IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.
January 14th, Saturday Morning, Arlington VA and Greater Atlanta
“How was your flight, babe?” I asked, over the telephone.
We hadn’t talked last night after she arrived, other than by text, because they had a late working dinner. Normally we would talk on the day of arrival. But this trip was put together at the last minute and some details needed to be worked out, hence their dinner.
So instead, we waited until her first morning in Atlanta.
“I do enjoy the way you and I fly. . .” she said with a smile in her voice.
“But. . . ?” I coaxed.
“Well, I like you and me using TSA PreCheckTM, but it can’t compete with having a private jet, like we did yesterday, baby.”
We chuckled and then I asked. “How much time do you have?”
“I’m dressed, I just need to add a bit to my face and eat my yogurt, but I have plenty of time for us to go over the John passage.”
“Good,” I said, wanting to jump into my news. “You remember Congressman Applebee, babe?”
“Yes, from Nevada, right?”
“Exactly. He and I have been friends for quite a while and yesterday afternoon I was walking towards our Metro station, via Pennsylvania Avenue, and I saw him.”
“On a Friday?” she asked.
“Yes, and late on Friday. Apparently, he had been at the White House for a closed door briefing on the ills of the world.”
I continued, “But here’s why I bring it up. I saw him from afar, because he was standing on the corner, with his hand in a perpetual handshake with some guy I had never seen before. And they both had their heads bowed.”
Issy whistled and I said, “Yeah, imagine, Congressman Applebee and this guy, at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Street.”
She commented on the narrative, “The US Capitol on one side and the House Office Buildings on the other, and those two praying in between. Did you notice the passersby?”
“I sure did, some of them were rolling their eyeballs, as if to say, ‘keep it in church, guys.’ But many walked by nodding their heads, appearing to approve. It was awesome!” I said excitedly.
“Sounds like it,” she agreed. “Who was it?” she asked, “If it’s okay for you to tell me.”
“Yeah, that was the best part. He’s just a regular guy. When they were done praying, I said hello to the Congressman, and he introduced me. The guy is a former collegiate coach somewhere south of Atlanta. His name is Dr. Dale Riley.”
“But now, let’s get through our passage, and if we have time, I’ll tell you more about him afterwards.”
We had decided to do our study questions on Saturday, since Issy would be out of town until midday Sunday.
“Thanks, babe,” my Issy said gratefully. “I appreciate you knowing how much time it takes for me to get myself ready for the world.”
“Baby. . .” I started to say.
But she quickly cut me off with, “Down boy.”
Which was too bad, as I had a brilliant, romantic comeback.
We read through John 6:22-71 and Issy started us off. “I’m glad I took the time on the plane to reread this passage because, it is a difficult one to get my mind around. Our author called it ‘Christ’s Discourse on the Bread of Life.’”
“I agree,” I said and then I waited for her to share her further thoughts.
“Jesus seems to be doing a couple things here. First, He’s slamming those who are looking for Him, not because of the miracles, but because they got their bellies filled. Verse twenty-six, I think.”
“A surprising challenge, eh?” I asked.
“You bet, babe! It made me really stop and parse my motivations.”
I smiled, listening to her, and she went on. “Am I grateful for my relationship with the Lord because I have a fire-insurance policy, or is there something deeper, motivating me?”
“Great question,” I said.
She continued, “And secondly, the passage made me think about what I am doing in my employment and what my motivation is? Am I doing what I do because of the high of being with the ‘super-powerful-people?’ Oh, darling, I hope not.”
She hesitated but I remained silent. “I don’t think I am but I sure want to check my spirit.”
“Do you mind if I pipe-in?” I asked.
“No,” she said, “Go for it.”
“This guy I met yesterday, Dr. Dale, said he is normally never here on a Friday, but one of the Senators invited him to a prayer breakfast, so he visited his other friends on the Hill.”
“Anyway, I took him to dinner.”
Issy interrupted, “You didn’t!”
“What are you talking about, baby?”
“You know what I’m talking about, Jude! Did you take him to the Mexican Restaurant?”
“Yes,” I answered sheepishly.
“I know not to put my clothes in the closet after I have been there, baby. They’re in the bathroom downstairs and I’ll take them to the dry cleaners later today. Our clothes will not need to be fumigated from the lovely Fajita aroma. Now let me get back to my story.”
She was satisfied with that and I went on, making a mental note to get my suit out of our closet.
“So, let me tell you what this guy does, babe, because it leads straight into this passage. It’s his motivation, if you will, and I think, ours too, even though one of us works for a loser and the other one is right.”
She just tolerated me with silence and so I continued. “Dr. Dale comes to D.C. once a month, to do one thing. He prays with Congressmen and women, and Senators. And when they are busy, he prays with their staff. Baby, what he prays is what got me. He told me, when he comes to D.C. he doesn’t give a rip about their politics. He prays with both sides of the aisle.”
“Hmm,” she said, “Then what does he pray?”
“He bears their burden. That’s all he’s in D.C. for. He said he’s not here to fix the way people think.”
I paused to take a drink of my coffee and then said, “We don’t have time to talk about the various stories he told me, which are exciting by the way, but his motivation gets right to the heart of this passage of Christ’s Discourse on the Bread of Life.”
I took a deep breath and then asked, “Is it our motivation, Issy, to ‘fix’ the way people think or are we really committed to Jesus?”
“Hmm,” I heard her say.
“Well, let me ask you a question,” she said. “Jesus is obviously separating the wheat from the chaff, agree?”
“Absolutely,” I concurred.
“Then look at the last two verses. They are sobering and they tell me to be careful from whom I take advice.”
We read verse seventy, “Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!”[i]
“I would agree, baby,” I said. “I think we need to make our motivation and who we choose to listen to a regular part of our prayers. And since God honors humility, we need to pray for it continually.”
“The disciples still had no clue Who Jesus really was,” Issy said. “And there are too many voices today who want to deceive, because they too have no clue Who Jesus really is.”
“I agree, love,” and we prayed. Then she went her way, to return home tomorrow afternoon.
January 15th, Sunday, Arlington VA
The next day, Sunday, Issy arrived home just after I returned from church.
I met her at the door and hugged her. She gave an almost imperceptible lifting of her head as if to smell the air and I cringed because I had forgotten!
I was relieved when she began to speak. “I met an interesting individual while in Atlanta.” She said, “I can’t give you any of his contact information because I don’t know where it will go, relative to my candidate, but he gave me a book written by his pastor, on, of all things, ‘Christ’s Discourse on the Bread of Life.’ An interesting coincidence, don’t you think?”
I raised my eyebrows. “Interesting,” I said.
When she went into our bedroom to empty her suitcase, but I purposely hung back. And then I heard the words, “Jude!”
Okay, it was only one word. Just what I feared had occurred. I had become “nose blind.”
I walked into the room with my best humble smile. I hoped I looked really pathetic. I was begging for some sympathy, and all she said was, “Fumigating my clothes is not coming out of our budget.”
“Yes, baby,” I said, knowing I had gotten away pretty easily.
I came over to her for a kiss but she just turned saucily and over her shoulder said, “Later, maybe.”
January 15th, Sunday Evening, Washington D.C.
“Pete, your timing is lousy,” I said, draining a glass of wine. “I’m here at home with a date. I’m grilling fish and I don’t need the interruption.”
“I get it, Jack. Just hear me. An odd contact was made with one of the candidate’s Religion Consultants.”
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“I’m not too sure I do either. But I think we need to talk about it, analyze the players, and have a game plan. Can you make the Cage available at 10 a.m. tomorrow?”
“See you there, Pete.”
“See you there, Jack. And let me know how your date goes, too.”
I heard some laughter coming out of my phone, as I hung up on him. He knew I was lying.
[i] John 6:70