Meeting the Holy Spirit in the Hallway
The latest in our series on “Pentecost and the Holy Spirit Today.”
I’m blessed to have become aware of the reality of the spiritual world before coming to know the Holy Spirit. Because I knew the spiritual world was real, it was much easier to embrace the Holy Spirit as the real deal.
Fascinated with New Age
In the years before I met my wife, I became fascinated with New Age. I hit the Psychic Eye book store the way other Californians hit In-N-Out burger. Had to get my regular fix. Astral projection? Why not? L.A. traffic is horrible. If there’s a way to get around without having to get in the car, sign me up.
Past-life regression? Why not? Maybe I was thinner in a previous life. Spirit-guides? Was it a Greek fisherman like one lady told me or a long dead Italian ancestor as another told me, who cares? I’d appreciate the company. White witchcraft? We Italians have just as rich a history as the Celts. How come they get all the press?
Then there were Tarot cards. I was enraptured. Read everything I could. Had “psychics” give me Tarot “readings” just for the fun of watching them do it. I became an expert. So good, I’d watch street psychics give readings in New Orleans or Venice Beach, and I’d be shaking my head. “Nope. Wrong. Wrong.”
I even ended up teaching some of the Psychic Eye people already paid to do “readings” how to read Tarot cards. (Including a young lady who got up to $300 an hour in Malibu.) Heck, I could do a reading using baseball cards.
Through all the experiences and friendships I came to know the spiritual world is real. I became aware. (Ask me sometime about the terrified mafioso’s haunted beach house.)
The Dark Candle Magic
Yet through the sweet incense and lilting sounds of Lorena McKinnitt, darkness and malice soon pierced. I physically could not bear the occult section of the store. Drifting past, I’d recoil as if from a snarling, rabid dog. I progressed from “This is strange” to “This is bad” to “This is evil.” Evil was real. And evil was at work.
There was a woman who did readings at Psychic Eye. She was from a powerful family in Latin America. Very charismatic, very fun, very vivacious. Picture Modern Family‘s Sophia Vergara. One day, the “viva” was gone. Someone had tried to move in on her man.
“That **** will pay,” she hissed with a menace that would make a mobster cower. Her eyes grew very dark. She detailed the dark candle magic spell she had put on her romantic rival. A cackle, then a matter-of-fact, “She may be dead already.”
Some of you might be thinking, “What nonsense.” Don’t fool yourself. I’ve stood close enough to the unholy fire to get singed and smell the ash. Nonsense is believing evil isn’t real, that the demonic is not at work.
Now the Good News
Now the good news. My wife came along and brought with her the Good News. Rusty is Charismatic. She would take me to Charismatic church services. People were speaking in tongues, people were laying on hands, people were speaking words of knowledge, people were being “slain in the Spirit.”
And THIS person did not freak out. Even two years earlier, such demonstrations and manifestations would have sent me sprinting down Ventura Blvd. Watching the tormented delivered, the sick healed, the truth revealed was so wonderful. So comfortable. So right. This is how things are supposed to be.
The key word in that paragraph was “watching.” Of course, God isn’t much desiring of spectators.
The Party and the Hallway
Rusty and I would have talks about my beliefs. Or as she says now, she just asked questions and let the Holy Spirit work. I’d never actually examined my beliefs. We’d take a drive down the coast and by the time we got to San Diego, I’d be arguing and defending her position.
“Well, with Tarot cards,” I’d say, “when it comes down to it, any card can mean anything at any time. And if something can mean anything, it means nothing. The Bible can be turned upside down, it’s books read in different order, and it still means the same thing.”
Still, one day my old job asked if I would do Tarot readings for the company Halloween party. I didn’t really want to do it, especially knowing Rusty wouldn’t approve. However, I also didn’t want to let my company down, leave them short on entertainment. And yeah, part of me still attracted to the thrill of watching stories emerge from the colorful cards.
So we hit on a solution. I would do it, but only as a huge joke. I was a comedy writer, after all. Making a big joke out of pretending to read fortunes would be easy, right?
But the Lord wasn’t in a joking mood. My attempts at funny failed. Instead, everything coming out of my mouth resonated with the people. I knew this guy was going to New York. I knew that lady was pregnant. On and on. A line started forming.
The Small, Still Voice
I began hearing a small, still voice. The Teacher started instructing, “You are on the wrong side. This is not for you to do.” For three hours this went on. Party was over, tables put away and still I was there. But by the end, the lessons was learned, “I’m on the wrong side. This is not for me to do.”
I knew I was done. Fighting was done. I knew what side I was supposed to be on. It was the side of light. The Light.
I was so drained and battered that walking back to my office, I collapsed against the hallway wall. The Comforter grabbed me. Wrapped his arms around me, kept me from falling to the ground.
“I’ve got you,” said the Holy Spirit. He hasn’t let go since.