Excerpt from: TO HELL AND BACKThomas Nelson Paperback Edition1993 (ISBN 0-7852-7534-7)
Pages 243 - 245
(Please be aware that Dr. Rawlings speaks from Christian experience in Christian terminology, as it was the only style he knew at the time. Please also understand that no matter if known darkly, God anoints, and the Son-of-God accepts, all who genuinely receive them.)
AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD
It was shivering cold and icy that night I walked into the Milwaukee auditorium. My feet went up in the air and I was on my back in front of a crowd of people at the entrance. They didn't laugh at first. Not until got up, brushed myself off, and fell again.
A smile fixed on my face; I padded on to the entranceway, pretending that nothing had happened. “Then, I scurried into the men's room to make repairs to my injured pride and my new suit, hoping they would not recognize my face when I emerged.
When all was quiet I slipped past the people, some still looking for seats, to the backstage area. I was the expert. I was the man from out of town with a suitcase, the guest speaker for the evening. Peeking out between the curtains I saw a capacity audience, and six volunteers, one of them a Catholic priest in an old brown tweed suit sporting a clerical collar.
When I was announced on stage I walked out pompously straight, head high, hiding the wince of pain. Soon I was into my speech, displaying slides on a large screen about everything from heart attacks, cholesterol, and death experiences to resuscitation encounters.
As the audience warmed to the subject, I forgot the ego trip on the ice. I had arrived. I was the star performer. My words were polished. Even the New Agers would have been proud of me. And I was proud of myself. Not much further and I could have been god.
After many congratulations, as people began to thin out, the Catholic priest came forward. "Tremendous performance"' Father Richard Korzenik said…A most revealing lecture.
Following more compliments, he invited me to his home. “It was about midnight when we entered his home, which consisted of merely one cramped room, a couple of chairs, and a cozy fireplace with bookcases all about. A small kitchen was closeted out of the far wall, all of this tiny arrangement housed in the rear of a small nursing home managed by the Camellus Order of the priesthood, of which he was a member.
Warming his hands at the small fireplace, the wise old priest surprised me when he said quietly…"Ever been in the presence of God?"
Suddenly, everything was quiet. Swallowing scalding coffee from an old mug, the priest was peering over half-moon glasses, waiting for an answer. I thought to myself, now that was a dumb thing to ask. Why should I need to have an encounter with God? I was already a Christian, and a pretty good one at that. Certainly this should have been evident from my lectures. So I finally said, "I don't know."
Following a fresh pot of coffee, a full hour went by, this man of the cloth mumbling Scriptures and praying with his eyes open, as if looking into eternity. Slowly, I was aware that the old priest had been quietly guiding me into a self-examination of some sort, as if he had been using a stethoscope and a mirror. Strangely, I did not resent this approach, because something was happening.
The more I cooperated, it seemed the more I felt myself becoming smaller, infinitesimally smaller, as if an overwhelming force had entered the room, squeezing me into insignificance. A force where I was aware that I could not move, frozen for the instant, suspended in time. “The awesomeness of this presence overcame me and I could not speak, and I continued to stare down at the Scriptures in my lap. I was trembling in ecstasy and fear. I could not manage to look elsewhere.
This Holy Spirit was almost palpable. It was then I knew that I was in the presence of God. A holy moment. I felt that if I moved I would die. This being or force responded to Scriptures. It pointed to the only Son of God. As it moved around me and upon me, I realized that it was holy and that I was nothing. Nothing at all. Self-esteem? Self-worth? They were gone. They could not possibly exist.
And then I could not stop crying. Uncontrollable crying. There was no room in me for me, for self. I knew I was unclean, abased, ashamed, in need of a bath. It was the exact opposite of the self-realization offered by forces opposing God. I was inadequate.
When the varnish of vanity and self-righteousness had been removed, there was nothing left of this self-pride of mine, this self-assurance, this self-acclaim.
In the presence of the Spirit of God I knew I was less than the chemicals I was made of. And yet he loved me. I knew full well that he loved me. “The most humbling experience of my life. It revealed to me not who I am, but who he is. The thought made my knees sink to the floor. I knew this was an experience with [Yeshua]; I knew I was finally in him and he in me...
Your observer has experienced God's Holy Spirit several times in his life, such now that he accesses and rests within it. It really IS indistinguishable from anything else, such that worldly matters are now anathema to him.I knew with confidence this was not an evil deception. It was the exact antithesis. Diametrically opposed. The whole affair revealed to me for the first time the complete falseness of all the humanistic religions...