Participant

1:42 PM

Just to update you, my friends, Kyle and I did take our family to the Summit Church last night. We were a little late,  but apparently, that was no problem. We pulled in the extremely packed parking lot at 8:30 (doors opened at 7) and found a seat in the back with our kids.  I was wearing Dorien in his sling and had a backpack full of coloring books and library books for Brooklyn and August. 

We met my brother, Josh, at the doors, so that was nice! At first, I definitely  felt more like a spectator than a participant.  For starters, the majority of these people I'd never seen before or met. And things were in full swing: the pastor was up front guiding the process gently - letting individuals come up and share their stories and their prayer requests, asking everyone to stop and simply pray, individually or in groups. Men and women from all over the floor would stream out of the aisles to surround and pray for others.  Apparently, 5 people had been baptized before I arrived. It was a very interesting atmosphere - very informal as people were trickling in and out of the auditorium, and partly, for that reason, very comfortable. There were babies crawling around, kids sitting with their parents, people moving around to sit and pray with others.

Kyle and I spent the first half hour listening, absorbing what was going on. I don't know about Kyle, but I'd had a really frustrating afternoon (despite having spent time with the Lord) and I was seeking out the Holy Spirit on some specific issues. And not really sure what I'd find. After some time, I felt my heart begin to soften. Rather than just watching the others around me, I felt myself begin to feel deeply for them. Tears came to my eyes. I can only assume the Holy Spirit was softening my heart.

I never felt an urge to go to the front or anything, but I know God was  there and moving. It was subtle, but distinct. And partly, this is why I can say that with confidence:  there was something in my heart that I was working over and I really didn't want that to be on the table that night. Of course, that's like drawing a line in the sand and daring God to step over. 

Because suddenly, the pastor took the mic and asked everyone to focus on praying about wounds.  He said, I think there are a lot of wounded individuals out here tonight who may not even have any idea how deeply those wounds have impacted them and their lives.  And he asked us all to pray for God's healing, for peace, for whatever it was God wanted to do. 

And THAT was the very thing I'd been squirreling away in my heart.  Wounds. Kyle and I turned to each other simultaneously and began to pray out loud. I also know the Holy Spirit was there because both Brooklyn and August were angelic during the whole event. As we prayed, they actually sat beside us and held us. They really didn't have a clue what was going on, but they sensed something and responded in quietness. 

There was no earth-shattering bang or anything to what I experienced. Just a quiet whisper of a presence that said, Ashley, open up your heart to me and be honest about what you have in there. Tell me about it and don't worry about how I'm going to react or what will happen next. Just let me in and let me see to this wound of yours. 

And I did. I found myself surprised to feel tears streaming down my cheeks and my heart was a little lighter afterwards.  Shortly after that, Kyle and I took our kids home. It had been 2 hours of sitting there with our kids, praying, listening and experiencing a sweet moment of God's breath ruffling our hair. 

Let me say something real quick. I don't want to imply that you have to go anywhere in particular to access the Spirit of God.  As a believer, the Holy Spirit lives in me.  However, until the day my soul is set free from this earthly body, there will be a clash of wills: the will of my flesh (my natural tendencies) and that of the Holy Spirit living in me. The two will never live peaceably side by side because they contradict each other. The toughest thing about living as a believer is that you daily have to smush out the nature of the flesh. Just like Paul talked about in Romans 7. It's possible to give the Holy Spirit just the tiniest bit of room to live in you - severely limiting, or quenching, His impact on your life.  It is also possible to die to yourself daily and invite the fullness of the Holy Spirit to engulf every area of your life, inside and out.  

But I do believe there are occasions or places where God decides to concentrate His presence for a time to accomplish something outside the normal or ordinary.  And it really seems that is what I experienced last night. A liberal outpouring of God's Spirit which has the effect of more rapidly breaking down walls we erect in our hearts, of getting more quickly to the bottom of things, of bringing us more instantly to our knees, of giving us a little taste of what His full glory is about. Something that we can't even really comprehend, nor will comprehend until we're in heaven someday.  

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