“I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.” (John 16:7) Jesus told his disciples in advance that he would be leaving them to return to his Father, but that it would be to their advantage that he would go because he would send the Holy Spirit to give them all they needed to fulfill the great commission. As Pastor Bryan said in a recent message, all Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is never far away from us. I believe also that as we go about our days the Holy Spirit provides us council as we come across situations and challenges. I greatly rely on his council every time I write a blog. Every time before I write I pray that it would not be my words that come out but the Holy Spirit flowing through me to send a message to others.
Brought to Mind
As I was doing dishes one evening a memory came to me that was an early one in my walk with God. It was during a time where I questioned whether my salvation was genuine, but due to the Holy Spirit’s council and the courage he provided I was able to answer once and for all that burning question. Not only did this memory come to me while I was doing the dishes, but along with it an intense desire for me to share my testimony. God did not bring me that mighty victory for me to keep it to myself but to use it to help others who may be facing a similar question. In obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit I will share this story and pray that God uses it for His glory in your life.
I first became a Christian at eighteen after suffering a familiar teenage crisis, heartbreak. The girl I had obsessed about throughout high school did not return my affections. I was devastated because I had changed who I was in an attempt to win her and when that didn’t work I was left with the question, what had it all been for? My neighbors were having a movie night at their church and it was during that night that God really planted the seeds that led to my salvation a few weeks later.
I could easily write a whole blog just on my initial salvation but that’s not the story I want to share with you. In the early stages of my walk with God I had a hunger for His word. I devoured the gospels multiple times. I loved my youth group and would look forward to going every week. I was enjoying my college life. Everything seemed to be going great and for the first time I really felt like I had found my place in life.
Then all these questions and doubts began to come to my mind. What if God doesn’t even exist and the salvation I found was a lie? Doesn’t evolution disprove God exists? This question lead to multiple research papers and a lot of time spent in the library. Ultimately though, this question couldn’t truly shake the faith I found. There was another more insidious question, did I truly mean it when I said for Jesus to come into my heart and into my life? My decision to accept the salvation He offered was made because my world had been falling apart, and wasn’t I just using God as a crutch until I could stand up? Was my salvation even real?
I brought up this conversation in my youth group and was given a less than satisfactory answer. One of the leaders said that for me to come to God in my brokenness is exactly how God’s salvation should be found. This is absolutely true, but for me in that moment I needed something more than words. A test of some sort to prove that I truly wanted to follow Jesus. I wanted to know for sure that I was a real Christian and that I wasn’t just pretending to be one.
God gave me the chance I was looking for a few years later at a huge youth event in New Jersey. The event took place in this massive stadium packed with people, and that weekend was filled with powerful times of worship and inspirational messages. At the end of the last message on Saturday, the speaker talked about the story of the prodigal son and how he came back to his father. He talked about the salvation and freedom Jesus offered. He set out an unconventional alter call. If we had never experienced Jesus’s salvation or felt like we had drifted far from God, he asked us to rise up and cry, “I want the cross!” As I sat there in my seat, I knew in my heart that this was for me. I had never prayed for it but the Bible says that when we don’t know what to pray the Holy Spirit himself prays for us and intercedes for us on our behalf. I could feel his prompting for me to stand up and declare that I wanted the cross. This was my moment to answer for myself was I a Christian or was I just pretending to be?
I was sitting there in my hard plastic seat with my knees shaking. I knew this call was for me but it terrified me to stand up like that in front of all those people. There was a war going on inside me at that moment between the Holy Spirit and Satan. Satan was feeding my fear whispering, “What will others think of you if you stand up? And weren’t you already saved? This is meaningless.” But a larger part of me said, “If you can’t stand up in front of a crowd of Christians, how can you hope to really make a stand in your life for Christ?” All at once I rushed to my feet, threw my hands wide apart and shouted at the top of my lungs, “I want the cross!” As soon as I did this I felt incredibly liberated! I felt like all these chains had been attached to me holding me back from all God wanted for me, but as soon as I stood up all those chains broke apart and fell away. Every lie of the enemy and every hook he had pierced me with broke away in an instant. A few weeks ago, Greg Hubbard talked about how the Holy Spirt wants to give us that advantage in. When I stood up and make my declaration that was my advantage in moment! I felt such a sense of triumphant victory in that moment and I knew that with God I could do all things. Since that day I never again questioned if my salvation was real.
Will You Obey?
When you hear/feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit don’t hesitate or hold back. If he wants to rise up and declare who Jesus is for you, then rise up! If he calls you to share your testimony with others then share it! If he calls you to go on a missions trip, then go! All I pray is that if today you hear God’s voice, don’t harden your hearts like the pharaoh in Moses’s time did. If the Holy Spirit is counseling you to do something, obey his call at once and don’t miss your chance! Obey his wise council and be all that God wants you to be!