I apologize for the long delay between these blog postings - I have been quite busy finding myself in God, and I've realized that in comparison my life has sort of fell to the wayside. In a strange sort of sense, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Also, I feel that I should add that every single person and their mother should attend a DTS. (I'm looking at you, Mom and Dad).
Moreso than anything else, it has felt as if my spiritual walk before YWAM was a languid sort of pace, with the destination a vague ending with very unsubstantial outcomes. Here in YWAM however, my walk with God seems entirely accelerated - to an extend that I am still attempting to grasp.
In essence, YWAM has been the shock to my heart that I've always wanted. God has gone from a neat idea and pursuit to my reason for living.
The things I've learned here are absolutely amazing - so much so that I think I will need a month or so of sitting on a chair staring at nothing, just processing all of it - letting it sink in.
Walking into the unknown is always a dangerous proposition, but it is only through such hardship that we are shaped into who God wants us to be.
Before I came to YWAM, I knew things.
I knew that I was a particular sort of Christian - one that never raised his hands while worshiping, Never spoke in tongues, and NEVER experienced being 'slain in The Spirit'.
I knew that those people were very strange and almost psychotic - and that a certain level of insanity was required to participate in such activities.
I knew that my particular flavor of Faith was a quiter sort - one that was not loud and in-your-face, but a quiet sort of dignity that - quite honestly - afforded me isolation.
It fit my needs perfectly.
God, in His wonderful Glory, showed me that I didn't know who I was.
"If you aint who you is, than you is who you aint." - Quoted from Brennan Manning
Now I feel as if I have to prepare some of you for what you are about to read - I warn you that a emotion and/or feeling will emerge that will shroud you - immerse you in itself. I know what that feeling is - it is your skepticism, rearing its ugly head.
I was the most skeptical person imaginable. Not only did I scoff at the ideas of spiritual warfare and/or dwellings in The Spirit, but I laughed at the idea that God loved me. I knew that He didn't love me - but then again, I didn't know much.
So I challenge you to keep an open mind. Walking into the unknown is never easy. Stare fear in the face until it blinks first.
(I've decided to put my thoughts in italics so that you might get a sense of how my mind operated.)
I was slain in The Spirit. Not once, but twice. Two seperate occasions with different results, but the same realization - that The Holy Spirit is real and He is strong indeed.
Now, I am the kind of person that has to take information and roll it around in my head - deconstructing it piece by piece, examining each facet to the minutest of detail, and then deciding to confirm to act upon my understanding. That's just the way God made me.
I'm just explaining this because I desperately tried to recall what happened and what I felt when The Spirit overcame me. Also, being a man who is largely lead by my mind, I feel the need to explain things in a very rational way, despite the fact that what happened wasn't rational at all.
God is not rational, because He doesn't operate within the confines of our human understanding.
Ok. Here we go.
Roughly two weeks ago, I was attending a lecture with a guest speaker who - we were told - specialized in The Holy Spirit and having people being swept up in Him. He told us that in a normal week, he sees roughly thirty people on the floor, either sobbing, laughing uncontrollably, or in a state of absolutely serenity and peace. But everyone is on the floor. All the time.
(At the time, I felt that for some reason, I was a part of some grand scheme - some great false lie, that it was almost cultish and animal-like to experience such things. I figured that there was no rationality to any of this - and that small voice of doubt and fear surfaced and began to whisper to me. What if none of this was true? What if the entire world was living a lie?)
He asked us to close our eyes and pray for The Holy Spirit to enter in and move through us. I did so, and clasped my hands together at my waist, my palms turned upwards. I began to pray for The Holy Spirit to come, despite the fact that I honestly didn't believe that it would do anything.
(I thought that the whole 'being knocked out by God' happened to insane people and people who liked to show off in front of others. 'Look at me - look at how awesomely spiritual I am - I'm on the floor!' ...Showoff.)
After a few minutes of keeping my eyes closed and repeating a mantra-sort of prayer, I began to feel something - like my heart was swelling with warmth. More so than anything else, my heart felt - full. Like it had been empty before and was now filled for the first time ever. It felt wonderful. My breathing became somewhat restricted, honestly because I felt that my heart was too full for me to take in a full breath.
('This doesn't make any sense' I thought. 'I'm just giving in to a hive-mind method of thinking - everyone here believes that something is happening and I too have become swept up in the emotion of these people and so altered my emotions to align with theirs - this isn't happening, my mind is causing this to happen. I'm doing this to myself - this is false!')
The feelings continued, and my heart was beginning to beat faster and faster. I had been standing for so long that my knees and my calves hurt, so I knelt down and kept my eyes closed. I was praying harder now, ignoring my mind's cries for rationality. My heart felt so full that rationality was suddenly quite unimportant. Through my intense praying, I was dimly aware that my hands were shaking - quivering slightly while I held them out. It was not from fatigue or a physical thing or anything of the sort - I just shook, and I can't explain why.
The speaker said "It is easy to speak in tongues - just speak what you want to speak until you run out of things to say, then just let your mouth move and speak out whatever you say. It doesn't have to make sense - in fact, it won't."
I was praying "Come Lord Jesus, enter in Holy Spirit, Come Lord Jesus, enter Holy Spirit...Jesus....yes Lord....
Something came out of my mouth. It didn't make any sense but my lips were moving and I was speaking something and it was gibberish. It didn't make any sense. (Sensing a theme here?)
I thought in my mind (This is rediculous. I'm not making any sense. What is that? Arabic? It sounds like a mix between ten or twelve languages. I'm just taking a breath and expelling sound from my mouth while moving my tongue and lips. Is that speaking in tongues, or just stupidity? THIS DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!)
Yes it did not make any sense. But for some strange reason, I didn't care. My mind did, but my heart didn't.
It was then that I heard raucous laughter - like someone had heard the funniest joke that has ever been told - gut-wrenching, shaking, tears in the eyes, rolling on the floor laughter. The kind that makes you sore after it happens.
Our speaker said "If anyone would like to join these two women, come up front and I will help you to experience the Joy of The Lord."
I opened my eyes to see two girls from my class crying laughing on the floor, hugging each other and holding their stomachs from the laughter. I stood, and walked right in front of our speaker. He fixed his eyes on me.
(This isn't going to work.)
I closed my eyes, and he talked of anointing me with The Spirit, and he touched my forehead gently, then he touched my closed eyelids. All the while he was gently saying a prayer of anointing and grace, asking The Holy Spirit to enter me. I began to sway slightly, and I felt myself lean back into someone who caught me. I felt several hands grab me and lay me gently onto the ground, with hands guiding my head softly to the floor. There I lay.
(I knew it. Nothing. It didn't work. Nothing happened. My vaunted intellect won out again. I....)
....It was then that I lost it.
It hit me and I began to laugh. And laugh hard.
I wasn't laughing at anything in particular, but I was laughing because every part of myself wanted to - I was experiencing such joy that every sense or emotion turned to laughter - joyous laughter.
All the while, my mind was desperately grasping at air, struggling to rationalize. I became vaguely aware of the fact that I probably looked like an idiot, laughing and crying on the floor in front of 70 people that I hardly knew, but I didn't care.
For the first time in my life, my heart's cry was louder than that of my head.
My stomach began to hurt because of how much I was laughing, and I grasped my sides in an attempt to slow the pangs. But I kept laughing.
I realize that my experience was entirely irrational - that no such experiences coincide with logic or reason, but it happened to me. I can testify to that.
I, Daniel Cross, highest amongst the skeptics and doubters, master of unbelief and deconstruction, prince of vaunted intellect and logical thinking - was smacked in the face with an entirely unexplainable experience. In fact, this description is just about the best way I can figure to translate what happened to me.
I laughed extremely hard for roughly 15 minutes straight, and then I stopped. The feeling left me, but my mood had shifted dramatically. I stood, and began to sway.
(Side note - I have never been drunk in my life, but this feeling was incredibly similar to what I had heard of it.)
I felt lightheaded, and rather hard to focus on specific things. I was still wracked with the occasional fit of laughing, and I had to steady myself as I walked.
"He is drunk in The Spirit!" someone said with laughter in their voice. I grinned and slowly sat myself in a chair to recollect my thoughts.
(Bizarre, I thought. That made no sense! What just happened to me? Did I physically manifest what my physical body longed for? Did I just transcend the physical plane and achieve a sort of nirvana within myself to cause this to happen? Or....?
A shiver went up my spine.
(...what if this is actually true? What if God loves me so much that He couldn't wait to give me such a gift? What if these are not lies?)
My mind boggled, and reeled, and did all sorts of other verbs that I can't remember right now. Needless to say, my mind was officially and in every capacity - blown.
I finally found a way to turn my brain off - it was God.
The second instance of being 'Slain in The Spirit' occured just two nights ago in the pavillion of this campus. roughly a dozen people had gathered around Lucas, one of our classmates who was haunted by manifestations of anger - sudden outbursts of anger that he couldn't describe or explain. We gathered around him, and laid our hands on him. We began to pray, some speaking out, some praying silently, some speaking in tongues. (Which by that time was no longer a strange thing to witness for me.)
After about ten minutes of praying for Lucas, he convulsed, and fell backwards into another classmate's arms. We gathered him up and laid him on the ground, where he lay silently and peacefully. When he regained himself, he told us that he felt a spirit or something being torn from his chest, and his anger was gone. He felt wonderful, and the spirit had been removed. (Even now when I talk to him, he tells me that he does not have outbursts anymore. He has been healed.)
After he sat up from the floor, he pointed to me. "Now, it's your turn, Dan," he said.
The group gathered around me, and laid their hands on me. I bowed my head and closed my eyes, holding my hands upward in front of me. They began to pray.
In the deep places of the darkness behind my eyes, I prayed and asked God to enter, for Him to shake me. I asked Him to break me and my thoughts of Him.
After a few minutes of praying, I began to feel a strange thing - my arms began to tingle ever so slightly. A warm prickly sort of feeling was spreading through my arms - moving from my shoulders and down to my wrists. It was then that my arms began to get numb - like it was difficult to move them. The same feeling spread to my head, where my cheeks were touched by the same warm tingling, as was the top of my head.
I was aware that my legs hurt from standing for so long, but I was so immersed in The Spirit that my mind didn't hold as much sway as it usually did. (Thank God.)
As the tingling began to spread down to my torso, I felt my legs give out. I leaned forward into Ben's chest, where he and others helped me to the floor, as I did a few weeks before.
The reaction this time was entirely different - my entire body was tingling and warm, and strangely enough - my hands curled up and I could not move them to save my life. I lay there on the floor with these waves of warm tingling sensations washing over me, and I just experienced it.
I realize now that my mind was blank. Absolutely blank. That never happens to me. NEVER.
I always have a hundred thousand thoughts richocheting around in my skull at all times - even when I try to sleep. My mind never relaxes. Never.
Here, God proved me wrong again. I had been seeking serenity within myself, by myself. No wonder it never worked.
After a while, my hands relaxed and the tingling sensation left me. I lay on the floor, infinitely more relaxed than I have ever been in my entire life. Concrete had never felt so comfortable.
As I lay on the floor, Ben came and sat next to me. He began to softly sing to me, singing of God's love for me, and thanking Jesus for His gift. He laid his hand on my shoulder and prayed for it, and then laid his hand on my forehead and profoundly thanked God for me.
When I arose several minutes later, I embodied languidity. (If that isn't a word, I just invented it.) I felt wholeheartedly relaxed, and evn my speech was slow and deliberate. All of my actions were drawn out, and I could not keep a smile off of my face.
Basically, I felt stoned - stoned with The Spirit, if such a thing exists.
So - I've never been drunk or stoned, but I have been in The Holy Spirit. No side effects, just life-changing revelation.
I walked very slowly back to my room (lazily flopping my arms at my sides and laughing at how rediculous I must have looked. Again though, I didn't care.) I took my contacts out and sat on my bed. I thanked God for His wonderful nature, and I fell back and slept.
I still can't describe exactly what happened, but I know that it was The Holy Spirit moving through me in a strong way.
Feel free to comment and/or ask questions regarding my experiences. Again, I was the biggest skeptic with things of this nature before I actually experienced them. Throw your questions at me and I'll do my best to answer them.
Thanks for reading my longest blog yet. I love all you guys like crazy and I can't wait to share all that I've learned here.
Until next time.