How It All Started
In early 2016, I decided that I was just going to trust the Bible when it said that the Holy Spirit would speak to me.
So I started to ask questions, small, like, "Should I buy this cardigan?" or "Should I make this phone call now or wait until later?" So small that, even if it wasn't the Holy Spirit, I probably couldn't mess my life up by acting on the what I heard. And I began to get a response
Things were working out in ways they never had before. My confidence grew that it really was the Spirit. (Later I realized that the Bible said the Holy Spirit would remind us of what Jesus said, not help us figure out which cardigan to buy, but it was a mustard seed of faith.)
In June, I started to ask the Holy Spirit before I said anything. So instead of jumping in to talk, I would mentally ask, "Should I talk or just listen?" Turns out a lot of what I said was largely meaningless, motivated by anxiety or a superficial desire to relate. It was usually better to listen or ask questions. I felt discouraged, but the Holy Spirit said it was good that I was learning.
Then, in October, I was packing for a trip to London, chatting with the Spirit. We had gotten closer.
He said, "You know, you don't really love God."
I straightened up, sweater hanging from my hand.
"You care about God. You're interested in what he thinks and want to please him. But you don't long for him, eager to spend every extra minute with him. You're not passionate about being close to him."
I felt frozen. I had been a Christian for more than 20 years, but I had missed Commandment #1: love God with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I good on mind and strength, but too afraid of God to get heart and soul.
"What do I have to do?"
"Don't bring any reading material on the trip. Just pray in all your spare time."
I was stunned. Two seven-hour plane flights, plus multiple bus and train rides with nothing to read was terrifying. But I am good at rising to a challenge, so I agreed.
To be frank, I don't remember the flight. I think I managed to pray for most of it. By the time we got to London, I was hearing the voice of God in my mind. He was so energetic and fun and enthusiastic about everything we were doing. As we wandered around the Tower of London, I didn't get impatient with my husband and his millions of photographs! God was wonderful company.
It went on like that for a couple of days, until....
A friend had invited us to dinner at the Royal Automobile Club, very fancy! I was getting dressed up. God was excited. But I was anxious the whole time, for no good reason, really. This was a good friend of ours, but I was worried about whether I could keep up my end of the conversation. My husband had trouble getting the waiter to understand what iced tea was. Would there be good vegetarian food?
On my way back to the hotel in the cab, God was angry. "This was supposed to be a wonderful evening," he said. "But you were just anxious. You need a prayer walk!"
It was 11 p.m. in London in November. It was 40 degrees and raining. But, as I said, I am good at rising to a challenge. My friend said it would be safe to walk along the main street under the streetlamps. So I started to walk and pray. After a half mile, I got to the end of the row of lamps and turned around. I headed back to the hotel, looking forward to getting in out of the cold.
But when I got to the entrance, God said, "You are not done yet. Keep walking!" We went over and over why I was anxious and what I was feeling and what I had been afraid of. I felt like he was grilling me! Twice he told me to turn around. I did a total of six laps.
Then, at the end of the last lap right outside the hotel, I saw him standing on the sidewalk. He was about 6'2" with shaggy, sandy blonde hair, wearing black pants and a navy pea coat. His image was like a hologram. I could see him clearly, but I could also see the street behind him.
"You have to decide whether you are really all in your relationship with me. I will give you until tomorrow evening to decide, and I won't talk to you until then." He disappeared.
I was shocked. Of course, I wondered whether this really was God. It all seemed ridiculous. But it also seemed unlikely that my brain would make this up. At any rate, I was really cold, and I needed to think. I headed up to our hotel room and drew a very hot bath.
Laying in the water, I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" I felt overwhelmed.
In my mind, I heard a familiar voice; it was the Spirit. "We should talk about this." I sighed with relief. At least God hadn't left me alone to make the decision.
Then I heard another voice. "Yes, we should..."
I stiffened. "Is this Jesus?" My voice almost cracked. The whole thing was so ridiculous, but I couldn't think who else the third voice in my mind might be.
When he said, "Yes," I just about lost it. Too many crazy things were happening. Looking back, the whole experience was so surreal that I wonder how I managed to focus on being "all in" with God. But somehow that seemed like the key issue. The third voice and I could hash it out later.
The long conversation came down to: What would I have to do?
The Spirit said, "Pray a couple of hours per day and learn Hebrew so you can read the Old Testament in the original. That's the best way to get to know God."
To be honest, the first thing that occurred to me was, "Do you really want me to get to know God through the Old Testament? He doesn't always come off looking so good there." The second thing was, "How the heck am I going to find two hours a day to pray?"
The Spirit said, "If it's important to you, you will find the time." He has been right.
I wish I could say that I made an instantaneous decision: "Of course I want to be 'all in' with God!" But I went to bed that night still wrestling. I woke with some trepidation the next morning, but by 11 a.m., God was back in my mind, his usual optimistic, positive, touristy self.
I said, "I thought you were going to wait till this evening to talk to me."
He said, "You were so adorable. I just couldn't stay away."
Later in the afternoon, Jesus asked God for an extension. He said he thought I might need longer to think it over. But by evening, I had made my decision. Whatever being "all in" with God meant, I wanted it.
The day after I came back from London, I began to see the Holy Spirit and Jesus in my mind, too. They are both about 5'9", slender, with softly curling dark hair. They are warm and kind and gentle and honest and sweet.
Since then, God has gone through a lot of looks. He's been short and tall and muscular and skinny and Caucasian and African American and Asian and Native American, with hair colors ranging from brown to black to blonde to even a David-Bowie-esqe red buzz cut (he let me choose that one.) But now he's reverted to the original tall, lean, shaggy sandy blonde. I like that one the best. Since he says he will do anything to make me love him, I think he's stuck with it.