In my last blog I told the story of Hugh Black, one of the founders of the Struthers group of churches, praying over the telephone for a lady who was miraculously healed; “miracle” was the word her doctor used. That set me thinking of a couple of times I asked Mr. Black to pray for me over the phone when we lived in the North of Scotland. On both occasions there were certain difficulties I was facing. However Mr. Black’s response was very different on each occasion.
Occasion 1: I gave a brief summary of the situation we were facing to Mr. Black. He was silent for a moment and then said, “Kenny I discern a depth of evil in this situation that has come against you through the man you have told me about. Let’s pray. ‘Lord we come before you concerning that wicked man. We come against the depth of evil that has stirred itself against Kenny….’” As Mr. Black prayed, I felt my whole body shudder and the ground beneath me shake. It was not imagination. It was quite fearful. Something had happened. I knew that something had shifted, that things would be different after that prayer. Somehow, just as is said of Jacob, Mr. Black had “prevailed with God and with man” on my behalf. Does that sound too grand a claim, too dramatic? Is it making too much of a human being? No, I don’t think it is.
I hope we are not so sentimental about the love of God that we fail to realise that there are what Jesus called “wicked men.” Sometimes we are too “nice.” Wanting to be nice to people all the time and about people all the time is not always wise. I remember on holiday in the Canary Isles that a lady came towards me and started to tie a thread bangle around my wrist, addressing me by name, though we had never met. Something similar happened to me in France in an encounter I had with one of the Travelling Community, but it is too long a story for now. Demons have knowledge (think of spiritualist meetings). If you are a believer you are known about in hell! Remember what the demon said to the sons of Sceva: “Jesus I know; Paul I know about; but who are you?” (See Acts 19 verse 15)
Before I lose the thread (!) back to the thread bangle in the Canary Isles. I naively smiled one of my nice friendly smiles, taken off guard. Morag was quicker of the mark! Without a moment of hesitation or pausing to think if it would cause offence, she realised something occult was happening and pulled the thread bangle off my wrist before the lady had a chance to tie a knot in it. Morag was right to do so.
Occasion 2: I gave a brief summary of the situation we were facing to Mr. Black. He was silent for a moment and then said, “Kenny, I discern self-pity here and if you will just repent of that you will come out of this faster than a balloon out of water. Good night Kenny.” Down went the phone without a single word of prayer being offered! I shook again, but this time like someone waking up from self-deception.
He was right: self-pity is a killer, and it is best to call it when it surfaces. Indeed it is best to call it what it is ourselves. It is rather uncomfortable when someone else has to point it out!
Tonight then, I thank God for the memory of a man who knew the authority he had in Christ. I thank God for a man who loved the honour of Christ enough and loved me enough to tell me the truth!
Am I entering my anecdotage now I have had to retire? No. I am just hungering afresh for what is real, for the Living God and I am thankful for those who have shown Him to me. The memories I carry of such people still have power to make me hunger for God all the more.
I hope you are hungry and thankful too.