I spoke in tongues, I heard the clouds speak, but I still didn’t understand who God was.
Contrary to how a more prominent part of the church has made it seem, Jesus isn’t difficult to walk with.
Jesus is alive. He lives. He is Life. And although this Life of God, whom He is, doesn’t contradict the written word, He exists beyond it.
Amongst others, these are things I wish I knew earlier in life. They would have better shaped my walk with Jesus, and I would have been the better for it.Jesus is alive. He lives. He is Life.
I met Jesus – the Life of God – as a child, found forgiveness and a lot more in Him. But I have come to understand that salvation never really ends with that new birth; this is why I tell my salvation story with reference to when I began to experientially understand who Jesus was and what He was doing in me. Simply put, when Jesus became real to me.
The church made mistakes – some of which nearly cost me my walk with Jesus. I had experiences as a child which needed unraveling and no one was there to help.
Due to the kind of exposure I had to the Christian faith as a child, I only knew God as God: not as Father, not as a Friend. He gave instructions which had to be obeyed. And I obeyed. Because I feared Him.
But soon, I began having experiences which rules and regulations couldn’t explain. Only now do I understand that God was extending a hand of fellowship to me through those experiences.I spoke in tongues, I heard the clouds speak, but I still didn’t understand who God was.
The Speaking Cloud
Once while walking to church, I literally saw a pillar of cloud hover high above me. It seemed to escort me as I headed to church. As I gave attention to this cloud, I heard the words: “just keep following me, keep serving me, and I’ll make something beautiful out of you.”
Such experiences were rarely spoken of in my Church. And considering my knowledge of God stemmed from what I’d learned in church, not necessarily what I’d learned from the Bible, I wasn’t sure what to do with this. So I simply kept it to myself and kept serving God as best as I could.
Soon, I had another experience. And this wasn’t as private as the first.
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Tongues of the Spirit
We were having prayers when suddenly I began to pray differently. I knew I was praying intensely, differently but I wasn’t quite sure what was happening or how I was praying.
After the meeting, someone approached me and asked what language I’d been praying in.
I was surprised by his question, which implied that he’d heard me pray and had heard a language different from the English language which I often prayed in.
I tried but struggled to give a definite response because even I knew I had just prayed in an unusual way.
Then, with a tinge of concern evident on his face, he sighed and said, “you just spoke in tongues without even knowing”.
A youth leader overheard this and that didn’t turn out to be a good thing.
I was a teenager, a young believer trying to understand some of the experiences I was having. You would expect that a youth leader would be in the best position to help. But that didn’t seem to be the case.
All I kept hearing was “I hope you are firing on?”; “I hope you are still praying in tongues?”; “okay take, go read this book.”
I was hurt. All I needed was a few explanations and I’d have been good. But I didn’t get that and instead got someone who used the wrongest approach.The church made mistakes – some of which nearly cost me my walk with Jesus.
The Church Failed Me
My bigger problems with the church began when I got into the university.
I grew up learning to dress moderately. Was a huge fan and patron of long skirts. I often dressed in love, as I would call it. Always ensured that if anyone lusted after me, it wouldn’t be for how I dressed.
So I didn’t understand why the church was after me for how I dressed, for not wearing a certain type of skirt or blouse. I wasn’t the only one who suffered from these things but it didn’t make the pain any less.
I was trying my best at establishing an intimate relationship, and fellowship with God. And rather than help with this, the church was after me for not dressing like they prescribed, for not wearing loose-fitting skirts or wearing shirts and not a blouse.
This made me realize that we were more concerned about things of little consequence than we were about the Life of God in us. We sought first to appear good before being good.A great part of the church is more concerned about things of little consequence than it is about God's Life in us.
I felt emotionally tortured by this and it gradually but steadily built up hate in me – hate for that part of the Body.
I switched denominations just so I could find some respite, but that hate remained, till long after I’d left the university – I felt irritated whenever I came across anything from my former denomination.
Finally Getting to Meet Jesus
I now count my salvation to have really occurred long after I had graduated from the university.
I had experienced bits of God to know Him to be true and loving. And I wanted to experience that in full.
I had struggled to find Him on my own. And despite the false representation of God some in Church offered, I knew God could be found in Church still. So I went ‘Church hunting’.
I stepped into several Churches and couldn’t stay because I could see that they had so little of the Life of God; I wanted a place where I’d meet God, stay and grow.
So I moved from church to church until I found the place He had prepared for me.
It was a Sunday morning; the preacher had done his bit in teaching from the Bible. Then he made a call, for those who wanted to meet with Jesus to come forward.
I had no intention of doing this until I heard That voice; I couldn’t mistake it for anything else. His instruction was so definite, so clear: “I need you to go out there. I need you to go out there and show everyone that you are getting on this journey with Me.”
This was sudden, a little unsettling but I knew what I’d heard and obeyed. I went out and stood before everyone to indicate I was starting this relationship with Jesus.
As we prayed, a most remarkable thing occurred. I realized there and then that I’d been bearing a weight from my University days – my hatred for a section of the body of Christ.
During the prayers, I felt – literally – a burden being lifted off my back. I had never felt so light, so free all my life. At in the same moment, I lost all that hatred I had for a section of Christ’s body.
I knew then that I had found what I had been searching for. Again I had found God, but this time, I could understand Him clearer.
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It’s been about six years since these things happened and I still hear Him. I talk to Him, often at night, and He responds in such wonderful ways.
He occasionally gives me dreams at night. Gives me songs in the morning.
I sing in the choir, understand His Word better; the Bible no longer feels like mere literature to me.
I receive clear directions on everyday concerns. I’ve escaped being kidnapped because of these directions.
I still suffer pain at times, I go through unpalatable circumstances, but He comforts me in such moments.You are young, you have so much time yet, do not focus on past mistakes. Live.
Sometimes I wish I could start life all over and journey correctly from the onset. But I have a younger brother, who loves God intensely. He often says, “You are young, you have so much time yet, live.”
And live I will.
My Church Failed Me When I Needed Them Most – Pat
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