This is part of my weekly fiction series. You can find the other chapters HERE at my fiction page.
Bill Johnson sat in his car, staring at his steering wheel. He was numb. His head felt like it would exploded, but he wasn’t sure if that was from the news or from the headache he had been having for a few days. He banged his head down where he had been staring and let out a scream, not caring if anyone walking by heard him.
Bill grabbed his phone. Who should he call first? He had planned to go to work after the appointment, but there was no way that he could go now. He would have to call Eric, his supervisor. He would dread the call if this morning hadn’t happened. No, there were more important things to him at this point than a supervisor who was merciless. He found the number in his contacts and pressed the button. He was vaguely aware that the phone was ringing.
“Hello!”. Bill heard the whir of machinery in the background. Eric was out on the floor. He was hoping to catch him in the office, but it didn’t really matter. He would say what he had to say and move on. He needed to make some other calls and visits.
“Eric. This is Bill. I just got out of my appointment. I won’t….I won’t be able to make it in today.” Bill braced for what he expected from Eric.
“Bill, that’s just great. We are already down a man and you’re late. Now you’re telling me that you aren’t coming in at all? You better be dying, mister.”
Bill almost audibly groaned. There had been so many times he wanted to punch this young punks face, but he had held back because he had too much time invested in the plant. Looking back, maybe he should have gone ahead.
“I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, Eric.”
“You bet you will, Bill. Come straight to my office first thing. We’re going to have a serious talk about how you’re letting this plant down.”
“Alright then. See you then.” Bill hung up the phone. He stared back at the steering wheel and took a deep breath. He needed to call Sharon. Not that he would tell her over the phone, but he needed to find out where she was. He needed to meet her. She needed to be the one he told first.
Sharon picked up on the second ring. She was like that, hating to hear the phone ring for long. She had been done that on the old rotary phone when they had first begun courting. She did it in their own home on the wall mount phone hanging in their kitchen whenever her mom called. She had answered that way when they had gotten cordless phones several years ago. She might have been even quicker on the draw when they had finally broken down and gotten cell phones. Now that was about all they used. Bill had threatened a few times to just do away with their land lines. They never used them anyway.
“Hey sweetie!!! Appointment over? Are you headed to work.” Sharon said all of this before Bill had a chance to say anything.
“Hey, where are you?” Bill squeaked out. Emotion flooded over him and he wasn’t sure he was going to make it through the call.
“I’m on my way home. Bill, what’s wrong. What did Nate say?” They had been going to Nate for almost their entire marriage. He was basically an old family friend by now.
“I’m not going to work. I’ll see you at home in a minute.” Bill managed to get that out. He wasn’t going to be able to make it through much more.
“Bill, are you ok?”
“At home, Sharon. I’ll see you at home.” Bill hung up. He couldn’t continue to do anything else on the phone. He needed to make one more call. He would do this one on the way home.
Bill cranked up his truck and began to back out. A car blew its horn and he slammed on his brakes. He threw up his hand in apology, but that didn’t stop the glares he received from the two ladies in the car. Bill looked to make sure all was clear and he continued out of his parking space. He put the truck in drive and began to make his way toward. home.
He opened up the contacts in his phone again and found the number. This one was hard for a totally different reason than his call to Sharon. This time he was going to have to eat some humble pie. The phone rung a few times. Finally there was an answer.
“Hello?” The voice on the other end sounded cautious to Bill. Honestly, he could understand that. It’s not like he had been on his best behavior lately. It was time to start making things right.
“David. It’s Bill Johnson. Got a minute?” Bill kind of bit his lip as he was prone to do when he was nervous. He wasn’t sure of what David’s reaction would be.
“Sure, Bill. What’s on your mind?” Bill could almost see the skepticism on David’s face through the phone. He didn’t blame him. In his shoes, he would be skeptical too. Heck, he had been skeptical of David and everyone else on the search committee. It was time for Bill to end all of that. He didn’t have time for that anymore.
“David, I’m coming to the meeting tonight. I thought about skipping it, but I have something I need to tell the entire team. First, though, I want to apologize to you. I’ve given you a rough time of it. I’ve been wrong and I want to tell you I’m sorry.” There it was. He had done it. He wasn’t sure he would be able to .
An audible pause sat there between them for a moment. Bill could hear the gears grinding on David’s end of the phone. He almost began to wonder if David would ever say anything.
“Bill, I don’t know what to say. Thank you for calling and telling me this. I accept your apology. What do you want to tell us, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“David, I’m sorry, I can’t say right now. I need to talk this over with Sharon first. Let’s just say it will be a meeting that none of us are likely to forget.
“Alright, Bill. We’ll see you at the church then. Thanks again for calling.”
“See you then, David.”
Bill hung up the phone. The next five miles were going to be the longest he had ever driven. He was dreading the conversation he was about to have with Sharon. He was sure that it wasn’t going to go well.
Why do you read this blog?
How is that for a loaded question right off the bat? I don’t ask that because I’m overly worried about it. It stems a bit from asking myself that question about the blogs I read on a regular basis.
But why do I read them
I wrote a fairly personal piece the other day. I opened up a bit more than I normally do. I gave everyone a glimpse into my past and how it shaped me. It hurt a bit.
I wrote that on because I’m on a journey. I’m trying to figure some things out about myself.
I’ve realized that what I have been writing for these past two years of this blog is two-fold.
I’m figuring out who I am.
I’m figuring out my faith.
Chances are, you don’t have it figured out either. I don’t expect you too. The closer I get to the Lord, the bigger He seems to me. I understand more how un-understandable He is. Will I keep trying? Absolutely. Do I think I will ever have all of my questions answered? Never.
Read any of my older posts and you are going to see a glimpse of me. Sometimes that has been for good and for bad.
That’s what I like about the guys that I mentioned above. They’re transparent. They are honest. I know who they are because I have been reading and commenting back and forth with them daily for a couple of years now.
That’s why I read their blogs.
Why do you read this blog? Does it benefit your life?
This is a post from a couple of years ago.
The most recent episode of Doctor Who was about clones. The Doctor and crew landed in the year 2020, I believe, and encountered a group of people and their clones. I won’t go into all of the details, but if you’ve watched enough sci-fi you understand that nothing good comes of having a bunch of clones around. Look at the Star Wars movie Attack of the Clones from a few years ago or any other movie or TV show involving clones. Whenever you have clones, you have trouble.
This all leads me to think about the Steven Taylor song from several years back I Want To Be A Clone. This song talks about how the people in our churches don’t want individuality, but really want clones. They want you to mimic them and learn from them. In reality, they want you to learn how to toe the party line, not cause any trouble and eventually you get your shot to teach other people how to be clones. It’s a very satirical look at what happens when we come to Christ and join the church. It’s sad, really.
What is the result of having a bunch of clones in the church? Just like a sci-fi movie or show, nothing good. You may have some relative peace. You may have a bunch of people who don’t rock the boat. You may have a bunch of Yes People. But, is that a good thing? What you really get is a perversion of what the Church is all about.
In the Doctor Who episode that I referenced, the clones turn on the originals and are determined to destroy them. I think something similar happens in the church. When individuals are recognized for who they are, they will turn on the establishment. When people are pressed to conform and be just like everyone else, they will balk. They will rebel (The Doctor Who episode I refer is entitled The Rebel Flesh. I could really do a whole post on that title alone.) I’m not saying I condone this behavior. I’m just speaking to the reality of it. The would be clones in the church will either cause trouble or leave and begin another church.
What should happen? Our churches should be places where all different types of people are welcome. These differences should be celebrated. After all, different people have been joining the Church since the beginning. Jew. Greek. Slave. Free. Man. Woman. Instead of setting up these differences, let’s celebrate what we have in common. One Savior. Oneness in Christ. Let’s build each other up and encourage each other to use our differences to honor, magnify and glorify Christ.
How about you? Do you ever feel pressured to be a clone? Do you ever pressure anyone to be a clone?
Some days I sit down to my keyboard and I don’t know what to write. I wonder if I will ever write again. Will I have anything useful to say? Will the ideas keep coming? Will they suddenly stop and I will never write another post again?
Some days I don’t know where I’m headed. How I got here. What happened? Am I headed in the right direction? How will I know if I “get there?”
Some days I wonder if I have a dream. Is it too late to reach it? Should I just throw my hands up and quit?
Some days I wonder what His will is. Am I in it? Is this really it? What about tomorrow and next year? What will His will be then?
Some days. We all have them. Usually we say something to the effect of “I’m having one of those days.” Those days are some days. Thankfully they aren’t every day. If every day was a some day or one of those days, then we might give up and lose heart. So, every day most days are not some days or those days.
No, fortunately some days and those days and every day will end. We have a Hope if we know Christ. A blessed Hope. Why? Because Some Day, He will return. What I have written about all these years will be here. I will be where I am headed. My ultimate dream will be realized. His will, will be done.
Do you ever experience some days?
This is a post from a couple of years ago.
I just finished a book called Born To Run. It’s a true story about a guy who developed a pain in his foot. His search for a cure led him to the Tarahamura Indians in Mexico. These Indians will run incredible distances in breechcloth and sandals fueled by a concoction they call iskiate. I’m sure that if analyzed it would show up on all endurance sports’ banned substance lists.
One of the things that stood out to me was what a college running coach discovered. This gentleman, upon watching the Tarahmurans run, discovered their true secret. He found out how and why they are able to run incredible distances day after day. It isn’t just their lifestyle. It isn’t just their diet of iskiate. What he realized was that they ran with a childlike joy.
Think about that for a minute. Think back to when you were a child. Did anyone ever tell to get to running? Probably not. More than likely you were told to slow down or quit running in the house. When you were a kid you ran. Why? Because you loved to run. You were free. When I went to my grandma’s house, I would have her time me as I ran around the house. Why? Because I loved to run fast around her house. I ran for no other reason than that.
This made me think of what Jesus said when he said that to enter the kingdom of heaven one needed to become like children. How would you approach Jesus? Most of us would slink to Him. How would a child? A child would run and jump into his arms, just like your children probably have done to you or you did to your parents.
At the end of 1 John 2, John says that we should approach Him confidently. Why? Because we are His children. What does that mean? I think it means running to him as hard as possible, chasing Him around the house, jumping, squealing with exuberant joy. Just like you used to run as child, running like children to the Savior and to the Father.
If you are a follower of Jesus, how do you think you should approach Jesus? Do you run to Him with childlike joy?
There is a gentleman where I work who is about to retire. I remember when I first met him, almost seventeen years ago. We ran into each other in the restroom. I imagine that he could tell I was new. We were a bit smaller of a company back then. He asked what I was doing there and I told him. Feeling pretty spunky, I asked him the same question. He told me he was the Executive Vice-President for the division I worked for. I might have felt a bit sheepish at that point.
Some time later he was made the president of this division and has worked to the point of retirement. Someone told me recently that he was taking welding lessons so that he can create art. Think about that for a minute. He has been an executive in a business for close to two decades. He is going to retire within weeks and what does he want to do?
I have had a thought for a while. A question really. It’s been sitting there simmering. Baking. Basting in the slow cooker of my mind for a few weeks. I’ve been wondering for a while.
Is it a sin to not pursue your dream.
Now, we have to define our dreams a bit. I’m not talking about what you have on your bucket list. I’m not talking about working for thirty years until you gain the gold watch and retire to a life of ease. What I mean is this:
A dream is the desire to use the talents you have been given for the betterment of man and the glory of God.
We recently had a sermon series at church. It was called The Follower and was about being a follower of Christ.
On the first Sunday of the series, our pastor displayed a piece of driftwood on stage. It was nothing remarkable. Just a piece of plain, gray driftwood.
The next Sunday, it looked a little different. A gentleman in our church had begun to carve a face into the driftwood. Each Sunday throughout the series it change. The detail to the face grew. This man had taken a his tools that he was skilled at. He made something beautiful out of something that was ugly. He used his talents to do something.
Jon Acuff recently wrote this post about the artists of Israel. You can read the story in Exodus 31 and 36. God gave the wisdom and talents to create art to some of the Israelites. All who were willing were summoned to work on the ark and all of the items for the tabernacle.
The skill of those skillful to create art was put into these people by God. What were they given the skill to do?
God gave talent to certain people and then those who were willing created the ark and instruments of the tabernacle. The artists were heavily involved in the corporate worship of the Lord.
Some, it seems, may have sat on their talent and not used it for the betterment of the nation and the glory of God
You may think that you aren’t an artist. I disagree. You may not be a musician. You may not be someone who can carve driftwood into something beautiful or weld metal into art. You may not be someone who writes a blog.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have talent or don’t create art.
I know a man who has been a hunter all of his life. The Lord has given him incredible talent and ability. He leads hunter safety classes and shares his faith through this. Do you know what he does?
He creates art.
I want to challenge you today. Do an self-inventory. Find your talents. Use them to share your faith. Give them to your church to aid in corporate worship. Display them so that God’s glory can be further displayed.
What talents do you have that can create art for the Lord?
This is a work of fiction. You can find the previous chapters HERE at my fiction page.
Dale Adkins pulled into the McDonald’s parking lot and looked for a parking spot. He saw Doug Manis’ car and quickly parked beside him. He hopped out of his car and walked in. Doug was sitting there with a coffee and paper. He imagined that Doug had been there a while reading and doing his crossword. Doug had been following the same routine since he and Dale had been in seminary together years ago.
Dale ordered a coffee and sausage biscuit, then made his way to the table. Doug looked up and greeted his old friend with a handshake and a smile. They made some chit-chat for a while before Dale finally asked Doug a question.
“So, what was on your mind when you asked me to meet you here. You said you had something on your mind.’
Doug looked at him and smiled, nodding his head. Doug took another sip of coffee and then looked Dale in the eye.
“So, how is the sabbatical going?”
Dale glanced outside and he thought of how to answer Doug. It was interesting how their lives had turned out. Both of them had pastored churches while in seminary. Their paths had diverged when they had graduated. Doug had moved on to larger churches and had become involved in the state convention. Dale had continued on to get his Ph.D and become a professor at a Christian college teaching Greek and New Testament studies. He had happily settled into his role of being a normal churchman, filling in for his pastor when he had the opportunity. He was asked to preach when other preachers were out of their pulpits as well. Recently he had taken a sabbatical from his teaching post and had preached somewhere almost every Sunday.
“It’s been going great. I’ve just spending a lot of time doing research and writing.”
“Yeah. That sounds great. I’ve heard you’ve been doing some preaching.” Doug just looked at Dale and smiled. Doug had constantly needled him since seminary about not pastoring any longer.
Doug just grinned back at Dale. “Yeah, that started right after the spring semester. I took the summer off to coincide with the sabbatical. I’m not sure I’ve had a Sunday where I didn’t preach. So, between that and the writing, I’ve been busy.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
“What do you mean? I’m going to finish up this sabbatical and go back to work.”
Doug just looked at Doug and shook his head. “Don’t you think it’s time to get back to what the Lord has called you to do?”
Dale just stared outside the window for a while. He didn’t like the question his friend was asking and would have liked to have avoided it.
“How do you know that I’m not doing what the Lord has called me to do?”
“Well, Dale, I think you like teaching. But I think you’re happiest when you are preaching. I’ve heard from too many of your colleagues and other folks over the last few weeks. They say it’s like you’re a different person in the pulpit than what they know. Some even say you’re a better preacher now than when you were pastoring in seminary.”
Dale just stared into his coffee cup. Doug was asking him questions that he had been trying to avoid for weeks now. It was true that he had been happier in the pulpit during the sabbatical. He was enjoying proclaiming God’s word. He was also happy with the response he was getting from the churches.
“Doug, look, I appreciate you being concerned about this, but I’ve built a nice career and ministry to the students. Plus, what would Melissa think about me giving all of that up?”
“Dale, I’m talking to you about a calling, not a job. You’ve got to follow God not a career path. Besides, who do you think called wanting me to talk to you? Melissa knows what you should be doing. She’s been talking to you about his too, hasn’t she? The better question, though, is what has the Lord been saying to you?”
Dale looked from his cup to Doug, back to his cup and back to Doug again. A tear rolled down his cheek. He quickly wiped it with the back of his hand before grabbing a napkin. It was all he could do to keep from bawling at this point.
“You’re right. I’ve been struggling with this for a while now. It’s like the Lord has been telling me for a while that He will not simply be studied, but He will be proclaimed.”
Doug smiled. “Now, we’re talking. I want to help you. I’ve been praying for this for much longer than you’ve been struggling with it. Let me make a few calls. I know that you probably can’t jump right in. You’re under contract to come back and teach during the spring semester, right. How would you feel about being an interim for a bit. It might be a good way to get your legs under you. In fact, I think I have a church in mind for that. What do you say?”
Dale nodded willingly. “Sure, that would be great. Let me continue to pray and talk to Melissa about it. Let’s talk again in a few days.”
“Sounds good to me, bud.” Doug agreed.
Both men stood up and shook hands. Dale walked to his car and got in. He headed for his office. He had a lot of praying and thinking to do.