Most likely we will all forget a sermon, but it’s rare that we would ever forget an encounter with the manifest presence of God.
As I pastor and also travel across the nation speaking to churches week after week, I’m realizing that people need more than great information; they need a transformation. That kind of change won’t occur from merely hearing a great message, people must respond with a receptive heart to the work of God in their life. Intellectual stimulation alone will not produce a radically devoted follower of Jesus Christ. A person must have an encounter with God before true change can be realized. I’m not talking about an “emotional” experience, although sometimes emotions can be involved. I’m talking, rather, about an authentic moment when the presence and power of God falls on a person and purifies, heals, baptizes, empowers, and invades that person’s life.
What transformed a lame man lying at the gate Beautiful into a dancer? He had an encounter (see Acts 3:6). What transformed the Samaritan’s lives into a joy-filled city when Peter and John prayed for them? They had an encounter (see Acts 8:17). What transformed a murderous Pharisee into a church-planting apostle of Christ? He had an encounter (see Acts 9:1-6). What transformed the Gentile house of Cornelius into a house that exalted Jesus Christ? They had an encounter (see Acts 10:44-48). What transformed twelve guys in Ephesus into a group that prophesied God’s splendor? They had an encounter (see Acts 19:1-7). And I don’t believe that we only have one encounter, either. The early believers experienced multiple encounters with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 4:31; 13:52).
Not long ago, I received a message from someone who had experienced a divine encounter. His life has been transformed as a result of what he experienced. After I read his testimony, I asked if I could share it in this blog. His name is Tigua Huckelberry, and the following is his encounter with Jesus. As you read it, pray that God not only touches your life anew, but pray that your family and friends will have a glorious encounter when the manifest presence of Jesus rests upon them.
A year ago today, I met a man named Dan Bohi in Brazil, Indiana. I had just scraped up the rest of the spice I could find because I was so sick from withdrawals. While I only was able to manage a few hits, it was enough to get me to the revival that I was going to. During the altar call, Dan placed his hands upon my head and prayed for me. I was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit and begin sweating profusely, and I was instantly detoxified.
A week and two days later, I heard Dan was going to be in Evansville, Indiana. There was no way my family was going to miss another chance to see him. He gave a great word and another speaker was there named Rob McCorkle. Brother Rob spoke about our propensity towards sin. He spoke of people who struggled and could only seem to be thriving for short periods of time before falling back into old habits and behavior. After the service I approached Rob, and told him that he had been speaking the story of my life. I asked him to pray for me. As he placed his hands upon my head and prayed for my propensity toward sin to be broken, and for my desires and urges to use drugs and alcohol to be gone in the name of Jesus, I felt extremely light on my feet.
Within a few seconds I was lying on the floor. I felt extremely relaxed with my eyes closed. It was as though I was sleeping but I could see a picture of myself lying on the floor. I could see my arms and legs sprawled out and thick chains attached to my ankles and my wrists. What appeared to be a brown chord was wrapped around my waist and leading to a place I couldn't see, but it was going on forever. While watching myself lie on the floor, I saw an image descending from the sky. When I look to see what it was, I saw that it was Jesus Christ. He was glowing very intensely and was holding a huge sword that was also glowing very brightly. As He got close to my body, He suddenly wielded the sword and literally broke those chains I had seen binding my body. I became aware in my physical body of what had taken place and I immediately became overwhelmed with joy and conviction over things I had done. I laid praying and weeping uncontrollably. At that moment Jesus freed me completely from a twenty-eight year addiction to drugs and alcohol. He also turned years of hatred for anyone I didn't identify with into a pure love.
In the year since this occurred I have not one time had an urge or desire to use any drug or alcohol. Even on my worst day or during times of anger it hasn’t ever occurred to me to be an option. While I have had some amazing experiences in this past year, I have also had some very difficult times. The one thing that I've held onto, no matter what I may go through, is this encounter that I had with Jesus. If He can remove all those things from my heart and break the chains of addiction in my life, then I know there's nothing that He can't do.
It is perfectly clear to me that this year of sobriety is nothing that I have accomplished, but is a perfect example of His grace, mercy, and love. I give Him all praise. He is the God Most High. He is faithful. He is loyal. I will continue to seek Him. I urge all my brothers and sisters that if you are struggling with anything at all, whether it be drugs and alcohol, hatred, anger, lust, loneliness, self-doubt, fear, or lack of faith, just give it to Jesus. Speak to Him like you would a close family member. After all, He is our brother. Never give up hope. It took years of prayers from my family, and years of rehabs and prisons, but in his due time He answered.
Jesus, I pray everyone reading this will experience a fresh touch from you. Thank you for those moments when you descend upon us and transform our life. I pray for anyone who is bound to be set free today, in your name, amen,