I know Jesus said with faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains, but we were about to move a hurricane.
Terry rushed over to the set clutching a piece of paper and whispered in Pat’s ear. When the camera came up Pat said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve just been informed that there’s an enormous hurricane off the coast of the Atlantic, Hurricane Gloria, and it’s heading directly toward Virginia Beach. There are millions of people who could be hurt, not to mention devastation to our headquarters here. But Jesus is bigger than any hurricane. And the Bible says when two or more are gathered in his name, He is there. Now I want everyone listening to pray with us. Place your hand on the TV, gather around and join us in Jesus’ name to rebuke this storm. Pray with me now.” Pat took my hand and I took Ben’s. Ben squeezed his eyes closed and gritted his teeth, as if by sheer facial power he could beseech the mighty hand of God.
I closed my eyes and felt Pat clench my hand. He began to pray, “Jesus, you said you are in our midst. We ask that you turn this mighty storm around. In the name of Jesus we command the winds away from the shore!”
“In the name of Jesus,” I whispered, offering up my heart and soul to the invisible and mysterious ear of God.
Pat continued, “We pray against this storm and the fury of Satan. We command this hurricane to turn away from land! Protect our shores; protect our headquarters here at CBN. We rebuke this storm in the holy name of Jesus. Amen.”
“Amen.” I squeezed Pat’s hand, confirming faith and the power of prayer.
“Amen and amen!” Ben shook his head with vigorous agreement.
That afternoon, Hurricane Gloria took an unusual twist. Rather than slamming into the shore at Virginia Beach, the storm swung back to sea and weakened significantly by the time it made landfall on the Outer Banks. She then followed the eastern seaboard north and made a second landfall on Long Island, New York, dumping up to nine inches of rain, but during a low tide, when the threat of flooding was diminished. And, after crossing the Long Island Sound, she made a third landfall in Connecticut. The hurricane caused almost $2 billion in damage (in 2014 terms), and was responsible for at least eight fatalities.
Pat rejoiced. “My stars,” he exclaimed on the show the next morning, “God listened and He saved us.”
“But Pat, people are asking, what about New York?” I thought it was a good question.
“Well, it’s interesting, that termites don’t build things, and the great builders of our nation, almost to a man, have been Christians. The people who have come into our institutions today are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians whether it is universities, governments, or our own traditions. The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation.”
“You mean, God turned the hurricane toward New York City because they’re termites?”
Pat shrugged, “All I can say is that maybe they didn’t pray hard enough.”
And the faithful listened. And they believed. How could they not? We rebuked mighty winds from shore and the winds obeyed. An aberration, a coincidence? Probably. It was hard to dispute the synchronicity of prayers with answers. As for the death of people, did they not pray hard enough for their lives? Did the Lord take them because they were termites, or nonbelievers? Or were they good solid Christians and the Lord just wanted to “take them home?” If the Lord wanted them because they were good, was being spared a punishment? Or did they die because, of all the people who were saved, they lacked God’s mercy the most? I wish I had asked those questions.
But within that matrix of faith and froth, I continued to believe that Jesus needed me, even if it was to provide stealth questions I didn’t admit were my own, and to stand for political positions I didn’t publicly embrace.
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