Note: I needed to head to the Monterey Peninsula today for some appointments. Of course, I had to find a good coffee shop while I was there (smile!). Here are some "sharings" from my trip so far . . .
I just had an interesting moment . . . I was walking through a hotel lobby in Cannery Row on my way to (surprise!) a coffee shop to take some study time. Right in front of me a couple was coming toward me when suddenly she said she felt like she was going to faint and she sort of stumbled back toward a pillar and sat down next to it. Her husband went to her and I was right beside her. I had my fire department sweatshirt on (I hadn’t wanted to wear it, but this morning when packing had felt that I was supposed to). She was nauseous and light headed and felt ready to faint and vomit. I knelt beside her and asked permission to take her pulse. I talked with her and her husband while I did and asked some basic questions. Turns out she’d had a long walk, followed by a long lunch in the sun with a lot of food and some alcohol. She was very embarrassed and I just visited with her and her husband while trying to get more information. The hotel called security who came over, but stood to the back, especially as she didn’t want paramedics called. As it was wrapping up her nausea wasn’t getting better. I said, “I am also a pastor (I had shared I was a volunteer fire fighter), may I pray for you?” You could feel the stiffening and ice almost immediately! She was like, “Whatever you want,” or “If that works for you,” or something along those lines—I was caught a little off guard by the atmosphere shift and I don’t remember the exact words. As soon as I started praying for her she IMMEDIATELY doubled over and gasped and then said, “Your prayers aren’t helping me. Please stop.” I did so immediately. Her husband, almost apologetically, said, “Thank you. We don’t share that faith,” but I have to say that the force and immediacy of her emotional and physical reaction makes me wonder if it wasn’t more than just not sharing a belief in Jesus. I’ve met a lot of people who don’t believe in Jesus, but most don’t mind you praying for them, or at least they don’t react with such force. I told them I understood and stayed and visited for a bit after, but you could almost feel her pushing me away in her emotions. I then asked the security guard if he would be near by as she rested and the lady was, abruptly, like, “Yes. Please go. We don’t want to take up more of your vacation time.” It was about as clear as it gets that I was no longer welcome there, and it was the most violent, immediate, physical reaction I have ever seen to prayer. I don’t know the explanation for her reaction. It may have been a spirit. It may have simply been a physical reaction by whatever was going on (but that still doesn’t explain the force of the emotional reaction). It may simply be that she was deeply wounded at one point by Christians, or, in her eyes, God. Whatever the reason, please keep this couple in your prayers. I don’t believe that this encounter was an accident, especially since I was heading out this morning thinking that I would be looking for people on this trip that I could pray for—I’ve got to take my faith to the "street" and the lives of people or I've missed what it is all about.