Heaven Knows How To Get Our Attention

Esther McIlveenI met Gabriele several years ago while working in a boutique. A number of our clientele were New Agers, and Gabriele was one of them. During our conversations, the topic of spirituality came up on several occasions. When I mentioned the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, Gabriele bristled like a frightened bird. Gabriele was an artist who had designed "Earth Angel Creation" cards. Then came her "Little Querks", which were doll-like creatures who enjoyed ice cream and salmon and got into mischief. Gabriele wrote stories about them and even mimicked a "Querk" accent. Children and adults loved them. Her art, she felt, had come from the Creator. Unlike most New Agers, Gabriele knew that there was a higher being, a God in charge of the universe.

We kept bumping into each other and would often stop to have coffee. By nature, Gabriele was a reserved person, so when she offered to share a vision she had had, I invited her to my home for coffee and dessert. The vision, it turned out, was a very beautiful one that pictured Jesus on the cross with a crowd of people around Him. As she described the vision, I could see how deeply it had affected her. My husband and I felt that the vision had come as a love gift to Gabriele from the true God. We prayed for her, and a new level of friendship was established. A few months later, Gabriele phoned to tell me that someone had given her J.I. Packer's book, Knowing God.

Then she said, "Heaven has told me to read Isaiah and Job." I shared what I knew about their contents and offered to drop by to chat. Our conversations frequently included social justice issues, politics, and her concern for children and disabled people. She would frequently phone in to talk shows to challenge issues that she felt weren't ethical or appropriate. Gabrielle was facing hip surgery and had a growing eagerness to read. She discovered Regent College on the Internet. "If I had known about Regent College, I would have gone there," she said. I encouraged her to attend Regent from her bed. "I'll get you books written by some of the professors." I gave her a Serendipity Bible and books by Eugene Peterson, Earl Palmer, C.S. Lewis, James Houston, John and Paula Sandford, and Leanne Payne, along with sixteen tapes about becoming whole, keeping a prayer journal, and learning to hear God's voice. Gabriele started a prayer journal and became eager to discuss the Bible — she read Isaiah, Job, the Psalms, Leviticus, all of the Gospels, James, and Peter. She was ready to pray together. Happiness radiated as she spoke of her discovery of John 15:16 – "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last." (NIV) She related how, like Edmund in C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, she had shed skins: "I've shed the New Age skin, the Buddhist skin, the Tarot card skin, the astrology skin — and now I belong to Jesus, body, soul, and spirit!" Just before her surgery, Gabriele asked to say the Lord's Prayer and prayed for the surgeon and the nurses. Throughout her Job-like experience, she wrote out prayers for friends, shared her new discoveries with her caregivers, and prayed for them. I put Gabriele in touch with a little church, and she joined their Bible study. By now, her circle of friends included other Christians, and she learned about community. Since she didn't have a steady income, there were many opportunities for Christians to supply food, rent money, and rides to various places. Two days before Easter, Gabriele phoned with a request. "I think I should be baptized on Easter Sunday." I told her that I would see what could be done. I called the minister of the little church, and he and my husband, a chaplain, planned a baptismal service to take place in our home.

On Easter Sunday, Gabriele sat in her wheelchair with her hands lifted in worship and her face radiant. During the baptism, there were tears of joy while a small group of us, accompanied by a guitar, sang Amazing Grace. Gabriele's baptism was pivotal in her newfound faith. It became clear to her that what Jesus had done through His death was to bring her back to God. She recalled that first vision she had been given. "It's all about a relationship," she beamed one morning as I called on her. "I used to attend so many functions and keep up with the latest guru, but I would return home feeling as empty as ever."

Gabriele's life is becoming full. Her cards are selling and the Querks are making their way to libraries and shops. People are phoning to ask her to pray for various situations they are facing. She wants to be available to other seekers who, like herself, have travelled along dead-end roads. "Heaven knows how to get your attention," she says.