"Same river different parts." Is what my husband says when talking about the way his Quaker beliefs see the holy spirit and the way my Pentecostal back ground sees it. Pentecostals focus on the strong events of encountering of the holy spirit, and from what I have seen the Quakers focus more on the quiet gentle, still small voice of daily guidance the holy spirit offers. We are swimming in the gently quiet shallows of the spiritual river basking in the love of God. The Pentecostals are in the rapids in their canoes wearing crash helmets and seem to be having a whole lot of crazy fun, WOOHOO!
I like the rapids, I do. I like strong tearing up shaking encounters with the spirit, I just cannot be sustained from day to day on them. I had a few good encounters like that as a child with God, when I was saved and when I received the holy spirit a different time some years later. These were wonderful experiences of closeness with God that probably resembled, in a small way what Moses felt when he saw the Lord pass by.
The danger of these experiences is sometimes you wish to "feel the presence of God" and forget that he is always present. He never leaves, you can always feel him, talk to him and listen to him with out crying screaming and begging for that next strong hit of the holy spirit, like a heroin addict begging for credit from his dealer. Christians, at least in America, often like to compare God to drugs. There is a song by a Christian alternative group, either Skillet or Thousand Foot Crutch, I forget which that is called "Better than Drugs". This is a cute, if over played metaphor many American Christians like to use but when Christians start acting like drug addicts it is no longer cute, it is alarming. It is alarming when a Christian cannot get by with out having a "profound spiritual experience" complete with crying, gnashing of teeth, writhing on the floor, passing out and spewing nonsense. I am not saying these things are somehow not true manifestations of the baptism in the holy spirit but what I am saying is that they are darn exhausting and alarming to the uninitiated, and even those who know what is going on and often indistinguishable from a classically demon possessed person. There is so much wrong when that high is all you are chasing and attaining it is about begging and pleading with God, like you are still a sinner, to come to you. What is wrong with shutting the frack up and listening for a change?
It works for me and when I stopped chasing that high and just listened and relaxed I started to feel and appreciate the daily presence of God more and I no longer felt unworthy because I had no apparent gifts. What God taught me in the silence is that I am good enough for him to love the way I am and there is no need to worry about any special gifts, just living my life for him is good enough. If I fail to enjoy his presence today, I can still do it tomorrow. He is always there for me and more like a warm cup of tea, a blanket and a hug from a loved one than a syringe full of whatever or a noseful of cocaine. Maybe I am just getting old and just no fun spiritually.