Welcome to my story. I’m so glad you’re here! There are 13 posts in this series, and I will update the links as I post them:
- Memories of Divine Light
- Remembering: El Shaddai
- Descent into Darkness
- Brush with Death
- Visions of Glory and Bliss
- Miraculous Healings
- Chasing Supernatural Experiences
- When my World Caved In
- Understanding: It’s All About Love
- Rebirth Into Divine Love
- You Are Eternally Loved
I invite you to come along with me as I share my memories of brilliant light and unbelievable love, my descent into darkness and depression, and my reconnection and rebirth into Glorious Love. Mine is a story of supernatural experience intermingled with beautiful and broken humanity, the story of a spiritual awakening, of finding and reconnecting with a love I forgot existed, the story of an explosive, incomprehensible light that fills, awakens, heals, connects, animates, empowers, and spills out of every crevice of your being. This is part 7 of my story.
It was my first service at Resurrection Life Church.
I had waited years for this experience. Having grown up in a church where expression during worship was discouraged and anything supernatural was attributed to the imagination, I had been yearning for more. Bound by the fear of God’s wrath – the fear that my childhood church was right, and that there was no more to God than a distant, all-powerful, vengeful being, I held back.
Then, when I was around 19 years old, I had a transcendent experience of God which surpassed anything I have ever known in this physical world. Around the same time, I experienced miraculous healings in the healing rooms at Res Life. All of this cemented my belief that there was more to God than what I had been taught in church. I was desperate for more and I searched for that more by chasing another supernatural experience.
My first service at Res Life in Grandville Michigan was not a disappointment. Filled with anticipation and nervous expectation, I was glad to be able to hide in a crowd of thousands of people. It was a Sunday evening in late winter. I had convinced my parents to allow me to attend by agreeing to only come on Sunday nights and to still attend my childhood church on Sunday mornings.
The lights dimmed, and the first song began. I remember it vividly: “Oh praise him,” by the David Crowder Band. Micheal Gungor lead worship on his guitar and he danced like a child, uninhibited and innocent. Surrounded by a sea of raised hands and the worshipful voices of thousands ascending above the sound of the band, I was finally free to be myself. With no-one watching me or judging me, I lifted my hands during a church service for the first time. I blended in with others who were dancing, crying, bowing face-down, or just standing quietly. The air around me shimmered as if I was caught again between two dimensions – the physical and the heavenly.
The song spoke of the voices of angels and the “infinitely sweet” love of God, and that’s exactly what I heard and felt in that service, and in every service to follow over the next four years I would attend. After a lifetime of feeling barren, empty, bound, and stifled spiritually, the worship services in this church fed my spirit and refreshed me in a way I cannot even begin to describe.
It didn’t take long for my parents to notice a night-and-day change in me. If you ask my dad he will tell you that he saw me grow more spiritually in those first few months at Res Life than in my entire life up to that point. He began attending the evening services with me out of curiosity. After a year he convinced my mom to switch churches and brought the whole family with him. I watched as an unprecedented miracle of healing and transformation took place in the lives of my parents and siblings.
I experienced and witnessed miraculous physical healings in that sanctuary. In fact, healing became the norm for me – everyone in those circles had either been miraculously healed or knew someone who had. And I can attest to the fact that the bulk of these healings are not imagined or made up.
I completely fell in love with the charismatic experience of “worship,” because it brought me closer to that emotional state of divine love than anything else in this world can. To this day, I experience feelings of bliss any time worship music is playing, whether at church or home. As the years have gone by and my connection to God has become stronger and more clear, these states of bliss have become easier for me to attain and hold in the physical world.
And most importantly, my view of God began to evolve. Res Life preached of a God of love! Not an angry God who hated the world and was just waiting to pour out vengeance on sinners. Not a God who had predestined most of the world to hell, but in his “love” and “mercy” had decided to save a few.
No, Res Life preached of a God who first and foremost loved his creation with an everlasting, unbreakable love. A God who “did not want anyone to perish.” A God who wanted to heal, spiritually and physically, who was touchable and reachable, not distant. A God who had provided all we needed for life and relationship with him on the cross, and had forgiven the sins of the whole world. It was our choice whether to receive this forgiveness and accept his love.
How can people read the same Bible – the same verses in many cases – and come up with vastly different interpretations of God? I wrestled with this for years, and I have come to understand that there are as many interpretations of God as there are people. And that’s OK, because each person’s relationship with God is unique. But God will reveal himself to each of us in the way that we are ready for, as long as we are truly seeking him.
At the end of the day, we must remember that the Bible says many things about God, but it only says that he is two things. “God is love,” and “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Anything we believe about God must be filtered through this lens. Are there consequences for sin? Of course. Does God allow bad things to happen in our lives? Yes. God will use anything and everything for our growth, but it is all driven by his love for us and his ultimate desire to heal his creation.
When people believe that God loves them, they are set free. They are healed. They can rise up and live the lives they were meant to live. As for me, I can’t say that I fully believed that God loved me, even after all I had experienced. It did my heart good to simply hear that he did. It would take a lot longer for me to accept his love. I was still too burdened down by the trauma of my past and the resulting fears, anxieties, and shame that colored my view of myself and dictated my life. I was ruled by negative thought patterns that drowned out anything I said I “believed.”
The only time I felt free from my burdens was during worship, during a tangible experience of God. I was at Res Life every time the doors were open. I practically lived there some weeks. I was a desperate seeker, longing to be filled.
I chased experiences of God like my life depended on it. Even though I had grown up in the church and had believed the gospel of Jesus Christ my entire life, I had no idea how to take that love inside myself and keep it there. I didn’t even know that I could. I was looking for that love outside myself in the form of supernatural experiences, and trying to hold on to it somehow. My memories of God, the ones that had haunted me since I was a child, were “somewhere out there,” or so I thought.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s better than looking for satisfaction in drugs or alcohol, which all my college classmates were doing. I just didn’t know that there was a way to feel close to God all the time. I didn’t know I had access to that love, and that it could actually stay inside me and change me from the inside out. I was right in sensing that there was so much more to God than I knew, but it would take another decade for me to understand what that more was.
For the next four years, if I was not at work or school, I was at church, seeking a spiritual experience. I went from one “high” to the next, and meanwhile, my personal and emotional life spiraled out of control.