Summary: Don’t overcomplicate it by expecting God to move in a certain way; just expect Him to move, and listen for His voice. What comes next just may surprise you.
Time is something that has always fascinated me. As a kid I would always love to watch time travel movies like Back to the Future and TV shows like Dr. Who. I very rarely can be seen without wearing a watch of some sort. One of the things that has always fascinated me about time is that an hour here, in the United States, is the exact same thing as an hour in Madagascar, Australia, China, Brazil -- anywhere else in the world. Time is measured constantly.
Because I love time so much I’ve owned several watches that are more...unique than what most people have. I had for a long time a Russian made “Raketa” 24-hour analog watch -- instead of 12, 3, 6, and 9 around the face, it had 24, 6, 12, and 18. Midnight was at the top and noon was at the bottom. I’ve owned several types of pocket watches, too -- I have one right here. This watch does not use a battery -- it still must be wound on a regular basis for it to run. This type of watch has what’s called a “manual movement” (a movement is what describes how a watch or clock actually runs).
This is how watches were made for hundreds of years -- you manually wind up a spring that unwinds at a set speed, giving you the familiar “tick tick tick” sound. During that time, Switzerland was know as the “king of watchmakers” -- everyone wanted a Swiss watch. That all changed in the late 70s, when a new invention took over -- the Quartz movement. This used a battery and a piece of quartz that vibrated at a set speed, giving a much more accurate measurement of time than previously available. Quartz watches were invented by a man working for the Seiko corporation -- headquartered in Japan. Switzerland saw this new-fangled Quartz watch and decided it was just a passing fad -- no one would want this! Switzerland had been making the world’s best watches for hundreds of years! Why would anyone want to go to this unknown Japanese company instead? What did they know about watches?
Apparently, quite a lot. By 1981, almost 81% of the Swiss watchmakers were fired. Japan was the new king of time.
Swiss watchmakers lost out on an amazing future because they had a preconceived notion of what a “watch” must be. Anything that did not fit their pattern of a watch would be quickly dismissed as worthless. This same attitude can be found in many areas of life -- you have to be this strong, or you’re not a real man. You have to be this skinny, or you’re not a real woman. We all know that these ideas are complete junk -- but the world is full of them. Thankfully, we’re in the church, where such bias doesn’t exist, right?
Well, the problem with churches is that they’re filled with imperfect people! The first time I was ever baptized in the Holy Spirit, I was at a youth convention in the mountains of Vermont. Some of you already know this story. I felt the Spirit come over me, and the only response I had was to giggle like a little boy. Shortly after this started -- I still don’t know how long it went on -- I felt someone tapping on my shoulder. I stopped and turned to see one of the leaders from another church standing there. I thought he was going to pray for me, but he told me that “we don’t laugh at the Holy Spirit”. It took me years to allow myself to really be filled with the Spirit again, because every time I felt the laughter come up, I’d force myself to stop.
That leader had good intentions, but he had a preconceived notion of what baptism in the Holy Spirit “should look like”. He was like the Swiss watchmakers. Unfortunately, many people are the same way -- if not with other people, with themselves. Many people in the church are afraid to see God’s movement in their lives because they expect it to come a certain way. They know who the Holy Spirit is, they know that He works in people’s lives, they are even saved. They put God in a box, though -- and if something happens that’s different from what they expect of God, they automatically assume that it can’t be from God.
Turn with me to the book of Joel, chapter 2. While you’re finding that book, I want to give you some background on Joel, the man. I am going to give you everything we know about him, are you ready? Joel was the son of Pethuel. His name means “Yahweh is God”, and he lived before the coming of Christ.