I was awoken in the middle of the night. I had some sort of nightmare. I just remember my world falling apart. I was in a panic. Normally after a nightmare, it just takes you a few moments to come to grips with reality that you aren’t falling into a precipice or being chased by a zombie clown and you go right back to R.E.M. But man, I just couldn’t shake it and go back to sleep. So I started praying. I don’t remember praying anything super-specific. Just something to the degree of God help me go back to sleep, help me shake this feeling, that sort of stuff. In the midst of this prayer I realized I had to poop (I was still dealing with a norovirus I picked up in Haiti.) I’m not sure quite when it kicked in, but while I’m sitting on my makeshift squatty potty I was just… overwhelmed. I wasn’t sure yet if this was still the remnant of the nightmare or if this was something else. I looked at my phone: It was 2AMon December 22. That would have been my grandfather’s 93rdbirthday if he hadn’t passed away a few months earlier. That overwhelming feeling got stronger and I turned around to throw-up into the toilet but I wasn’t actual nauseous, but there was something wrong. My heart was beating a million miles an hour. Was this a panic attack? I’d never had one before, but the signs were there. The room was spinning, my heart was palpitating, and I was hyperventilating. I thought that maybe I should go to the hospital. Do I wake-up my wife Amanda and tell her to take me? Or at least keep an eye on me? I certainly didn’t want her to find me curled up in fetal position with my pants around my ankles. Even if I went to the hospital, I’m not sure what I would say was the matter. I know I said something felt wrong, but maybe it just felt weirdor maybe even just different. I thought I might as well cross some possibilities off the list.
1) Let me stand up
2) Let me get something to drink
3) Let me check my temperature
Check, check, check. My worry began to fade, but the feelingwas only getting stronger. I lay back down in bed just staring at the ceiling. I wasn’t tired at all now. I just started talking to God again. And then a wave of comfort flooded over me like a tsunami. The room was pitch black but at the same time it was incredibly bright like I could seeeverything just not with my eyes. Everything in my life seemed to come into perfect perspective and clarity. All my questions about God or His Word felt totally moot. All my concerns about life and ministry just faded away.
I’ve heard how my Pentecostal friends talk about being baptized by the Holy Spiritor being surrounded by Shekinah Gloryor just overcome with the Spirit. I’ve not experienced anything like that before, and never really felt the need to. I believed in God. I’ve trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I had no doubts that I was saved. I saw all the evidences of the Holy Spirit in my life – His fruits, His gifts, His conviction, and the like. But this feeling was new. A few nights earlier I had prayed to get to talk to Jesus face-to-face. There were just some things I wanted to ask Him. I don’t know if you have ever prayed for that before but I tend to just pray for what I want and I certainly want that. I don’t need it. Just want it. So I pray and ask to speak to Him every once in a while. Lying on my bed, in my bright-dark room, I felt as much in the presence of God as anyone could possibly be. I was like Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter said, “we have seen His majesty.” I feel the same way. I don’t know what occurred to me that night; but I’m glad it occurred. I was carrying more hurts, fears, and angers than I cared to admit; but whatever happened to me a few nights ago dried all that up like an earthworm on a burning sidewalk. I was disgusted by any and all sin that was ever in my life, and I had a renewed sense of determination in serving God however He might want.
There is no conclusion on this article because I don’t know why Jesus afforded me this experience. But I’ve been thinking about it. And no matter what, I feel like a changed person, even if I’m not good at describing or understanding my feelings.