The Friend He Is

He came to me as a friend
When I was without a friend
My first encounter I remember
He saw me when I was hiding alone
He called my name
I heard Him say it.
I was 4 years old.
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I have never known life apart from God (YHWH).

(And I’d argue you don’t either. He is, after all, the sustainer of life.)

There are only times when I did not realize how near He was.

And as I think back to my journey with Holy Spirit, I cannot think of a time that I did not know Him. In particular, since I have been on a journey of healing lately, I cannot think of memories from my childhood and not see the Holy Spirit in them. I also have my church to thank: (thank you home church!). I grew up in a church which regularly spoke about the Holy Spirit. However, it was not until I was 15, that I was introduced to the active ministry of the Holy Spirit and taught how to walk in it.

My youth pastor began to teach the youth how to hear Holy Spirit in Scripture, and then, he taught us how to prophecy over each other. Let me tell you, youth group was the place to be.

I was receiving spiritual formation and growing exponentially. I remember in those seasons of my life I was sprinting in the “spiritual gifts.” I was hearing words, having dreams, seeing images, etc. My natural tendency was to operate in the prophetic at all times. Holy Spirit was so active within me and outside me.

And then I got hurt.

I heard something from God which did not turn out the way I thought it was supposed to. I was “wrong.” I missed the mark. And everything came crashing down.

Now I am 17 and walking in a season of deconstruction. “Why God did you let me hear that and me miss it?” “Why God, did you speak that to me? Not fair!!” “Are You even real??” I had more pain than I could describe. It was a season of wreckage, of death. And I vowed in my heart I would never try to hear God’s voice ever again.

I lorded my “perceived failure” over myself more than anyone else did. Oh man, it was nasty. I was nasty to myself.

I had very wise leadership at the time who were comforting me and reminding me how no one is angry with me, especially not Abba. My youth pastor would remind me that I didn’t have to be perfect, that was never a requirement to prophecy. My youth pastor would say things like ‘God is showing you who He really is. He is a Being of Love.”

However, this “failure” was an excuse for me to finally destroy myself. If I am being honest, I worked so hard to be perfect. That was the rule in life I grew up with: if I am perfect, everyone will love me. If I am not perfect, people will hate me. And the prophetic? It revealed my humanity, and I was undone. It revealed my weakness, and I was petrified.

(I can say these things now because I have had radical emotional healing in the past 2 years. Here’s my plug: go heal your past wounds. It’s so fun and so worth it.)
______________________________

One thing we need to set straight about the Holy Spirit is His primary role.

He is to fill us with the presence of Abba.

He leads us into all truth and understanding.

He convicts us - this is a good thing!

And so much more.

Sometimes in church culture, we can either idolize the fruit which comes from Holy Spirit (God’s presence in us) or we run from it in disbelief and ignore Holy Spirit all together.

Both are attempts to craft our life in something which looks like God but is merely a pale comparison to the real deal. We cannot take Holy Spirit out of the trinity and expect our tripartite God to still be God and we certainly cannot idolize what comes of Holy Spirit in our lives (the fruits) and ignore the fact that He is the gift which Jesus died and rose for.

Holy Spirit was never meant to be an “ego booster” or a “stay in your comfort levels” type of being. He is far too good and too real to let us settle for a cheap version of life. And in this season of life, I am learning He is far too powerful to let me settle into the American dream either.

His purpose is to fill us with God -- the very presence of Abba Father -- of Unconditional Love. It’s about connection to the One of Love and that beautiful connection will overflow into outward fruit.  
___________________________

Back to the story. I am now 18 and I am hurt and running. I am running from the prophetic and in Abba’s sweetness, He gave me a season of space and healing. Throughout my first year of college, He tenderly spoke to my heart, healed wounds, and led me to His love. I remember actually choosing the college I went to because I heard God say to me “commit a year here. I have healing for you.” Into my second semester I sought an amazing counselor and grew in love and compassion for myself.

And now I am 19 and I am at UGA,

I happen upon the doors of UGA’s Wesley Foundation and decide to get involved. I was in Freshley prayer and in the second semester of the school year, we were taught the prophetic - only problem: I had vowed I would not hear from God ever again. (Which let me clarify, I heard Him a lot in my freshman year of college haha).

And so, in an act of boldness, I met with the Freshley Prayer director of the time and laid it all out. I told her everything, expecting her to say “yes, you’re right; we cannot let you prophecy. You are disqualified.”

Instead, she merely heard the story and asked me “will you forgive yourself?”
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This led me on a trajectory of forgiving myself and releasing myself from my “perfect rule” I had lived by. While I was doing that, Wesley provided a safe place to take baby steps. I was able to start prophesying again and receive great feedback from others around me. Wesley helped me heal within a community. And at Wesley, the prophetic is not a competition, or a sprint, it’s a slow journey of growing to hear God speak regularly. (clarification: in my youth group the prophetic was not a competition either, I had begun to twist it that way.)
_________________________

Currently, I am 21 and an intern at UGA’s Wesley Foundation.

After a season of stillness and growing in God’s love in 2020, the Holy Spirit is going off like fireworks in my life right now. He’s shared some pretty awesome words with me, given me wild dreams every night, and spoken direct things to me I had no way to know aside from Him. I’ve been able to pray for people and see healing the same day. I’ve prayed specific prayers for YHWH to do specific things and I have seen it happen. And one time I woke up in the middle of the night and was prophesying in different languages!! How cool.

Wesley has once again given me space to grow and take risks. (Thank you, Wesley leaders and staff!!)

The thing is to always stay in His love. And if prophecy or dreams ever come in the way of me loving YHWH, receiving His love, or loving others, then I have become nothing but an empty gong.  
The Holy Spirit can produce fruit in our lives that is flashy, but I think it is only flashy because we do not live within His fullness often, or ever. The supernatural is not supposed to be abnormal or only reserved for the “spiritual.” We are all called to go out, pray for the sick, cast out demons, and love one another. But don’t worry, the Holy Spirit equips us with Himself so we can love well.  ☺

Author | Samantha Richey

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