8 Nov 1996
Texas summer

Hello Ben.

Stand by for a long one.

>I have a list of criteria for discernment in my paper, "Prayer As A Form Of Two-Way Communication" (By Their Fruits You Will Know Them), but it is too terse and should be expanded into a stand-alone paper. Lessons learned and criteria for discernment are scattered throughout my web pages. (sigh)

You have several pages of excellent information concerning discernment in that paper. Perhaps there is no answer to my problem, as it may be that my limited ability to determine the source of a message cannot be improved. I will continue to work at developing this skill, but we all see "through a mirror, darkly."

I mentioned last message that I was going to contact a woman here who claimed to see angels. I found her phone number and called. Fran is a delightful, joy-filled individual who has had a close connection with God and Christ her entire life. She is active in the healing ministry of her church. We got together and talked at length about angels and "close encounters" of the spirit. Due to various life experiences, I have deliberately avoided mainstream religion. I chaff under formally proscribed constructs and institutionalized language, which I believe, among other things, limit our ability to objectively evaluate spiritual experiences. So, while some of her words and phrases made me cringe, I was able to sort through them to find common ground. Her description of angel behavior and personality was strikingly similar to yours. Also familiar were incidents of deliberate attempts by spirits to interfere, confuse, mislead, and attack.

I do believe I was the first person to ask Fran how she discerns the difference in voices. She has evidently been talking with God for as long as she can remember. (She told me when she was very young, any time she was frightened she would crawl into her guardian angel's lap and fall asleep. Her mother would come into her bedroom to find her scrunched up in a ball with her head in the air, as if on someone's lap.) She told me that occasionally messages will come through that are confusing or in one way or another "don't ring true." At times like this she says she simply asks Jesus for further clarification, and she waits.

What you know as soul rescue, she calls "generational healing." She described a scene very like one of your sessions where many people were guided to the light, only she says that the large number of souls are generations of the same family, and that they "come forward and receive healing from Christ." She resists the words "soul rescue" and insists that it is "healing." (And since I have learned it does no good to mention roses or quacking ducks, I simply listened.)

Her church does "binding prayers" for evil spirits and commands them to "go straight to the feet of Jesus Christ, for him to deal with as he will." Her eyes widened a little when I mentioned that I ask God to bless them, and she made sure that I had a copy of the binding prayer for my own use. "...We claim the protection of the shed blood of Jesus Christ..." Ugh!

So Ben, while you have learned caution in proclaiming, "Thus saith the Lord...," Fran insisted that the Lord told her I was to be in the healing ministry. (I had been very honest with her about my own life's journey and my lack of religious commitment.) Well, it seemed pretty obvious she had a clearer channel to God than I. So I told her I would meditate on it and get back to her.

I thought and prayed about it for 5 days. Then something interesting happened. Once a week I provide respite to families with terminally ill members through the local Hospice. I had been visiting Leo and his family for 3 months. Each time I visited, when it was time to leave, I would gently touch Leo's arm, through the sheet, and say, "I'll see you next week." (A non-demonstrative family, they aren't "huggers.") That particular night when I rose to go, Leo reached for my hand and clasped it. "Will you be here next week?" he asked. "You bet!" I smiled at him.

When I got home I sat down at the computer to get some work done, and started itching all over. I checked for rashes and found none, went through a list of foods I had eaten that day and came up with nothing that would cause an allergic reaction. I was not taking any medication. I wondered what I could have gotten into at the home of the family I just visited that would cause such a reaction. It finally got so bad that I took a shower. As I showered I prayed about it. Anyway, the itching subsided somewhat, and since it was late, and I didn't want to stay awake with the constant itching, I went to sleep.

When I awoke in the morning, the itch was gone, and two thoughts hit me simultaneously. The first was about a program I watched a year ago concerning a woman in South America who was a healer. She would walk through a crowd, place her hands on people and pray for healing. What I liked about her story was her humility and honesty: "I do not heal; God does," she said. And "Sometimes God says 'No' or 'Not now.'" What intrigued me about her was the peculiar nature of her gift of healing. In some mysterious way, she would frequently take on a part or symptoms of the illnesses she encountered. She would feel sick to her stomach, or her head would hurt, or her arm would become paralyzed, or she would suddenly develop a limp. The symptoms would last for awhile and then dissipate.

The other thought was about Leo. His doctor recently prescribed medication for itching caused by his failing kidneys' inability to eliminate poisons from his system. His wife mentioned the medication. I asked him about his symptoms, and promptly forgot about them. Until I woke up that morning. So... a sign? Or suggestion? I did not feel comfortable calling Leo and asking, "How is your itch?" (smile) But I decided that if it was a sign, I needed to follow up on it. And if it was a "suggestion" from my subconscious, I needed to follow up on that as well. So I called Fran and arranged to attend the next scheduled healing prayer session.

Now . . . this story meanders a little, but I must tell you about my experience with a church not far from here. It all fits together.

I was already bored with it. The minister was too much of a "used car salesman." But I am well aware of my tendency to give up on churches too soon. So on my third Sunday I was talking with one of the members after services, who said, "You need to meet the 'Smiths.' They live just down the road from you." He took me over and introduced me to Mr. "Smith" who asked for specifics about where I live. I gave him directions while he frowned in confusion, and then he said, "Oh! You must live next to the n***er shack."

I could not believe I heard what my ears kept insisting I heard, and so I said rather stupidly, "Pardon?"

"You must live next to the n***er shack -- the yellow cinder block house."

"No," I said. "I don't know what you're talking about." He shrugged and started telling me about his farm and the fact that he and his wife had lived there for 30 years and that when they bought it, it was "little more than a n***er shack..."

I left. And I did not go back.

Now, change scenes to the local church, Wednesday night service and healing prayer session.

The priest read 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 4:3-8, and gave an impassioned sermon on the immorality of homosexual relationships. As I listened I grew more and more upset. Ben, I am not homosexual. But I am very sensitive to the way Christian churches exclude all manner of people who are different, and have felt that exclusion myself during various times in my life. I do not tolerate bigotry, or homophobia, or churches that relegate women to a status below men (Catholicism, Mormonism). I was thinking rather disgustedly, "Oh God, what am I doing here?" And I heard quite clearly, "If you are looking for the perfect church, you will not find it." Well, I allowed that was true. I chided and laughed at myself for such childish, judgmental anger. But I could not regain the peacefulness and composure I had when I entered the building.

After the service, the prayer teams assembled at the rail, and I accompanied Fran as we had arranged. I was there as a "prayer team member -- in training." I sensed several things from individuals who came up for healing, which were confirmed by members of the prayer team later. (Example: I got a strong picture of this woman stiffening her spine as she talked with members of her family. Her physical ailment was a "bad back" that did not respond to medical treatment. I sensed that the root of her back problem was a rigidity and stubbornness.) What was obvious to me was that my psychic abilities were functioning. What was not obvious to me was any connection to God. No matter how hard I tried, I could not generate reano!

After the healing session Fran introduced me to the priest and soon I was providing an edited version of the background description of my search for God and a church ... and in the middle of the whole thing he said in the exact same tone of voice with the exact same inflection: "If you are looking for the perfect church, you will not find it." (Sigh)

So, I spent the next few days trying to generate reano, and Ben, things just kept getting darker. The memories I previously used to generate reano -- the birth of my son, the angels at St. Augustine, walking behind a plow when I was a kid as it turned up cool, fresh, damp earth -- were followed by memories of the complications of the delivery, and my failure to get Simon to listen to the message to take care of his health, and walking back home from the plowed field into familiar parental anger. No matter what good things I thought about, negative "Yeah, but's" pushed their way in. I kept praying, and the negativity kept growing. So after a few days I quit trying to establish an "uplink" with God and just concentrated on prayer and talking with God in general. Last week I hit a night when I could do nothing but cry. Suddenly the feelings were achingly familiar. When I was 13, I spent a Texas summer walking my great-Uncle's 150 acre ranch and crying to God to rescue me from a father who was abusive in every way imaginable. The rescue did not come.

But I'd already done extensive grief work over this. So... okay... I said to myself, if I have to go through this again, I'll go through it again. And once more, in the middle of the night, I cried and screamed at God, "Where were You? Where were You?"

The only good thing about grieving is that you generally feel better afterward. But the next day I was so depressed I could barely function. I'd had terrible dreams. My husband and son were solicitous. I dragged through the day, prayed all I could, and "turned to do battle" once again when the lights were out. This time the grief was overwhelming.

Now... Ben... how can I describe this grief to you? I was drowning. It was hopeless. I despaired. And a voice inside of me was saying, "I can't keep going through this; I can't stand it. I'd rather die."

That's not me. Throughout my life, my heaviest moments of grieving were a release for me. The only time I ever contemplated suicide, the time of the Faustian conversation, I was depressed and stuck, in large part because I had *not* grieved. In between racking sobs, a part of my brain was picking through this puzzle.

So I asked God for a team of Rescue Angels and Light Workers - the prayer you've taught me. What I felt next was interesting. It was a *lifting* of the oppressive grief. In the past I have sensed things fading, and things coming, and going away. This is the first time I've ever felt something move up and out of me.

After about an hour, I felt free enough to sleep. (The next day I read about the concept of a spirit being *lifted* out through prayers of deliverance in Father Francis MacNutt's book, "Healing.")

The next evening I slept well, and had a dream about following a doctor up a rope ladder to a hospital. He made it up with no problem, but the rungs were cutting into my feet and palms, and I finally got stuck in the middle, hanging on for dear life. People were standing around. "Why are you climbing the ladder?" they asked. Because I am attending a class in the building," I said. I thought to myself, God! I'll never make it up this ladder! And suddenly the rungs were much thicker, and I climbed the rest of the way with no problem.

When I told Fran about the dream she said, "Well, of course! That fits! I'm trying to get you a scholarship to go to the Agnes Sanford School of Pastoral Care." She went on to explain it is a conference on healing taught jointly by ministers and medical doctors.

And so this week I attended my second Wednesday night service and healing prayer session. I was listening to the priest preach a (less controversial) sermon when I felt a familiar sensation in the pit of my stomach and sensed "people" around. When I was a kid, attending the Baptist Church with my Grandmother, my stomach would feel that way every Sunday, and there'd be another whole group of people around besides the ones in the pews. I forgot about this entirely, until this week when it happened at the Wednesday night service. There weren't as many entities here as there were in that Baptist Church, and I wondered if I just couldn't feel them, until it occurred to me how few people attend Wednesday night services. (smile) I wondered why, as a kid, I didn't think it odd that I could sense people and not see them in church. And then I remembered that I *did* think it odd. But life constantly offers up things to children that are not understandable. I just took it as one more thing I couldn't understand.

But while there were a few extra "folks" for this service, by the time the prayer session for healing started, I sensed absolutely nothing at all for the rest of the evening. Frustrating.

After the prayers for others were finished, I asked the prayer team to pray for me. But as I tried to focus on what specifically I should tell them, it was all a jumble. What was important? My anger at God? Demonic attacks? Childhood pain not yet healed? Much needed discernment on whether I was supposed to be involved in a healing ministry in a church that uses language like, "Bind this spirit with your blood, Lord"? It was all too much. So finally I just asked them to ask God what I needed most. They prayed, and I cried. And when I had worked myself up into a complete inner state of embarrassment, they stopped praying. One said, "I got, 'Your parents forsook you, but I will never forsake you.'" And Fran said, "Christ is sitting in a garden and inviting you in, and you're hesitating, and he's saying, 'It's okay. Come in. It's okay.'" And another team member said, "You're walking around the edge. It really is safe to come in."

And so... here I sit in the wee hours of the morning, saying little prayers, and afraid to try generating reano, and confused, and just generally uncomfortable. I think the prayer team got it all wrong. I've been trying to get in for a long time. But something is keeping me out. And all this psychic stuff is happening more and more often. And I wonder now if I wouldn't be better off putting the lid back on the box.

A lot of years have gone by since that Texas summer. And God is still taking His time with that rescue.


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