“I didn’t know Jesus wanted us to love Him like that,” is what I told myself as I entered the atmosphere of the new spirit-filled church that my family and I were going to now. We visited for Easter 2003, visited a time or two after that – and then, never left. I would watch men, women and children praise and worship God in a way that I had never known – or even thought about. I was so shy and embarrassed to raise my hands. I didn’t mind clapping and singing but anything else seemed MUCH too personal or expressive. I saw Julie help herself to praise and worship, and my parents, and little by little God was nudging me to loosen my restraints.
I am definitely a “watcher”, learning and making mental notes, always studying to prepare for what is ahead. Nothing in my life had prepared me for the “spiritual” smorgasbord that we found in that small church. Only thing is…I wasn’t sure when I would want to partake of some of those really personal things. I was so private.
Altar prayer was amazing. Watching the people “choose” to have people pray for them up front amazed me even more. The music, singers and band were more vibrant than anything I had ever seen. It was all so…so…so…passionate and loud.
I had never received so many hugs in my life – and my own family are some Olympic huggers, lol. Everyone WANTED to love you at church. I think that was the difference. No one cared about anything else but loving you. I cried the first 6 months I was there.
I watched the pastor on the platform and he loved Jesus all over the place. He had no pride or shame as far as God was concerned. He would fall on his knees and have his prayer closet right there on the platform in front of God and everybody. Well, I guess God was the point!
My eyes didn’t know where to look at first. But finally I focused on the platform and all the loving on Jesus by the pastor. I finally began to realize that I wanted to love Jesus like that!
It didn’t take me long to begin to join the church body loving on each other and mostly on Jesus. It was all such a celebration and open door to enter a literal, spiritual, relationship with God. They talked a lot about power but just touching Jesus was what I thought about. I like the thought of my God being a passionate God that wanted to love on me. I began to receive more and more Word and Spirit teaching and my heart felt like a sponge…soaking up all of it. I KNEW the Bible. No problem there. But they taught me how to speak it with authority and how to believe that it was alive.
I asked a lot of questions about speaking in tongues, dreams, visions, discernment, warfare, etc. There was just so MUCH I didn’t know! I had all that scripture in me and it was stirring in my belly wanting me to do something. I used to sit far from the front during service…but then we started to move closer and closer to the platform…wanting more. LOL, any closer and we would have been ON the platform!
Now before I go any further, I want you to know that most of the rest of my stories are powerful, spiritual and touched by the creative hand of God. God is as real and personal as you will allow Him to be. For me, so much damage had been done way down in my spirit that I had a destiny appointment that was about to begin. We are body, soul and spirit, and only my body and soul were nourished. That was about to change…
I started doing a ladies’ bible study on Breaking Free that summer. It really was totally intense, invasive and revealing…going deep into the crevices of the heart. In many ways I was very shy with it, knowing where all I had been…but I was determined. I was eager for anything that was true. It cost me a lot of tears. It rewarded me with lots of insight….and courage. When I got to the middle of the study there was a section on Song of Songs and learning about totally having a personal love relationship with Jesus. The instruction was to imagine loving on Jesus, personally. Now, nothing inappropriate was meant…just totally free and exposed before your God. I just knew I would get struck by lightening for even saying it – and I didn’t know how to imagine it or ask him. As a child suffering I didn’t even think He wanted anything to do with me. I began to cry, afraid of it, then pushed the workbook aside, went to the living room and hit my knees. With everything in me I cried out to God to love me…and let me love Him…to teach me how to love Him because I didn’t know how…and that I promised that I would give Him all of me…nothing held back…if He would give me all of Him. I wept on the floor laying my heart on the altar.
A few days later I was heading home from the law firm when I began to have my first spiritual experience – a sensation of God being with me. I was driving mind you, on the road! I got weaker and weaker – so much at peace that I was literally melting in my seat. I remember being aware that something was happening and saying, “But I need to drive home first!” When I got home, I wobbled up to the door, and went inside. I collapsed into a rocker I had in the middle of my seating area. I was totally spiritually aware for the first time in my life! It wasn’t like I could see with my physical eyes – but I most definitely was aware of His presence with my spiritual eyes. I knew that He was answering my heart’s prayer from a few nights ago and stepping into my life in a way that I would never forget. Ever. I just stayed sitting there amazed for quite awhile. It just never occurred to me that He would come to me personally. At one point I had the sensation of Him leaning over my left shoulder and inhaling deeply. I somehow knew that He had just inhaled the love in my heart. I don’t know how my lips worked, but I told Him, “I will follow you anywhere.”
Now the evening this was happening was a Tuesday night. On Tuesday nights we had prayer service at church. At some point it occurred to me that I needed to go to church. Eventually I stood up, my legs still shaky, and I picked up my purse to walk to the door. I opened it to go out, then looked back in my apartment and then out my door again. I wasn’t sure what to do. I was going to prayer service to pray…but I was already with Him. Literally, as God is my witness, I asked Him, “Are you coming”? I can only imagine heaven laughing about that one.
From that day forward my experiences, revelation, growth, healing, and purposes began to increase 10 fold. For the first time in my life I realized that I didn’t need to go anywhere to find Jesus, because He was always with me (and you). I was never alone again – my “Teacher” was always with me and I am a fast learner!
To close out tonight, we will end the Breaking Free Bible Study. We finished the study and I was asked to testify because they knew what an impact it had made on my life. But since I was too nervous to speak, they let me write it. At that moment in time, God touched me and I began my first inspirational writing. I wrote a story about Jesus taking me on a deliverance journey. My hand shook so hard that I could hardly read it but it didn’t matter, destiny was released and the ladies roared.
After that, everything began happening so quickly. I received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost and began to speak in tongues. Worship birthed on the inside of me and I began to basically sing along with hand movements. I learned that I was born to be a liturgical worshiper.
Who knows why God touched me (or you) the way He did. I guess it all has to do with what He has for us to do. For me, so much in my mind was painful. If you ask me, He just gave me beauty for ashes.
I would like to tell you that was all there was to it. Mercy, for real, that was only the beginning. My past didn’t give up without a fight, blood, sweat and tears.
This is only the pause of a time out.
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Patti Corbello Archer