This is a story about a teenage boy who sought to hear God’s voice and get baptized in the Spirit in order to walk in God’s power. Now this desire wasn’t always there. In fact, I grew up in a Reformed church that denied that the gifts were for today. I just defaulted to that position until I met a special friend on TeenSpot at the age of 17. At that time I was interested in debating apologetics and philosophy, so my intellectual tendencies were being chiseled into my nature. This friend of mine for some reason opened up to me about some deep experiences he had. Now to some people these were just stories, but this friend was a fellow christian knight in the fight against skepticism so I had to hear him out. I won’t tell his story for you here, but it basically involved seeing and fighting demons, discerning things in the Spirit, and great providential acts of God in his life. I never heard of a story like this; it was crazy, dramatic, and supernatural in every sense of the word. You’d probably think it came right out of some movie or TV show.
That’s likely not reassuring to you. I think if I told his story you’d roll your eyes and think I was nuts for believing this guy. Well I don’t care because guess what, I believe him. I was skeptical at first but this guy was either crazy or a liar, and that settled it for me. He’s not a liar and he wasn’t crazy. He opened my eyes to an entirely different world. You have to understand that this friend displayed intelligence in a forum that would suggest the opposite of being crazy. He also had no reason to lie to me about his experience. But incase I had any doubts, he told me a vision that he had of me and described in sufficient detail what I struggled with. I was amazed at just what he got right about me. At this time I had not really opened up with him about my “deep pains” that I uniquely struggled with but it was as if he saw right through me. That had to be the work of God. There just wasn’t any other sane explanation.
Now granted, perhaps at times I was taken in by the glamor and the “cool new” world that he introduced to me but it was not the reason I trusted him. I knew in my heart that something was lacking in my spiritual walk. Before I got saved, I asked God to have someone tap my shoulder and tell me to give my life to Jesus if He wanted me to be His. A few seconds later the Pastor’s daughter fulfilled that request. You don’t understand how blown away and teary-eyed I was. For the first time I felt like I was loved and wanted by God. After I was saved, I went through an intense stage of darkness that Pilgrim’s Progress calls the pond of despair. For the first time I felt the guilt of my sin in a way that truly impacted me. I failed so many times for the first year that I began to doubt my own salvation. No matter how much I begged God to remove my sin from me and how many times I tried to resist, it kept coming back. God’s power over sin was lacking in my spiritual walk.
So I suppose my own experience opened me up toward accepting my friend’s experience. I saw his life and the fruit of God’s power in him and I wanted that same power in my own life. It just wasn’t enough to have all of this head knowledge if I couldn’t hear God’s voice like my friend could. I sought for greater intimacy with Christ because why not? I saw this intimacy in all throughout the lives of the OT and the NT believers. Their lives were rocking out the power of God. When I evaluated the cessationist teaching, I saw that it had literally no biblical support. How anyone could believe in such a doctrine is beyond me! Then I spent time with him in person and I saw all the work he did with my very own eyes. I saw God’s providential hand work in ways that just can’t be explained. This further confirmed that my friend was the real deal. Years later I have seen much more and every time my belief in his story is strengthened.
The Search For God’s Voice
I begin my journey of seeking and knocking for the baptism of the spirit. An angel appeared to my friend and prophesied certain things for both of us that I would spend months attempting to uncover its meaning. Things happened in the way that was prophesied when a special someone came into my life. I felt the chains of sin abandon me and for the first time I felt strong in the Lord. The prophecy was so surreal and I couldn’t believe what God was promising he’d make me, but at the same time I wondered why he would because I feared it would build up my pride. After this I had an almost unshakable belief that God wanted to speak to me directly so I sought Him wherever I could.
This is where my experience came crashing down: I sought the Lord by praying, fasting, reading books on the issue, attending healing services, getting prayed on, and doing almost everything in the book of charisma that you could conceive (except the ridiculous stuff). As I noted in “My First Miracle Service”, I had a terrible experience with a miracle service. I knew there was going to be fraud, but I was just overwhelmed by how much of it there seemed to be out there. I saw how wish-washy and naive charismatics tended to be. The church I attended seemed to refuse to criticize Benny Hinn because it’s judgmental. Like what?! Am I the only one who was bothered by the theatrical nonsense that often seemed to accompany these supernatural services? It was a madhouse. I really did my best to believe, but when I get prayed over for the baptism of the spirit or “healed” nothing would happen. I noticed that charismatics seem to abandon their minds and I refused to throw my mind away no matter what they promised I would receive.
Not all Charismatics were crazy, however. I still held onto people like Doug Perry, Michael Brown, Martin Loyd Jones, and my friend in order to confirm that I needed to continue searching. Doug in particular claims that hearing God’s voice isn’t a gift but it’s just an automatic for all believers. As the Word says, His sheep hear His voice. I always felt skeptical about that interpretation, but I went with it and believed that I should be able to hear Him. So I prayed the “dangerous prayer” and I sought to cleanse myself of all sin in order to get the baptism of the Spirit. Nothing happened. What gives?! I began feeling frustrated and despaired. But I decided to just wait on Him and that there was nothing I could do to receive it. Time passed and I kept praying every day for it, but I got nothing. Then I turned to what I felt was the only explanation: I was cursed or not chosen by God because if this doctrine was true, I should hear God already.
The Great Fall
From there it was just a gradual hopelessness and I gave up on the search. Every time I had high expectations I ended up empty handed. I tried not to give up but I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Imagine searching for your biological father and being told he wants to talk to you so you send letters and try to call but he never calls back. How would you feel about that? I asked the people who claimed to hear from God to tell me why I couldn’t hear him. None of them could answer me. God stopped speaking to me through my friend, and I couldn’t help but feel that it was because I was unworthy. I fell into some sins from time to time and I thought that God may have just given up on the prophecy.
Nothing could prepare me, however, for the absolute devastation that came to my heart when I lost my significant other. That was perhaps the biggest death blow to my search. If God meant for us to be together, how could all of this happen? I believed so strongly that we were meant to be that I told everyone close to me about her with excitement and pride. God converted her to Christianity from atheism precisely because I told her about the prophecy. Later on I worked to strengthen her belief through apologetics to ensure a stronger foundation. But when this happened, that was when I knew that the prophecy was forfeit. I had been hurt in the process of that relationship in a way that I will never forget. Self-condemnation, pride, isolation, etc came back with a roaring vengeance. Now this may seem all juvenile to some of you. Really? Getting brought down because of a woman? But actually it was far deeper than that. What it ultimately came down to was that I felt abandoned by God. That was pain in its purest form.
Everything that I based my hope on, my dreams on, and my purpose on just vanished in a matter of weeks. I felt no better than an unbeliever at the time, but I realized that I could never stop talking to God even if I tried. It was just built into my nature to seek God. He was the only thing I had left even if I felt He was the furthest away from me. I held some bitterness toward God, but I soon repented and turned that into self-condemnation at an almost demonic level. I sought death every day, and imagined thousands of ways that I wished to die. The darkness produced a cold and numbing attitude about everything around me. What was the point of living? Without God’s power it all seemed dead and pointless anyway. I strongly believed that God hated me for good reasons. Remember at this point I was bound to sin again, so I assumed He would put me in hell with satisfying pleasure.
The Light of Hope
After 3–4 months of this despair, I quickly grew tired of it and returned to God. But I only did so by abandoning my belief that God wanted to speak to all believers (including me). Such a doctrine is dangerous, in my opinion, because it leads to the despair that I had just experienced. I now believed that it’s the haves and have nots. God for whatever reason chose to take away the prophecy from me, but He clearly still works in people like my friend. I couldn’t lay any responsibility on my friend for what I experienced because I know he is telling the truth. I reasoned that only “special” people can hear God’s voice directly and that I should be glad because they must be better suited for it than I am. What I believed was that I should be content to hear God through His Word and through my life’s circumstances. If I learned contentment and realized I would hear Him in the afterlife, I could hold on to His promises.
This leads to the present day. I’m still very much in the same mental process, but for some reason I have opened up to hearing God again. I can’t explain why other than to say that I have been humbled. Perhaps I went through all of this suffering in order to not make this about me. Pride, after all, is my greatest sin and always has been. I think God crushed me in the furnace and while I’m not expecting to hear Him directly, I am having a blast hearing Him through His Word. That perhaps did the most to change me. Perhaps I made an idol of the prophecy over me and God decided to remove it. I know that I gave whatever blessing the Lord promised to me over to my friend with no expectation to get it back. But at the same time I don’t want to prohibit the baptism of the spirit from happening by believing it won’t happen. I don’t know what will happen. God is greater than me and He will choose to do with me as He pleases. I know now He wants to speak to me because He has in His Word. If that’s all He chooses to speak to me through then I will praise Him because it is more than I deserve.
Will I hear God’s voice directly someday? Maybe, I don’t know.
Six years later, my journey continues to this day.