The next morning, Dad paced back and forth in the office parking lot, when I arrived at 8:30. His neon yellow tie hung at half mast on his white shirt, his top button remained unbuttoned. His gray suit coat draped over the blue and white sign in front of the handicap parking space. A scowl etched his lobster-colored face. He was boiling.
“Jeremiah, we need to talk. Now!” he said through clenched teeth.
Dad knows! I thought. How I wish the gift of faith was still working in me. Guess I’ll have to trust in the Lord’s grace to see me through this.
I avoided his blistering eyes and nodded.
He reached over and slung the suit coat over his right shoulder.
“Follow me,” he spit out over his shoulder as he marched toward his silver Mercedes. “Jump in.”
I opened the door and sat down in the black leather passenger seat. Dad climbed in the driver’s side.
“Better buckle up,” he said without looking over.
The Mercedes’ tires squealed as we pulled out onto Pine Street in front of an oncoming city bus. Instinctively, my right hand reached for the seatbelt and pulled it tight across my dark blue slacks. I snapped it. Then, I tugged on it just to make sure it fastened properly. I straightened my red tie and ironed out the wrinkles in my light blue oxford shirt.
We headed west on the one-way street. Then, he turned a razor-sharp right into the Starbucks on the corner of Octavia Street. He read the confusion on my face.
“This is a timeout, sort of like you use to pull on me when you were young,” he said without smiling. “I was so upset that I didn’t brew any coffee this morning. Like Napoleon, I am senseless without the stuff. Would you like one?”
With our two coffees, we drove north to Lafayette Park. Dad pulled over to the curb and parked. He sipped some coffee. Then, he rotated in his seat toward me, his eyes blazing with fury.
“Now, what were you thinking about when you pulled that stupid stunt yesterday at City Hall?”
The only other time in my life Dad had been that angry with me was when I dropped out of college and broke-up with Kari. This was out of character for him. Usually, he joked around and carried on a light-hearted banter with people.
“Where did you hear about it?” I asked.
“Arlene phoned and said she saw you on Channel 26.”
“Good old Arlene and cable TV, huh?”
“And if Arlene knows, everybody knows,” he mumbled. “Right?”
“So, answer my question, will you?”
“The Lord told me to do it.”
“Oh, boy!” he said with a deep groan. “Does this have to do with your thinking that you’re called to be a prophet?”
“Jeremiah, Jeremiah, Jeremiah. I thought we were past that by now.”
I blew out a deep breath.
“Dad, it’s my calling – I can’t just lay it down because it causes discomfort to loved ones or me.”
He rose up and pointed a finger in my face.
“Listen son,” he bellowed, “shooting off your mouth in San Francisco will cause bad things to happen to you. This is not the Bible Belt, you know. Open your eyes. This is the liberal capital ofAmerica. San Franciscans hate having their noses shoved into their crappy smelling sins by a Christian who thinks he’s a prophet. Do you hear?”
I looked out the window at two junior high kids who walked by just then. The smaller boy slapped the pudgy one on the back and took off running. The victim stood still for a moment, his mouth hanging open. Then, he ran after the other one yelling, “I’m going to kill you when I get a hold of you.”
The smaller boy stopped a half block away and put his hands to his mouth. “You ain’t never catching me, fat boy.”
Then, he turned and scooted down the street.
“Son, do you hear what I’m saying?”
I nodded but swallowed the hasty words, waiting just behind my teeth.
Dad answered his cell phone.
He listened for a long time.
“Okay, we’ll be right there. Tell everyone the sales meeting is canceled for this week,” he said as he started the car.
“It seems the switchboard is lit up with calls for the prophet. Six people want to list their homes with you. Can you believe that?” he said as he shook his head. “I would have guessed your career was buried yesterday, but what do I know, huh?”
The news about possible listings mellowed dad. He reached over and touched my arm. “Son, I’m just trying to help.”
“I know, dad.”
“Did you know Kari got married?” he said as we drove down California Street.
“Last year. She married a trial lawyer. They bought a home two blocks away from her parents in Pacific Heights.”
“She deserves a good man.”
He glanced over.
“Jeremiah, that should have been you?”
I shrugged and looked out the window.
The years of training in the high desert helped me to not dwell on the what-if’s of life. Still, it required extra discipline on my part to shove this news aside.
Kari in Pacific Heights – oh Lord!
(The above is an excerpt from my soon to be published book, Jonah)
I’ve included the excerpt to remind us:
Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” (Mark 6:4 NLT)
If you are called to be a prophet, don’t expect your relatives to be cheering you onward as you point out the sins of cities, states and nations. Jesus had a problem with his family and you can probably expect much of the same.
(Continued in Part 6)