Once — when I was a tiny California girl and the 1970s Jesus Movement was in its waning days — something extraordinary happened at church. A wild-eyed LSD addict walked into the sanctuary and she didn’t walk out.
No guns were drawn — congregants documenting the drama on their smart phones — #crazyladyinthesanctuary. No one so much as called 911. Nor was she referred to a treatment center or a 12-step group.
She went to the altar and she was delivered.
As in there was so much of the supernatural power of God in that place that she was instantly and completely set free from her addiction (and remains free to this day). It’s true. When she walked out of that sanctuary, she wasn’t an LSD addict. She was a completely new creation of God. Old life gone. New life radiating out of every pore.
That kind of thing makes a powerful impression on a pre-schooler. Years later, when I read for myself the encounter of Jesus and the Gadarene (Luke 8), it sounded awfully familiar. That kind of supernatural power wasn’t just a story in an ancient book, I realized. It still existed. I knew it did. I had seen it with my own eyes and I am so thankful that I did.
It’s why I know it still exists today.
The God who delivered that woman in the 1970s is the same God who some 3,000 years before filled Solomon’s temple with so much power and glory that even the priests could not stand up to serve. And, while the weakness and ineffectiveness of today’s church world might suggest otherwise, He is not suddenly dimming and flickering like a light bulb gone bad.
No. God has not changed. He is still able to deliver and heal and perform all sorts of the exploits our world so desperately needs to see. There is only one reason we see so little of this power and that is us, church people. God’s power is not going to fill a sanctuary that is already full of, well, sin.
We must choose. Will ministry turned criminal worry more about avoiding jail than avoiding hell? Or will they turn themselves in to both civil and church authorities? Will pastors and bishops who are adulterers or other breakers of God’s commandments step down and engage in some true repentance? Or will they go merrily along, aided and abetted by colleagues who claim keeping their sin under cover is for the good of the church?
Will the people have to seek the supernatural power their souls crave from fantasy fiction/games or heroin or crystals or a political strong man or some freaky new technology? Or will they find it flowing down from heaven, into the sanctuary and into their lives like a mighty flood?
I can’t speak for anybody else, but I vote for the mighty flood. Bring it on!