wanted to write this article from a Biblically sound filing cabinet in my brain. I’m certain I now know way more about the tongues of fire than ever before. And I don’t underestimate the Comforter; the still, small voice within; or the “unctions” that direct us.
But when it comes down to me—and I do mean way on down, to where I am in the grand scheme of life—being Pentecostal is something else in addition to those exceptional things.
I learned early on not to think it strange when someone runs an aisle at church, or prays in the Spirit in other tongues. I learned not to judge the person who returns week after week to the altar, or the church saint laid out prostrate weeping.
When I think about being Pentecostal, I can’t help but think of what it’s not. It’s not detached, not stagnant, and not boring. Unlike some opinions, it’s also not wild and crazy (for no good reason), or attention-seeking (at least not in authentic situations). It can be calm and soft, as well as determined and relentless.
In recent reflection, I think of being Pentecostal as having the freedom that comes with such focused and purposed prayer that you know you are in the presence of the Lord. And all the things that are deep within you, that you can’t even find the words for, are being brought to God’s attention in that very moment.
Being Pentecostal matters to me because all my life I’ve been exposed to an environment where deep worship, praise, and prayer were OK. When tragedy hit my family, I watched my mother engage in spiritual warfare with strength and determination not of her own. She may not have run an aisle, but she dug her heels in and relentlessly sought God over the matter, trusting Him in the bleakest situation.
Being Pentecostal matters to me when my dad—the most humble, others-minded, and good-hearted person I can think of—can rise up and speak with an authority, empowered by the Holy Spirit, in circumstances where the enemy of our souls vies for the upper hand.
It matters to me when I watch and hear my mother-in-law unwaveringly call on God, trusting in Him and praising Him in the best of times and the worst of times. Being Pentecostal isn’t just an adjective describing people; it’s lives that experience the real God in real ways.
When it comes to being Pentecostal, there aren’t any age limits or religious rituals required. A senior adult might receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and so might a child.
As a mother, I’m not relegated to instruct my children on their journey with predetermined advice or generalized answers. With different gifts of the Spirit in operation, the Holy Spirit can bring to light what they need to hear, in a way that will make the most sense and impact for their particular need.
Being Pentecostal isn’t something you do or a way you act. It’s choosing to relinquish your frame, or what it is that holds you together, to the Holy Spirit as your strength and structure. It’s being free in your worship—whenever and wherever you are, during the good times and the bad, unlimited by how or how long you choose—in essence, touching the hem of Christ’s garment.
Being Pentecostal, the beauty of why it matters, is humbly and graciously accepting God’s lens over your eyes, to be effective for His kingdom in your small portion of this world. As wonderful as it is to live as a Pentecostal Christian for your span of time on earth, it should be more wonderful for those coexisting with you—for those drawn to the Spirit’s light inside you.
Shauna White and her husband, Michael, live in Cleveland, Ohio, where he is the lead pastor of the Parma Park Church of God.