Tuesday, October 18, 2005
A lasting reminder
In my charismatic days, I fancied myself to be the recepient of many "words from God." Although these "words" covered a variety of different subjects, the ones that were nearest to my heart had to do with my, er, love life. In fact, I held on to no "word" longer than the one that revealed to me whom I was to marry.
The lady in question had been a leader of my college Christian fellowship. For a season we frequently prayed with each other, and we got to be close enough that many folks thought we'd eventually marry. However, strife and conflict eventually entered into our relationship, not to mention a year-long absence when I left to teach at ORU in Tulsa, OK. Things were quite tense between us at the time I returned to Illinois, and we didn't make up until just a couple of months before she graduated and moved back home.
It was only after the gal moved back home that the "words" began. First, it was revealed to me that she would return after a season and together we'd be instrumental in a revival that was to come to my area. Later, this revelation was confirmed in some detail through at least two additional witnesses. At this point I was engaged in an ongoing written correspondence with the gal, and things seemed to be heading in a hopeful direction.
However, trouble was at hand. It began with a most hopeful letter from the gal. She'd somehow gotten the impression that I was going to come to visit her, and additionally asked me to send her a few specific items via mail. At the time I was quite timid, and she lived very far from me in a foreign country, so I'd never seriously considered undertaking a visit, but I did go ahead and send her a package with the items she'd requested. A few weeks later, I learned from a mutual friend that my package had arrived but that it had been "sabotaged." In a panic fueled by the various stories of persecution I'd heard her tell in the past, I decided that it would be better for her if I stopped corresponding with her and wait for her to get back in touch with me when it was safe for her to do so.
From this point on, I began to wait, and wait, and wait. Since I had a "word" from God, or so I thought, I "knew" that everything would work out sooner or later. I was quite convinced that my eventual union with her was a done deal, and I acted accordingly. On one occasion, I snubbed another gal who was obviously attracted to me simply because God had told me I was to marry someone else! In spite of occasional doubts, I was determined to wait upon the Lord, so I did so for quite a few years.
While I waited, I heard nothing from the gal of my "word", but I did maintain occasional contact with the aforementioned mutual friend. After I'd waited for several years, I got a phone call from this friend. She told me that she'd heard from my prophetically intended. She'd mentioned me in such a way that indicated that she was angry with me, but yet she hadn't made it clear to our friend exactly why she was angry with me. Thinking that the way was now clear for me to get back in touch with her, I got her address from our friend and sent her a few letters, but received no reply. In my very last letter, I asked her forgiveness for any offense I may have caused, and explained that I wouldn't write any further unless she replied to me. She never did.
Obviously, this disappointment was one of the bitterest of my life. I had invested a lot of time in waiting for this dream to come to pass, but now I was finally waking up to the fact that I'd been deceived either by the devil or by my own imagination. What's more, the years I'd spent on waiting on this dream were spent on nothing. All that time, I made little or no effort to get acquainted with anyone else. Thus, this foolish dream is the #1 reason why I'm still single to this day.
However, God as always showed me much mercy even in the midst of such folly. For starters, He'd spared me from what would have been a very bad match. You see, this gal had a very strong, even overbearing personality, whereas my tendency at the time was to be weak and passive. Needless to say, such a combination would have been disastrous for the health of a long-term relationship. Also, God graciously kept me far from overt sexual immorality during this period, and has in fact preserved me to this day. Finally, He graciously used this disappointment to turn me away from vain dreams and towards the Scriptures. More than anything else that I experienced in charismania, it was this failed dream that led to my personal Reformation.
To this day, this great disappointment continues to have a major impact on my life. As I've already mentioned, it's the #1 reason why I've not yet married, because I spent my twenties waiting for a dream instead of searching for a wife, and didn't get around to searching with any earnestness until I reached my late thirties. The fact is that the vast majority of single gals are in their twenties, so on a number of occasions I've found that gals who are otherwise of good spiritual and moral quality are simply unsuitable for a guy of my age and maturity. To further complicate matters, since I gave up my dream so late, I've been learning how to play the "mating game" about twenty years later than is normal. Thus, to the younger set I'm too old, and to the older set I'm often thought of as awkward or unpolished. This is not to say that I've given up all hope of finding a suitable mate--with God all things are possible--but that these very real difficulties are constant reminders of the foolishness and folly of trusting a spurious "word of the Lord."
God has promised to work all things together for the good of His Elect. In spite of my ongoing difficulties, I can testify that He has done so in my life. In fact, the nature of my folly was such that it is a constant reminder of the danger that awaits me should I ever fall back into it again. Thus, it serves as a "check" against putting my trust in anything save the Scriptures. Moreover, it fuels my fervent desire to warn others against trusting any dream, vision, intuition, or "word" save the Scriptures alone. Although God has graciously guarded me from much harm, the consequences that remain for my charismatic folly are sufficient to keep me ever mindful of the vital importance of Sola Scriptura: the Scriptures alone!