Monday, July 10, 2006

Prayers for Well-Meaning Heretics

Got a visit today from members of a well-known heretical sect/cult of Christianity.

First, a bit of history for context:

When I was in my twenties, even early thirties, and my mind was a steel trap full of chapter and verse, apologetical arguments, historical quotes, etc., I'd invite these folks in, sit at the table with my Bible, and show them why they were quite in error.

One particular day two decades ago, one young lady--who visited every week for many months, debating with me on my front porch, both of us friendly and relaxed--came accompanied by her father. He'd decided to show up with her to prove to me, among other things, that the trinity didn't exist and break me down. He failed. He left and came back within a few minutes with the uncle. The girl's brother showed up after that. I had a bunch of folks in my living room, crammed on the sofa, getting quite vexed at my ready responses and refusal to cave or run out of refuting verses. (Can't do THAT anymore with my doodybrain.)

Finally, the father said, "Science has proven the trinity doesn't exist."

Now, back then, I was very up on my science. I had taken advanced science and math in high school, and gotten a chemistr award in college. I even read science mags for the sheer fun of it. (Been a while.) So, that did me in.

I laughed long and hard and explained why science could not do that. Ever.

They never came back. Mother was really relieved about that.

In subsequent years, I sometimes took the time to talk. Other times, when I was in a very curt and cranky sort of mood, I'd open the door wide enough to say something like, "Your doctrine is screwed up. And, btw, you do know that no matter how hard you try, ma'am, you're not going to be one of the 144,000. You ain't male and you ain't Jewish. Too bad for you. Later."

I didn't comment on the virgin aspect.

(I also didn't go into whether that was literal or metaphor, yadda yadda. I did say it was a baaaaad mood day, right?)

As you can see, I can be quite the royal b*$@*. I'm still ashamed thinking about it.

Now, back to this morning:

Two very nice ladies, an older woman and her daughter on their rounds, dropped by.

Picture this. I am in my black chemise when they knock--stinky in the pits, and on my way to the shower to do a full ablution. The woman says she's here to give me God's word. I say, thanks, I have it. Multiple copies. And I study it, too.

She goes on about how it's important for me to go knocking on doors obeying Jehovah. I say, "Did that. I don't have the gift of cold evangelism. I gave it up. My gift is elsewhere." She argues that everyone is supposed to that. It's in the Bible. I say, "No, there is nothing in there that says I'm supposed to knock on everyone's door. It says I'm to witness. That you can do without knocking on apartment doors. That you do by living and talking about what you believe and why, in various ways and places and times. Even in greeting cards."

I've done it on beaches, bus stops, malls. And trust me, evangelism ain't my gift.

I ask her what church she's from. She gives me a bit of a runaround, but gets to it. We have an exchange that I've heard more than once from their particular playbook.

After a few rounds of, "Show me your verse, I'll show you mine,"
I get one of those unspoken whispers in my ear--you know what I mean, right? I can't help it. I'm following orders: I grab the older woman's hand, look at her with a great deal of sympathy and affection--not fake, real feeling I'm having for her--and say, "May the Lord open your eyes and show you who His Son really is."

She gets defensive. I keep hold of her hand within both my own and say, "May the Lord open your eyes to the truth."

She says she knows the truth.

I say it again: "May the Lord open your eyes."

Her daughter is moving away and says with some abruptness that they have to go. The older woman shuffles a bit to the side, but doesn't seem to want to give up on me. She repeats that she knows the truth, but I don't, and I need to come and learn.

Something from God makes me say it again, even as she pulls her hand out of mine.

I sense she's ready to go, so I lift my hands in benediction over her head, and say, firmly, vehemently, lovingly, staring her right in her confused looking eyes, "May the Lord open your eyes to His truth."

And with some farewell pleasantries, they're gone.

After I locked my front door, I put off my shower. Instead, I raised my arms and interceded for them. My chest is still hot inside from the emotion. My hands still smell of the older woman's perfume. I've put off showering because I'm not ready to let that scent go. I think I may need to pray some more.

I hope you'll pray for them, too. That's why I've told you all this.

And if you belong to this sect, please, take it kindly when I say:
May the Lord open your eyes to the truth about His Son.


Jennifer Tiszai said...

Ah, Mir, I can so relate. Someone finally told me no one has ever been argued into the kingdom of heaven, though I think many of us Rationals have given it a good try.

Now I just pray that God gives me whatever words that particular person needs to hear. Sounds like yours made an impression on that woman. I'll be praying that she does seek the Truth.

Elliot said...

[Deep sigh]

Ah yes, the old days.

What got *me* out of the Jehovah's Witnesses? I guess it was Jesus tugging on my right hand and Charles Darwin tugging on my left. I read the work of mainstream Christians, got to know mainstream Christians, and found their views congenial. I couldn't believe that they were not followers of Jesus and that they were wrong about everything JWs said they were.

On the other hand, I could not longer believe creationism. JWs allow that the universe could be millions of years old, but hold that Jehovah specially created humans six thousand years ago - Adam and Eve, to be precise. They read the Bible like a big ol' literal textbook, all flat and all black and white, written mainly for 20th century Americans. I just couldn't believe that way anymore.

It might not work on all JWs. But what worked on me was good example of emotionally and intellectually engaged Christians, who loved with their hearts and their minds both.

Elliot said...

Oh, and I wish I could see what happens to that woman! Maybe your words will work on her... or maybe she was just weirded out by your charismatic ways and out-religioned! :-) Either way, she skedaddled, right?

Mirtika said...

Yup. Hounds o'heaven after her heels. :)


The Curmudgeon's Rant said...

I’ve had the rare privilege of leading a family of JW’s to Christ.

It took a couple years of patient love and friendship. The kids came around quick, but mom drug her heals. But when the dam broke, it overflowed with living waters.

Mirtika said...

Curmudgy, babe, I think that's lovely. :) I hope my "ladies" get dragged softly into the kingdom.


Victoria Gaines said...

Thanks for sharing that, Mir. I'm praying for those ladies even now. Your words will stick with them for a long time. May God open their eyes to His Son. Amen.

Shannon said...

Oh, Mir, I have tears in my eyes ... thank the Lord you obeyed His leading and said what you were supposed to! Years ago, I had a pair of beautiful Mormon girls come knocking on my door ... I had the words burning in me, but I was on the phone with a friend and ... and ... I should have told her I'd call her back, but I didn't. I used the phone call as my excuse to brush the girls off. I regret it to this day and pray for them every time I think of them.

Mirtika said...

Shannon, we all have moments where we didn't listen...and lived to regret it. I sure do. Sometimes, I would just cry thinking, "How did I miss that? Why did I avoid that?"

I think God is good enough to let someone else say what I lost the chance to say, or you, or anyone.