Failing the Grace of Divine Enablement part 1©
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I was 16, it was late spring, early summer. There was a revival beginning at my home church. We were excited but also surprised, the meeting was only going to be for three days – normally they seemed to last a month or longer! Special emphasis was being put on the young people attending because the gentleman ministry gift – evangelist – who had been invited was just graduating Bible school. It was unusual they were highlighting that fact since they always said that college was the devil’s playground. This was one of those instances where they meant well, but taught us wrong.
I remember the first night of the revival, the mothers each in their white, altar workers ready, choir in the stand, devotional leaders positioned. I was a little late that day, and as I entered into the sanctuary you could feel the effect of strong prayer, decrees, and supplications from the mothers. They were walking the floor and preparing the way of the Lord.
I was wearing a brown and white striped Bobbi Brooks belted shirt dress and white Pappagallo Mary Jane's with bag to match. Bible, notebook, and pressed handkerchiefs in hand. After prayer, scripture reading, devotional service (songs and testimonies), before the choir sang, out walked the pastor with this very handsome, dark-skinned, impeccably groomed young man. And I said, "Hmmmm." Those who hadn't met him yet were surprised at his age and even much more with his accomplishments, but waited to "judge his spirituality."
He participated in the service, sang, and quickened. Then, our pastor introduced him and we witnessed intelligence, perfect diction, charismatic personality; he was poised, polite, warm, entreating – AND he had the Holy Ghost. For real.
After honoring leadership, thanking his hosts for the invitation, and sharing with us a little about who he was and where he came from, he proceded to scripture. He asked for a reader. Well, you know what happened after that. With lightening-like speed, I found the scripture and with distinct articulation and voice inflection, I read.
I was on the second row. He asked me to come to the front and gave me the microphone and said, ‘Read!’ And I did. I know now what I didn’t know then about his presentation. It was expository preaching and it was superior. He gave us the scripture, its context, the chronological time, persons involved, the situational conditions, the weather, and the Greek from the original text. Another surprise.
He took his time. And you could actually see in the spirit what he was describing in the natural. He finished up in Acts talking about the last-day revival, igniting hope and anticipation in the saints, saying, And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: Acts 2:17. And he talked about signs, wonders, miracles – he talked about anointings and end-time revivals. Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things. Joel 2:21
By this time, the organ, piano, drums, cymbals, and guitars were playing along with the powerful beating of tambourines. We were running, jumping, and quickening, dancing and praising God. He talked about how God wanted to use us and how He wanted us to be filled with the Spirit; how there were many present who God was calling to do great things.
It awakened desires, it whetted appetites. What so many of us were experiencing and demonstrating in the spirit, he had put language to. The power of God was so greatly experienced by me that night, I could barely stand. I sat there in the pew in the front with hands raised, thanking and praising God, feeling a manifestation of God’s presence that I had never felt before. I could not explain it. It was as if I were being invited and summoned to an experience that I had not yet had. I think it was a preview of the future and a showing of things to come.
The altar was filled with young men and women, teenagers and young adults. People were slain. It was as if God was calling, choosing, mantling, awakening, pronouncing, imparting gifts and abilities upon those on the altar for a future time and place.
Service was long that night. Even while the pastor was trying to give the benediction, the power of God interrupted and erupted. And when he let go of the reins, we continued in praise for another 45 minutes to an hour. After everyone and everything was collected, they had hospitality in the back for the visiting evangelist and other pastors and ministry gifts from the city. I can’t begin to tell you the spread!
Chicken: baked with dressing, fried, and smothered.
Baked ham. You remember the kind with the pineapple and maraschino cherries.
Collard greens with ham hocks.
Turnip greens with neck bones and cornbread dumplings.
Macaroni and cheese.
Fresh string beans with smoked pig tails.
Fried corn (white people call it creamed) - not the kind you get from the can, but cut and scraped from the cob.
Sliced tomatoes. The big kind.
Onions in white vinegar.
White corn bread.
Yellow sweet corn bread.
Homemade ice cream.
As I was about to make my departure, one of the mothers invited me to join them. She didn’t have to twist my arm. I remember being very, very hungry, yet without an appetite or desire to eat, if that makes any sense. I left, returned home, prepared for bed and laid there thinking about the move of God that I had experienced. I can remember the sheets that were on the bed. They were pastel lavender, pink, peach, and green – large stripes. As I laid down that night, I believe that God was pressing into my spirit a future memory of what He had deposited in me. As I drifted off to sleep, I just felt different.
When I awoke that morning, I lay on my pillow for a few moments with literally no desire to eat or drink. I come from a breakfasting generation. It wasn’t as if I had simply lost my appetite, or felt under the weather. It was as if my appetite for food and water had been abducted. After meditation, I knew that God was calling me to a fast. A total fast.
The Spirit of the Lord was escorting me into a season of fasting to assimilate, to guard, to strengthen, and to advance the deposit I had received the night before. There was nothing in me that desired food. There was nothing in me that desired drink. My appetite and desire had been supernaturally suspended. And I felt the spirit of fasting like I never had before. I felt as if I could fast forever.
I knew that it was mandated. I knew that it was, and it was going to be, necessary. I knew that there was something God wanted me to receive, that could only be received through total abstinence.
I showered, dressed, and my mother said, “Aren’t you going to eat something?” Without appetite or thirst, without temptation present, or any struggle or fight to fast, out of mere habit, I ate. Afterwards, I was not physically sick. I was spiritually sick. There was a deep, unshakeable grief, loss, disorientation – I was out of time, out of sync. I felt foreign in a familiar place, and even more foreign in familiar things. I was like in a zombie state. It was a miracle that I could even make it through the day. My rhythm, timing, sequence, and speech were off.
These many years later, I can now put into apostolic and prophetic language in great detail what occurred so long ago. We will continue this on Day 6 of The Chronicle.