Holy Spirit(Part 2)
With my voice I cry to the LORD; with my voice I make supplication to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit is faint, you know my way. ~ Psalm 142:1-3
“And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised…” – Luke 24-49
This IS a tough assignment. I’m a little nervous now that I know God uses autocorrect. No telling what he will say. Maybe I wasn’t listening very well. In case you don’t remember or didn’t read last month’s SOUL FOOD, with a little help from said Autocorrect, God asked me to tell my story with the Holy Spirit. Since the Spirit was active in my life before I ever knew the Spirit existed, it’s a long story so I’m writing it in installments.
When I left off last month, we were living in El Paso, Texas where Dave was stationed. We had three small boys by then, and had decided that we wanted them to learn about Jesus in church and that we needed to take them. We returned to the church of our childhoods even though, we were beginning to believe that God was not the waiting-until-you-sin-so he-can-punish-you God. Toward the end of our time in Texas, Dave had the opportunity to have a family accompanied tour in Italy for four years. At the same time, he found that there was an opportunity for the Army to send him on a two-year assignment to CU Boulder to finish the degree he had started before we got married. For some, then unknown, reason, I felt strongly that the Colorado University thing was going to happen so Dave turned down the Italy tour before he knew if he might be offered the school option. We couldn’t wait to see.
Boulder was enjoyable. We lived in campus housing and there were many little children around for our boys. We learned what community meant here. Although there was much community in the military, it wasn’t what we would come to know in our university experience. Half way through this two-year assignment, we had a daughter. You have heard this before, but it belongs in my story now because it was a turning point.
When Kim was born, she was tiny but perfect. However, before we got out of the hospital, she started having jaundice. She had two blood transfusions and needed to be monitored. My hospital stay was over, but I had to leave Kim there. That evening she began to have blood in her stool and they couldn’t find the cause. The bleeding was getting worse. Doctors decided that she needed to go to the military hospital, Fitzsimons, in Denver, so they took her by ambulance in the middle of the night. This was a few days after the big flood in 1965 and many roads were impassible. My doctor wouldn’t let me make the trip and anyway, I had three small boys at home. I spent my night in prayer (You could call it that.) I, alternately, begged God to heal Kim, but I didn’t believe God did that, anymore, and I begged him not to let her die. Sometimes, I yelled at him. It was a very long night.
Dave managed to get home that next morning – parents weren’t allowed to stay with children at the military hospital – and he informed me that they would do exploratory surgery at Noon if there was no improvement. This was Sunday, so Dave called the pastor to tell him that we were going to stay home by the phone and asked them to pray. For what, I wonder. Anyway, the members of the church stopped in the middle of the service and prayed for Kim, our little 5-pound daughter. They didn’t believe that God healed, either. Then. I imagine they prayed for the doctors and such. At the very moment of that prayer, the bleeding stopped. Maybe Kim managed to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. The bleeding did not just slow down, it stopped. Instantly. The tough military doctor called it a miracle. We did, too. And the people from the church as well.
I learned something about God that day. He does heal today. He hears my prayers and answers them. And I learned that he cared for me. Luke 7 tells stories of Jesus healing and raising the dead causing crowds to follow him everywhere. John’s (the Baptist) disciples came to ask Jesus, on John’s behalf, if he was the one for whom they were waiting. Jesus told them to go tell John what they saw – the healings, the raising from the dead, etc. Then he says to the crowd, v. 24, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? (…)” I read a meditation where the writer wonders what drew the crowd to follow Jesus around. The writer said that, most probable, it was the healings. Perhaps so. It worked for me.
A year later, Dave was to return to active duty. I was talking to a neighbor about church and how I wish there was one who believed that God worked in the world today. I wanted a God that I could touch, a God who heard my prayers of desperation, a God who responded as I had experienced. She said, “I think you might like my church – St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Boulder.” Dave took classes in the engineering building across the street from St. Aidan’s, so he went to their chapel and picked up The Book of Common Prayer (1928). He read: “Ye who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.”
Then after the Confession, he read: “Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Dave said, “I think we have found what we have been looking for.” At last! As Frederick Buechner says, “It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want but…the experience of God’s presence.” Yes! A God I could touch who touches me. Before we left for Ft. Benning, Georgia, we were baptized at St. Aidan’s. My baptism, I believe, is when the Holy Spirit stopped hovering and started seriously meddling in my life. Did I not somehow say he could…? And there’s more.