And what God sends us, when our hearts are open to him, is Love with a capital L. It is the Holy version of love. It is God’s own Love, which is full of power and light. It is full of healing. It is full of knowledge. Wisdom. It is Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit power.
Or I should say it can provide knowledge. It can provide healing to others. It can provide healing to us.
This Love power that God sends to his lovers, to those whose hearts are open to him, is various in what it delivers, and it can deliver different qualities or attributes to different people. It is all Holy Spirit Love, but the transmission may contain words of knowledge or not, healing for specific people or not, tongues or not, power to cast out demons or not. And so forth.
The only sure thing about Holy Spirit Love is that it is first and foremost God’s Love, and this Love does at a minimum restore us, stimulate us, reassure us, comfort us. Oh, some of its manifestations may be odd, unsettling. But when the momentary manifestation passes, there is usually a glow. A feeling of peace. Of well-being. Often people describe this feeling as being held in the palm of God’s hand or being held as a baby is held by a parent. Gentle assurance and tenderness are often feelings associated with the after-surge time, the time following a surge in Holy Spirit presence.
Sometimes in this Love-surge, God will deliver audible words. Sometimes in this Love-surge God will send us impressions, visions, interpretations. Sometimes it will seem as if a curtain has been drawn back, and we are able to see spirit beings that we normally cannot see. But these are examples, not limitations. There is no complete list of the kinds of manifestations that God sends us in the Love stream, the Holy Spirit stream, that he sends to us. There is no predicting what Holy Spirit Love will do.
The most common experience of Holy Spirit Love is found in worship. There is something about music and about singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God that seems to invoke the Holy Spirit, to call forth God’s Love. To enable us to receive this Love. So in worship, I often see people crying, falling to their knees, closing their eyes with rapturous expressions on their faces. These are signs of Holy Spirit Love washing over and washing through a group of people. There are more obvious signs—whole groups of people falling down, for example.
I mentioned the concept of decision in a previous post in a discussion of love. I said that love is first and foremost a feeling or a set of feelings. That love is not primarily a matter of will but of heart. And I want to augment what I said earlier, now that I’ve had the chance to further explain what I think love is, where it comes from, and how it works.
The augmentation is this: One must allow one’s heart to be open. For some people, their hearts are just open. They need do nothing. Some people must make a decision to open their heart to receive God’s Love. Some people must make a decision to open their heart to love God. And the same may be said for people. There is often a decision involved in loving and receiving love from others. Or permission may be a better word. One must often give one’s permission for love to flow in and out.
So will can involved. But will is not the author of love. It is not love’s own active agent. It is certainly not love itself. It can be the gatekeeper. It can allow love to flow like living water all about the place. In and out of one’s soul. It can determine the forms that love will take on the outflow. And it can play a role in a person’s receiving Holy Spirit Love.
Its role in receiving Holy Spirit Love can be the opening of the doors to one’s heart. The person’s will can choose to look for God. To expect God. Can allow the heart to long for God. For his Holy Spirit Love. His Holy Spirit presence. Can allow the heart to reach outside of itself for completion.
But a conscious act of the will is often not required. People who do not believe they are Christian can certainly experience Holy Spirit Love. People who have made no decision per se for Jesus have experienced God’s Love. Routinely do experience God’s active Love. I experienced Holy Spirit Love repeatedly when I was an atheist, but I didn’t understand what it was at that time. I didn’t understand where these feelings came from, why I was having them. What they meant.
My own experience of Holy Spirit Love has been rather spectacular. Rather wild and vivid at times. But these experiences have largely been perceptual and emotional on my part. I’ve seen, felt, heard, smelled, and touched things at the same time that others who were present apparently didn’t. Often, others have been present when I’ve had these Holy Spirit Love experiences.
I have not barked like a dog or spoken in tongues. I have not fallen down or foamed at the mouth. But I was raised in the Episcopal Church, and these manifestations were not welcomed there. In other words, I tend to be the kind of person who would not welcome these more physical manifestations in myself.
Now does God love us in non-spectacular ways? Of course. The non-spectacular manifestation of God’s Love is how I normally experience him. How I normally experience God’s Love. How about you?
For me, there’s a warm glow. In worship often, it feels like a lion six feet at the shoulder is rubbing up against my back. Is this spectacular? No, not really. It’s usual now. It was spectacular and disconcerting when I was 15, but after more than 40 years of this, it’s usual. Normal. The warm glow and stimulating—diaphragm fluttering—presence of God in worship.
In prayer, it often feels like I have waded into warm water. Ninety plus degree water. Bathtub warm water. Up to my neck. It feels like I am slowly walking through this neck-deep water. Or am just standing in the one spot, sand between my toes, the sun shining down in a sandy lush part of the earth, with deep blue ocean out in front of me as far as I can see.
It feels like I’ve waded into God. That God is the water and the sand and the foliage and the air and the sun and the pale blue sky. God surrounds me everywhere I look. For the moment, I am at peace. I want nothing but this calm. This Holy Spirit bliss. This immanent, extravagant God Love. And I am happy.