I have had my share of unusual people as church members over the years. Some have had psychological problems and needed treatment. A few were emotionally troubled and needed therapy. Some were merely poorly educated and needed to be taught basic reasoning skills. Some were simply strange and hard to categorize.
Mary (name changed) fit into the latter category. She was a seminary student in her late middle years who had come into Pentecost through the charismatic movement. She was mythic-literal in her faith. She seemed to hear God’s voice often and about the most mundane of decisions. (For example, “I was late for church because God told me turn left and a few blocks later I found a young couple with a flat tire who needed help. Isn’t God good.”) She once brought her dead dog to church looking for people to pray the prayer of faith. On another occasion she testified of visiting a woman who had a double mastectomy who desired prayer. Mary was looking for two or three who would believe with her for a total restoration of both breasts.
My girls were young and I sought to shelter them from Mary fearing she might give them a strange personal prophecy. Thankfully I was not always successful.
Alethea came home from school one day when she was in the eighth grade and nervously informed us she believed God was calling her into “a ministry of medicine.” We encouraged her that we would help her pray and if God was calling her He would confirm it beyond doubt. We told no one of the conversation. A few weeks later I saw Mary corner Alethea after church. I tried to get close enough for damage control but couldn’t make it in time. She had taken Alethea’s hands in hers and said “God wanted me to tell you these will be healing hands.” Okay, my protective antenna are lowered but not disengaged. That was so general and it could be a lucky guess. Maybe she overheard Alethea praying.
Sometime later I saw Mary corner Alethea, again. I knew Alethea was going through a trial but I didn’t know what it was. Fathers don’t get to ask their teenage daughters much of anything. There was no need for me to pry. I couldn’t get there in time but I was close enough to see a tear or two roll down her cheek. When we were in the car I asked what Mary had said. I wasn’t prepared for the response.
“I can’t tell you Dad, but I can tell you this. Last night I wrote five questions to God in my journal. Mary said God told her to tell me five things. She didn’t know if they would make sense to me but she had to tell me. The five things she said answered my five questions to God in the order I wrote them down.”
To this day I don’t know what was asked or said. But if Mary moves back to Cleveland and shows up at church with a dead dog, I’ll be the first in line to pray for it.
August 8, 2010