Remember when you were a kid and would go to the circus or the carnival? Sure, there were elephants and chimps, usually crapping everywhere. The air was scented with cotton candy, popcorn and the smell of animals. I remember the games, balloons, darts, tossing things. Besides the lion tamers and the freak show part of the carnival there were usually fortune tellers, people that would look at your palm or into a cheap hunk of round glass and predict you’d meet a tall, dark and handsome stranger. It was exciting and thrilling, wasn’t it, when you were a kid?
When I was a member of Possum Creek Christian Fellowship we used to have something like that, but we called it a ‘conference’. Sometimes there were people there that purported to hear from God for you. They didn’t have crystal balls or tea leaves in the bottom of delicate porcelain cups.
At first I thought it was as equally ridiculous as the palm readers and fortune tellers of the circus even if you weren’t being told something as mundane as the ‘tall dark and handsome’ thing. I recall scoffing over it, saying there was no earthly way the things you were being told were real. But eventually, with enough time and drinking the Kool-Aid I started to believe in these ecclesiastical fortune tellers too.
I’d forgotten about this aspect of my old life until this week. I spent the week clearing out the large storage room over our garage. It’s being set up as my design studio, with all my art supplies, drawing desk and computers for those side jobs I’ve been taking on recently to supplement my studio and teaching income. I found a box that contained my old Bible and various tracts, photos and journals from my years at PCCF.
One of the more interesting bits were three pages of notes from an intense ministry weekend that my husband James and I attended about seven and half years ago. You have to realize this wasn’t long after James had confessed to a depression so deep that it made him consider suicide. He wasn’t long out of the mental ward. None of us knew at that point that it was a combination of internal dissonance between what he knew and believed and what the men of our church were pressuring him to believe. We didn’t know about his chemical imbalance due to a parathyroid gland tumor. We just knew he was deeply unhappy when our life was nearly perfect in most ways.
At a conference at RCCF a big ministry from the Wilmington, North Carolina area was claiming to heal people of depression and many other ‘spiritual’ problems by deliverance ministry, prophetic words from God and prayer. Somehow James got to talking to them and before I knew it scheduled us to go down for a ‘deliverance’ on Thanksgiving weekend.
I was furious, even if I did at that time believe people with various prophetic words for me that were supposedly from the Lord. I was furious I was being drug away from my children during a family holiday for something I did not want to do. I felt no need for ‘deliverance’. Part of me seriously feared what they might say.
We went. It wasn’t helpful, it was just all kinds of weird. It might have fit in well with a freak show or circus somewhere.