This post is a somewhat personal and to some extent still, if not mystical, at least undefined experience, I had several years ago. I have shared this with a couple of people and frankly I am not really sure I should share it here now, but a friend and fellow blogger kind of inspired me to share it.
First the back story, I am a conservative person in many ways, often pessimistic or at least realistic in how I see the world around me both in practical applications and daily life as well as my interactions with others, my level of risk taking, and my decision-making. All of this seems in-congruent when I start talking about faith… let me explain. Faith seems to me so often to fly in the face of conservative thoughts or ideals, Faith is believing in ie trusting, relying or depending on/in something you can not see, feel or touch. Conservative thought often wants proof, justification for belief, tangible realities, yes? I see the chair, it has four legs that connect to the ground made with enough substance that practically speaking, will most likely support my hind-side were I to place it upon the seat. Take the legs away and have the seat suspended without any apparent wires or other assistive device and I would be far less likely to sit in the seat, (although I still might on a dare or the possibility of getting a laugh),
I say all this because I have experiences because of my faith, that create this oxymoronic warping inside of me that defies conservative/realistic thought and I can not explain it. This really bothers me because I want to explain it, in fact I want to explain it so well that others would want to explore the ideas themselves without being hindered by conservative thought.
All of this is perfectly in line with how I first approached spiritual things. My first real commitment to going to a church was a “Conservative Baptist” church where things often were dogmatic and down to earth. I don’t say that with any malice whatsoever. I like the foundational setting this church provided for me. As the years progressed and my faith deepened more and more of what I read in the bible was challenging me. Particularly the 4 Gospels and the book of Acts where the expressions of faith were shown to have vivid and often undesirable consequences… you know like martyrdom. But also things like people praying healing over others and speaking other languages, not their own. There came a point where I finally began to pray that God would show me something that let me know and experience whatever it was that these men and women were experiencing. Nothing happened… I waited, I prayed and still… nothing. I went to other churches where their ideas and experiences were different from my own, and there were people who though well-meaning gave me false teaching telling me that my faith wasn’t strong enough or sincere or some sin was as of yet un-confessed that was hindering me from these spiritual gifts.
I have learned a lot since then and thankfully God kept me on a path that was always wanting to experience the truth of christianity without the baggage of religion. In 2005/2006 I was blessed to have a period of time unlike any I have had before or since. I started to seek God daily out at this quiet spot on the edge of a State Forest. at first I would stop there for 20 minutes or so everyday, but eventually this time grew to a point where it was often several hours daily. I am not going into all the details of this experience but rather wanted to tell you about one day in particular. I showed up and was reading the bible and praying when for no apparent reason I started to laugh. At first it just kind of bubbled up out of me and then slowly increased in levels of intensity growing to the point where streams of tears are running down my face. This laughing was really unnerving because I hadn’t been reading or praying about anything funny, also I was feeling rather unusual sitting alone in my car while laughing uproariously, my sides were aching and this had been going on for about ten or fifteen minutes. I have no idea when, but at some point a car pulled in and I turned to look out my passenger window. That’s when I noticed the Police officer standing there, looking at me with an expression which was a mix of doubt, humor, and I need to call the Paddy Wagon.
I tried to reign myself in under control but it ended up being more like a ten-year old with a fit of giggles trapped inside. As I rolled down the window, my face soaked with tears. I had no clue what I was going to say when this officer asked me the inevitable question…”Is everything OK here?” He did ask and I stumbled and mumbled and giggled my way through an explanation about a spiritual experience and holy laughter. The officer decided that although I was apparently off my rocker I didn’t appear to be a danger to myself or anyone else so he made a hasty retreat back to the police car in search of something more akin to normal.
I realize that this may not be the best story to tell as it may actually deter you rather than draw you to explore spiritual things. I will say this… for me, this was something that deepened my faith and that this experience was for me,and me alone. For you God may have something different that will be just the thing you need at the time you need it to encourage you and strengthen you when your faith is weak or not there at all. If you read this and you just shake your head in dis-belief or put on the conservative, pragmatic, suit of realistically, that’s ok too I have been there and it’s just a stop on the journey.