The camera switched back to the big smiling face on the stage, which belonged to pastor Joe. Those people seemed to have a purpose, a hope . . . something I longed for.
I had heard of Joe . . . but had never listened to him. He made sense, at least that is what Sophia told me. God really was there and He wanted me to be happy and fulfilled. He also wanted me to be successful and healthy. Yeah, that is what I was looking for, escaping from the cold dark universe that didn't give a damn into the arms of a loving God who's major concern was me being fulfilled.
I ordered Joe's book, Experiencing All of God's Abundance Now! I read it, re-read it and read it again. I ordered his previous book, God Has a Purpose for You. For the first time my life things started making sense and most of all I had hope.
Over the next two years Joe became my hero. I never missed a sermon . . . or a book. The man was a prophet. I felt like he knew me personally . . . although I had never been in his real church . . . but I wanted to go.
I went on his "material fast" where, for six months I deprived myself of all purchases, except for bread and plain water. Every penny I saved I sent to him. He had ministries feeding the poor in Sudan. How dare I eat when they couldn't? But Joe assured me that it was only temporary. I knew that God would pour success on me and I would have far more material things soon. The more I gave, the more God would soon give to me.
For the first time in my life I felt secure.
I turned on the TV to see if I could catch last Sunday's sermon on cable. As I scrolled up the channels my eye did catch Joe . . . but it was on CNN. I was perplexed. I turned up the volume. It seems that Joe was arrested with three under-aged hookers and a bag of cocaine. The foursome were in his a cross-shaped hot tub with the solid gold fixtures. No! It can't be true. It is the worldly people persecuting Joe. Joe always said that you know you are doing God's work when they persecute you.
Sophia was pulling at my shirt tale but I brushed her away. I put her candle of light under a pail.
A few nights latter I saw Joe. He was crying on TV. He was asking people to forgive him and to stand by him. I was numb. I walked into my bedroom and collapsed on the bed and wept. I wept for hours. Once I got up and got my exacto knife . . . thinking that if I had the courage, I would cut my wrists. Fortunately the courage never came.
Vanity! I shouted. How could I have been so gullible? I pulled the pail off of Sophia and she was almost out. It didn't matter anyway. All was in vain, all was chasing after the wind.