AND true enough, the issue came to a head one day.
The three of them, together with a whole platoon from their church, attended a national prophetic conference.
As usual, five of them rode in one car. The sisters arrived at the car just one second earlier than Grace, while the fifth was nowhere in sight. Glen sat at the back immediately. Darl was about to sit in front beside the driver’s seat, but Grace caught her in time from five meters away, and in an almost commanding tone as she walked towards them, ordered,
“No, I’LL sit in front,” because that is where she usually sat.
So she saved herself from sitting with and being pawed by Glen, the fifth woman most likely arriving later to sandwich her in the middle.
Nevertheless, the pawing on her back proceeded as they came into the vast hall to look for their seats.
This time Grace had to show her utter displeasure, stepping sideways and muttering harshly, “Ano ka ba?”
She then proceeded to her seat in front, for she knew that the rest of the group bought less expensive tickets and had to stay at the back of the hall.
But she received a text message from Darl even before the program started.
“Glen’s offendd by ur gesture towards her awhile ago. I hope u will settle that in d right spirit. Maraming beses na nya nararamdaman sayo yun.”
Oh wow, Grace thought to herself, if she already knew, why didn’t she stop? The pawing had been going on more than a year!
She shot back with her own text:
“Kapatid, hindi talaga ginagawa yon sa kapwa babae, lalaki o bata man. Touch is a very private thing. It reflects, and may engender, natural unspiritual desires. OK lang kung minsan, but not consistently and persistently as she does it. I should be the one offended, not her. Let me be very direct about it: it is a sure sign of lesbianism. And you know what God says about lesbianism and homosexuality. I will speak to you both about it in a very Godly way, and settle this matter. But rest assured that I will be very firm about it. IT SHOULD NOT BE DONE, WHETHER TO MALE, FEMALE OR CHILD.”
The response was just as immediate:
“Glen has no issue wt lesbianism i’m sure of that. You have interpreted her action wt malice. Puwd naman syang sabihan maiintindihan nya yon instead of rejecting thru action”
“Of course not. Pagsasabihan ko talaga, but she should have been sensitive enough to keep off the moment she felt I didn’t like it. But the fact that she persisted and takes offense is an indication of that very malice you attribute to me. I will repeat: it is an action that should NOT be done persistently and consistently to man, woman or child. If you cannot take that, I will conclude malice in you.”
“As far as i hav observd i do not see her action malicious”
“Well, let me tell you about all the homosexuals I know—personally, hidden as well as revealed.”
But Darrell did not seem to want to know about the character of homosexuals, for she did not answer Grace’s last text.
Or perhaps it was because the program had started.
Grace took notes, ever attentive to the message of the speakers, though her mind was still praying in tongues, and she could now interpret her prayer. It was saying, “Lord, change them. Change them.”
Joe Sweet, an American Pastor, sent a volley:
“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him.
“How do we access the prophet? Jesus is inside us. Everything we need is in Him.
“Consecration is when you set no wicked thing before your eyes.
“Lead a clean separate life and the prophetic opens up.”
She wondered if the two sisters were listening.
Neville Johnson, the Australian prophet, was even more direct:
“Heart purity has to do with motives.
“He that has clean hands and a pure heart . . .
“Stuff rub off on us and they build up; we have to clean them off.
“Clean up that stuff!”
But she thought, could they look into themselves? Did they not believe, like so many Christians, that having acknowledged Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, having been born again of the Holy Spirit, they were already justified by faith, and were assured of entry into heaven? And that therefore ALL their sins had been washed away, purified, just like that, and they had nothing more within themselves to change?
Joe Sweet had the answer in one of his sessions. Salvation, he said, occurred in three stages, justification by faith being only the first of them. The second was sanctification, in which one conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus. The third was glorification, which was akin to the transfiguration of Jesus and His coming back to His disciples for forty days after resurrection in full body. Glorification was BEING in the full image and likeness of Jesus.
But, the pastor advised, “Sanctification is a process; it won’t happen in a day.” Therefore, he concluded, “Get your heart ready; sanctify your heart for the glory of God.”
Grace had read the same thing from Neville Johnson months before and had in fact circulated the tract to all she knew, including the sisters, but found them inattentive to the message.
She wondered, would they listen now?
Joe Sweet and Neville Johnson offered two sure ways to sanctification.
The first said that, as Christians were justified by faith, they could also be sanctified by faith. It was Jesus who cleaned up all that residue, provided one put one’s faith in Him and asked to be transformed, sin after sin, stumble after stumble.
The second offered the avenue of praying in tongues, which Darl had confessed to not being able to do.
“Sometimes our spirit is weak,” Neville Johnson said. “You need milk or you get weaker. If you don’t learn to pray in tongues enough, you will remain weak.”
“Praying in the spirit is vital to you fulfilling your destiny,” he continued.
“We are the circumcision of the last days. God put the seal on our tongues.
“He who speaks in tongues enlarges His spirit.
“Why did God invent prayer? God is in control of this world. Why pray? Prayer is the only way to learn the will of the Lord.
“If you abide in His will, His will be done.
“Pray His will! You can discover it only by praying in tongues.
“Pray in a tongue that doesn’t come from your mind but from your spirit. That’s water from the rock.”
And then he added, and here Grace could not help but open her eyes in wonderment, amazement and amusement:
“Selfish prayers give out a bad smell.”
He would talk again about smell another day by asking:
“How do you smell in the realm of the spirit?”
Had he smelled all the bad breath going around the convention hall? Grace asked herself.
But it was not only a matter of smells. It was a matter of hearing, too.
“Some people have a spiritual deafness,” he pronounced. “It’s real; it has to be repented.”
Would the sisters ever repent?
“We have a God within us,” he said, meaning the indwelling Holy Spirit sent by Jesus Christ on Pentecost, as well as up to this day, to all who believed in Him. Then he asked: “How does that God within us sound? How does it smell?”
That bowled Grace over. Oh, they have got to hear this, they would if they weren’t spiritually deaf, she told herself.
But Joe Sweet capped the teaching with this pronouncement:
“Our first love should be the first commandment: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. The second commandment, Love your neighbor as yourself, should only flow out of the first. The second commandment has to do with ministries. The church in Ephesus allowed the second commandment to take first place in their lives.”
And that is why, Grace added in her mind, Jesus said in Revelation 2:4-5, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Was Darl hearing this? Could she read between the lines? Did she really love the Lord God with all her heart, mind, soul and strength, or had her ministries, had the thought of a beloved perpetual buddy doing her ministries with her, taken precedence over Him?
Grace got home that night overjoyed, only to find two text messages on her phone.
The first sent was:
“With love i am saying this: i would like to strongly reiterate that glen has no issue wt lesbianism in d past, in d present or in d future. Not in my lifetime will i doubt her abt this issue. And may God curse me if i am wrong abt this. “Dont critize what u dont undrstand- wait”. If u wil insist on this matter i dont think we hav much to look forward to working togthr in d ministry. Your discerment is totally out of perspective, influencd perhaps by ur past experience.”
And the second:
“I can very tell u i know my sister better than u. If her gestures was offensiv to u d 1st time she did it u should hav just told her. When i noticed thatu were not comfortable wt touch i became careful. Glen perhaps was not too keen abt it. She has no malice. I saw how she touchd ur shouldr ystrday &i did nt see even a tinge of malice. But ur reaction towards her is completely unspiritual.”
The messages had been sent at the end of the sessions, one after another.
Grace could not help but recall one other thing that Neville Johnson had said that day:
“The devil pushes you to do something; he presses on you forcefully; God never does that.”
She was about to text back, “Why do you defend your sister so? Are you twins?”
But she stopped herself, thinking that Darl would either respond with her innocent “No, we r nt twins shes 2 years youngr thn me,” or be smart enough to finally glean what she was saying, and react even more violently.
She had to put a stop to this mindless insistence. So she texted instead:
“Do not question my discernment, or you shall fail badly. The evidence is already physical. Do not try to turn things on their heads, because God will judge you.”
She was not to hear from Darl again.
But Grace was an ardent child of God, and so she called her church group leader, to whom she was accountable, as she had been made to understand.
She was able to describe Glen’s pawing in part, though not the whole story, not Darl’s part in it, because they were on the phone. Her group leader advised her to start texting Darl and talk to her over coffee, to tell her about her reaction to tomboys, which she had related in one group seminar.
Grace wanted to. But she had done this before, to a confirmed lesbian on the rebound who objected to her reading of the latter’s tender calls and surprising confession of her failed relationship as personal interest in her. The lesbian was offended, as usual. She insisted that everything was just concern, and nothing else. So to put the matter to rest, Grace offered, “Oh, it’s not you, it’s me. My mother taught me too well to closely guard my purity.” And that was that; she never got a call from the lesbian again.
But that lesbian was not a Christian.
And Grace was a stickler for the truth.
Nevertheless, she remembered Joe Sweet’s words:
“Earnestly desire prophecy; ask, pray, cry out.
“But the foundation of prophecy is love.
“The gifts work by love because the gifts work by faith.
“The more you love, the more God will use you.”
And so, in Christ-like love, Grace started to do the impossible.
She carved a sculpture out of a ten-foot-tall piece of marble that she had never done before, one that she intended to give to the two women for free, to display in their garden.
It was that of a woman rising out of her entrails and withered womb, emerging out of it a long-limbed, glorified body, her left arm raised to the heavens, her right arm on her heart, her long tresses flowing to the small of her back, her face glowing with the light of Jesus Christ.
Half of the statue’s face looked faintly like Darl, the other faintly like Glen, but much more beautiful by far.
That was her only way of prophesying the purity that they had already claimed as their own.