My small group is working their way through the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan, which is about how we Christians tend to neglect the Holy Spirit. We watched a video this past week that's with the study, and Chan told the story about a church he occasionally visits in Maui.
He ran into a woman that was acquainted with the pastor who said, next time you visit there, tell him I said hi.
So he did. The pastor asked, did she tell you how we met?
His story was that he'd felt a prompting, which he attributed to the Holy Spirit, to go talk to a woman at the end of a pier.
I guessed the punch line before he even said it: he ended up saving her from suicide.
It could be that I'm not being fair here, because I don't know the people involved and probably will never meet them. It could very easily be that the Holy Spirit DID prompt the guy to go talk to the woman and she ended up not killing herself as a result.
But in a discussion with my husband on the way home, I told him, "My question is, did the event even happen?"
It just sounds too neat, with too many loose ends tied up too neatly.
I'm finding myself questioning a lot of "preacher's stories" lately. I wonder if we're really being told the truth about something that happened, or if it's just a packaged story that's meant to make God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit look good (when really, they don't need our help at all!)
On the flip side, I can tell you of a baptism that happened a couple of weekends ago, because the baptism was videoed. It happened down at the Gulf during a youth group retreat from my church. A young man with autism was baptized, and the reason I knew he had autism was because I know the young man. When he was asked if he was ready to be baptized, he said, "Oh, yeah!" I know some of his family's story and I was able to congratulate him when I saw him in person.
If that story were told and someone like me said they didn't believe it, that would be hurtful.
I fear my experiences in an abusive church and my observations of abuses in the evangelical world have turned me into a total cynic.