Healing Line

Healing Line

A Gentle Whisper

by Linda Strickland
May/Jun 2009

Judith recently spoke at a conference where the hand of God moved in such a mighty way that you couldn’t help but stand in awe; a true mountaintop experience. After arriving home, I received a phone call from a young woman who had attended the conference, and she told me that although many of her friends had experienced the Holy Spirit in a dramatic and powerful way, she had not. She had come to the conference worn out and hungry for God, and when she did not get the experience she had hoped for, she went home feeling a little cheated. She said that she really loved the conference; she had laughed a lot, cried a lot and had a great time with her friends — but she had not gotten what she came for: an electrifying experience with Jesus. However, the next morning, in the quiet of her bedroom, the Holy Spirit fell on her and gently ministered to her. It was not when, where, how or what she had expected — but it was exactly what she needed.

As we spoke, I told her the story of Elijah. Afraid, exhausted and on the run for his life, Elijah ended up in the desert crying out to God. After an angel had given him a nap, a sandwich and something to drink, he was able to hear the Lord say:

“Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” 1Kings 19:11–12

Rather than speaking to Elijah in a grand, mind–blowing way, I can’t help but think that God chose to come in a gentle whisper because Elijah had, quite frankly, already had his fair share of whirlwind activity. What Elijah needed was a little peace and quiet so that he could recognize God’s voice — and after that, hear and receive God’s instruction.

This is the way it was for me when I met The Holy Spirit for the first time.

It was 1990 and my husband and I had recently reconciled after a lengthy separation in our marriage. I was emotionally exhausted from just trying to survive in what had been a very difficult time in my life. In addition, I was physically sick from a disease that had gripped my spine, causing a very weak and painful back condition.

One Wednesday evening, during a healing prayer service at our church, I went to the altar to be prayed for. At that particular time, my back pain was so unmanageable that I was feeling desperate. As I knelt down, two gentle prayer ministers, along with our priest, asked me what I wanted Jesus to do for me. I thought, “Wow, I can ask Him for anything?” I remember thinking to myself “What I really need is to know that Jesus is real, and that He has not forgotten me.” But instead of saying what I was thinking, I simply asked them to pray for my back.

Within a few minutes of quiet prayer, I began to feel very warm…bordering on hot. As time seemed to stand still, I found myself immersed in a peace I had never experienced before. I became less and less conscious of the sweet people who lovingly surrounded me, and I became more and more aware of the divine and powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. My whole body heated up to the point, I found out later, the prayer ministers could no longer touch me.

When I was finally able, I opened my eyes to the surprised look of my prayer ministers' faces. They just stood there and stared at me. From head to toe I was completely drenched…as if I had jumped into a pool — clothes and all. There had been no rushing wind, or earthquake, or even fire….but my appearance indicated that I had been in all three. In those few minutes, I had knelt in the very presence of Almighty God and was completely transformed. It was gentle, it was quiet, it was sweet — and at the same time it was the most powerful thing I have ever experienced.

Although I was not healed of my disease that night, I was healed of other things which dramatically changed my life; particularly unforgiveness toward my husband. Since he and I reunited, I had not fully engaged in the marriage. I was hurt, resentful and not ready to stop punishing him. That night, everything changed — especially me! Transformed seems too small a word to describe what happened to me, and I have never been the same.

I find it interesting that Jesus often chooses to come to people in this quiet, gentle way. I also find it interesting that Jesus chose to come to earth at the time and location he did. Jesus could have dropped into this century where he would have had an opportunity to get his message out through a sophisticated media, with sound studios, cameras, and the internet. But Jesus chose a very small country at a very primitive time to come into this world. I can’t help but believe that he did this because he values the one–on–one connection, and he yearns for a personal relationship with each and every one of us. After all, this is what we were created for.

Although I love large group experiences and believe these special times of corporate worship and prayer are essential in our Christian walk, I have found that amazing things can happen in quiet, intimate moments as well. So next time you are tempted to only chase God through the ‘big experience’ of a revival or conference, stop for a moment — right where you are, and listen for His gentle whisper. You just might find Him!

Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is the Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. May/Jun 2009 Issue