Dignify and Deploy 30: Open Heaven
‘We met John in the restaurant parking lot after the Sunday night healing service at Vineyard Anaheim. Everyone was exhausted. I was with Vicki, a friend who had been infertile for 7 years and had little faith in conceiving a child. A weary John Wimber said: ‘Let’s pray for you.’ Vicki didn’t want prayer because of multiple disappointments; she folded her arms and said nothing. John commanded her ovaries and tubes to open. A month later she was pregnant and had a boy. Her second son was born 2 years later.’ Joannie Gulliksen
‘Whenever the Holy Spirit intervenes, He leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; He radically changes persons and history.’ -St. John Paul II
Sunday nights at Vineyard Anaheim overflowed with God’s healing mercy. Weary Christians from around Southern California immersed themselves weekly in the fountain that welled up as we sang, listened, and prayed. Christians of all stripes, including our group from West Los Angeles, drove home filled and ready for a tough week ahead.
We made the journey over and over because we needed more of Jesus. How else could we extend His kingdom into our dry unbelieving corner of the southland? Jesus didn’t disappoint us. He primed us once more to pray ‘Come Holy Spirit’ into the host of impossible situations that awaited us off our freeway exit.
Wimber did more than lead a church-planting movement. His army dug a deep well, a Holy Spirit center of renewal that watered us over and over.
Wimber’s ‘well’ in the LA basin was just a taste of the greater move of the Holy Spirit called ‘the third wave.’ Nearly a billion Christians around the world now identify as ‘charismatic’, inclined to follow the Spirit’s leading and to operate in His gifts. John was a central player here; he helped us to discern and operate in a ‘naturally supernatural way.’ As Joannie’s story illustrates, he believed and listened, then prayerfully obeyed. He turned down our dramatic emotions and encouraged us to just let God do what He wanted through His Spirit.
St. John Paul II loved the movement of the Holy Spirit. Defying superficial categories of traditional or progressive, he simply wanted the wind of the Spirit to blow through the Church. He sought, in the spirit of Vatican ll, to revitalize Christians to be Jesus for the modern world. He knew this was possible only through the constant infilling of Holy Spirit.
In 1998, John Paul convened the largest convocation of Catholic charismatics ever. Rome welcomed a host of various Spirited groups that represented explosive Catholic renewal in Eastern Europe, Africa, and South America. Funny: most Masses I attend in those areas are electric—there He has empowered clergy and laity alike to flow in the Spirit of Jesus Healer and Deliverer.
Of course, charismatics create tensions—immature spark plugs can tend to be messy and elitist (‘you don’t know Him like I do!’). John Paul and Wimber remained undeterred. They embraced the challenge of shepherding a ‘turned on’ people learning to listen and obey Jesus. They generously included all of us in Jesus’ calling: priest, prophet, and king. The king brings a Kingdom. So, we bring heaven-on-earth to Vicki and myriad others.
‘How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?’ (Lk. 11:13)
“Thank You for Your Spirit, Father, and for pouring Him out generously upon us. We can’t be Jesus to others without more of You! May we never cease to stop our babbling and fretting and just pray ‘Come Holy Spirit’ into the hopeless situations we face daily.
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.’”