Okay this is a very controversial and often-misunderstood religious matter so I’m going to create a relatively detailed context before posing my question. I’ll try to briefly explain a little about both the church and my friend.
I was raised in a Pentecostal church. In high school that church started having a really crazy “revival” that involved “spiritual manifestations.” For those of you familiar with this issue, this revival was influenced by the similar one that occurred in Pensacola Florida. There was all sorts of different shaking and strange gyrating, falling over, “speaking in tongues” etc…lets just say that over the 3 years that I remained there during my high school years, I saw a lot of unbelievable behavior. I played an instrument in the orchestra for several years in this environment so I also saw a lot of the everyday behind-the-scenes thinking involved in the way this revival operated. However, I never experienced any of these manifestations myself (just as many did not). But, I was right in the center of it starting from the very beginning of its appearance in the church.
I found it very exciting and profound. Eventually I built up the courage to invite a female Christian friend from school to an evening worship service (yeah what a wild ladies man I was). If I were to describe my friend I would use words like attractive, popular, reserved and respectable. She was a sixteen-year-old girl who was very active in her own small church—a very conservative liturgical Methodist church. She was also very bright—a member of a debate team, a great musician, and one who eventually graduated 3rd out of 400+ in her class and went on to major in biology.
When she saw some people in my church moving and talking weird, it was like nothing she had ever seen before—she didn’t know what to think… I mean, could God (or anytone for that matter) seriously cause people do act so strangely? We just sort of sat in the back and observed since to witness such a sight for the first time (along with dancing and lively music) can be somewhat uncomfortable. The service itself consisted of a lot of music, dancing, praying, plus people periodically going up to the microphone and sharing something or other. There was never any Benny Hinn style healing up on the stage but people of course did report healings and such. Some people exhibited various physical manifestations (shaking, etc), but the majority did not. Although it all sounds weird, it actually was a pleasant and interesting experience for my friend.
We came back again the next Sunday evening and again sat away from the action in the shadow-covered balcony. This time though there was also a communion service. The music had slowed down and created a very quiet and meditative mood while people prayed and while the elements were passed around throughout the large church. We sat in our chairs, the lights were dim, soft music played, holding our little piece of bread and our little plastic cup of grape juice. Like most people, we sat and prayed silently to ourselves.
Then out of the blue, my friend’s leg starts to bounce up and down uncontrollably. It was truly bizarre, in fact I had to take her cup from her since she had already spilled half of it on herself. She was somewhat embarrassed and said she couldn’t stop. Not only would her leg shake but she also started to bow forward as if her stomach was being slowly clenched. It wasn’t spastic, more of a smooth rhythmic movement that appeared to be involuntary. She didn’t know what was happening because it had never happened before.
However, when we left the church, the shaking didn’t end. She shook as we walked through the parking lot on the way to the car. She did it in the car…Eventually it soon receded and just became periodic—going on and off irregularly for the rest of the night.
The next day, Monday morning, we show up at school. My friend is still periodically shaking. She was even standing in the lunch line in the middle of a crowded high school cafeteria when her leg suddenly began shaking. I remember eating lunch outside that day because she didn’t want to causes a scene. On Wednesday during her Methodist youth group she had to separate herself from the group because whatever was happening to her became disturbing and more violent. I spoke to the youth pastor of my church who in turn met with her and prayed with her. After praying with him she no longer shook in this way and to my knowledge never has since.
When it comes to seeing this type of thing on TV or reading about it in a book, it is easy to dismiss as bogus. Even when you stand in a church and see all these other people shaking and doing weird stuff, I know in my mind that even if it is real, I know that some of them are just playing along, trying to get attention or appear extra spiritual or whatever. Maybe there is some psychological explanation for the behavior. But when it happens to someone you know who has no motive for adapting the behavior and has not been socialized to exhibit it, all the sudden it becomes very difficult to so easily pretend to understand it or dismiss it.
I personally am totally as to why those things occurred. Maybe it was God, or demons or some other invisible force acting upon her. Perhaps it has a medical or psychological explanation—I simply don’t know and I can’t rule out the possibility that it was something external to her that caused her to shake. I don’t know.
What do you think caused her to shake?