I am truly sorry I missed last week’s installment everyone. I was away at my son’s graduation in PA and did not have the access to internet or time to write that I had anticipated. Life is wonderful and moving at breakneck speed.
You perhaps need a refresher before you read the next chapter of Jerome’s story today. If so here is the link to The Good Shepherd’s page: http://wp.me/P39vIx-j1
The Good Shepherd Pt. 10
I’ve read over my entries since the God pulse took the light out of our world over nine months ago. I’m surprised at how much of this I tried to walk in my own strength. I’m ashamed that when the cold and dark rose up I tried to shut it out with a blanket and a candle rather than with prayer and the Fire of the Holy Ghost. Yet I see that though I didn’t intentionally invite Him along, God made himself the blanket. Jesus became the crimson thread that ran throughout, holding everything together.
He sent Silhouette to my door with the warning of what was to come. He sent Renee to me to make sure I wouldn’t run out on the calling. He sent me to the Bone Brothers even though He knew I would take the credit. He saved Oliver so she could testify for me when I would not testify for myself. He brought down my enemies and only God knows why. I certainly didn’t earn that reprieve because of my incredible spiritual devotion. I suppose that’s why they call it salvation by grace.
It took me a while to understand that in my own way I was as Laodicean as the rest of the world. I was lukewarm even before the world descended into darkness. All that has happened was really for me and for every other soft skinned saint with a hardened heart. In the twilight of the world and the violence it has sparked the foolish virgins and the wise of Matthew 25 have been shown not by their works but by the inclinations of their hearts. My good works came not from a heart after God but by an ingrained religiosity that demanded I do the right thing.
I kept right on preaching after Tyson’s death but my word was a razor’s edge that cut the bleeding masses more deeply and refused them the Balm of Gilead. I did the right thing but my wrong motives brought forth sour fruit fit only for the dung heap.
The entire town, it seemed, showed up for service that first Sunday after Tyson’s execution. Instead of preaching a much-needed grace and mercy upon the town I chose to rail about the vindication and judgment of the Lord upon His enemies. I could have forgiven sins and made unity. Instead I retained the sins of a dead man and fed my congregation a diet of paranoia. It was easy to do. Pulpit holders throughout the land were handing down similar rhetoric to their congregations and draining the oil of life out of their pews. We were a broken priesthood, unsavory salt, lamps unoiled and unlit.
The God pulse kept life at a one horse pace. No more cars sped the motor ways. Yet lights and internet were back. We had the telephone and Skype. At the beginning of August another God pulse rendered all the guns in the world useless. Scientists claimed it was some sort of worldwide chemical reaction that rendered gun powder inert.
The world’s answer to this latest set back was to begin training soldiers, statesmen and settlers in the old-fashioned art of warfare. Towns formed militia trained in offensive horseback riding, archery and swordcraft.
Meanwhile my congregation began to dwindle under the influence of a chronic spiritual indigestion created by sermons over-spiced with Hell and having no savor of Heaven.
We held our monthly board meeting on the last Thursday in August.
“The other churches have agreed to host them.” Tom Morgan said.
Tom was a towny who had never gotten over high school football. The idea he was laying before us for consideration was attractive to him because it involved learning to hit people. The town militias were looking for recruits. They had offered themselves as consultant- trainers for our congregation in exchange for our community’s commitment to the cause. The fact that we didn’t really know what the cause was didn’t seem to concern the board.
I sat silent.
“It’s obvious you are skeptical Pastor,” Tom returned to my reticent stare.
When I did not answer, he continued, “You are the one who is always talking about the vengeance of God. Well aren’t we His vessels…His temple? Can’t you see that we have to be ready should He choose to use us as vessels of that vengeance?”
That night the board voted to become a militia inclusive church, Tom called it igniting a fire in our sanctuary a fire that would fill our coffers. I saw it as an ice storm on the hearts of our people. I realized I had opened the front door to those cold north winds.
After the meeting, alone in my office, I wept my first tears since the trial. I did not cry for my mother or for Anna or for Silhouette. I wept for what had been stolen from me. I wept because I realized it had been taken long before my house lost power only I had never realized it was missing. Sometime long before God pulsed I had given up Jesus. I had been content to operate my life with the fire of man-made religion. All the light and prosperity of America before the black out had blinded me to the truth of that. Only darkness could reflect what I had become. Seeing it now in the shadow of the militia church I was being asked to lead made me realize that if I kept on this pathway I would become Tyson.
The computer hummed a Skype call. I clicked the video link. My sister popped up from her home in Holland.
She didn’t wait for a greeting, “Jerome have you seen the news?”