When I turned fifteen, I began riding horses and fell in love with them. While in the back of my mind I dreamed of owning a horse of my own, I often ignored this dream and faced the reality of the situation. We lived on an acre and a half of mostly wooded land, and I fully understood that a single horse needs at least an acre of pasture or, ideally, two acres in which to run and graze. I also knew that horses tend to get lonely without a companion, which placed further demand on land and expenses. Nevertheless, when my father approached me one day in my junior year and admitted he was considering helping to get me a horse, I immediately began doing research to help the process along. We even went and visited an elderly couple with a barn and small pasture who lived about a fifteen minute walk from my house. The husband offered a stall to us for $50 a month, and they owned one other horse who could be its playmate. (In New Jersey, or anywhere for that matter, $50/mo is extremely cheap!!) I began looking through horse ads, wondering if my dream would amazingly come true.
During this time, the associate pastor at Calvary Tabernacle was conducting a series of teachings on the gifts of the Spirit. My sister and I hungered for God's truth as we discussed the pastor's messages after each service. In particular, he had been focusing on the gift of speaking in tongues. My sister began to tell me how God had been working in her own life. I found out that she had prayed for many nights, struggling with the origins of speaking in tongues. "If tongues are of You, God, then I want them," she prayed. "If they are of Satan, then I don't want them." One night as she prayed, God gifted her with tongues and unknown words began streaming off her lips. In the most basic sense, God provided the words and the means (the particular movements of her mouth and tongue), and she allowed Him to use her mouth. The very basics of Christian faith are found in this gift: God moves, leads, and guides, and we submit our whole selves to Him in faith that what He does is good and not evil.
In addition to attending Calvary Tabernacle, I also visited my high school friend's youth group at a Missionary Alliance church occasionally on Sunday nights. When I found out that they were holding a water baptism service soon, God laid it on my heart to be baptized. While I had been baptized as an infant according to my parent's faith, I became convinced that it was important to be baptized as a believer according to my own faith. So I signed up to be water baptized at the Missionary Alliance church. Because the service was on a Sunday morning, and my parents had their own PB meeting planned in my living room, they did not attend. However, my sister and one of my brothers did come. My high school friend was also baptized during the same service.
One day during the week after I was water baptized, I wandered back into the woods behind my house to spend some quiet time with God. As I walked along the path, I began to pray to God that He would give me a horse. As I engaged deeper in prayer with Him, I came to believe that if He so chose, God could make a horse miraculously appear in the woods around me. I envisioned a beautiful white horse, as if straight out of heaven, suddenly trotting through the leaves. When I think of my faith in those moments years ago, sometimes I think I was silly. But then I quickly remind myself that God is capable of the impossible; and I also remind myself of what He did do that day in the woods. As I stopped now and then to listen for the sound of hooves in the leaves, God quieted my heart and mind to listen to His voice. Then He asked me a question which I shall never forget: "Heidi, which do you want? A horse? Or My gift of tongues?" Wow. I did not know what to say. Slowly I began to walk again from where I had stopped, struggling with each option. As much as I wanted a horse, I knew I would be a fool to choose that over a spiritual gift. So finally I answered God. Tongues.
By now I was closer to the creek that runs along in our woods. Near the creek there is also an old junkyard with mostly bottles, old, thin car tires, and other assorted rusted out metal parts from the early days of the automobile. Upon receiving my answer, God began to give me specific direction. Go over to that tree. The suggestion seemed illogical and pointless, and I hesitated for a moment. But then I decided obedience would bring no harm but perhaps disappointment. So I walked to the tree. Now go over to that other tree. Again I obeyed. Go to that rock. By now I felt like I was being led on a wild goose chase, but, remembering who my Leader was, I obeyed. When I got to the rock, I did not hear any further direction. Feeling somewhat disappointed as I had suspected I might, I sat down on the rock and began asking God to reveal to me why He had so led me. When He seemed to fall silent, I picked up a stick and began digging around in the dirt in front of me. As I dug, I came across a small piece of leather. Curious, I pulled it out and searched more to see what else I could find. After finding a few more pieces of leather and a few rusted metal buckles, I realized what I had found. An old horse halter. There was no doubt in my mind. I knew what horse halters looked like, and this was one. In that moment, I knew God was promising me a horse. Perhaps I would not own one until heaven, but that was okay with me. Someday, somewhere... I would get my horse. Amazed, I picked up the pieces and brought them back to my house. (Unfortunately, before I had a chance to clean them off and bring them inside, my mom threw them out, not knowing what they were.) Now all I had to do was wait and watch as God fulfilled His promises.
The next Sunday, there was an altar call at my church for people who wanted to receive the gift of speaking in tongues. I responded and received the gift of speaking in tongues that day.