Pentecost Survived, Pentecost Received

Pentecost nearly destroyed me.

The son of Pentecostal parent ministers who indulged in the unsafe and the extreme, always dancing on the cliff’s edge, renaming constant stress and desperation “walking by faith” while languishing in unhealth – my childhood might have been the end of me.

But I survived that Pentecost.

And now, 35 years old, 10 solid years of grown-up church ministry behind me, including a church plant that ended painfully, surviving still and trying to sustain – my soul is parched, which is to say, primed for a new outpouring of the Spirit.

And I am ready to receive this Pentecost.

Letting go and looking ahead is the essence of the Pentecostal experience. If the disciples never left the mount of Ascension, if they stayed there staring into the sky,  or if they lost hope and fled or failed to believe the promise – then the day would have never come. The ascended King would have never condescended to a people, anointing them as emissaries, sending them into the world to talk in the tongues of gospel and do the greater works.

The new age would have never dawned, if they had not let go of their bodily Messiah and looked ahead to the higher calling of being his body. To not let go is to fight the future. The kingdom is threatening to break in at any moment, to radically change the course of the cosmos, but if we are still holding onto the pain of the past then we cannot be the kingdom witnesses who usher it all in. Definitively, we will miss it. We may be fine – but we will not be in the Company of the Upper Room, the peculiar group that turns the world upside down.

We may be fine, but we will miss it.

This is where the “second blessing” suddenly makes sense to me – not as some rigid theological formula whereby one is first “saved” by a conversion prayer but then “filled with the Spirit” by a powerful Holy Ghost prayer (with some people saying you aren’t really saved by the first one unless you have the second one). No, the second blessing is the fruit of desperation – to not miss out on the work of God in the world when all of your previous attempts at Christian life and ministry have fallen flat. The second blessing is what we need in the desert place, in the wilderness, when all seems lost. The ship has sailed. The Messiah has floated away. You gave it your all, but you are so damn tired.

That’s when you need a Pentecost.

That’s when you need to wait, to perform the most insane acts of trust like staying in the city of controversy and stress a little longer when every cell in your body tells you to RUN AWAY. Just move. Just leave. It will be better to just end this season of life and live the rest of your days in peace somewhere far away from the people who have hurt you like you’ve never been hurt before. Far away from the Jerusalem pressure-cooker. But no, he says to stay. And wait. With the Company of the Upper Room.

I don’t know why I am feeling this so strongly now, but I am ready to trust again.

And I am waiting.

Because nothing else will do. And I don’t want to miss it. I am so damn tired. But I don’t want to miss it.

I can’t miss it.

I am ready to receive this Pentecost.

About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. He blogs here at Patheos and HuffPost Religion. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter, released in 2012. Most importantly he binge-watches TV dramas and plays in the snow with his family.

Find him on Twitter & Facebook!


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