IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.
January 23rd, Monday, Arlington VA
Issy and I awoke to snow falling. It was beautiful, but it looked cold. Our coffee maker had started a few minutes before my alarm went off, so it was ready when I went to the kitchen. I poured myself a cup and sat in the living room with my Bible.
I had been reading through Romans and today I started the thirteenth chapter. I am finding that verses one and two are either viewed as famous or infamous, depending upon whether the candidate you voted for is in office or not.
I found myself returning to these first two verses over and over again.
Once, I made it down to verse five, before going back to the first two verses. But that verse just reminded me of Harold’s verbal attack yesterday at church.
I didn’t tell Issy this, but I suspect Harold’s uncontrollable anger came from this very issue, his conscience, as lined out in verse five. I wrote in my Bible, “When disgust meets your Christian conscience, the result is either humility or anger.”
I need to share that with Issy. I wonder if this is the problem in our church today.
I was back to verses one and two again, so I wrote them out in my notebook, from the HCSB Version:
“Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.”
As I wrote this, a recent news article popped into my mind. I couldn’t remember the name of the actor, but he was complaining because he claimed he was being blackballed due to his political views.
As I sat back contemplating his claim and my experience yesterday, I was reminded of the words in one of Peter’s epistles, where he says, “Why in the world are you surprised you are going through fiery ordeals?”[i]
I laughed at this actor, because, if I recall, he also claims to be a Christian. But, while I was judging this actor, it was as if the Lord hit me with a right cross and said, “Jude, why in the world are you surprised by what occurred yesterday?”
Immediately I got on my knees, I hope humbly, and confessed my self-righteousness to the Lord.
“Father,” I started. I often pray out loud at home, even when it is just me and God. I find it helps me eliminate distractions. “Indeed, why in the world does yesterday’s event with Harold surprise me? Forgive me Lord for my arrogance. Somewhere Your word says we are to expect persecutions.[ii] And didn’t Your Son say those who are persecuted because of righteousness sake are blessed?”[iii]
I immediately heard a high-pitched snort behind me. Issy was up.
“Did you think my praying was funny, darling?” I said with more sarcasm than anger.
“Oh no,” she quipped, “That was God snorting at you.” And then she winked.
“Pour yourself some coffee and come here.” I said.
My Bible was still open and in front of my face, which it normally is when I am on my knees praying.
When Issy returned from the kitchen, I got off my knees and picked up my Bible off the sofa. I shared with her the last thirty minutes or so of my devotional.
“We need to look at these two verses, babe. I think they carry a tall order for us as Christians.”
I read them to her in the HCSB: “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.”
“So, are you saying you received judgment from God yesterday, because you have been rejecting God’s chosen candidate, my boss?”
I tutted, “No, silly,” I stopped and looked seriously at my bride.
“But I’ll make you this promise, if God allows your boss to be made President, in just a little over nine months, I will acknowledge your boss was put in office by God, and your boss is who God wants in office.”
I continued, “That doesn’t mean I’ll agree with your candidate’s policies. But I won’t resist or oppose their authority, either. I’ll just work harder next time.”
Looking her in the eyes, I could tell she was contemplating my words. She knew what my statement meant, and, I think, she was weighing whether or not she could say the same thing.
She leaned down and gently kissed me and said, “With this snow we may want to leave a little early.”
“I agree,” I said, getting up and pulling her close.
But she said, “No time, babe,” and that ended that.
January 25th, Before Wednesday Prayer Mtg, Atlanta GA
Hearing the heavy steps of Clyde make their way closer to my office, I yelled, “Clyde, what’s taking you so long?”
When he finally arrived, I told him to shut the door.
“Give me your update,” I barked. “I want to know where we stand with both candidates’ consultants.”
He opened his briefcase and pulled out a manila file. The front was stenciled with three-inch-tall red letters on a white background, “TOP SECRET” and below that in smaller script, “Eyes Only.”
“What?” I mocked, “You think you’re James Bond now?”
“I’m just trying to bring a little operational prudence to this job.”
“Just do what I tell you to, Clyde. I’ll take care of the prudence.”
He cowered a bit, which was where I wanted him.
He opened his envelope and withdrew a single page. It was neatly typed and he gave it to me.
To my surprise and relief, he gave it to me and was silent. There might be some hope for this clown yet.
And then I noticed that it was headed with “Operation Judas I.” I just sighed and mumbled, “Idiot.”
But what he had given me was in an orderly fashion and I didn’t have to engage him. I just read.
OPERATION: JUDAS I.
* Operational Objective:
* Take over winning candidate’s Religion Consultant job.
* Threefold Operational Sortie:
First, deeply plant traitorous files in both computers.
Second, be helpful to both consultants (by being available), to both candidates (with finances), and both CoS, or Chiefs of Staff (offering fresh eyes to religious issues). Last point can be strengthened by the contacts fed to these campaigns who are aligned with Apostle, Pastor Mortenson.
Third, when winner is obvious or announced, appear to be the whistle-blower which “outs” the “traitor,” making Pastor Mortenson the natural replacement.
* Current Operational Status:
Direct contact made with Consultant A.
Indirect contact made with Consultant B.
I had made a few notes as I went thru the report and then looked up into his stupid grin.
“Have you got the files in their computers yet?”
“No ma’am,” he muttered, “We talked about not doing that till later.”
“Get started on the posts right away and then the uploads in the next few months. By the way, you still have access to their computers, right?” I pushed.
“Of course,” he responded indignantly. “It’s my job.”
He looked at me with hard eyes, as if he wanted to say more, maybe even call me an unflattering name. But he knew his place and stopped talking with his mouth wide open. “Coward!” I wanted to say.
“Look, tell me about this indirect contact.”
“I know of a prayer-guy in the Macon area. He goes to a big church, has lots of influential friends. . .”
“In Macon?” I said in disgust. “What good ever came out of Macon?”
But Clyde just kept talking, “. . .And from what I can tell, he’s got some baggage which will cause him problems if and when it comes out.”
I looked down and thought to myself, “Yeah, we all have that kind of baggage, Clyde.”
“So, tell me about this baggage and why you are using him?”
“He recently got fired from Macon Poly Technic University, for something to do with terrorist tendencies.”
“When did this happen? Why don’t I know about it? Why don’t I recall ever reading about it?”
“Well, this guy is a holy-roller who chose not to sue Macon Polytechnic University (MPTU). He believes that God is in control and so he intends to play the cards God dealt him.”
“Another stupid male,” I said out loud.
“I have also uncovered some quiet gossip which says the board of regents railroaded him out of the job, and no one wants it uncovered.”
“So, with this goody-two-shoes attitude of not suing, the Board gets away with it.” I said.
“Yes, ma’am, that’s why I have. . .”
“It was a statement, not a question, Clyde.”
And thankfully he shut up.
I sat back in my plush leather desk chair. I closed my eyes, lifting my face to the ceiling.
I don’t know what Clyde was doing. He was probably watching me like an idiot. I put my hand to my stretched-out neck thinking, “I do have a beautiful, long, smooth neck.”
Un-stretching and returning to my desk, I opened my eyes to see Clyde looking at me with a different look on his face, which I could not place. He wasn’t looking at me admiringly, which he often does. And he wasn’t looking like a cowed fool. Again, there was a hint of hardness in his eyes.
“What is your next step and when will it be accomplished?” I asked.
“Two next steps. First, to develop a tighter relationship with this Dr. Dale character, and then to reach out to more contacts which are already in the Religion Consultants’ files.”
“Timeline?” I asked sharply.
“Three to four weeks,” he said looking dumb, again.
I opened my calendar and said, “Return here before church the last Wednesday of February.”
He got up and I extended my hand, with my long fingernails, and sleek wrist. He too stood, but instead of taking my hand immediately he looked at it and then me and finally gave me a short handshake.
When he looked up at me, I saw those enflamed, possibly angry eyes again. “Stupid male,” I thought to myself.
As he left, I could have sworn I heard him mumble like a young child does when they are angry at a parent.
Did he say, “Stupid woman, I’ve had about enough of her?”
“Oh, how rich that is.” That clod. I looked at my watch and saw I still had ten full minutes before prayer meeting.
I stuck Clyde’s report in my safe and then sat down at my desk. “What can I teach this congregation to pray for tonight?”
“Hmm,” I thought, and then said, “I got it!”
I went to the worship center a few minutes early and was bombarded by people who wanted to talk. “This is why I have subordinate pastors.” I was thinking this, but I actually think I said it to someone too, on my way to the rostrum.
At least a couple people remembered and referred to me as Apostle, Pastor Mortenson.
After the music minister led us in a few songs and then opened us in prayer, I stood up to announce our prayer focus tonight.
“This year will no doubt be a contentious one in politics.”
“Amens,” flooded the sanctuary, along with a few, “Lord, forgive us.”
“I want us to prepare. I want us to know the Word of God. I want us to claim it.”
I was in a groove, and had a cadence which the congregation responded to, we were a team. No wonder they like coming here, I make them think they are a part of this act.
As they calmed down, I said, “Turn in your Bibles to the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.”
I read the verses from the King James Version, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”
“You know I like to run a tight ship here.” There were a few chuckles.
“It’s okay, I know what some of you think of me, you can laugh. I’m not looking at you.” And with that there were many a laugh, which made me angry. But I didn’t show it and went on.
“While these verses clearly mean you are to be subject to me, here at our church, let me tell you what this also means. It means whoever gets voted into the office of President, in the elections later this year, will have been put there by God, and we will not resist them, even if we don’t like them.”
There was absolute and complete silence in the auditorium. “We will not resist the ordinance of God, my dear children.”
We then spent the next thirty-five minutes in prayer, and the evening ended.
“Believe me,” I said to myself on my way home, “Not only am I not going to resist them, I’m gonna support them.”
January 26th, Thursday 6pm, FBI Headquarters
“Praying for wisdom on your behalf,” came another text from my mom. I need to ask her if she thinks I’m getting dumber with age, because she seems to be praying for wisdom for me a lot lately. I’m not a religious man, but I figure if it’ll help me do my job better, I’ll take it.
Billy walked in and said, “Chief Master Sergeant, Clyde Smith, Warner Robins Counterintelligence unit.”
I looked up from my desk, “Any news on the accomplices? Do we know who ‘the boss’ is yet?” I asked.
“Not that I can tell.”
“Alright, Billy, keep looking for useful information.”
I nodded for the door and he started towards it when I stopped him, “Oh, Billy, is the hacker still just testing?”
“Thanks. Good job, son.” He beamed and I looked down at my paperwork.
After Billy left, I sent another encrypted email to Pete:
Your Warner Robins AFB CI Hacker is Chief Master Sergeant, Clyde Smith; do you have his boss yet?
[i] Author’s paraphrase of 1 Peter 4:12
[ii] John 15:18
[iii] Matthew 5:10