Dignify and Deploy 22: Kingdom Couple
“What Christ demands of His listeners in the Sermon on the Mount belongs to that space in which man must rediscover the lost fullness of his humanity and want to regain it. That fullness is the reciprocal life between persons, of men and women…The dignity and balance of human life…depends on ‘who’ she will be for him and he for her…Should we fear the severity of these words [Sermon on the Mount] or rather have confidence in their saving power?” (Theology of the Body, 43:7)
Electrifying is the only way to describe Annette and I’s high voltage introduction to John Wimber. The following encounter illustrates how the coming of heaven on earth is meant to pervade all of life, especially the ordering of love between a man and woman.
John visited our Westside Church on several hot and bothered Friday nights to turn up our expectancy of what God can do. He was legendary, even in 1980, and Annette wanted to dodge him.
Sure, we loved Jesus together, had just kicked off our first Desert Stream group in West Hollywood, and were heading for the altar. But Wimber’s hijinks unsettled her. A former Presbyterian and victim of childhood sexual abuse, Annette could only take so much uncertainty as to what might happen in a ‘Spirited’ meeting. One person’s Pentecost petrified another. The trouble? John who had visited the week earlier had a word-of-knowledge for ‘Annette.’ In our feverish self-importance, he was returning the second time to find her!
Annette was afraid. I didn’t have much but faith. Insecure, I wondered if I could fulfill my obligation to this woman. I don’t mean sexually, but emotionally and financially; could I be more shelter than swaying reed for her? All I knew-- Annette needed what John had to give. I insisted we get ‘wimberized,’ she resisted then halfway relented, and we fought like enemies down Wilshire to the meeting. Frustrated as we drove past the packed church, I lurched unwisely into a bank parking lot exit and burst the front tire on the spikes.
Annette burst into tears. At that point a couple of friends saw our hapless state and ushered Annette into the church, consoling her all the way. I sat in the driver’s seat, leaning left, and wondered what to do. No spare, no nothing. A Vineyard guy whom I had misjudged as an insensitive bigot walked past and I asked him to help me. He forsook his Wimber moment. For the next two-and-a-half hours, we sought out repair. We found an open gas station, waited for the plug, laughed together, and I reformed my view of this good guy next to me. We drove back as the meeting ended.
No lie: Annette emerged radiant. John had a series of words for people, including an encore for the elusive ‘Annette.’ He asked her friends to prayerfully lay hands on her. She received two things—the power of the Holy Spirit like a golden outpouring from heaven that superseded her deep need. And a profound healing of a skin condition tied to her abuse. Her inner and outer person glowed. We reunited as a kingdom couple, full of love, peace, and joy together. I felt proud of doing my part to escort her into the healing she needed.
God met us through a man who believed God could enter our divided lives and hasten their restoration. Yes, our wholeness will be realized in full only when we see Him face-to-face. Now, we expect and summon healing gifts from Heaven, tokens of the paradise-to-come.
‘Man becomes the image of God, not so much in the moment of solitude but in the moment of communion.’ (TOB 9:3)
“Thank You God, for freeing us from our insecurities and misjudgments, and our fear of re-abuse, even from Your Spirit. Your power empowers us. You set love in order within us. You take our weak efforts at loving each other and strengthen them into something beautiful that images You.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”