Today was the 2010 Georgia primary for the office of governor, a variety of state official positions, U.S. Congressional seats and with Pleasant Hill Presbyterian being one of the polling sites in Gwinnett County, there was a steady flow of people coming in and out of the church.
About 11:30 am, a friendly woman in her mid-30s (white blouse with “I’m A Georgia Voter” sticker above her heart and a pair of jeans) appeared in the doorway of my office with her two young sons. She told me her name and then said with tears welling up in her eyes, “Would it be ok if I share with you a conviction I have about Jezebel’s hold over the city of Duluth? I’m going around to different churches to ask pastors to join me in prayer and fasting for 21 days. I once had an affair and this is something I have to do.”
Since this is not something you hear in the Presbyterian Church (USA) everyday, I was a bit startled by the request although I did my best not to show it on my face. My brain was doing flips inside my head trying to figure out what was going on and honestly trying to remember who Jezebel was in the Bible.
I pulled a couple of chairs over and invited her and her boys to sit down. The oldest, who seemed to be 5 or 6, climbed into the chair next to his mom while mom held the younger brother, who I later learned was almost 3, in her lap. The boys were adorable but quiet so I introduced myself to make them feel more at ease and they told me their names in return.
I then sat down in my chair and the woman began to tell me her story which began with this “conviction” she had during a Bible study at International House of Prayer in Atlanta. She believed strongly that the demonic spirit of Jezebel had taken hold of Atlanta, primarily Duluth, and that she was called to make people aware of the evil Jezebel causes in the community. She felt that even the smallest amount of prayer and fasting would reach its way upward and begin to open the heavens so that Jezebel’s hold could be released.
We talked for about half an hour. She shared how her husband’s verbal abuse led to her seeking companionship from someone else and how wrong she was to have an affair. She explained that since she told her husband of the affair over a year ago, things between them have gotten better.
With tears running down her cheeks, she said she realized that she put too many expectations on her husband to be perfect and the only man that she could rely on being perfect was Jesus. When I asked her more about the verbal abuse, she mentioned an incident when she asked her husband to stop playing video games and pay more attention to the children, which resulted in him yelling at her. And yet it was clear by the look on her face that she felt her request was too high of an expectation of her husband’s responsibility to the family.
I gently encouraged her and her husband to seek out marriage counseling or a pastoral counselor so that they could regularly address issues that may have existed prior to the verbal abuse and subsequent affair. She assured me that they were doing good. She explained that her friends at IHOP-Atlanta had helped her and her husband go through some Old Testament cleansing rituals that rid the evil spirits’ hold over them.
We then spent a few minutes talking about the Spirit. Actually, she asked me how often church leaders spoke about the Spirit and I replied that we as pastors talk about the Spirit during sermons and Bible study and pray to God in the Spirit. I added that we often refer to God’s Spirit or presence or use phrases like “It’s a Spirit thing,” when something amazing occurs in ministry, i.e. someone tells you they have a call to a particular area of service about the time that you are looking for someone to serve in that capacity or how youth bond together at a Youth Conference or on a Mission Trip.
We talked about various other things which I’m only remembering bits and pieces now because at the time I was still trying to wrap my head around the different theological and scriptural language she was using.
At the end of our conversation, we prayed. I asked that God give the family strength, love and healing; to mend broken relationships in the community and help people make better choices in their relationships and how they treat one another. The woman prayed that Jezebel’s hold over the city be ended and then asked that God be with me on my heart and in my ministry. We both said “Amen in Jesus’ name” and then she stood up and with a smile on her face, she shook my hand and thanked me for my time. I walked her and her sons out of the office and into the main lobby, and as they walked down the hallway leading out to the church parking lot, she said, “Have a great day, God bless you.” I blessed her in return and walked back to my office, puzzled by the experience.
Is it a case of “it is what it is” or is there some deeper meaning or lesson God wants me to learn from the conversation. I honestly don’t know and may not ever. Tis the mystery of God and faith, I suppose.