A request was sent out over social media by Wheaton College requesting stories from anyone involved in the Jesus Movement. Wheaton is conducting a research project about that time in history. I copied a chapter from my book, The Prophetic Voice, and sent it to the researchers for their review. It is about the first encounter I had with someone speaking in tongues over me during a conference a Bethel Bible College in Scotts Valley, California. I believe the interpretation of that prayer has been used by God to bring me to this current season in my life.
DECLARING THE MYSTERIES OF HEAVEN
As a nineteen-year-old in the middle of the Jesus Movement, I was like so many other young people of that era: we were all searching for something.
The summer of 1969 was an unusual time in the culture of the United States. Everything was changing. God was reaching out and touching thousands of young men and women, and I was one of them.
I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time. I couldn’t get enough of the Bible and fellowship. I attended Bible studies in coffee houses and church services at places like the Peninsula Bible Church. I sat with hundreds of other young people in standing room only crowds listening to Ray Stedman preach. One of these journeys took me to Bethany Bible College in Scotts Valley, California. Bethany was hosting a conference open to the public. A friend and I got into my VW bug and made the drive to Scotts Valley from my home in Los Gatos.
When we stepped into the auditorium, it was packed wall to wall. Young people with long hair and sandals stood around the perimeter of the main seating area. We found an available place to stand in the very back of the auditorium.
I grew up in a very conservative church. I had never experienced the Holy Spirit moving during worship in the ways I was seeing. It was strange and uncomfortable, but it was also right and good. Despite the strangeness, nothing was out of order. For the first time in my life, I felt the manifest presence of God being welcomed in a public gathering. I was drawn to this new and unfamiliar work of the Spirit.
The people conducting the service sat in rows of chairs on the platform. I don’t recall who they were, but they looked important to my nineteen-year-old self.
About halfway through worship, one of the men sitting on the platform raised his head and looked out past the platform lighting and across the audience. I watched him as he scanned the crowd. He stopped and looked in our direction. I thought nothing of it, thinking he could be looking at a hundred other people who were standing along the back wall.
I watched as the man stood from his chair and walked through the worship team and down onto the main floor. He began walking in my direction. It was still impossible to think he was walking toward me, but he continued in my direction until it became more and more obvious that he was. When he was about ten feet away, he locked eyes with mine as he closed the remaining steps between us.
The man looked to be in his late seventies. He was wearing a suit and tie and carried a blend of authority and gentleness. He came and stood directly in front of me. Then he did something that made me really uncomfortable. He put his arms on my shoulders and pulled me close. He began to speak into my ear in a language I had never heard before. I would later come to know this heavenly language of the Spirit in a very personal way. On that day, the foreign language the man spoke into my ear was as strange as the meeting that was taking place.
The man only spoke briefly. He then pulled away and looked into my eyes for another second, turned, and made his way back to the front. I knew something holy had just taken place, but I was not sure what it was. At the close of the meeting later that evening, I drove back to my parent’s home in Los Gatos, still pondering what had taken place.
I parked that experience in the back of my mind and forgot about it. Ten years later, Jesus would visit me in the middle of the night, supernaturally transforming my life forever. Within weeks of that visit, the Lord took me back to that time when I was nineteen and attending the conference at Bethany. The Lord said, “I am bringing the interpretation of the words the man spoke into your ear. Your life will be a living interpretation of what was spoken to you that day by my Spirit.”
These experiences are mysterious. We can forget we are interacting with the God of Heaven who spoke galaxies into existence by just a word. Much of what God does remains in the realm of mystery until we find ourselves living out a new reality we never imagined was possible.
When the elderly man made his way toward me, he did not have the full picture of what would take place in my life. He was simply responding to the Spirit. When he prayed by the unction of the Holy Spirit in his spiritual language, he did not know what he was saying. He did not give me the interpretation. Like the Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 14:14: For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying. Like Paul, the man who prayed into my ear only knew he was praying a message from the Holy Spirit.
You will need to become comfortable with the mysterious part of prophetic ministry. Much of prophecy is straightforward and simple to understand, but it will carry a dimension of mystery you want to leave alone and not try to explain. God is the only one who can accurately unpack the mysteries of Heaven.
Remain open to the nudges of the Spirit. Like the elderly gentleman, you will sometimes go to a person being highlighted—maybe someone you have never met before. Speak what the Spirit gives you and trust Him with the outcome. As you release the mysterious and wonderful words of the Spirit, they will help direct the course of someone in ways you could never have imagined.