So, I went by the big, stone cathedral. I admired the architectural beauty of the building, the deep hums of the pipe organ. I listened careful to the words. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't hearing the empty words of the pantheist dressed up in Christian robes. In this cathedral, I heard the simple words of scriptures and nothing else. I felt it was a safe place to enjoy God without being caught in the webs of a purpose, which usually meant the pastor's personal search for meaning. I still hungered for God, intensely. I felt that this would be a good home.
Pastor Fisher's emails kept coming. "We need to meet. I am giving you this opportunity to be discipled by me. You can't pass this chance up to be the man God wants you to be."
I knew that he had not heard a word I had said, how I had been discipled for a decade by the best. That didn't make me the man God wanted me to be, but a brainwashed puppet . . . which became a disillusioned puppet.
"Thanks pastor for the offer. I've been doing some soul searching and I think I am finally where I need to be and I will pass on the offer."
He responded, "That really grieves me . . . and the Lord. There is nothing that God wants more than for me to disciple you."
"Pastor Fisher, no disrespect, but for the first time in my life I think I am hearing God's words clearly, and He is telling me something very differently. So, I don't think the voice you heard is from God."
He replied, "I am your pastor. God has put me over you in his kingdom. God works through His church and He speaks to his people through his pastors and teachers. I discern that there is something dark in that voice you are hearing."
I decided to drop the argument . . . but I couldn't drop the opportunity to explain my departure. "You see Pastor Fisher, while I'm deeply grateful for this past year at your church and the help that you have given me, I feel led by God to go to the big, stone Cathedral."
"I'm your pastor and I say meet me."
"You sound angry?"
"I'M NOT ANGRY! I'M YOUR PASTOR AND I HAVE DEEEEEEEEEEP CONCERNS ABOUT YOUR SOUL . . . MEET ME!"
"I don't like that tone of voice. I've made my decision and I will go to the stone cathedral."
A week later I came home from the Charles Schwab office and noticed two cars in my mom's driveway. I came in the door and there sat pastor Fisher and two church elders. Mom was in the kitchen whistling and baking cookies.
"Uh . . . hello."
Pastor Fisher spoke, "We called your mother and voiced our deep concern about you. She invited us here for cookies."
I sat in my dad's old chair, loosened my tie. I wanted to walk out and run away. "Pastor, I have nothing to talk about and I don't think you are here for just cookies."
Pastor Fisher looked at the elders and back at me, "This is a matter of serious concern. Once you have had these fine men lay hands on you and welcome you into membership, you can't, out of the flesh, just walk away. What God has done, man can no undo."
I sat and imagined I was laying in the grass somewhere, looking up at the clouds, waiting for this to pass.
"So, we are not releasing you from this church, but we do have a discipline for you. God has spoken loudly to us that you have dined with the devil. Anyone who would want to leave the fellowship of God's people and then turn away and want to go to the big, stone cathedral . . . well, it is a clear sign that Satan is at work."
"Excuse me! Your pastor has the floor! We will allow you to continue with us be we have serious concerns about your soul. I have a list of 27 sins I've observed in your life. I will read them and then we will discuss repentance. Sin 1 You did not come to our work day when we painted the parsonage. That is a sign you are lazy. Sin 2 You have not been giving 10% of your money to the church. Sin 3 - -- ---- -- - --- --- - -------- --------- --- - ------ ---------- ---------- ---- -- ------- ---- -- -- - ------- -- - ------ - - - --- - ----- ------ - - "
I was feeling a deep pain in my soul when I felt the arm of Sophia around my shoulder. "He's scared. His church is declining and the district leaders are on his case about that. He feels that he has no value when his church is not growing. He is very angry at you for threatening his feeling of value. He will find rest someday. But don't let this discourage you. God is always welcoming when you seek him with a pure heart."