Yes, I cried
The Harbour Church (the church I attend) is a small fragment of the large body that is God’s bride, the church (there’s numerous references to the church being God’s bride in the bible). It is a collection of raggedy people; some of them fitting the cool mould of today’s society and the rest of us just try to get by (me included). It is a place filled with love, faults and grace (grace is something God blesses us with through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Boy, we need bucket loads of the stuff!)
The first time I went to Harbour was for my friend’s baptism. I wanted to show support, so I showed up. I remember the leader, a tall and gentle chap, who preached the gospel about truth and love after James shared his testimony. During the service, there was a woman who was sitting in front of me. With everything she agreed with she gave a hearty ‘yeah, you’re right there Rodge!’ or a charismatic ‘Amen!’ For someone who is of a timid temperament, these exclamations were rather uncomfortable and I felt a little awkward. After the service, I stirred away from this eccentric and impassioned lady and encountered a guy who was very friendly. We talked for a while and I promised him that I would return for another service.
Deciding to keep my promise, I visited Harbour when I broke my ankle. The church I had been attending had stone steps in order to get to refreshments. And, although Harbour meets at the Maritime Museum, there was a lift and ramps to take you to the Learning Centre (the room where Harbour gathers). Consequently, I pragmatically chose to go to Harbour that week. When I hobbled through the door of the Museum, I was kindly given a wheelchair and was pushed through to church. During that service, the leader preached a powerful sermon. At the end of the service there was one of those ‘calls up to prayer’. I’d, recently, been struggling with the notion that I was outside of God’s grace. I felt that during my time of turning away I had pushed too hard in the opposite direction and had managed to, eternally, break out of God’s hand. However, although that struggle wasn’t on my mind when the call was given, I pushed myself up to be prayed for. There were two of them: the friendly guy who I’d told I’d return and the eccentric lady. I prayed, fervently, that I would get the friendly guy. I didn’t. The eccentric lady came over to me, asked for my name and then placed her hand on my head. She started praying in a weird language (we call it ‘praying in tongues’).
So, this eccentric lady is praying over me without asking me what I needed prayer for. I wouldn’t have been able to give her an answer but I knew it wasn’t going to be what she was praying about. I thought she’d start praying for my broken ankle, something I didn’t really want prayer for. When she next spoke in English, I was taken aback:
‘God doesn’t reject you’.
I burst into tears. I knew, exactly, what the relevance of that statement was. I told her what I’d recently been battling and her response was, ‘That’s strange. The first word that came into my mind was the word ‘hate’ but you don’t pray hate over anyone because God doesn’t hate anyone. I now know what that was meant to mean: you shouldn’t feel there’s hate between you and God.’
She then blessed me with a verse, I forget which one it is but it was one that talked about God’s forgiveness and our sinfulness.