Speaking in Tongues: Shandalahai!
Reader Jessica Cassidy contributes the following story:
I once belonged to a church who focused on gifts and titles of the clergy…if you spoke and addressed the congregation..it was like they called u a deacon or a minister. The first time I heard someone speak in tongues, I was a little afraid because it was new. I ran from this gift that God wanted to give me because of fear of the unknown. Finally, I stopped running and accepted this gift from our gracious Father…and it is truly an awesome experience. Not everyone has the gift or receives it. It is God’s gift to give and if the Holy Spirit doesn’t direct you into that direction (not people) then it isn’t of God. When my friends heard me speak in tongues, they didn’t believe that I truly had the gift because I only uttered the same thing over and over again…they told me that I needed to pray for the completion of my tongues. What is that??? God is perfect and complete and the gift is perfect and complete as well. If I was supposed to say more than what I spoke, then I would have. My point is, churches can really get caught up in the laws of God and the spiritual gifts. It isn’t that we shouldn’t obey God’s laws, but the laws shouldn’t be our main focus. We should always be focused on our Lord and allow Him to do the changing in us and all we have to do is Love him with ALL of OUR hearts… if we truly love Him and desire to serve Him, the laws will be obeyed automatically.”
This comment from Jessica brought back some fond memories. I am experienced in speaking in tongues and have felt this awesome experience from God. Here is the story of how I began speaking in tongues:
I mentioned in an earlier article my childhood trauma when I accidentally blasphemed the Holy Ghost. I was a very self-serious young lad. Since I was raised in various hippie communes during the height of the Jesus Freak Movement, our worship services seemed to move to a new location every week. Sometimes it would be at the local rancher’s house, sometimes down at the river for a (yet another) baptism, sometimes it was in grandma’s house. We really had no pastor or leader – everyone just sort of took their turn. As a result, we were huge on emotionalism, signs and wonders, and spiritual gifts, and sorely lacking in any foundational teachings or leadership. So things sometimes got very wild.
But even with the wild nature of our worship, the services still had a predictability to them. Today when I go to my old Baptist church, I know the first song will be upbeat, and everyone will clap their hands. The second a little slower. The third slower still, with plenty of emotion, and hands will start to raise in the air. I know when the Pastor will tell us to stop and shake hands with a neighbor. I know who will pray and when. I have been through it a million times at that church.
Same thing when I was a kid. I knew everyones’ favorite songs, and when people would start dancing. I knew just when people would start yelling. I knew when people would bind the devil in their prayers. And predictably, I knew when the entire congregation would break out in an extended period of ecstatic chanting in tongues. This was always followed by silence from everyone while we waited for one member to give us a special message in the heavenly babblings. And this was always followed by somebody else interpreting it for us as a message from God! Cheering and great joy from everyone always followed this. “Praise God!!”
Whether or not this has any Biblical validity is not the point here. Everyone did it. My mom did it. But I did not.
I thought something must be wrong with me. I just could not do it. Like I said, I was a self-serious young boy. And just as when I agonized over blaspheming the Holy Ghost, I also wondered about this. After all, Mark 16:17 says speaking in new tongues is a sign of those who believe. So, the teaching went, normal water baptism was not good enough to be saved. If we were not baptized in the *Holy Ghost* and show evidence by speaking in tongues, we were not really saved! What is it about this Holy Ghost that causes youngsters so many problems???
I once asked my friend Dino what I should do. “You don’t speak in tongues?” he asked. “It’s easy! Just start talking. Shandalahai!”
“Yeah! It’s easy and fun too! Shandalahai!” I always remember that Dino’s language consisted mostly of one word, repeated over and over again. ‘Shandalahai! la la la Shandalahai! la ga ha Shandalahai!’ But Dino was always a bit of a rebel. This was the same kid who would scoldingly whisper for me to lie still after we were both Slain in the Spirit.
But I still could not do it during worship service. So one day I went up to some of the people who were running that particular worship service. I told them to pray for me so I could be baptized in the Holy Ghost and speak in new tongues.
The whole congregation converged on me. I stood in the middle of a crowd, and at least 30 hands from 30 hippie believers laid their hands on me. They prayed for God to baptize me in the Holy Ghost. And they prayed. And prayed. And prayed. Their voices rose, and they began to shout.
Water baptism was easy compared to this! I get dunked, come up and it is over. When will this end? What is going on?
They started shouting louder, and commanded Satan himself to release his grip on me!
SATAN???? How did He get involved in this??
I was beginning to cry. All this pandemonium happening and directed all at me! What was supposed to happen? I wanted the Holy Ghost, but I had no idea what was going on. I raised my arms and my head and face and body were covered with other hands.
“Just let it out, just let it out – in JESUS name!” They were waiting for me to give a sign that I had received the Holy Ghost by speaking in other tongues. I cried and cried, “Please God, let me speak in tongues! Please Holy Ghost, come into my body!” Everyone at this point was either yelling in other tongues at the top of their voices, or binding Satan or some other evil spirit.
Finally, after a really long time, I just began to let my lips move. I cried and just let my lips move. Everyone began cheering. This must be it! This must be Other Tongues!! I let it out louder, and everyone cheered, “Praise God! Thank You Jesus!” I never yelled “Shandalahai!”, instead mine sounded like somebody shivering fiercely. “Du du dud du dudududu dudu…” Not to fear. I was informed that this was the infancy stage of speaking in tongues, and very soon my language would develop. I would be screaming “Shandalahai!” with the big boys in no time, if I just keep with the faith. (Yes I know this is unbiblical, but this is the environment I came from).
I was happy – I knew I was a child of God. So each week for about a year, I worshipped God with “du dudud dud dudud dud du dudu …” I never did get out of that ‘infancy stage’. Then one day, I did what my own mother eventually also did. I just stopped talking in tongues.
I quit for no real reason, other than that it was tedious. I was still a Christian, mind you. But after a year or so, I just found God’s special gift of Other Tongues to be unnecessary and tiresome. Even at that young age, and even as a Christian, I guess I realized that the gift was 100 percent ecstatic and 0 percent miraculous.
So, does anybody else have any fond memories of speaking in tongues?