Of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit Coming (Back) into My Life
I don’t remember my first baptism. I was a five-week-old baby in my mother’s arms, crying as the priest poured cold holy water over my forehead, anointed me a child of God, and welcomed me into the fold.
Four decades later, I remember every moment of my second baptism. But this time, I wasn’t baptized with cold water; it was the fire of the Holy Spirit that poured into my soul.
I was 41-years-old, and I was crying again. But not for milk. For mercy. Mercy from the Lord. Mercy from His wrath and judgement that He righteously allowed to fall on me for hardening my heart and turning my back on Him. Mercy from the spiritual agony I was experiencing at the bottom of the human abyss.
There are two saving graces of reaching the bottom. The first is that the fall is over. Finally. A decade of falling is a long time.
The second is that there is a choice. Don’t let the darkness lie to you. There is always a choice. Free will is an undeniable, irrevocable gift from the Lord. You can give your free will away, but no one can steal it from you. For me, the choice between life and death was clear:
Eternal darkness or eternal light.
It’s a choice most everyone reaches if you live long enough in the Fallen World without the Lord. It doesn’t matter how much power, fortune, fame, or family you have (or don’t have), the darkness on this tumbling rock will break you one way or another. And when it does, if you don’t have the Lord, that brokenness will eventually crack you in half.
It would have been the easiest thing I had ever done to choose the first option. There seemed to be nothing left to fight for. I had lost everything in my life that meant anything to me, or that I (falsely) believed defined me.
As I sat on the floor pondering the biggest decision of my life, I was gutted. Empty. Suffering severely from a cleaved heart, a shattered mind, and a melted soul swimming in a malnourished body. And in that fleeting moment (30 seconds?) between realizing the two choices and making a decision, all of the seeds that the Lord had planted deep within my heart over the previous months and years sprouted. Endless (and deeply personal) moments of the Lord reaching out to me through the words and actions of family, friends, and strangers, as well as making His presence known in my life through natural and supernatural events. And me completely ignoring all of it. Over and over and over again.
Then I heard a voice reminding me that I had literally tried everything else I knew how to do to put my life, my marriage, and my family back together except ask the Lord for help. And that everything I had done had failed. Miserably. And in devasting ways. That was the precise moment when I realized how far I had fallen. How broken I was. And how badly I needed the Lord. How badly I wanted the Lord. James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
I gathered all of my remaining strength. Lifted myself up onto my knees. Closed my eyes. Admitted to the Lord my utter failures. Asked for His forgiveness. Confessed that I needed Him in every way a person could need Him. Then prayed for Him to please come into my life and help fix everything that I had destroyed; my marriage, my family, my life, and myself.
In a single moment in time the Lord poured the searing fire of His Holy Spirit into my heart, mind, body, and soul, instantly incinerating everything within me that was not from Him. Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Beyond removing everything from me that was not of the Lord, the Holy Spirit filled me with a divine love I had never known existed (I would come to learn later it’s called agape love), as well as the rest of the fruit of the spirit; joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. In an instant, they were all within me for the first time in a very long time.
As the Holy Spirit swirled within me, the Lord also somehow reforged my melted soul into a new soul. In an instant, every spiritual pain I had experienced in my entire life was healed. Every evil I invited and allowed into my heart, mind, and soul was gone. Every impulse to sin was gone. Every concern I had was erased.
I had Christ within me, and I was a completely new human being. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
In that single moment the Lord did many, many things. Some were spiritual. Some were physical. Some were in the natural. Some were in the supernatural. Some were illuminating. All of them were astonishing.
One of the many things the Lord revealed to me that night was the entirety of my broken life, from my childhood onward. How it all went wrong. Where it all went wrong. And most importantly, my responsibility in it. Where I could have made different decisions. And the brokenness that kept me from doing so. Thankfully, he also revealed the exact steps I needed to take to begin to put it all back together (He’s so good). Not that it would come back together over night. But it would in time, as long as I let Him lead me.
Lead on, Lord. Lead on.
I spent the next day completely exhausted and even more desperate to understand exactly what had happened to me. I knew what had happened to me spiritually, but I needed to begin to understand what happened to me theologically.
As I went out into the world, I began to realize something divinely incredible, and also simultaneously unsettling. I no longer saw the secular world. It was gone. Revealed was the Fallen World. What had once been good (according to secularism) was clearly bad (according to the Holy Spirit). And what had once been bad (according to secularism) was clearly good (according to the Holy Spirit). 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
I realize that when the Holy Spirit entered into me, He removed the veil of deception that I had allowed the darkness to lay over my spiritual eyes through the sin. And because the Holy Spirit’s pure goodness fills you with absolute truth, it breaks the Fallen World’s secular deception, removing it from your spiritual eyes. John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Later that evening I walked into a church that had been recommended by one of my best friends (a long time believer and someone who had invited me many times). I walked in alone and asked to speak to a pastor. Not only did I need someone to talk to and pray with, but I had a deep yearning to read the Bible. To be in church. To be around Christians. To press into the Lord. To learn more about the Way. To begin my walk with the Lord. To plug my family in.
The pastor who the Lord had waiting for me that day would become someone who both my wife and I truly love. He, along with a host of other incredible people in the church and in our orbit, would go on to help repair my marriage, my family, and my life.
A couple days later, standing in my first church service (with that same best-friend), I began to pray during the opening worship. I hadn’t prayed in a church service in years (a decade?) And within minutes, Jesus Christ made himself known to me in the spirit.
Before that moment, I knew Jesus existed. I believed He walked the earth and performed miracles. Not only had I been baptized, I had graduated from eight years of Catholic school. But I did not honestly understand His relationship to me, or, more importantly, what His sacrifice on the cross truly did for us (as well as what He continues to do, and will do for us in the future).
But in that moment, standing there in church praying, with everyone worshipping and the Holy Spirit swirling around us, I could feel Jesus present himself in my heart, mind, body, and soul. And for the first time in my life I completely understood that it was Jesus who had saved my life a couple nights earlier. He had sacrificed himself upon the cross for all of us. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
I spent the next year completely focused on my family and my Walk, realizing the magnitude of what the Lord did for me, and knowing how much I had to do to get in sync with the new beginning He had provided.
Three years later, the Lord has rebuilt me, my wife, our marriage, our sons, our relationships, and our lives. It isn’t always easy. We put in real work. We pray and read the Bible every day. Attend service, Bible studies, and various ministries. During that time we’ve witnessed continued miracles around us, both large and small. We’ve had great days, bad days, and ugly days. But now, every day, we are the beneficiaries of the Lord’s love, grace, and mercy.
Like all believers, I am a committed Christian who loves the Lord, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit with all my heart, mind, strength, and soul. I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, providing forgiveness of our sins, salvation of our souls, redemption of our lives, and entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
Simply put, I’m a God-fearing, Jesus-loving, Bible-reading believer, and you can be, too. Just accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, plug into a great church, read the Word, begin your walk in the Way, and you’ll have everlasting life through Him, in Him, and with Him.
November 27th, 2020