My children and I sat in a school auditorium, the only white faces in a sea of black. It did not matter. We were part of the body of Christ. Together, our hearts lifted to God.
The pastor stood on the stage, an open Bible in his hand, and gave a message that changed my life.
“Jesus said, ‘If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me,’ ” he said. “When they lifted him up on that cross, he began drawing people like a magnet. If we stay close to him, we become magnetized and draw people to him, not with our own power but with his.”
His message lay heavy on my heart in the following weeks. I floundered in thoughts of my inadequacy. I believed in Christ, but I did not draw people to him. In fact, I was sure some turned away because of my example, while I tried to balance the responsibilities of my job and family.
Several friends talked about the joy of being baptized by the Holy Spirit. Was this the answer? I held back, locked in fear like a drowning man fights off his rescuer.
One day, I found a book, “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit,” written by R. A. Torrey, in the church library. A Baptist preacher, Torrey laid down the concepts, precept on precept.
Ask God, he said. Remember the promise Jesus gave, “If your son asks you for bread, will you give him a stone? Even so, will the Father give the Holy Spirit to him who asks.”
When I finished the book, I knelt by my bed. In that quiet room, I asked God to lift me out of this sea of busyness, out of myself, and give me his Spirit. I surrendered, admitted my weakness and waited.
When I got up, a taunting voice inside jeered, “Nothing happened. Nothing changed.”
I turned on the faucet in the bathroom to get a drink. Water spurted up, spraying my face and my clothes. I stepped back, startled. Then I laughed.
Okay, Lord, I prayed. I believe you. I have been baptized.
Gently, the Holy Spirit began to take over my life, drawing me out of troubled waters into the safety of his love. No doves landed on my shoulder. I simply went back to my busy schedule at work and at home, but God was with me in a new way.
At work, three friends began stopping to talk more often. I listened, shared and laughed with each one. These women came to know Christ that year, each in her own way.
Diane went forward at a Billy Graham crusade. Inez opened her heart during a Christian television program. Pam came to church with me, and one day knelt at the altar to receive Christ.
I asked Pam later if she saw anything different in me that year.
“You seemed more open, more ready to listen,” she said.
When I retired, God led me to begin a mentoring program for younger women in the church. I also teach a children’s Sunday school class. I thank him for rescuing me, and letting me touch others to draw them to him.
I say with the apostle Paul,
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.”
- 1 Timothy 1:12
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