Why I’m Pentecostal: The Background

Other than the blazing light and literal blindness, my introduction to God came as something of a Damascus kitchen experience. God broke in when I bolted the door shut. I realized early that God wasn’t through being involved in His creation.

That doesn’t mean I had plans for anything more. I knew so little of the Bible then that the idea of speaking in tongues had no room in my growing understanding of faith. Even when I read those sections, I simply wrote them off as something that happened “back then.” Funny how we add an internal commentary to the Bible that dictates our approach.

I’ve often heard that Pentecostalism is stained by emotionalism—and I would plead somewhat guilty. Our emotions help us experience God, after all. We grasp at His complete uniqueness, His ridiculous power, and we can’t help but be smacked with a river of emotion. It’s a flood that cuts through our passive lives. And God led me to understand how emotion can build our faith.

Following Jesus began with fits and starts—like learning to drive a five-speed. I’d slam down the gas and get a roaring engine, but no movement. I’d hit the clutch at the wrong times and make a grinding sound that shook me. I bumped and sputtered along for months.

And then I got mad. The kind of angry you get when you want God to work the way you think He should. I wanted Him to get rid of the junk and just move me along. I wanted to have gumption, courage, and a hard edge if needed. I wanted Spirit (though I didn’t know that then).

In anger, I tore into my Creator (just being honest). I told Him that He needed to make the five-speed transmission work magically now. I told Him I wanted to be more like Peter, who seemed to suddenly morph into this warrior of the gospel after Pentecost.

I’d love to tell you that right then—right that moment—the Holy Spirit rushed into the room and lit it up. But He didn’t.

Instead, I kept learning to drive the stick shift.

[Next up: The Change]

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