Hooked on a Feeling

I came to faith in Christ when I was 14 years old.  And my life has never been the same.  The beloved hymn, Pass Me Not, still brings tears to my eyes, because it was the song of invitation when I “went forward.”  After my conversion, I ravenously and daily devoured God’s Word.  I remember lying across my bed weeping unashamedly because of the precious Holy Spirit’s tangible presence in my life.  Those were glorious days! Hooked on a feeling.

I read scores of Christian books that fed my spirit, and I listened to gospel music by the hour.  Dallas Holm, the Imperials, Evie Tournquist, the Happy Goodman’s, the Gaithers, and others impacted my worship experiences.  I wept when I could not go to church.  I loved the pastors God sent into my life. They were God’s gifts and mentors to me!

The television ministry of Rex and Maude Aimee Humbard from Akron’s Cathedral of Tomorrow became my weekly spiritual pick-me-up and staple.  I remember when Connie Smith sang Plenty of Time during a New Year’s Eve service in 1970 at the Cathedral, and I remember fighting the Holy Spirit’s convicting power.  Some months later I heard Maude Aimee sing, Sweet Nazarene, and my converted heart could not quit weeping!. 

The call on my life to full-time ministry was fortified during those years.  From ages 14-18, my spirit man was strengthened beyond description.  I attended the former Jefferson Assembly of God (now Covenant) on Sunday mornings; went to youth group at the Jefferson Church of the Nazarene on Sunday evenings; and frequently attended revival services at First Assembly of God (now Gateway) in Ashtabula.  I couldn’t get enough! 

During that time, I was introduced to Full Gospel Businessmen’s International (FGBMI), a ministry founded by the late Rev. Demos Shakarian, that facilitated the move of God, as thousands across denominational lines were baptized in the Holy Spirit.  I, too, received this wonderful gift of grace.  The Ashtabula chapter of FGBMI brought spiritual renewal to many county churches.   

Those were emotionally charged years!  God in His mercy allowed me to bask in the love and warmth of His abiding presence.  It was heaven on earth!  I grew to expect the emotional highs that seemed to accompany the born-again experience. 

THEN I WENT TO COLLEGE (Christian)!  It was school time in more ways than one!  Of course, the Lord did not leave me, but He did withdraw the feelings that consistently characterized my faith walk, and that I had learned to so heavily rely upon.  I remember going to church and while there, not feeling the presence of the Lord one time!.

For six months the Lord withheld feelings – not His presence – from me.  I begged, bartered and even tried to work up the emotions I had learned to depend upon.  Those around me were weeping, shouting, clapping, and laughing in church, while I felt NOTHING.  You see, I had equated God’s presence with feelings and had learned to rely upon those feelings to sustain me in daily life.

It was time for me to grow up – spiritually speaking.  I had literally become “addicted” to my feelings.  I inadvertently adhered to a slogan, which came out of the Jesus Movement of the 1970’s:  “Get High on Jesus.”  Jesus literally became a “fix,” and the Lord taught me to walk by faith, not by my feelings. I continued to practice the disciplines of the faith – Bible reading, praying, church attendance – but without any accompanying feelings. 

Today, when I worship or go throughout my days, feelings are wonderful, but not necessary to my spiritual life; for I know that Jesus is with me regardless. 

Serving Jesus is not always a “feel good” experience, but I have learned to trust Him when I feel His presence AND when I don’t!  I’ve walked with Him for 47 years and I still love those hallmark times when “heaven kisses me,” but I no longer depend on an emotional high to assure me of God’s presence in my life.  He’s with me 24/7, whether I feel Him or not.  He remains ever present!

  

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