A little girl was born in (if I remember right) October of 1992. She was extremely premature, suffering from numerous life threatening medical problems. In December, after numerous surgeries, she was sent home. Yet, her microcephalic brain was not so easily repaired: it was 1/3rd the volume it should have been. Her parents were told she would be a “vegetable for the rest of her life.”
That Sunday, her family brought her to church. The Pastor called for members of the congregation to come forward and pray for the family and for the child’s healing. I was one of those who did so.
She was such a frail little thing. Her head was proportioned to her body as an adult’s would be, not the oversized head you expect to see in an infant. She lay quietly as about a dozen of us crowded around, laid our hands on her and her family, and prayed for several minutes.
All of a sudden I felt a huge rush of energy pouring into and through me, and then found myself “speaking in tongues.” I’d always dismissed this “gift of the spirit” as more likely a sign of self-delusion than a true miraculous event. So, I was shocked, to say the least, to find it happening to me! I returned to my pew, sweating and shaking; and had to completely rethink what had been a thoroughly intellectual and theologically liberal Protestant faith. I realized that relationships, especially my relationship with God, were much more than just logic. Relationships require emotion, passion, and love.
Even though to this day I am still a [very] liberal Protestant Christian, this episode in my life was transformative, and made me realize that when it comes to faith, no one has all the answers, nor will we ever have all the answers: God can, and will, surprise us with something new and powerful when we least expect it. I developed a profound and deep respect for the faith of others, as I now know that no matter where someone is “coming from,” their faith is of value not just for them, but also for others: if we are open to it, their faith can teach all of us something valuable about our own faith, and about the nature of God.
What happened to that little girl? We left the church soon after, when we moved out of state. We visited that town again several years later and made a point of stopping by one afternoon to see this family. The little girl with a disproportionately small head was walking, talking, and in school. She came up to me when asked by her parents to say hello to this red headed stranger that she did not remember, then laughed and ran back to play with her sisters.
I still get tears in my eyes thinking of that moment.
Copyright (c) 2011, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or getting) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (via mention of my name on your site, or a link back to this site).