THE MAKING OF A BOOK
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PART 3 A Love Hate Relationship
My mother exposed me to Catholicism when we lived in Germany, but stopped attending church when we returned to America. The Mass in Germany was spoken in Latin, so I did not learn much about God and had never been in a protestant service until I walked into the House of Living Water in August 1973 and became the only practicing Christian in my family.
The Assembly of God pastor and his family were very good to me. Whenever they went out to eat after a service, they included me, even when they were entertaining guest speakers. And they taught me what it meant to be born again. They also taught me some things I later rejected.
My parents were not thrilled with my new life. My father told me he would rather have me on drugs than involved with this Jesus stuff. My mother chided me for reading the Bible. “You are going to go blind reading that tiny print.” They forbid me from attending the church, but relented after attending a service. They were not interested, but felt it was harmless.
Several significant things happened in the three years I attended. Before I walked into the church, I had three dreams that gave me the same sense I had about The Cross and the Switchblade. I did not know what it was, but that book and those dreams were different. I later learned that God speaks to people in dreams.
One Sunday, the church had a guest speaker. I don’t remember why I remained after everyone left except the pastor and his wife, who were in his office. The guest speaker approached me with an unusual statement. “God just revealed to me that one day he will use you in ministry.” I did not have a clue what that meant, and entering the ministry had never entered my mind. I walked home pondering his statement, and remembered the dreams, but brushed the thought aside.
Several months later, a friend visited, who I had not seen for a long time. He told me about a strange experience he had at work. One of his co-workers was the guest speaker who told me God would use me in ministry. The man had approached my friend and said, “One day, you will be a great help to someone God will use to relieve the suffering of a lost and dying humanity.” Again, the dreams came to mind. Again, I brushed aside the thought of becoming a minister. (Today, the Assemblies of God ordains women, but in the 1970s they frowned upon a woman in ministry.)
I was still socially awkward, with few friends, so I filled my lonely hours with books about God. Many of those books were written by the leaders of the Word of Faith Movement. They had a seductive message, and scriptures to support their beliefs. I devoured their books, thinking if I had enough faith, I could create a better life with my words.
According to the faith teachers, God wanted us healed. I believed God paid the price to heal my eyes, so I tried to use my faith to heal my nearsightedness. After a church service, I proved my faith by throwing my expensive glasses in the trash. Some in the congregation were impressed by my act of great faith, but I walked around squinting for days.
My parents had more common sense than they did. They demanded I retrieve my glass from the church’s garbage can. My mother scheduled an eye appointment. I was sure I would have 20/20 vision when I took the eye test. My prescription had not changed. I went home with a new pair of glasses, and the first clue that I had embraced a lie as the truth. My love hate relationship with the church began that day.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT TUESDAY…
FROM FAITH’S MYSTERY THE MAKING OF A BOOK BLOG SERIES
I well remember that faith-healing trap. For instance, from a real example, someone with diabetes felt that “true faith” in God would heal the diabetes, so to demonstrate the “true faith” she quit taking her insulin. Not good.
Although I know that God can and does work miracles, I cannot leverage a healing by grunting out large efforts of my faith. However, the lovely and powerful God who is the object of our faith answers prayer. “Ask and you shall receive.” He grants miracles according to what he knows is the best Good for the people involved.