by Michael A. Stein
I was 22 years old in 1971 when these miracles happened, and to this day the memory of them is both vivid and wondrous.
I was a sailor in the U.S. Navy stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland. I worked with both military and civilian personnel.
Through co-workers and circumstances, I found myself at an unexpected crossroad. I had a sudden realization that I believed in a God, that I didn't know. In my arrogance and pride, I decided to pray and fast for 40 days and see if God would give me what I wanted. I had three secret wishes/prayers that I wrote down.
Now fasting also implies other considerations. You rest yourself, and shut out the world. You turn off your TV. You read Scripture, pray, and meditate. You must become still before God. Yet, while I was doing all of these things, I never realized that I still had this angry chip of insulting arrogance on my shoulder.
On the 38th day of the fast I was really weak. Every minute that passed seemed to be an agonizing struggle. On this day, however, a stranger walked into my life, who knew what my three prayers were. Her name was Betsy Tucker.
When I asked Betsy how she knew these things about me, she told me point blank that the Lord had revealed them to her. Her introduction itself contained only the three answers. To anyone else alive, what she said would have made no sense at all, and do you know what she did? She invited me to her church, which was located in Silver Spring, Maryland.
I swallowed my pride, and I drove to this distant church. Betsy, I later discovered, had come to Fort Meade to pick up her son, who was getting out of the Army. What had happened to her was spontaneous.
I was so excited about going to this lady's church that I arrived an hour early and sat in my car in the parking lot. It was an Sunday evening service.
"What kind of a church is an Assembly of God Church?," I remember thinking, when Mrs. Tucker showed up. I stuck to her like glue because I was afraid that I would do something to offend God. And from the time that I went inside until the time that I left, I could barely stand up. I could hardly even talk correctly, and the light seemed to glow everywhere. When the service started, I found myself slumping over, yet I wasn't tired. After the service Mrs. Tucker invited me over to her house.
When she talked about the Lord, I could see her glow. She explained many things to me about how God works in people, while I was seeing it happen in her. I was overwhelmed with what was happening to me, so I decided to head home. I could not take anymore, or so I thought.
Silver Spring is just outside of Washington, DC, and I had to drive to Glen Burnie, which is about 35 to 40 miles away. I left Mrs. Tuckers house around 3 o'clock in the morning and picked up the Baltimore Washington Parkway heading north.
I don't remember falling asleep at the wheel, but I can vividly remember the thumping sound of my tires on the concrete highway. I had been traveling about 60 miles an hour, which was pushing it for my 1961 Plymouth Valiant.
The next thing that happened is more than just a memory. I was struck with something as powerful as a bolt of lightning. Living words were drenching themselves through my entire being as a Voice said clearly and powerfully, "Seek the Holy Spirit, Hunger and Thirst after the Holy Spirit." I awakened, and slowly lifted my head.
My eyes were open, but I could only see a white light with the living words that were now fading. I could feel the steering wheel and as I strained my eyes to regain my vision, I began to see the white divider lines, and almost at the same time the sign for the Jessup 175 overpass went racing by. I looked around to see who else was with me. My body was washed in love, as the memory of this experience was burned into the very depths of my spirit.
When I returned to my apartment, I took off my clothes and fell asleep immediately. At 4:24 A.M., the light exploded through me a second time. This time it struck me with such force that I thought that I was driven down through my bed into the concrete floor, and the light lingered deeply in me. The words "Seek the Holy Spirit, Hunger and Thirst after the Holy Spirit" washed through my being like a cleansing tide of clear, heavy water.
When I realized I was in my bed, I savored the memory of this visitation. I let it sink all of the way into my being. It came with the deepest experience of sleep and rest that I have ever enjoyed, and when I woke up the next day I was not the same, yet I was perplexed about what more I could do beside what I had already been doing.
I am convinced that both of these messages were delivered by my guardian angel, because that is what angels do. They guard us and deliver messages to us as needed. The message itself belonged to God.
I spent all my energy seeking God and I was clearly being asked to "Hunger and Thirst" after the "Holy Spirit." I never expected that God would move so directly and powerfully in my life.
I now began to realize that because I refused to fully humble myself, God did it for me. I wept, and I knew that as I finished the 40 days of fasting and prayer, that something wonderful would continue to happen to me. Every moment of the last day of the fast was a spiritual agony, yet I was able to complete every minute.
I was physically weak from fasting and from overworking myself, yet now I felt empowered to make changes in my life. I decided to quietly rest in the strength of the Lord, and listen for once in my life.
For the next few months, I repeatedly had experiences too difficult for me to put into words. Day and night I was in a protective spiritual bubble, which both strengthened and enriched my body, soul, and spirit. The Bible became the living word which was now opened to me so that I could understand it and experience it as the truth.
I was beginning to understand just how spiritually powerful God's Word is. I had made a public confession accepting Jesus as the Christ, and had decided to travel into Washington, DC and attend Betsy Tucker's church regularly.
"Now I am doing everything right!" I said to myself, and then the Lord stepped in to answer my prayer and start His work in me. Everyone with any religious upbringing knows what faith, hope, and charity are. I for one had read enough of the Scripture to know of it intimately, or so I thought. The only problem was that my Lord knew me better than I knew myself, and He also knew that in my heart I was committed to Him.
As a result, I had two central experiences that were both profound. The first one was a lesson in faith, the second a lesson in love. Both of these experiences were characterized as great personal hope for me.
The first experience was a literal deliverance from the evil fear that had once tried to enter my soul. I thought that when my three prayers were answered, Christ's victory was automatically given over such adversity. It was not. The reason that I had been repeatedly instructed to seek the Holy Spirit was of critical significance. The enemy of my soul had not been dispossessed of his claim over me.
I wanted to experience the power of God at a safe distance, but when you fast and pray earnestly to God, He knows what answer you really need. My own arrogance was such a part of me that I failed to see things clearly, but that soon changed.
One evening late in July when I had retired, I had fallen into a sound sleep. I suddenly felt a touch on my right hip, and the touch was a healing touch. It was full of peace, life, and well-being. It was a gentle experience, and then the Lord spoke to me and called me by my name "Michael." When he spoke to me, he was calling me to Him. I was pulled upward above my body and was turned over so that I could see my body laying below me in bed.
"What do you see, and how do you feel?," I was asked.
At first, I had great difficulty believing what I was looking at, but I was not distressed. In fact, I was undistressable. What I was seeing and what I was feeling were perfect questions at the moment. I was experiencing my spirit without my body. The real me was much different in spirit then I was in my flesh. My spirit is the real Mike Stein. What I was feeling allowed me to understand that when you are with God in the Spirit, all things are experienced in truth and in absolutes.
You cannot lie, and you don't want to. You cannot flatter God, and you are certainly not concerned about political correctness. With God your spirit has no desire for such absurd things. At that moment, I was standing at the edge of a vast universe, which only God can fill, and His Words alone brought me to the very brink of it in an instant.
The idea of absolutes can only be imagined by human beings, because of the limited sensual nature of our flesh. It is because of our fleshly nature that we are blind to spiritual truth. When you are with God in the spirit all experiences are absolute. When we decide something, we are compelled to experience an absolute, honest reality of truth and nothing else even makes any sense.
Honesty, integrity, love, and the noble aspects of human nature are perfected in His presence. They are made new, yet our individual personalities survive and their uniqueness is amplified in God's presence. Intellect is heightened, but becomes submissive to virtue. Virtue means everything to God. When your spirit leaves your body to be with the Lord, true virtue not only survives, it is liberated, and in Christ it explodes into victory.
I was then taken to the edge of a vast and dark emptiness. It was like an immense black hole, and I was pulled into it. The darkness and fear of this place never ceased growing more intense. Hope was stripped away in an instant and fear became so real and intense that I could feel and see it squeezing my entire being tighter and tighter. This experience is worse than dying 1,000 times. The life in me was so hated that the darkness literally raged against me to utterly destroy all that I cherished so dearly - everything that is both life and light.
Then a thin line of pure light penetrated the darkness from an immense, hopeless distance away, and struck me, and I heard a calm voice clearly say "Yield to Me." In desperation, and with every ounce of what remained of my being I cried out, "I yield to the Lord." Then off in a great distance, that seemed to be a universe away, I saw a great wall of pure bright light surging towards me at a tremendous speed. When it reached me it was like a giant tidal wave.
That light was the living word of God itself, and it came to rescue me with a fury that nothing in existence can resist. I was seeing Jesus in the act of my spiritual deliverance.
The darkness with all of its hate and fear could not withstand the light even though it held me firmly. But give me up it did, and when the wall of light reached me, it passed right through every fiber of my being. I was drenched in life that was indescribable and radiantly passionate. My spirit was carried along at an incredible speed and my spirit hit my body with a tremendous impact of pure life. When the light faded, I was back in my body looking up.
God, His Word, His love, His light, and His Spirit were of absolutely no discernible difference to me. In response to one faith filled call my spirit was set free of this deceitful hate.
Scripture tells us clearly that the struggle between Darkness and Light is not just a metaphor of moral good versus evil. It is literally true, and our faith is mighty to the pulling down of spiritual strongholds that are real. I believe in the Scripture that says, "those that call upon the Lord, shall be saved." And again, "if we have faith the size of a mustered seed and say to the mountain, move, it shall be done."
The darkness and the light were both absolutely real. The darkness, in our life, will never give up. It is full of hate , deceit, and lies, and tries to destroy us all. Yet if we set our gift of faith in motion, God will move heaven and earth with the breath of his word to gain the victory and enrich our spirit and our soul.
If our faith does not falter, His love will not fail to restore and enrich our life many-fold. Don't give God a chance to do what we think is important. Instead, give Him your body, soul, and spirit, and let Him do anything that He wants to do with your life as you reverence Him in return.
This is not the religion that most of us understand.
The darkness is like a car wreck that always happens to the other guy, and this is why deceit is such a vicious evil. We simply don't know what is really going on in our spiritual life. The type of science that our culture relies on discourages belief in anything that we can't prove in a test tube.
This leaves us confidently vulnerable to deception, when we are cocksure that we are right, even when, or rather especially when, we know nothing. This was certainly a part of my experience. I didn't know I had a problem and just how dependent I need to be on God's Word and His love.
This is why Jesus the man was the out-raying of the divine. He came to offer himself for the spiritually blind like me who never knew him.
We sit on our spiritual gifts and never even know that they are available to us. Like myself, we avoid them and rationalize them away. We become defiant, arrogant, and totally self-centered.
When our enemy attacks us spiritually, we won't even consciously be aware of it. There is no one to defend us, and when our life comes to its natural end, what effective excuses will we discover that will work in our own self-righteous behalf? The answer to this question is clear to me.
Who has paid the price to deliver me from the darkness that my own pride and arrogance inflict on me. This is why Jesus the Messiah came to save me. He is the one who pleads my case, and endures the punishment that I cannot withstand by myself.
This first experience was the one of faith, the second experience was the most profound, because it was one of love.
When God completed His work of faith in me, He came to me a second time late on a different night and touched me very gently on my back. Even though I knew it was the Lord, I pulled away. He touched me a second time and called me 'Michael,' and I tried to convince myself that I was dreaming. When He touched me the third time the power of His virtue was so strong that when I sat up, I thought my spirit had been pulled right out of my body.
I was surprised to find that I was still in my body. The room was pitch black, but the spirit of peace was so heavy on me that I moved to the edge of the bed, and put my feet on the floor. I then rubbed each of my feet on the carpet to make sure that I could feel them. I savored this experience for quite a few moments.
When I was sufficiently convinced that I was not alone, I prayed out loud, "Lord I know that You are here," and He said to me in an audible voice, "Why do you love Me?"
The sound of His words cut through me and laid my seemingly empty heart bare before Him. I was completely unprepared to answer this question, when up from my spirit the answer came, and I said, "I don't know who loves you Lord, but You know." My words were not framed by my mind. The words were from my spirit and Jesus was speaking through me and for me.
It was then that God filled me with His love. It wasn't love fit for any man/sinner like me, but He poured it out like an ocean of pure water in such vast quantities of pulsing life, that it seemed almost wasteful to be loved this much. The feeling of acceptance was so absolute, I could not describe it. He held my spirit close to Him, as if I were a lost son who had returned home to a Father that I never knew I had.
The quality of God's love permeates and floods our spirits with the very essence of what God is. His greatest power is His love, and when we rend our hearts and not our garments, we lay our hearts bare, and his love can reach us anywhere and under any conditions.
This is the power that the very gates of Hell itself cannot prevail against. This is the love that motivates the redemption of a blind and hopeless humanity, framed in a man named Jesus the Messiah of Israel.
The price of my redemption alone was so extraordinarily great that to this day, I am still trying to comprehend it without success.
There are so many wonderful people that I have been privileged to meet during my life that are so much more deserving of these experiences of love than I am, but I believe that God knew that I needed much love, so He literally wasted it on me so that I would know Him absolutely.
This story is not over.
It was just the start of God's ongoing work of His absolute love for me. His
love has blessed me daily ever since, and my hope is that His love may touch
you too. His mercy is unfailing.
Eph 3:9-10, "...and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in heavenly places."
Joel 2:13 - Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Hebrews 1:1-4 - In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
John 1:1-5 - In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He
was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without
him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the
light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome