“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3
I can pinpoint the first time I felt the Holy Spirit speak to me. It was 1 September 2012, during the St Barnabas Alpha Course. We had a weekend away to explore the lesser understood of the Holy Trinity, and I had absolutely no idea or preconception of what would happen.
I feel like this statement needs to come with a disclaimer to appease any cynics who may be reading this. I did not go looking for the Holy Spirit. I am a reasonable, pragmatic person who struggles with blind acceptance or seemingly abstract concepts of things I’ve never experienced and I do not get carried away with the crowd. I’ve never struggled with my belief in God or Jesus as Son of Man, but I really didn’t have a clear idea of what the Spirit was.
I am also very average. I’m not in a wheelchair; I didn’t need healing. I don’t have the gift of tongues; I can only speak English, French at a push. I am not your archetypal person who gets touched at these things. So it was with utter shock when it happened to me. At the time, my husband and I were discussing the possibility of having children; neither of us felt ready and it was quite a big sticking point for us. We were both pretty terrified of taking the leap, but at 35 years old and married for three years already, the (wannabe) grandparents were beginning to get restless and questions were being asked.
Getting back to our Alpha weekend, on the Saturday morning we were given the program, all sounded great apart from the Saturday evening session where we were told people would be speaking in tongues and laying hands on each other. Now, I had a staunch Catholic upbringing, my church was a far cry from charismatic and there was certainly never anyone leaping down the aisles having been moved by their faith. The thought of people talking in tongues and actually interacting with each other filled me with horror. So it was with a heavy heart that I crept into the back row that evening, silently willing no one to lay a hand anywhere near me.
But then a strange thing happened. People who wanted to be prayed for were invited to the front of the group. I didn’t need to be prayed for, nothing was wrong, life was good, I was ticking along, I went to church every week, I believed, what more did I need? So why did I suddenly find myself at the front?
The idea was that the people who had the gift of tongues would come and speak to us while the rest of the group quietly prayed. It was so far removed from my fear. No one was doing somersaults, there was no one shrieking hallelujah from the rafters (although by the end of the evening, if I could’ve gotten up there, it would’ve been me) and no one was put on the spot. I just found myself, head bowed while someone lay his hand on my shoulder and spoke quietly to me in a language I will never ever forget.
His words, alien and unknown to me, suddenly became my own voice unmistakably talking to a baby. The more he spoke, the more I heard my own voice comforting a small child and all I could see was a baby swaddled in pink cradled in my arms. I am not blessed with the words to bring this to life or make it sound any more credible than merely reciting exactly what happened. All I know is that, at that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit inside me telling me I was ready to have a child. I returned to my chair, starry eyed and utterly speechless as my husband pressed me to learn what had happened.
We actually excused ourselves shortly afterwards as I was completely blown away by a feeling of conviction and clarity, and needed to tell him what had happened. I don’t remember much more other than telling him, through a mouthful of tears that I felt ready to become a mother, and I can still see him, teary-eyed nodding vehemently that he too was ready to hand over to the Lord and see what happened. Two weeks later, we were staring, dumbfounded at two little blue stripes on a pregnancy test, testimony that if we open ourselves to God’s Will, great things can happen in mindbogglingly perfect timing!
I heard the sound of the Spirit’s wind loud and clear that weekend. I still don’t know where it came from and I still pray it’ll come back that profoundly again one day, but it is with hand on heart that I will always say, my baby girl was born of the Spirit.