I was sitting on the second pew with my eyes fixed, observing those who were arriving at the altar. In that instant, the Holy Spirit invaded my whole being in such a gentle and profound way—I had no doubt that His presence was in my life.
As a pastor’s daughter, I had heard of such wonderful blessings from childhood and committed my life to serve the Lord. In my adolescence, I taught a Sunday school class for little children, occupying myself with the Lord’s business. I sang in the church choir and helped with outreach programs.
I talked about salvation and sanctification through Jesus Christ, but at the same time, I did not feel certain of this second blessing in my own life.
I could recount most of what I had heard during church services and evangelical revivals; however, I could not understand why I had not yet been sanctified! My spiritual life felt like a rollercoaster—sometimes on the top, other times at the lowest level. I felt frustrated. I always wanted to do my best for the Lord, and I was totally committed to Him. So what could be wrong? What was I missing?
So there I was, on the second pew, listening to the altar call, and thinking to myself: “Why should I go to the altar? I don’t know what else I should do!” I prayed to God: “My Lord, what could be wrong with me?” At that moment, a message I had heard weeks before came to my mind. The pastor had read from 1 Kings 19:11-13 (NKJV), when Elijah was hidden in a cave, waiting to hear the voice of the Lord: “. . . and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; and the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice . . .” (v. 11-12). It was through the still small voice that the Lord spoke to Elijah.
As I recalled this passage, I also remembered the pastor who had talked about people who might attempt to manipulate the work of the Holy Spirit. They may want Him to act in a spectacular way, provoking sensationalism and burning emotions, when what God may want to do is talk to them in a still, gentle voice—perhaps that is why some have not experienced the blessing of sanctification. No one can dictate how the Holy Spirit should act in your life. It may be that He prefers a gentle way, just as He spoke to Elijah.
With my head bowed down in prayer to the Lord, I realized I had been imitating Elijah, searching for the voice of the Holy Spirit in the midst of earthquakes, winds, and other spectacular phenomena. Then I opened my heart in complete surrender, and in that instant, the Holy Spirit inundated my being like I had never experienced before—through a “still small voice.”
How is it that I never realized I had been putting up walls to the action of the Holy Spirit in my life? Praise the name of the Lord, for my eyes were opened! Since that day, more than 40 years have gone by. Each day, I have been learning to be tuned in to the voice of the Lord and to not establish methods for Him but to let Him guide my life. This is how I am truly happy—by obeying and doing His will.
Lídia S. T. Almeida Lima serves in South America on global deployment for the Church of the Nazarene.
Please note: This article was originally published in 2021. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.