

Interesting, but last night I was listening to the Free Believers Network podcast and they were talking about spiritual warfare (it's here if you're interested: http://freebelievers.com/podcasts, just scroll down to the podcast titled Spiritual Warfare and note this is a legalism-free zone :)

The podcast and then your post tied in together so well. It's all really got me thinking. The thing that jumps out to me the most is, "As a man thinks, so he is" and how astoundingly deep that goes, even for believers. I agree with you wholeheartedly without reservation that I believe there is a spirit realm. I am also beginnign to suspect that some of their biggest messing comes via Christians who are taught to bind and renounce and cast out and see demons around every corner.

I don't feel like I am describing very well what I am trying to convey, but what astounds me and that I have found in my own experience is that that stuff predominates in our lives as much as we allow it to. But oh, the joy of focussing on Papa and knowing that you don't need to do anything other than that? Bliss :)

By the way, I really LOVE the font colours you use here. The combination of black type and that purpley mauve colour is beautiful

Barb said...

Sue, it was actually Darin's post of Choosing Fear (http://freebelievers.com/blog-entry/choosing-fear) that started me thinking about writing out my story. I was petrified with the demonic realm back then. But I thought I knew enough to deal with it. Stupid! It was around every corner and made me virtually unstable. I threw away my kids toys because someone told me they had a "spirit" attached to them.

Yes, I'm so glad to be focussing on the love of Father. Bliss is a very apt word.

I love lilacs as they speak to me of hope. thanks

Sue said...

Lilac! *slaps forehead* That's the word I was trying to think of :)

Ahh, yes, the throwing out of things that have spirits attached to them. Sheesh ...

Sarah said...

Barb, thanks for sharing your story of some of the things God has walked with you through. I'm with you, I've experienced to much of the spirit realm to ever doubt it. You know, only a very small percentage of the world's population doubts the reality of the spirit realm - and those that do doubt it have only done so for a relatively short time in human history. We happen to live in one such culture, but most of the world experiences and interacts with the spirit realm on a regular basis. But no matter, the main thing is that God walked with you and taught you. Very cool story!

Tyler Dawn said...

Hi Barb, if you are crazy then we both are. I got baptised in the spirit when I was a PRESBYTERIAN of all things, alone in my house. My pastor said I had obviously had some sort of panic attack. Panic? It was the most peaceful, joyous moment of my life!

And yes, a Christian can be oppressed by demons, I know that very well. But most of what gets "cast off" in the church setting actually comes down to simple human bondage, things like bitterness and you can't cast that off like a demon, but it is easier than going through the fire it takes to be purged of such things.

I have been able to see demons since I was a pre-teen. Mom thought I was crazy, I wasn't even saved. But the other night my one son (he is seven) said that he felt something on him and I looked and there it was, huge and on his back. Mark and I tried to cast it out but wasn't making any headway (it is so hard to deal with generational stuff when your kids are adopted!) and so I grabbed ahold of him and prayed and purposefully got the thing to come onto me instead. It felt like a backpack full of rocks and my son immediately said that it was gone and he felt lighter.

Took me three days to get rid of that thing, so I understand about what happens when you deliberately touch someone during a deliverance session without taking precautions.

Thanks for writing that, it is good for people to see that there is a whole world out there. We have the victory, but there are still major battles and skirmishes because the enemy won't acknowledge defeat :)

Sue said...

Tyler, I thought of you when I was listening to that podcast and reading Barbara's post. Because I do think you have been given some sort of a gift in this deliverance area. (I know firsthand, actually).

But it makes me wonder how many people really are, and what damage they do when they head into areas they should not head into. I'd be interested to see what you have to say about that???

Tyler Dawn said...

Hmmm.. I will have to think about that. My husband cannot do it, he has tried. And you see on the news when some people try it someone ends up getting hurt and/or killed.

It's a matter of gentleness, really. It's a matter of love. I don't yell or rant or rave, that is not needed. Sometimes I speak harshly, but there is never any need for abuse -- like what you see with Todd Bentley.

I find it rather like delivering someone through the birth canal and into the arms of their father.

But what I see in many churches is people attributing every sinful behavior or hangup to demons. And that isn't the case.

I think the most important thing anyone who performs deliverance must possess (no pun intended) is a great compassion. I have seen terrible things, things I would never, ever divulge. But beneath them is a person and so you have to be able to guide a person through acknowledgement and repentance and forgiveness sometimes, without being judgmental or harsh. In that way it is very much like delivering a baby.

Joel B. said...

I read this with great interest, and what I got out of it may or may not have even been what you intended, but I thought I'd share. :)

As you know, there is a lot of abuse out there when it comes to church things, spiritual things, and such. Many people eventually wake up and find freedom from it, and they run from it all. In many ways that's a good thing, but sometimes they also leave behind some of the "good" things, or true things, that were mixed in with the whole bondage thing they had been in.

I've seen people totally reject the whole idea of spiritual warfare, just because it was a part of their former church life, and it had been taught wrongly, or with a lot of legalism or abuse.

So I think it's great that even though you've had a past that included some 'bad' things in regards to spiritual warfare teachings, you've not left behind, in your freedom, the things that you know are true.

That's really what stuck out to me here. :)

Joel B. said...

Oh yeah, also this:

I then asked the Father to become as real to me as this presence that was tormenting me. If it was real, then the Holy Spirit had to be just as real. I told Him I wanted to feel him as real as I felt the dizziness.

It's pretty amazing that we'll accept demon possession (which is real), but we have such a hard time with Christ-possession. :) The Bible says that we've become one spirit with God (1 Cor 6:17) and that we've become partakers of His nature (2 Peter 1:4). It says Christ is in us and we are in Him. It says our life in in Him. Etc, etc.

A lot of pentecostals and charismatics, again, rightfully, believe in demon possession. But now that we're in Christ, why do we have such a hard time accepting that we are possessed by God and His nature? :)

Tracy Simmons said...

Barb, thanks for sharing your story. Some day I'll have to share mine as well, but lately there's been very little time for any blog writing for me. I also had such a major encounter in the spiritual realm that I could never doubt it no matter what else I might throw out on my journey.

Katherine Gunn said...

I'm with you, Barb. The theology doesn't really matter once there is experience. There is a lot more that I don't know than I used to think, but there are some things that, like you said, are no longer a matter of faith, They have entered into the realm of knowing - because of experience. The spirit realm is absolutely real. Yeah...

Amy said...

Barb,
Awesome for sharing your story! Wow...some pretty blessed experiences. I see that Sue mentioned Darin's website (FBN) and that his podcasts and blogs were helpful in inspiring you to share what you did here. Wonderful!
Great blog!
Blessings,
~Amy :)
http://amyiswalkinginthespirit.blogspot.com

Ruth said...

Thanks for sharing your story Barb. It's great to read the dialogue from everyone else too. Tyler, I would love to hear more of your experience.

I think I will participate in the syncrhoblog too!

Sue said...

Joel said: "It's pretty amazing that we'll accept demon possession (which is real), but we have such a hard time with Christ-possession. :)"

+++++

I think that's what spun me out the most in that Free Believers podcast I mentioned. One of them said (paraphrased), "How come when someone says they see demons, say, hanging around the door at a conference, it means they're hyper spiritual and mature because they've discerned that something is not of God. And yet if someone said they saw angels hanging around the door at a differnet conference, all of a sudden they would be considered New Age and flakey."

Katherine Gunn said...

Hahaha! Sue, so I am New Age and Flaky, huh? I think I've seen more angels than demons, and given the choice of which I'd rather see, it's a no brainer. Angels are a lot more fun.

Jonathan Stegall said...

Great story, Barbara.

I then asked the Father to become as real to me as this presence that was tormenting me. If it was real, then the Holy Spirit had to be just as real. I told Him I wanted to feel him as real as I felt the dizziness.

This sticks out to me, as well, as I can relate to it in a somewhat different way. I spent some time in occultic things before coming to know Jesus, and a couple of years after I met him someone told me, in essence, "you have been to deep places with the enemy, but God is going to take you deeper with him." I have tried to hold on to that, and I have seen the fruition of it.

Thank you for sharing this.

Barb said...

Sarah, Thanks. So many people know the spirit realm is there. Even pre-chrsitians have experienced it. They just have no idea what to do with it.

Tyler Dawn, Glad to know we are crazy together. That is funny that he would call it a panic attack. I have had both and this did not feel like a panic attack at all.

I have found that we deal with the demonic when it is up front and in our faces (ie - when we have no choice). The rest of the time we just look to the Father. Much better focus than my previous demon hunting mentality.

Sue, thanks for asking the question - and Tyler Dawn - good answer. Each thing is different. What does not differ is our love for the individual and them coming to know the love that God has for them. Freedom is a wonderful thing - whether by deliverance of by simple understanding of the good news of the gospel. The word saved means saved, healed and delivered all rolled into one.

Joel, it has taken me a year and a half but I am reclaiming some of what I was not ready to touch ever again when I left the church. It took some time. But I find as I return to it it is a very simple thing. Not tied up in all the stuff that it used to be tied up in.

Tracy, would love to hear your story some day.

Katherine, Even the experience that I am not walking through will change me in a way that theology can never do. (but Husband has enough theology to keep me out of the ditches!!!)

Amy, Thanks

Ruth, I loved your story. Thanks for participating.

Sue, Husband loved your comment! He keeps telling me that the whole angel thing that the charasmatics are after is not wrong in essence. It is the worship of angels and the placing of importance on them and not Jesus that is the problem.

Jonathan, it was a desperate cry from my heart. I know for those from the occult it must be the same.