October 20, 2002, revised October 24, 2005, and again January 26, 2006
As the Sunday morning worship, of 10-20-2002, progressed the Lord surprised me. God reached back into my own memory banks for the scenes with which HE designed a blessed vision. God wanted to use the vision to reveal just how HE was moving on HIS people that day, who were in attendance in that worship service.
Unfortunately, in these times it seems as though we don't always have an abundant move of the Holy Ghost every Sunday in church. I'm sure it isn't the Lord's fault. These are just tough times and we sometimes go for quite a few Sunday mornings without a major move of the Holy Spirit. Certain saints who are really prayed up seem to have the Move of the Spirit upon them much of the time in worship. I desire to grow to be like that.
Anyway, here I was drinking in the glorious presence of the Lord and God revealed something as HE grabbed a few pictures out of my distant past. I know it was GOD because I haven't thought of these bus riding adventures for years. Those were rather mundane memories from way back around 1962.
All at once I was at a bus stop somewhere near downtown Los Angeles. In that era a teenager without a car had to get around L.A. using the RTD (the Rapid Transit District buses). The RTD Buses criss-crossed the whole city. Every major boulevard had a bus line. And major boulevards were about a quarter of a mile apart. Each bus line crossed other significant boulevards where you could take a transfer pass from one bus line to another.
Back then, when I would seat myself on a bus stop bench, I would look up at the orange, triangular, bus stop sign. Right under the RTD Triangle sign, was a smaller rectangular sign indicating just which bus line number, or multiple bus lines used that bus stop. It wasn't unusual for me to discover that I was seated at a stop where three or four different lines made a stop. If the bus stop was one that served multiple routes I would jump back up off of the seat and remain standing behind the bus stop bench, especially if I was the sole person waiting for a ride.
If I were to be the only person seated on that bench, every bus that approached would stop and open it's door, with me staring at the driver. Being a shy person it was embarrassing to know that this bus had stopped for me and that bus might not be my bus. Then I would have to flag the driver on, or communicate that he must not waste his time, that I wasn't going to ride that line because it went to the wrong place. I really hated to delay a bus for nothing.
To avoid that embarrassment I would strain my eyes for any approaching bus, looking for the line number placard posted in the lower, front, windshield next to the boarding door. If I noticed that the bus had the wrong route number for me and was slowing down I would wave the driver on. The drivers really appreciated this bit of time saving help. If they had to stop at every stop they sometimes got behind schedule. My efforts would help them stay on schedule.
Today city buses all have digital signs that communicate such things. But back in that era there were only cardboard placards placed in a clip in the lower front window. I was always very nervous about accidently getting on the wrong bus. Such a mistake might be a big problem. Some routes went to places I never wanted to see. In those days Los Angles was 80 square miles of city, much of which I knew nothing about.
But when the right bus, with the correct bus route placard appeared, a hundred feet from the bus stop, I would sit down to signal to the driver I was waiting for his bus. When the bus stopped, I would eagerly climb aboard. A sense of peace would come over me as I knew that I was in a safe place. My bus was very safe. Bus stops weren't always all that safe and secure. In downtown L.A., even back then, there were street people who could make you feel uneasy as they approached.
Now with that background I want to share the vision.
In the vision I was standing at this bus stop in a insecure and solitary place. Suddenly this wonderful, new, sleek bus pulled in. It was loaded with happy people. It was my bus. The door opened and there in HIS glorious robes was Jesus sitting behind that great big steering wheel. Jesus had the most joyous smile on his face. It was a smile that was almost like holy laughter about to break out.
When HE turned my way, and HIS eyes met mine, I knew that the Holy Ghost had just brought Jesus' wonderful presence to that spiritually dry and solitary worship. The start of worship had been kind of unfulfilling. Even though I was in a church sanctuary, without the manifest presence of the Spirit of God things can be very empty. But, God sent that vision to indicate to me that Jesus was now present with me. I was in the worship, but now Jesus was in attendance in a unique way because the Holy Spirit was manifesting the Holy presence of Jesus Christ! I didn't deserve Christ's presence. But HE was there nonetheless! He had arrived. That beautiful, sleek Bus in the vision symbolized the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost.
The Holy Ghost is "the carrier" of the glory of God. It is the Holy Ghost who opens the door. Jesus IS that door, but the Holy Ghost opens the doorway to glory. The Holy Ghost is the carrier and HE either carries us to Heaven or HE carries Heaven to us. And it was so right to see my dear Lord Jesus sitting there in the driver's seat welcoming me aboard the Holy Ghost bus.
In these days when it is sometimes a while between visitations of the Holy Ghost we need to be ready to drop everything and get on the Holy Ghost's bus with Jesus. We live in a spiritually dry place. As my Pastor has said, our City is a very dry place. It is a major mission field.
There are other buses that pull in and try to pick us up. Did you know there is another bus line that stops at the church bus stop?? It is called "the religious-spirit bus line." Everyone on that bus is all dressed up for church. They're playing popular praise music through the speaker system too. But the driver isn't Jesus. It's some old wrong-spirit dressed up in a Jesus mask and a Jesus outfit. That bus isn't of God and I've seen so many churches that can't tell the difference between the Devil's religious bus and the real Holy Ghost bus.
Jesus and the Holy Ghost visiting today reminds me of another station. In the same community where my church is, there is a broken down Amtrak station. That station is so ugly, lonely, forlorn and forgotten. And yet, it is the Amtrak station for our area. It's not a nice part of town and it's a run down old station. It needs paint. It needs boards replaced and windows cleaned. It's in a state of dis-repair. They don't even let people into the station anymore. You have to stand outside on the ramp to wait for your train!
I was at that Amtrak station at 4 A.M. one morning, not too many months ago. A beautiful Amtrak train pulled in. All at once that station became a place of warmth and safety. Jan and I jumped aboard that lovely Amtrak and road through the beauty of the Cascade mountains toward Portland, Oregon for a little get-a-way together. It was like the rapture, getting on that train bound for a better station. When we got off at the Portland Union Station we found ourselves in a marvelous place. The Portland Station was heaven compared to where we had boarded the train.
Next time the Holy Ghost pulls up with Jesus on board, rolls that Holy Spirit bus into the sanctuary of your church, let's not get too worried about doing all the regular things. I agree with Tommy Tenny. Tommy says that God has this funny idea that church and worship "ARE ALL ABOUT HIM!" The Lord gets hurt when HE shows up and finds out HE's got to be confined to our schedule, that HE has got to share the stage with certain other people.
Our Amtrak train was supposed to pick us up at 2:40 A.M. But, it didn't come until almost 4 A.M. We didn't go home....we waited. It was worth it. What if God was going to show up at 1 P.M. Sunday afternoon. Would we wait until then for the Holy Ghost bus??? I wonder?? We can't tell God that HE has to show up between 10:30 and 12 or forget it. HE's the Boss. Church is all about HIS schedule, not ours. Today the Holy Spirit and Jesus showed up during our regular worship time. Praise God! But sometimes I wonder who's in charge in church these days. I get the feeling that the Holy Spirit has to take a number and wait HIS turn these days, that church has become less about God Almighty and more about the talent show that churches run every Sunday morning.