So far, I have spent your time listening to my experiences during those years that I now realize were best characterized as being on the fringes of darkness. Good happened on occasions, but since I had been nothing more than an unguided missile, making my way through uncharted waters, I was living life by myself, trying to create a life that could be, rewarding. It wasn't working. I had everything that I had sought for and it disappeared before my very eyes, This had to stop.
The whole truth is, I had no idea as to how I might stop it. But then, God.... The truth is, I had been playing games with Him for almost 45 years. I thought that attending church was an indication that you were a "good" person. Now, I was beginning to believe that church is for "bad" people, hoping to be "good". So, I made it a point to "be there" on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday evenings as well and if they invited us for special "occasions", I was there as well. It wasn't working very well as I had yet to make a connection between my experience on that bus and the life of what we believe to be, the church.
A strange thing happened. I don't know how or when it started, but I began to realize that one of the characteristics of this particular church was the urging to learn how to "speak in tongues". They even had classes to teach how it is done which I never attended as - for some reason, I was reluctant to join the crowd. Some of my best "new" friends were advocates, telling us of things that had happened after they had prayed in their "heavenly" language. I must admit, I tried - to no avail.
Then, one evening, I met with two of my female classmates at one of their homes and I discovered that somehow, I was the focus of that meeting. To be honest, I was attracted to both and I guess you could say, I had made "passes" at them, but I realized I was still a married man and such an act was out of the character I was trying to demonstrate. And as I began to understand the nature of this meeting, I had to speak "Hold on, I pleaded, "let's pray about this and I led the prayer." I still have no idea as to what I actually had in mind to say, but suddenly, without any conscious attempt on my part, I was, in fact, praying - in the Spirit." It continued for a few minutes as I recall and when I was through, they both came over to me, threw their arms around me and asked me to forgive them. To this day, I still do not understand what happened, but the "meeting" was over. We went our separate ways and I headed for my Bible to re-examine the verses that had been used to convince me that the practice was "Biblical" and came away from my study, far too confused to consider a further search.
A couple of years later, I had moved away and was invited to go to a nearby city to attend a meeting of Christian men and when I looked at their brochure, I saw one man in particular who I had known in Tulsa. It was good to see him again and he invited me to a session he would "chair" and I was eager to hear what he had learned. To my great surprise, he was teaching men how to speak in tongues, so I quietly got up and left and went to my room. Later that evening he stopped by and asked why I had left. As best as I could I tried to explain to him that I had determined that such a practice was not for the days in which we were living. We exchanged addresses and phone numbers before he left, but I have never heard anything from him. Nor did I believe that I needed to call him.
"God moves in mysterious ways..." my grandfather used to remind me and I chalked up our encounter to be another one of those occasions.
In the years that followed I have never had another occasion when I thought the practice would be appropriate, but I must confess, often times when I would be in a group - or a congregation, and we were singing hymns of praise, that "language" would reappear. I have no idea why, nor do I talk about in gatherings. I have learned that when God wants a person to speak about or sing His praises, He may well surprise all whose faith has been placed in Him.
One of the problems that continues to confuse me about His church are some of the practices that some appear to believe are spiritual appear to be little more than the tradition of that particular group.
At my age and with most of my years behind me, I seem to be growing closer and closer to Him and to His word that we find in our Bibles. My problem continues to be the fact that many of our churches seemed to be founded on the beliefs of mankind, rather than His word, As we move along - and I pray that you will join me, I will continue to offer experiences in my life that draw me further and further away from the opinions of "man" and closer and closer to Him.