IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.
Lately Issy and I are ships, passing one another in the night. We are each putting in fourteen to sixteen-hour days. We are on calls all over the country, dealing with emails, and generally being good servants, constantly helping wherever the respective campaigns need us.
I’m not complaining. We are both committed to our jobs and our candidates, but there has been noticeably less couple-time this summer. I mentioned that to Issy last night as I was rubbing her back and stroking her long dark hair. A few years ago, she let her hair grow out and now she adds soft caramel highlights in the spring and auburn highlights in the fall. Personally, I think the colors are quite fun.
It was Sunday morning and I had just turned off my alarm.
I leaned my head close to Issy’s ear to tell her how much I missed cuddling and then I heard a snore. And it wasn’t a fake one. It was a real snore, from my real tired wife.
So, I let her sleep another half an hour. When she woke up, I had already gotten our coffee. Then we read, “Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary. . .”[i]
January A.D. 30, Consequences of Raising Lazarus
This was a very troubling time for us. We had troublemakers and informants all around us. We really had no idea who we could trust.
You would think it is a good thing to raise someone from the dead. It was an amazing trick. I still don’t know how Jesus did it. And the reaction of those around the tomb, their surprise, that was amazing, too. I wanted to say, “They can’t be that good of actors,” but they must have been.
Nevertheless, Jesus ends up on the short end of every difficult situation. Mind you, I’m not feeling bad for Him. I think He has a gift for getting into trouble. But I’d be less than honest if I didn’t confess that I think He also has a gift which He could use for the good of our nation if He wanted to.
It is still astonishing to me, how many people put their trust in Him[ii] because of His works. I think they are wrong. I think they should put their trust in God, not Jesus, but, my point is that He has an army of believers. If He would, He could just unite them into one blazing, glorious purpose and throw off this yoke of bondage the Romans are using to strangle us.
At any rate, later in the evening, a number of us who were in the crowd went to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done.[iii] I decided a long time ago it was important to make sure the Pharisees got the real happenings from an insider, namely me. These other people may see bits and pieces of what is going on, but I am able to correct any errors. I’ve never told Jesus I do this, but I suspect He’d be glad to know the Pharisees were getting the truth, and no exaggerations.
After I shared details and corrected people’s errors, I stood in the back and listened to Caiaphas tell a strange story and an even stranger prophecy. I am not sure if I was scared of him or excited for his willingness to make a situation which was deteriorating, into a real blessing for our nation and for the scattered Children of God.[iv]
On the face of it, his words were pretty harsh, but as I thought more about them while walking back to our camp, I realized Caiaphas was doing some deep thinking.
“He has a brilliant mind,” I decided. Then I saw Jesus walking up to me with His three favorites. They make me sick sometimes.
“Judas,” Peter called out, “What are you doing up so late?”
“Oh, you loud, arrogant, ignorant fisherman,” I thought, but of course I held my tongue. Instead I simply said, “I was out praying. What a blessed day it was, seeing Jesus bring Lazarus back to life.”
Peter, James and John were exhausted, but Jesus just looked intently, and yet, lovingly at me.
“Does, He know where I’ve been?” I wondered. “No, He can’t. Because if He did, He’d have said I was lying.” After all, that’s what I would have done.
He laid his hand on my shoulder and looking deeply into my soul, his eyes, which tonight had such a green shine to them, said He loved me. I can’t explain it. No words were conveyed, but I knew, Jesus loved Judas Iscariot.
That night we stopped moving about publicly among the Jews. Instead we camped in the desert, in a flea-bitten village named Ephraim. I hate the desert!
Sunday, July 22nd, Arlington VA
When Issy finished reading, I shook my head and said, “Can you imagine, Issy, what it must have been like in Jerusalem during all of this? Just think about how the evil one uses people. He used Mary’s friends to ‘tell on Jesus.’ He used Caiaphas who started talking about Jesus’ death long before this passage. And he used Judas Iscariot, of course.”
I was still shaking my head when Issy said, “I don’t think it’s any different today, babe. Look at Harold’s attitude toward you, which is just now changing, and it’s taken months. Look at the industry we work in, we see Harolds everywhere. People whose passion leads to intolerance and then to anger and then to rage.”
“And that’s inside the church,” I wisecracked.
We had sat there thinking for a minute when Issy went on, “What is it you always say, babe? ‘These things show sataN’s incredible ability to deceive.’”
“I prefer my other saying, ‘Church would be great if we didn’t have to deal with people.’”
We both laughed and then she picked up again, “Look at all that is going on here in the USA as forces arise to fight against the candidates, yours and mine.”
“Yep,” I said.
“And then we have to deal with various groups wanting influence,” she added.
I sighed and agreed, “And some of those influencers are trying to buy influence on both sides of the aisle so they are not left out in the cold.”
I was contemplating all we were talking about when I said, “Compare what we see, Issy, and you and I are in the background. Can you compare our situation to Jerusalem, a few months before Christ’s death?”
“You’re losing me,” she said.
“The first two verses of the thirteenth chapter of Romans make it clear.” I said, “God is in control, and those in office are there because God put them there. In just a few months, the person God wants in the highest office in this land will ascend. And they will have the job because God wants that person there.”
“Yes,” she said. “What’s your point?”
I continued, “The evil one is doing everything he can to influence the voting to get what he wants. You and I see that all the time. But God is using the evil one to get what He wants in November.”
“Look at how he used Caiaphas two-thousand-years-ago to do the same thing. He even allowed such pride in Caiaphas that his prophecy had more meaning than he could have ever realized.”
I pointed the prophecy out to Issy, “Can’t you just see Caiaphas talking about a sacrifice that will bless the whole nation? Little did he know that Christ’s death would in fact be a blessing to all nations. Caiaphas got what he wanted, but not what he intended.”
In fact, what happened was according to God’s plan and that’s what’s going to happen here, at the ballot box, in a few months, babe.”
Issy added, “That’s a good point Jude, and that’s why our Christian friends need to vote their conscience, trusting God, not their politician.”
We were both silent and then Issy said, “Wow, that’s a tough one to swallow.”
“I know,” I said, “But that is the way God works in the nations.”
She then closed her eyes and prayed, “Lord, forgive me for my arrogance. I often think I have a good bead on life, but it is You who is in control. Forgive me for wanting You to do my will before I will submit to Yours.”
I jumped in, “Father, I don’t have to be scared of those who disagree with me. I don’t have to be scared if Issy’s candidate wins, because, Father, I trust You.”
Issy finished our prayer, “And Lord, because You love us, we trust You, even if Jude’s candidate wins. Amen.”
“My surprising challenge and unusual promise are the same, namely, trusting God for the right results, even if it’s different from what I believe to be right,” I said.
“Interesting, Jude. Mine comes from the last verse of this passage. Jesus was a good steward of what he did for the remaining three or so months of His life. The passage says, ‘Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews[v]. . .’ Baby,” she continued, “We have got to be good stewards of every little thing we do. If people don’t like what we do or stand for, let it not be because we were arrogant or prideful, sinful or stupid.”
“That’s why I love Ephesians 6:7 and Colossians 3:23. Everything you and I do, Issy, is to be done as if we are doing it unto the Lord, and not our candidate. This means we are to do everything with excellence. So, no one can find fault in what we do.[vi]”
Issy leaned over and gave me a long slow kiss and then in her most seductive voice said. “If we don’t get going we’re going to be late for church.”
I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to say, “Let’s skip church today.”
Billy’s Church, Sunday Morning
I’ve been attending Billy’s church now for a few months. I suppose this is something we’ll have to tell Jack about. But truthfully, I never think about it when we are in his office.
I arrived for the morning service late and the worship music had already started. I liked that because with everyone standing, I could find Billy, sit next to him and fewer people saw us together. When I scooted beside him, he quickly squeezed my hand and then let it go.
I can’t wait for the campaign to be over.
I motioned him to lean over so I could whisper, “Billy, on Friday, Jude showed me some posts which were made under his name and he asked me to help him run down their source, which I started doing yesterday. He’s afraid they could compromise his job. He didn’t write them but wants to find out who did.”
“I know, Sammie.”
“How do you know? No one knows. He even said he would not tell Issy.”
“Because Issy came to me with the similar fears. Apparently, there are some posts out there with her name on them which she did not write.”
I was shocked and nearly lost my balance. Billy’s soft hand grabbed and held my arm but I didn’t even notice. “Billy, this poor sweet couple is in a big mess and if we don’t help them, it’ll get worse.”
“There’s another problem, Sammie. Both of our bosses, not the candidates, but the Chiefs of Staff, contacted Pete Beecham at Homeland.”
I gasped and started to tear up.
After church, before we went outside, we stopped in a corner where we could talk.
“Let’s meet tonight, Sammie. I have found some of our answers which can clear the Prayer-Guy.”
I immediately jumped in, “I’m not worried about him, Billy.”
“Shush,” he responded soothingly and touched my arm so sweetly.
Am I falling in love with this guy?
He was saying, “Sammie, did you run down those initials?”
“Yes,” I said. I think I was pouting. How foolish of me.
“Sammie, let’s focus on these posts by Jude and Issy and clear them of any suspicion.”
“How will we do that?” I asked.
“I have a couple more things to run down this afternoon, so after church tonight, we’ll go to the safe house, okay? Bring those posts Jude gave you.”
I sighed, “Okay.”
“I know you’re worried, Sammie, but I think we are very close to clearing both.”
We went our separate ways and for the first time in a while I felt relieved.
Sunday Afternoon, FBI Headquarters
Pete called me, “I told you someone was trying to cover up Jude and Issy’s unlawful actions. Well, we have them on tape and we know they have a safe house. They plan to meet there tonight to discuss clearing my Perps.”
I sat in my Lazy-boy and didn’t say a word. The Nats were leading the Atlanta Braves, in Atlanta 4-3 in the eighth inning when Pete called and ruined my afternoon.
“Are you still there?” he asked.
“Yeah, I am.” I answered slowly, shaking my head. I was afraid this would happen.
After another long pause I asked, “How much do you trust me, Pete?”
“Right now, only as far as I can throw you, Jack.”
I chuckled, but he didn’t.
We talked for another twenty minutes, enough for me to miss the rest of the game. But eventually he agreed to my request. Reluctantly, but he agreed.
Billy’s Church, Sunday Night
I wasn’t late for church tonight, but I still waited in the back until people were standing and singing. Finding Billy, I made a beeline for him and this time I reached out, interlaced our fingers for the first time and squeezed his hand.
He was shocked, and embarrassed, but he smiled and held my hand for a full minute before releasing it. Very special.
We were enjoying the long moment when someone behind us said, “I don’t know if I should be proud of you two kids, or embarrassed, like Billy here.”
I knew that voice. We knew that voice. It was Jack Jones from the FBI. We turned to look at each other and then looked back at Jack who was standing there as if he hadn’t a care in the world.
In a hushed voice, Jack said, “Homeland wanted to pick you up tonight, before you went to Safe House-3 and discussed the documents you are using to clear Jude and Issy.”
Looking at Billy he said, “You’ve been a very naughty boy, looking for notes in my Trello and OneNote.”
My eyes grew to the size of saucers, but Billy’s didn’t, and Jack noticed.
The worship team started another song and we remained standing. I was trembling.
Jack shook his head comprehending what I did not. “You knew it would be bugged, didn’t you, Billy. You wanted me to know what you two were doing.”
Billy tried really hard to hold back a grin, but he couldn’t. He was proud of himself. I wasn’t sure if I was too, or if I was just irritated with him.
Now Jack smiled. Then he said, “Listen kids, you have until this coming Saturday morning to put everything together. Either you have it sewn up, or the wrong people are going to jail, beginning with you two.”
Everyone was clapping with the music and Jack stood back and clapped with the music also. We turned back around to the front.
I had a million questions and I didn’t do a good job listening to this evening’s sermon.
When we sang our closing song, I turned back to ask Jack a question, but he was gone.
As we walked out of church we agreed we’d work our tails off this week. We would be ready to show up wherever Jack wanted us to on Saturday.
“This Thursday night is Prayer night. I think I’ll be here for it.”
“Me too,” I said.
We clasped hands as we said goodbye. Both of us were very nervous.
[i] Luke 11:45a
[ii] Luke 11:45b
[iii] Luke 11:46
[iv] John 11:51-52
[v] John 11:54a
[vi] 2 Corinthians 6:3