My life changed in 1995. Some friends returned from Toronto, where God had turned up and people fell down. Bizarre. Then it happen for us – most, anyway. But not me. Yet, my hunger for God grew and I became desperate. Now, I know falling down was not the issue, but I also knew that it was not wrong for a child to ask for a hug, and that is how I saw it – God’s hug. I felt that, if I were serious, I needed to put myself in God’s way, which for me meant going to Toronto, so, by the end of June I was on a plane heading there.
At the end of the last meeting I was lying on the floor enjoying the presence of God. Over the previous few days I had begun to fall and once, to my surprise, even shaken violently. It had been an exciting week, but now it was time to go. No sooner had I got up than I fell. I tried slower this time, but I felt waves pushing me down again. This time I lay there for a while before I tried again. Bang! No sooner had I sat up than I was thrown down. I was amused. I did not know what was going on, but God had heard my heart. After a while I tried again and was able to stand – for a few seconds anyway, before finding myself back on the ground, face first. I then began to flap around like a fish out of water, which continued until I became exhausted, wondering if it would ever stop. I finally managed to stagger back to the hotel and into bed and as I lay there I began to laugh and thrash around with my hands and feet in the air. I realised it was exactly as I had done as a young child when my father tickled me. God was delighting in me, enjoying me like a father with his child. I don’t know how I managed to get to sleep, but eventually I did.
The morning after we got back I woke at 5am and got up to pray. I blamed jet lag, but as I was still getting up early seven years later there may have been other reasons! That season has since come to an end, but the physical manifestations have not. Sometimes I have not been able to work out how my body does some of the things it does. Often I sense a heaviness that leaves me barely able to stand. Once on the ground I shake. On one occasion I shook so violently that I worried I was going to break something. I realised I had a choice: either ask God to hold back or release him to do what he wanted. So, I gave God permission to break every bone in my body. Fortunately, the only thing that has ever been broken has been a chair I fell on!
It has been fun, but I don’t naturally like to draw attention to myself, and yet here I am, very publically, looking foolish. It has certainly been humbling, but would I have him stop? No. Only my pride would have him stop and God is slowly breaking through that pride as I learn to let go and trust him. Learning too about a God who does not always fit within my neat little boxes! I don’t know why God has dealt with me this way. I certainly needed that hug all those years ago. Perhaps I still do.