Archive for April, 2007

People are somewhat uncomfortable talking about some supernatural events that have taken place in their lives.  People worry they will be branded as nuts.  They hide their often profound stories, tucking them away as something weird that cannot be explained. 

 Over the years I have heard countless stories from people.  It’s what I do as a pastor.  I have heard angel stories that changed people’s lives.  I have heard stories of dark visitations which needed intense prayer to break.  I have gone to houses where events as you will read, really do happen.   I have heard just too many stories in my life to relinquish them to the world of pimoral imagination.  There are just too many witnesses in too many places.  I have found explanations for these events in the bible, and guidance in a preferred course of events for them.  You are about to read the story of a supernatural visitation in the childhood home of one the greatest Christian leaders of all time.

I graduated from a seminary that took its time in studing the life of John and Charles Wesley.  It was a premier Weslyan Seminary,  but I never heard this story. 

 The Wesley house of the 18th Century experienced dramatic spiritual warfare during the childhood years of the boys.  The events were known and experienced by multiple members of the family at the same time.  It wasn’t just one creepy story from one sullen member of the family, but a complex and well witnessed set of visual and audio manifestations that lasted over two years.  It may well be that these experiences  can help us understand the depth of passion in John and Charles Wesley to take the gospel to the world.  Once the curtain to the supernatural world was drawn open at their home, Christianity was no longer a philosophy alone.  It was a supernatural reality.  Sometimes it takes understanding the reality of the supernatural world in our life to launch us forward.  It indeed may have lent force and passion to their lives.

Between 1715 and 1717 the Wesley home experienced an ongoing oppression, or intense, unwanted, supernatural presence in the home.  The home began to experience spirit visitations both day and night which cannot be explained.  Although the intensity of the visitations would be unique, it would not be the first time possible warfare erupted in the home. 

In 1709, a fierce storm caught the roof of the Epworth parsonage on fire, with family members scrambled to pick up children and get out of the house.  John, six years old at the time, jumped out a window to a man just moments before he roof caved in on the house.  Little Charles was taken out in a sister’s arms.  The parents were not sure who was alive and who was dead.   Now, six years later, an attack would take a different directon upon the home.

During the daytime, latches of the children’s rooms would go up and down along the hallway with no one present.  At night, the sound of ratcheting wheels and spilling coins would be heard throughout the house, even as all family members were tucked in bed.  The famiy did not own an instrument that could make the noise, and did not leave bags of coins in the kitchen.

As the family tried to sleep, pewter plates and glass bottles would clank and rattle each other down in the kitchen.  Actually, the frequency of the oppression was such that the young girls just thought it was fun.  Mysterious knocks and groaning would take place at odd times during the day. 

It sounds to us like a current episode of Most Haunted.   The manifestations could be experienced in all sections of the house, except, interestingly enough, in the study of the father.  The father was a pastor.  Often, Susanna Wesley would stamp on the floor, and the oppression would return the favor.

Susanna and her husband realized it commenced as they seriously started to pray as a family.  Apparently the visitation also followed on the heels of the father beginning to preach against witchcraft in the area.  He had turned up the spiritual heat by defining the difference between faith and magic, and spiritual forces were challenging the family. 

When Susanna told it to stop, it would stop.  Family members said that it would even go so far as to materialize in the kitchen, in the form of a white rabbit.  One day Susanna was preparing to shoot it with a gun, but it came and left before the gun could be leveled its way.

This account, from the book The Occult Sciences by Rev. Edward Smedley(1855), was taken from the accounts in Susanna’s diary, as well as that of her husband.

If this can happen in the life of the Wesley brothers, spiritual warfare can happen around ours as well.  Rather than believe the presence was a disembodied spirit of a past human being, the family began to understand it was a dark being.  The Bible tells us the identity, or at least the origin, of these spirits.  They are not past humans, but demonic spirits sent to harass and challenge.  In the end, the Lord gave the Wesley family victory and this family, in turn, gave us John and Charles.  John went on to change the world through a revival called Methodism, and Charles wrote many of our hymns.  To them, spiritual warfare was not a joke.  Christianity was not merely reduced to a philosophy of life, but an encounter with a living God and salvation from darkness.

In my next post, I want to talk about the two prevailing views of what ghosts happen to be.

God allowed the Wesleys to experience a deeper level of supernatural things, and the result was a deeper call of commitment from them. 

Whatever may have brought challenges to your life in the past, God specializes in making great things come from them.


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