Jesus said “Ask and it shall be given unto you. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.. Will not the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
The church I grew up in did not believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. One received all there was when one became converted. Speaking in tongues was thought of as emotionalism. My feelings toward Pentecostal people was that they thought that they were better than anyone else because of their noisy praying and worshipping, yet in the back of my mind I wondered “What if there is more than what I had been taught. What if there IS a baptism of the Holy Spirit?”
One winter day when I was in a desperate situation, God proved to me that His word is true. It was forecast to be one of those bitter Minnesota winter nights which make houses creak and pop with the cold. The morning weather forecast had said it would be 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit that night. Just as my husband was leaving for work, our furnace ran out of oil. We were in desperate financial straits. He was working full time at a print shop as well as putting in long hours trying to save our failing gas station business. (This was during the oil shortage of the early 1970’s when many gas stations went out of business.) We barely had enough money to put a little food on the table. There was nothing left over for anything else.
On Friday night when he got his paycheck from the print shop, my husband would buy two five gallon cans of fuel oil for our furnace, and that would have to last for the week. This particular week, we could afford only one. Now on Tuesday morning, it was all gone. The furnace sputtered on and off a few times, and then quit altogether. We would have to put oil in the tank and bleed the air out of the line before it would start again.
I went into the basement to start a fire in our wood burning stove, however we only a few pieces of wood left. We seemed destined to be left to the mercy of the weather that night. I knew that within a few hours it would be getting quite chilly in the house. How would I protect my children? I could beg from my folks or from my husband’s mother, or maybe I could ask for benevolence from my church, but I didn’t want to do either.
I was praying as I was putting in the last piece of firewood “God, we are entirely at your mercy. Maybe you could make it not get so cold, or you could give us tough hides to see us through this. I will not ask for charity! My help is in You. Jesus, you promised that you would never leave us comfortless. You promised that when you went away you would send us another comforter. IF I EVER NEEDED A COMFORTER, IT IS RIGHT NOW!
Little did I know what I was asking for. I think I was thinking in terms of a warm blanket or a “There-there, it’s going to be all right.”, but He sent The Comforter – The Holy Spirit. None of my religious upbringing prepared me for what happened next. I felt a surge of powerful energy flowing in through the top of my head, down my body through my feet, and back up again and out through my head. With my toes tingling, I felt myself being lifted to my feet by unseen hands as words in a language I have never heard flowed from my mouth.
With hands held high I began dancing around the house praising the Lord and singing songs I knew, and making up new songs of praise as I went. I tried to remember the few words I had spoken in that strange language. I wanted to say them again because of the power I had felt in them when I spoke them, but I couldn’t remember them. It dawned on me that maybe this was what those crazy Pentecostals were experiencing.
My heart and mind were filled with unshakable faith. I knew without one trace of doubt that Jesus would not leave me comfortless, that He would not let His little children suffer.
I continued through the day singing and praising God, I was so filled with praise and thanksgiving that I had to let it out. I think that my children must have thought I was going nuts, doing my housework singing and dancing and praising the Lord. “You are my Comforter. You will not leave me comfortless.”
Through the day, the house grew colder. I put the children to bed with their snowsuits on, and I piled on all the blankets I could find. It never occurred to me to worry that the water pipes in the basement could freeze up. I was just so filled up with the presence of the Lord. I was reveling in it.
My husband came home after closing up the gas station late that night, crawled into bed with me and promptly fell into an exhausted sleep. There was nothing else we could do about the heat. The little electric space heater would have to do, because that was all we had.
About 2:00 AM, I woke to the sound of the furnace fan running. I got up to turn it off, since it would be senseless to let cold air blow about the house. I pushed the thermostat lever all the way down as far as it would go, but the furnace kept running since the house was already colder than the lowest setting. “This is crazy.” I thought. Next I went into the kitchen and placed my hand over the hot air vent. I really don’t know why I did that. To my utter amazement, warm air was coming out of the vent. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I cried out, “Oh my God, what are You doing!” The furnace had been dead since 7:00 AM, and now at 2:00 AM, after we had been sleeping for several hours, it had started up all by itself. “God, I have never heard of anything like this before. I knew that maybe
You could moderate the weather, but to make an empty furnace run – that was a miracle greater than anything I have ever heard of.” Yet it was running. There was warm air coming out of the vents.
I went to the basement to check the gauge on the oil tank. Sure enough, it read empty, just as I knew it would. I tapped on the tank from the top on down to the bottom. It was hollow all the way. There was no oil in the tank! Warm air was circulating all through my house. “My God, You are so wonderful”
I remembered the old Sunday School song, “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning” Here was a new twist, I thought “Give me oil in my furnace, keep me comfy.” I was laughing and praising. No one in his right mind would ask God for something so outrageous. I asked for the Comforter, and I got Him (although I did not fully understand, because I had never been taught), and I also got the fire of God in my furnace.
If I would have asked for fire in my furnace, I am sure I would not have gotten it. I asked for the Comforter, and I got both Him and physical comfort. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
I went back upstairs and set the thermostat back up to 65 degrees. I sat on the floor by the warm air vent next to the patio door and looked out at the stars shining brightly in the cold winter night and continued praising and thanking the Lord.
The next morning we set the thermostat to a more comfortable 72 degrees. The furnace continued to run without fuel until Friday when we had money to buy oil again.
Have faith. God will take care of you too.
Alice E. Lewis