I was shocked. It had been a week. We were on a camping trip with our family. Finally mustering up enough courage, I asked Debbie what she honestly thought about our visit to the Vineyard (see previous blog post – “Debbie Meets the Holy Spirit”). She replied that she had been secretly longing to go back.
So we did.
Night two at Woodbridge Vineyard was just as exotic and intense as the first. However, we found ourselves enjoying the worship music. This, despite the fact that the worship leader had a braid down to his buttocks and wore three stooges tee shirts.
Debbie, was conflicted. Even though a seed of hunger had been planted in her spirit during the last visit, she was still highly skeptical that any of what she was seeing was truly God.
At the close of the service, another miracle happened. Despite the fact that her insides were screaming “I don’t want these crazy people touching me!”, Debbie agreed to go forward with me for prayer.
Two young men approached us to pray. One prayed a blessing over us. The other began with, “I have something that may be from God for you”. In Debbie’s theology, God only spoke through the printed words of the Bible. She was thinking, “Yeah, right. God talks to you? This is going to be good!”
The young man continued, “Both of you were headed to the mission field. For various reasons, you were not able to go. You have felt terrible about this, like you have let God down. You feel like you have been passed over or placed on the back burner. However, He says that it is OK. Don’t beat yourself up. You will be able to go at a later time.”
All of this was absolutely true. This was our private pain that we did not discuss with anyone.
Debbie reacted with extreme skepticism. “Who are you and who told you these things about us?” she shot back.
The young man replied that no one had told him anything about us.
Debbie’s world, and theology, were rocked!
God knew, at this point, that Debbie needed proof that there was something real going on in these meetings or she would never come back. He had just delivered proof number one.
As we continued to pile our family into our minivan and make the two hour round trip down to Virginia on Sunday nights, God would faithfully meet us at the Vineyard. Each week, He would deliver another proof or He would hook us with something that would draw us back for another visit.
Week three was as emotionally intense as it was incredibly fruitful. Pastor Jim Robb was preaching a message on “forgiveness”. Debbie had heard scores of messages on this subject. She had been given many books on forgiveness by pastors trying to counsel her over the years.
She and her dad had not spoken or seen each other for three years. There was conflict that went back to her childhood. Her last counselor had advised her to cut off all ties with her dad because of the emotional volatility and depression brought on by any interaction with him.
At the close of Jim’s sermon, there was an unusual twist. Instead of just teaching the subject or having an altar call about it, Jim had everyone stand at their seats. He asked all of us to close our eyes. “Let the Holy Spirit now show you someone that you need to forgive” he instructed. “When he shows you that face or that event involved, lift your hands. As you lift your hands, imagine that you are lifting that person up to God and releasing them to Him”.
I had my eyes closed. I was in the process of lifting up my hands when I heard Debbie begin to weep and reach out to me. Her weeping became crying and that quickly moved into full on wailing. I stood there and held my wife as she shuddered and sobbed for half an hour. It seemed to me that with each sob, up out of her deepest parts came a chunk of pain.
Finally, the intense emotional experience was over. As I continued to hold her, Debbie’s physical body even seemed different. There was a new softness to her that I could actually feel.
Over the coming days, Debbie would remark to me that she no longer felt anger toward her dad. To me, she seemed happier and less stressed out. Later on that week, she emailed her dad and told him that she had forgiven him. Shortly after that, they saw each other again in person and completely reconciled. They are close to this day!
The Holy Spirit had truly begun, as Jim Robb had jokingly predicted, to reach down into Debbie’s deepest parts. He now had His hands on her heart and was proceeding to pull it up out of her throat! As intense as this first encounter was, it was only just beginning for her…and us!
Blogs Coming Up Next – “In Deep Doo-doo with Church Leadership” and “Debbie Gets Run Over by the Holy Spirit Express!”