Today I am remembering my first contact with the so called “Toronto Blessing.” I am remembering my scepticism being met with conviction of sin which was unbearable, which was followed in turn by my being flung through the air by the power of the Holy Spirit without any human hand touching me and landing, without any damage, on the ground. I lay there being deeply healed of a success driven outlook on myself and life and ministry. Jesus was bringing me into the rest of soul He promised He could give by doing what only He can do: revealing His Father to those who respond to His invitation, “Come to me.” (Matthew 11: why not make some time soon to read of Jesus explaining the process by which He leads us to rest of soul?)
Having shared that, let me issue a couple of warnings. Number 1: I don’t want to turn this blog into a debate about whether or not the Toronto Blessing was good or bad, from God or not. That would soil and pollute this blog and its intention with ugly things and bad smells that would linger. If you want a debate about that, there are ugly websites by the score where you can find support for your point of view one way or the other, though if you have any sensitivity to the Spirit, you may well find yourself longing to take a shower after you have read them, to get rid of a sense of slime clinging to you. As I have said before, these blogs are being written simply to share where I have found bread. Number 2: Please don’t think there is anything wrong with you, don’t be insecure, if you have not had a similar experience. I think I really needed that to happen. There are many folk who are much deeper in their experience of life in God than I am for whom such a thing has never happened.
What came to mind today though, was the reaction of a ministerial friend when I shared my experience: He said, “In the Bible folk who met with God always fell on their faces not on their backs. Evil people fall on their backs in the presence of God.” I think he misunderstood that falling on your face is what you do to hide yourself as best you can from the glory of God lest you perish. Falling on your back and being completely exposed to the eyes of God face on, unable to turn over and try and hide yourself to give yourself a chance of not perishing is the most vulnerable place to be. I was fully clothed but I felt completely naked in the presence of God. I was being completely undone by the Spirit of God. Would this God bless me or kill me? I was in the grip of limitless power against which I could do nothing. Fortunately limitless power had come to bring me rest in limitless love which I had never quite found. My first cry when it all happened was “Oh no!” It was followed by “At last.” Something was killed, something did die that day: the belief that God would love me “if” or “when” I reached a certain mark. God’s mighty spear was thrust into that lie! Hallelujah!
I know as a pastor how it is possible for me to misunderstand people and their behaviour. It is easy for me to make up a story of why someone is the way they are. Indeed sometimes I try and help a person make a story from the varied facts and experiences of their lives that they cannot make sense of by drawing all the data of their life together in a coherent way. I have become more and more cautious of doing that. I may be offering a wrong story. Sometimes there is no coherence to a life and to try and draw a thread of purpose through everything can be deeply wrong and can stop in someone’s throat the cry of pain about the irrationality of it all, the senselessness of it all, finally being released into the hands of the eternal love of God.
Have you made up your story about your own life or someone else’s life quickly but erroneously? The cross of Christ reminds us it is possible to do that. It was possible to look at the cross and see there a blasphemer with whom the just judgement of God had finally caught up. Indeed according to Isaiah chapter 53 that was what the most obvious interpretation of the cross of Christ. However it was a wrong interpretation, a wrong story. The fact is that He was being wounded for our transgressions, not His own. The punishment He was bearing was to bring us peace. His wounds were for our healing. Actually this was not a blasphemer. Has ever a story been so wrongly read? The will of God was prospering in Christ’s hands even when the blood stopped flowing from them and death came.
Be slow to make up a story of your life or anyone else’s life. Only God knows all the data. We need His revelation. Best just listen and observe until that revelation comes, if God so chooses.
A closing thought: if you are hurt because you know people have the wrong idea about “you,” have got hold of the wrong end of the story of “you,” then may you think of Calvary, may you find refuge in the love of a misunderstood Jesus. It’s not pleasant to say so, but some folk may just always misunderstand you. It’s a fact of life. Don’t waste time, perhaps many years even, fighting that fact, or trying to get them to see the truth. If that happens it happens, but it may not. Don’t let it build up as anger or rage within you. Don’t let it spoil God helping you into being the “you” He created and redeemed. As believers in the Kingdom of God we know there is a day coming when “all truth shall stand revealed.” That day is not yet. Until that day, some people may always see your limp but understand nothing about the stone in your shoe. It’s just the way it is.
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