Nineteen years later
“What answer shall I give the Lord?”
“Do you have any idea how horrible this is? How much it hurts? Does the Lord realize the enormous problems this may cause my church, Jamie, and our families?”
“The Lord’s grace is sufficient for you. You gave a promise when you were ten years old, didn’t you?”
“Yes, but – ”
“But what? Was your promise conditional?”
The angel backed me into a corner with his pointed questions. There was nothing I could do but surrender.
“My promise was unconditional. It’s just that, it’s just that…”
Drops of cold sweat trickled down my rib cage from my armpits. I felt trapped. I felt pressured. I felt fear. But I knew that sitting on the fence was not an option with the angel. A decision had to be made.
“Okay, okay,” I whispered, blowing out a deep breath. “I’ll keep my promise. I’ll obey His commands.”
The angel stared at me. His eyes pierced a hole through my protective outer coating into my vulnerable inner being. I felt naked before him.
“Today is the beginning of the cross’s deeper work in your life,” whispered the angel. “Because you have chosen to follow the Lord, you will lose everything you have considered valuable up till now. Everything. It will eventually be worth it, but for a long time, you will know only rejection, pain, and tears.”
The angel turned and left.
Like a drowning man who watched his life pass before him, a collage of images drifted through my mind on a circular loop. My ministry. My books. My idol: the new church building. My goals. My attitudes. Though I professed Jesus was Lord of my life, the flashbacks revealed a much different story.
The graphic imagery sickened me. Is this really who I am? I thought.
Shame gripped my throat so that breathing became a problem. I gulped for air and opened my eyes wide to my surroundings. When I did, it seemed like I saw my office for the first time. It was a Taj Mahal dedicated to Rev. Luke Stoner.
The cherry wainscoting and matching shelves had been my idea. I saw them in a picture of an English country manor and had a skilled craftsman reproduce them for my office. The cost: fifteen thousand dollars. My executive desk, which came from Cambridge, England, was almost two hundred years old and valued at twenty thousand dollars. Currier & Ives prints hung next to pictures of me signing books for movie stars and athletes. The full remodeling and room decoration cost a little over fifty thousand dollars. At the time, I thought, it was worth it. After all, I was the royal son of a wealthy King.
But now, when I viewed the room, it appeared artificial and showy, like Las Vegas neon signs flashing at Christmas. I hated what I saw and who I had become.
“Am I no better than Judas,” I whispered. “Did I sell out my calling for thirty pieces of silver?”
I fell on my knees and wept. The ministry I had worked so hard to put together seemed vulgar and crude. Although I appeared successful to others, I stood as a wretched failure before the Judge.
(The above is the third part of Chapter 2 for a new novel I’m writing, The Day LA Died, © Larry Nevenhoven, 2012.)
(Continued in Part 7)