I’m standing at the front of the church with about fifty other people. We’re lined up shoulder to shoulder, stretched from one side of the church to the other. It’s not just a regular run-of-the-mill service. There’s a guest speaker in town, a Faith Healer, but so far, there haven’t been any observable miracles. The handicapped kid, immobile in his chair, wheels himself dejectedly away from the pulpit, and the woman with the skin condition is still unnaturally gold. They obviously have some unresolved sins in their lives that disqualify them from a healing. But thanks for playing anyway, and better luck next time. Now onto the good stuff.
The healer starts on the right and moves slowly to the left, touching our foreheads with his outstretched hand. As he does, we fall down backwards into the arms of the waiting “catchers,” one by one, like a row of dominoes, or a giant team-building “trust me” exercise, or a mass execution – death by firing squad – except we’re not shot. We’re slain – slain in the spirit. My sister, standing to my right, has just gone down, and now here it is, my turn.
I want nothing more than to be struck down by a supernatural force, but if I’m going to fall backwards into the arms of a waiting stranger, it’s going to have to be irrefutable, like being struck by lightning, or being hit by a taser. You can’t get hit with a taser and not fall down, and that’s how it needs to be if I’m going to be slain in the spirit. I am completely open to this and really want it to happen. Come on, God!
The preacher touches me on the forehead.
And I feel … nothing.
Or, maybe I’d just gotten a bum hit, which is what the preacher seems to think, because he pushes my head again, this time a little harder. I step back to balance myself, but there I am, still standing.
He pushes me again, even more aggressively, but this time, I kind of push his hand back with my head, just to give him the message that his connection to God seems to be broken. He gets it. “Get her out of here,” he hisses. I’m not good for publicity; I’m wrecking his winning streak. The catcher grabs me by the arm and shunts me into an empty pew, where I’m left alone to stew in the pot of my own sinfulness.
Meanwhile, as I watch, the remaining dominoes keep dropping, one by one by one stinking one, the whole way across the church. I don’t get it. What was I missing? I wanted this as much as the next guy, probably even more.
Fortunately, my sister -who’d kissed the pastor’s bad but handsome son a couple of times after Youth Group and had a lot more sin in her life than I did at that point – had been one of the successfully slain.
“When he pushed you and you fell down, did you really feel something?” I asked.
“Umm, not really,” she said, considering it. “But everyone else was falling, so I just fell down too.”
One good thing about my sister. She always told the truth, whether it damned her or not.