I awoke the next morning feeling as if a heavy load had been taken
off my shoulders and an ocean liner’s anchor had been lifted
from my heart. And boy did it feel good. “It’s gonna be a great day!”
I declared, hopping out of bed. I then whistled my way through a hot shower, and while dressing, I even started singing. “Life is good!
Life is great! La, la, la…” I crooned as Samson responded with a
few high-pitched gongs.
My wife thought I was a bit nuts, though, because usually I was
a big grump in the morning. “Yeah” and “no” (and a few grunts and
moans) were typically the only utterances anyone could get out of
me. To be sure, I was a sunup scrooge, and until I had my first cup
of coffee, Linda and Stacey both avoided me like the plague—or
maybe because of the plaque. “Dad, you have morning breath and
morning bad attitude,” Stacey teased me often.
I also gave each of them a big bear hug before coffee time, and
their wide eyes and open mouths confirmed the fact that they thought I had been drinking or something. But I could tell they liked my new attitude, even if they weren’t sure why I was so out-and-out happy. “Finally brushed your mood, Dad?” Stacey said as she got ready for school. “Yeah, who flossed and polished your personality? The Happy Hygienist?”
Still, I didn’t tell my family what I had done the night before, as I
just wasn’t ready to open up and share my new secret with them yet. Why? I’m not completely sure. Perhaps I wasn’t certain how they would react, but I think I needed some time to digest everything. After all, I had just turned my life over to the Creator of the entire universe, and that was no trivial matter. Indeed, my life had just taken a dramatic and decisive detour onto the Highway of Holiness, and I needed some time to ponder the eternal thoroughfare that was now ahead of me, as well as the divine Driver whose hands now held the steering wheel of my heart. I would tell Linda and Stacey soon, however; I couldn’t hold in the grandiose news too much longer without bursting.
So, after a few more hugs and “I love you’s,” I kissed my family
goodbye and made my way out of the apartment building and on to
the café I visited each morning for more coffee and a few donuts.
“Maybe I should call it ‘Café Dream’ from now on,” I chuckled as
I walked in and ordered my breakfast usual. I also took care to treat
“hot” Katy a lot less familiarly before searching out my favorite
table in the back.
Relaxing and reading my Wall Street Journal, I couldn’t help but
think about the strange, new joy I was now experiencing. It seemed
as if huge bubbles of happiness were rising up from my belly,
exploding in my mouth, and generating smile after smile across my
wide-eyed face. (No, it wasn’t an extreme gas attack, and it wasn’t
the scrumptiousness of the sugary morning chow. It was coming
from deep inside my spirit.) Usually when I sat at the café each
morning, a furrowed brow and marked grimace highlighted my face
as I worried about an upcoming business meeting or other personal
financial matters. But that new day those worries had subsided; more than that, they had vanished.
Yet as I finished my second donut, by then giggling profusely
each time a bubble of bliss rose up within me, I suddenly remembered the drug-addicted teenage boy in my dream. The recollection of him being chained up and the man in black baying, “No one has the keys! Your heart will never be set free!” made me very angry, and my beaming swiftly turned into steaming. “There is
hope! Someone has the keys!” I protested, pounding my fist upon
the table. Certainly, those were the victorious, liberating words that
needed to reverberate throughout the city and the hearts of humankind.
In truth, just a day earlier, my own heart had been shackled by
the deceptiveness of sin, yet Jesus had taken the key and unlocked
it with one simple and loving turn of His nail-scarred hand. “He is
hope!” I then blurted.
“Are you drunk, buddy? You’re laughing and talking to yourself.
And weren’t you in here yesterday sleeping for a couple hours?” my
twenty-something waiter quizzed as he approached my table.
“I’m fine, thanks,” I replied, quickly ordering another maple
long john in an attempt to deflect my atypical behavior.
“The bar next door opens in an hour, in case you’re wondering,”
he said with a smirk and then trotted off to get my pastry.
Turning my cheek to his derisory cheek, I returned to my mental
wrangling: What kind of a scoundrel chains people up and then
proclaims—triumphantly—that there is no key? Right, why would
someone spread such doubt and unbelief to others, claiming that
spiritual freedom is impossible? It had to be someone who didn’t
believe in God and who didn’t want others to believe in Him either. I hoped there weren’t too many of those kinds of people around. “They are fools, and somebody needs to chain them,” I said, grimacing.
When I finally finished my third and last donut (okay, it was
really my fifth) and left the café, I decided to be brave and take the
subway to work as I usually did each morning. “There’s not going
to be a stabbing, a rotating rampage, and a mob foot breaking today,
and no lady will be lying on the platform bleeding to death,” I tried
to convince myself as I made my way to the station.
“I sure hope not,” a man walking past me said. “But you never
As I neared the station, I stopped for a few minutes to compose
my nervous self and then went inside a nearby drugstore to purchase a soda—and more time and more much-needed courage for myself. “There is no spinning lady. There is no spinning lady. There is no spinning lady,” I chanted in an attempt to bolster my confidence for the subway jaunt just ahead of me.
“We don’t sell spinning ladies here,” the clerk said with a
chuckle, handing me my change.
“Sorry, I was thinking about something else,” I said sheepishly
and hurried off, feeling a little bit guilty and a lot self-conscious
about my socially peculiar morning outbursts.
Eventually (after another pop, about a hundred more chants, and a
lot more procrastination), I walked down the stairs and onto the platform where I waited for my train to arrive. Then, I heard her speak.
The her was a portly, middle-aged woman yelling at her slight,
short, timid-looking husband. “Harold, get over here and wait by
me!” she bawled.
With both of her hands on her sizeable hips, the dour-faced lady
was impatiently stomping her right foot at the rate of about five
clomps per second. Sighing loudly and moving her head back and
forth in frenzied exasperation, she looked like a ravenous hyena as
she lifted her arm and readied herself to club Harold with a colorful
suitcase-like purse. He was a few yards away, trying to get some
candy from a vending machine, and he wasn’t having an easy time
of it. He kept banging on the contraption, so I assumed that the
candy bar he was so industriously pursuing was stuck. All the same,
his wife wasn’t having any of the candy quest, as she became more
irritated by the second.
“Harold, I’m waiting!” she screamed. “Come on—now!”
“Just a minute, dear,” he answered meekly.
Her face wrinkled with annoyance, “dear” tramped right over
to Harold, grabbed his shirt collar, and pulled him back to the area
of the platform where she had just been standing. “Do what I tell
you—when I tell you!” she ordered.
Flabbergasted, I dropped my briefcase, and my orange pop all
over myself, as I watched the astonishing drama unfold before me.
That lady was freakishly like the spinning lady in my dream! Her
husband, likewise, was just like the man on the spinner’s leash!
Is this deja vu or what? I marveled, rubbing my recently Botoxed
forehead in unbelief. Finally, when the lady called her other-half a
“dimwitted mutt who needed to be put to sleep,” I turned around
and waited, embarrassed and stunned, for our train to arrive. Is she
gonna put a leash on him next? I writhed.
Our train arrived soon after that, and I purposely took a seat near
the surreal couple. I wanted to see if the lady was going to start spinning or not; moreover, I felt an unusual urge to share my dream with both of them. Nevertheless, I didn’t know how to go about telling the couple of spinning, dog collars, and Jesus—and I was afraid of their reaction to such—so I kept my mouth shut. I just listened as the lady continually berated her husband for wasting their money at the candy machine. “Can’t you do anything right? Why don’t you ever listen to me? Are you deaf or just stupid, you idiot!” she snapped, repeatedly hitting him on the arm with her giant purse.
“Yes, dear. I’m sorry, dear,” Harold replied timidly as he rubbed
the pain out of his wounded shoulder. Fortunately, a gossip magazine lying on the seat next to the lady finally captured her attention, and she left her embattled husband alone for a bit. Without a doubt, the submissive spousal soldier needed a good bit of R & R.
At our next stop, a man dressed in a security guard’s uniform
took the empty seat next to mine. The tall, husky older man was
whistling up a storm, and a peaceful joy exuded from him like warm sunrays on a cold winter day. “I’m enjoying the joy! I’m resting in the rest! Ha, ha, ha!” he proclaimed between whistles.
Two teenagers were sitting right across from us, yet they were
oblivious to the whistler. Earphones atop their bobbing heads, they
were moving to the beat of some loud and foul rap music. The whistler started moving to his own beat, however, and that got the boys’ attention for a moment. Taking off their headphones, they jokingly asked him where his “jam” was coming from. I smiled because his “jam” was pretty funny looking, and the whole scene was amusing. But the old man said something that jammed my heart up my throat for a minute.
“I got my jam from Jesus,” he stated, beaming. “Yep, He mixed
the fruit of the Spirit and the honey of His Word, boiled them in
a kettle of lovingkindness, and then scooped the sweetness into a
transparent, new jar that’s sealed by the Holy Spirit. That jar, my
young friends, is my redeemed, born-again heart.”
The two teenagers gulped a few times and responded meekly, “Oh, that’s cool, man.”
But the whistler wasn’t finished. “If you don’t have the jam of
Jesus, you don’t have any jam at all. Do either of you young men
know the Lord?” he quizzed.
My head snapped back when I heard that intrepid question. I had
never heard anyone talk about Jesus in the subway before, much less ask point-blank if people knew the Lord. One of the boys put his
headphones back on and ignored the whistler, but the other young
man took the holy bait. “I’ve heard about Jesus,” he answered. “I believe in all that stuff.”
“Have you ever asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins? Have
you ever asked Him to be Lord of your life?” the whistler probed.
“Well, I’ve been to Sunday school a few times, and I go to church
on Easter and Christmas every year. And sometimes I pray at night
and ask God to help me,” the teenager replied.
“Listen,” said the old man, “to be saved you’ve got to know that
you’re a sinner. You have to be sorry for your sins, and you have to
accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life. He died for you on the
cross; He paid the price for your sins. Amen, the blood of Jesus is
the means—the only means—by which you enter into a relationship, not a religion, with Father God.”
“How do you do all that?” asked the young man, who was then
“Simple: You just repent and ask God to forgive you for the sins
that you have committed against Him, others, and yourself. Then,
you make a genuine decision to give your life over to the Lord.
‘Jesus, be the Master of my life, now and forevermore’ you tell Him.
The second you do that, He will take it. Jesus will take your life, yes
He will, and He’ll give you a new and blessed one in Him in return,”
stated the old man with a big smile.
The teenager seemed a little confused at that point, because he
rubbed his chin a few times and didn’t respond for a while. I thought for sure he was going to tell the old man, “Thanks, but no thanks,” but his reply took me aback.
“I’ve done some pretty bad things, sir,” he admitted. “I’m not
sure God wants what I have to give Him.”
“God loves you, young man, and His Son, Jesus, paid the price
for all your sins when He died on the cross. If you repent and come
to Him, He’ll accept you—no matter what,” answered the whistler.
The teen’s eyes then welled up, and the whistler made his move.
“Let’s talk to God,” the old man said, sitting down next to the youth.
With that, they began praying right there in the subway train. The
teenager, whose name turned out to be Mario, asked Jesus into his
heart at 8:33 a.m. Friday morning, with a whole bunch of people,
including his best friend, Tony, watching and listening. It all seemed a little outlandish to me, yet very exciting.
Conversely, the controlling lady didn’t think it was too thrilling.
“You’re an overbearing religious fanatic!” she scolded the whistler,
shaking her weathered index finger at him. “You’re just trying to
control people with that Jesus and hell stuff! Why don’t you leave
people alone? Just shut up while I’m on this train, will you!”
“I have one, hear me, ma’am, one Owner and Controller,” the
whistler replied politely but firmly, “and His name is Jesus. He tells
me what to do and when to do it. Furthermore, anyone who does not have Jesus in his or her heart is already alone. They are without God in this world, and they desperately need the company of His great love. The Lord loves you as well, ma’am. Won’t you give Jesus your out-of-control and lonely life?”
Huffing and puffing profusely, the governing grande dame
hurriedly dragged her husband to the opposite end of the subway
car. “Our lives are fully in order, thank you,” she sneered while
Yet not all was lost. As he left, Harold grabbed a free Gideon
Bible from the outstretched hand of the whistler and mouthed,
“Thank you, sir. Thank you.” Boy, did I ever hope and pray that man would someday exchange his spousal sergeant’s dastardly domination for the loving Lord’s everlasting emancipation.
And so did the whistler. “Set him free, Jesus! Wipe the fleshly
control out of that marriage, and may they both appoint You as their Lord!” he prayed.
By that time we had reached my stop, which just happened to be
the whistler’s. As we got out of the car, the joyous herald gave each
of the two teenagers a Bible; additionally, he told them about a few
churches they could go to—after he excitedly praised God in front
of everyone nearby that subway car. “God is glorious! He saved a
soul today!” he shouted, twirling around several times.
“You’re a disgrace to protocoled religion everywhere!” Harold’s
other-half scoffed embarrassedly as she stormed past the dancing
Ignoring the woman, the whistler continued with the kids: “Ask
God to direct you to a church where Christ, not man, is exalted, the
Word of God is preached uncompromisingly, and the Holy Spirit is
invited and welcome. There you will find peace and grow in your
relationship with God.” What’s more, he told them to seek God with
all of their hearts and then they would find Him. “Draw near to God,
and He will draw near to you,” he counseled. Walking across the
platform together, the whistler and I then made our way up the stairs and onto the street.
“Sir,” I said excitedly, “I really need to talk to you. I think you
were in my dream yesterday.”
“I was in your dream yesterday? What are you talking about, sonny?” he asked.
“I had a dream about a man in a security guard’s uniform who
told me to get on a subway train. So I got on the train, and it took me to a platform where I met Jesus,” I replied.
The name of Jesus must have really caught the whistler’s attention,
because he hurriedly led me to a small bench where we sat
down and talked. I told him, whose name turned out to be Nelson,
about my dream, and he was very interested and helpful. Opening
up his Bible, Nelson showed me several scriptures with reference to
people who had experienced dreams from God. As we studied parts
of Genesis, 1 Kings, and Luke, I was astounded: God had actually
used dreams quite often to speak to His people.
“Herman,” Nelson said, “God gives us dreams sometimes to
show us His will, His way, His truth, and the future. I believe God
gave you your dream to lead you to souls. The Lord wants you to
share His Word and His life with people, and He wants to use you to
lead them into His kingdom.”
As he spoke, a great peace arose in my heart, but soon an even greater chagrin enveloped my spiritually unschooled mind. “Nelson,” I asked worriedly, “I don’t know how to lead people into
the kingdom of Jesus Christ. What do I do?”
Nelson smiled, and great kindness radiated from his heart. He
seemed like my big brother or mentor at that point. “To win souls,
you need boldness, which comes from the Holy Spirit. You also
need devotion, trust, and obedience, which come from the cultivation of a personal, intimate relationship with God. Yes sonny, when you devote yourself to God wholeheartedly, you will bear fruit for His kingdom. When you trust God and rely on Him, you will never be ashamed. And when you obey God, you will eat of the good of the land, a good that includes a harvest of lost souls,” he explained. “Love is obedience and obedience is love, friend. As you read and study the Bible, do what it says. As you hear the Spirit’s commands, obey them. And as you become sensitive to the movings of Father’s peaceful grace, surrender to and move with them.”
His message was just what the Lord had told me in my dream, and
I knew then what was happening that morning was not a coincidence. God Almighty was definitely speaking to me, and my ears were perked and listening intently to His every single wonderful word.
Nelson had to go then, as did I, so we parted company after he
prayed for me. We prayed right there on the bench, out loud and in
public, and I noticed that it didn’t even faze or embarrass Nelson. He just prayed away at full volume. I felt kind of funny, however, and then I felt funny for feeling funny.
At work that morning, my coworkers wanted to know what was
up with my new client—the Bible. “Whatcha looking for, Herman?
Jesus’ secrets to success on Wall Street?” they teased.
Julia was also curious why my white shirt and cream tie were
speckled with an orange tinge. “Yesterday you were all wet, and
today you’re all orange. What’s going on, Herman?” she quizzed.
“Yeah, Smith, ever since you’ve been reading the Bible it’s no
guess your dress is a mess, would you agreeably confess?” George
hooted, everyone laughing at his rhyming jibe.
“My dress is impeccable, as it always is! And this Bible is a
birthday gift for my aunt Gertrude. I bought it for her yesterday and just haven’t given it to her yet!” I lied with an angry foot stomp, my colleagues scattering back to their desks in a humored harrumph as I walked into my office and slammed the door shut.
“Boom!” the picture of George, our boss, and me sounding the
closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange plummeted indecorously, hitting the floor with an eerie crash.
A cloud of guilt then engulfed me as I wondered why I was
ashamed of my new life in Christ (and why I had lied). Why didn’t
I just tell my colleagues the truth? Why didn’t I tell them that I had recently made Jesus Lord of my life? What was so hard about doing that? And why do I feel a pang of fear when they ask me about it? I stewed. I so wanted to be like Nelson, an outspoken witness for Christ, but I wasn’t. And that really bothered me.
Finally, after a good hour of punishing self-condemnation, I
heard a still, small voice in my heart speaking to me. It said, “Be
still and know that I am God. I will perform all things for you, My
Hmm… Was that God speaking to me? No, it couldn’t be…
But I quickly realized that it was God speaking: “This voice in
my heart is just like the voice of Jesus in my dream!” I gasped. I was so excited at that moment, because for the first time in my life I had consciously and identifiably heard God communicate to my spirit with words. The Creator of the whole universe was talking to me, Herman Smith, in my heart—while I was at my office, of all places. Wow!
So I decided right then that I would listen to the still, small voice
and let God perform things for me. I didn’t know exactly what that
meant, but I had a willing heart and wanted God to move in my life
anyway He desired. “God, do whatever—I mean whatever—You
want to with me, and I’ll be still if that’s what pleases You,” I told
Hence, I sat in my chair for over an hour and didn’t move a single,
solitary muscle. Nothing really happened, though, and when I finally got tired of just sitting there stock-still, I got up and stretched a bit. Isn’t God supposed to perform something for me now? I pondered as I popped my stiff neck. Hmm… Maybe I just need to give Him some more time.
So, giving the inertia thing one more try, I sat down again, and
subsequently that still, small voice spoke to me a second time. “Being still means to trust Me,” a wind in my heart whispered. However, just to be sure, I sat there still as a statue for another hour (really two—I so wanted to be obedient to His voice).
Eventually, as hard as it is to believe, I got some work done that
morning, and for lunch I hunkered down in my office and read the
Bible. George stopped in to chat and asked why I was still messing around with the “big black book of boring and beyond-understanding browbeating business.” (George always maintained that he was the office jokester. I always maintained that he was the office nincompoop.) He and I usually went down to the front of the building to eat hotdogs and smoke during lunch, and he was wondering why I hadn’t shown for our daily excursion.
“Cheese and crackers, Hermit, what’s going on with you? Is
something terrible going on in your life that you need the Bible?
Is something up with Linda? Are you sick? Oh no, don’t tell me,
does poor Hermia have another hernia?” he grilled mockingly while
munching on, you guessed it, cheese and crackers.
Great! Here was another chance to be bold, just like Nelson, the
lionhearted security guard! “Forget about it, George, and let’s go have a smoke,” I answered nervously. Unfortunately, like a cotton farmer who had slept right through the harvest, I had missed my chance.
Riding the elevator down to the smoking area, I promptly picked
up with self-condemnation and guilt right where I had left off. Why
didn’t I just speak up and tell George the truth? What’s the matter
with me? Why is it so terribly difficult for me to talk to others about Jesus? Boy, did I need Nelson’s help at that point. I felt as if I were locked in a dark dungeon of timidity and needed someone to let me out. What in the world is my problem? I brooded as I shuffled out of the elevator.
My self-censure was unsuccessful, however, as I talked stockmarket
prices with George during the remainder of lunch and
sidestepped the Bible issue whenever he brought it up. Also, after
several cigarettes (and a whole lot more coughing), I decided that
I just wasn’t ready for my colleagues to know too much, or really
anything, about my spiritual life. After all, yesterday’s jeer-filled riot over my Bible reading didn’t need to be relived, did it?
A few financial consultations took up the rest of my afternoon,
and I left work that day dog-tired. My body and soul sapped, I just
wanted to crawl into bed when I got home and conk out. Even so,
that night I decided to tell Linda about my decision for Christ—and
my bathtub baptism—and she was very concerned. “But Herman,
you’re a good man; you go to church. I don’t understand why you
had to do any of that. And weren’t you baptized when you were a
baby? I don’t think I like this at all,” she said, frowning.
I explained to Linda that my dream, and the Bible, had made me
realize I was a wayward sinner who needed God to forgive me. “I
confessed Christ as a boy, but I never followed and served Him. In fact, over the years I’ve only served and followed myself,” I replied. “And Peter told us to repent of our sins and be baptized, so I did and was.”
“Peter who?” she interrogated. “Is he that new guy living below
us who always wears a suit?”
“No, honey, I’m talking about the Peter of the Bible, the fisherman-
turned-preacher,” I said with a smile. “God is also dealing
with me to speak to others about His love and His salvation, dear.”
Linda responded by telling me that everyone was a sinner, but
God loved us anyway, and all the good people would be in heaven
one day. She didn’t think telling others about Jesus was such a great
idea, either. “Isn’t that Bob’s job?” she maintained. “You’re not a
preacher, Herman! Stick with Wall Street, sweetie!”
After a little more debate along those lines, I felt it best to let
things go and discuss the matter later, especially after Stacey walked in on our conversation, punched me lightly in my beer-gut, and dubbed me “Holy, Roly-Poly Herman.” She was teasing, of course, but there was a slight twinge of persecution to her banter. Hence, Linda retreated to the living room and our big screen television, and I slipped into my office to read the Bible. Since I was Italian, I decided to study the Book of Romans. I’d also vacationed in Rome recently, so that book definitely sounded interesting. When I came to chapter 8 verse 14, I was astounded. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God,” it said.
Again, I was being confronted with the reality of the Holy Spirit.
Perusing that chapter, I quickly became convinced that the Spirit
was to be an integral and dynamic part of a Christian’s life, and
since I had heard Him speak to me in my heart, I knew that was part of it. But I also knew there was more. I didn’t know where or what more was, but in my heart I knew it existed. “Show me more about the Holy Spirit, Lord,” I prayed.
The next sunup was Saturday, so, forsaking my favorite cartoons
and sports programs, I spent the day journeying through several more books of the Bible. My wife was a little perplexed at my new hobby, but basically she left me alone. Having four sisters who lived in the city, she usually had at least one of them over on the weekend, so she was busy doing other things. That night, however, I knew my wife and I had to talk. I didn’t want to attend Bob’s church anymore, and I needed to tell her why. “Honey, I think we’d be better off in a different church with a different pastor…” I began. Her response was not a positive one.
“We’re not leaving Bob’s church, Herman, and I don’t want to
hear any more of your dreamy reasons why we should. Bob’s a good
man—not a pervert—and your dream was just plain crazy. Quit
making more of it than you should and get over it!” she insisted.
I tried to explain my increasing uneasiness to her, but she would
have none of it. “I don’t want to hear anymore about the matter!”
Linda flew to Florida the next day. Her mother had been critically
injured in a car accident, so she spent the next six weeks taking
care of her. I decided not to attend church during that time, and I
spent my Sundays studying the Bible. From eight in the morning
until eight at night, I was in the Word of God. But when Linda
returned late one Monday, my days of church hooky came to an
abrupt halt. “Your excuseless non-attendance at church has made us look terrible. Bob’s wife called me on my cell phone this morning
wondering why you’ve missed six straight services!” she scolded.
So we went to church Sunday as usual and sat in our reserved
left-front pew, where the other big donors sat. Arriving a little
late that morning, we plopped down when the second of the
customary two songs was just finishing. A few minutes later the
offering was taken; after that Bob gave the sermon, a three-point
disciplinary homily entitled “A Widow Gave a Mite: Why Are
You So Tight?”
After the service, which I timed at thirty-seven minutes plus the
length of the two songs we had missed (probably four minutes),
we made our way through the greetings and handshakes and almost
made it out the door safely. Pastor Bob caught up with us when we
were just a few feet away from the exit.
“Herman and Linda, glad to see you,” he said, nodding and smiling.
“Hi, Bob,” we answered in unison.
Linda then gave him a hug, and I shook his hand. It was a surreal
experience, because in my dream he had been so vividly evil, but
that day he was regular old nice-guy Bob. Polite conversation and
warm conduct definitely embellished his finery that morning, just as they did every Sunday. Yes, our pastor was a real social charmer.
As Bob and I then made some small talk about our church softball
team (in homage to himself and Acts 19:11,12, Bob had named it
Holgray’s Anointed New York Hankies), I began to realize just what
a decent, honorable man he really was, and a dark thundercloud of
confusion and shame quickly enveloped me. The storm’s softball-sized hailstones: Perhaps my dream hadn’t been about Bob after all. Right…it was probably about some other minister. Gosh, how could I have thought such terrible things about Reverend Holgray? What’s wrong with me? Herman, you stupid, stupid fool!
At that point, I started apologizing to Bob for having an evil
dream about him—and for having believed it. “Pastor, I did something terrible and need to say I’m sorry,” I began, taking a deep breath before continuing.
Nevertheless, Linda stopped me cold. With a seething evil eye
and an authoritative point of the finger, she silenced me like an aged, harsh schoolmarm and masterfully took control of the conversation. “Bob,” she said sweetly, “we’d like to give you an extra donation for just you and your family…” And that was that. Bob and his ears belonged exclusively to Linda and our succulent checking account.
After some discussion along those lines, Linda wandered off
again to chat with a few of her lady friends, and Bob went off to
talk with some other families. So I just stood patiently by the exit,
waiting for Linda to finish socializing. “I hope she hurries up,” I
murmured, smiling and waving disingenuously at a few friends.
Bob’s high-pitched and unusual but entertaining laugh then
caught my attention, so I began to visually follow him around the
sanctuary. (His chortle was a high-pitched “eek-hah, eek-hah, eek,
eek, eek, eek-hah, eek-hah” that sounded as if he had inhaled a
large canister of helium and swallowed a golf ball simultaneously.)
Once again I began mentally lauding the reverend: Bob sure knows
how to greet and talk to people. God has without a doubt blessed
that man with a superb gift of sociability. I then watched as the
pastor shook hands and conversed with congregant after congregant, slowly making his way over to the youth group who were off in a corner talking and laughing. Subsequently, he gave his teenage son, Larry, a pat on the back and then shook hands with and hugged a few other kids.
But what I saw next almost floored me. While hugging a teenage
girl, Bob’s hands fell inappropriately close to her buttocks. He then
gave her a lingering kiss on the cheek, and when she turned and
walked away from him, I could tell that she was both frightened
and painfully embarrassed. Bob, on the other hand, had a smug look on his face. And it grew even smugger as he continued to watch the teen, or should I say her buttocks, walk off. No one was really paying attention to the two of them, however, except Larry, who was intently watching his father’s every move.
I almost vomited at that point, wanting desperately to run over and
punch Bob in his professionally made-up face (our church services
were televised). Still, I felt restrained by an invisible something or
someone, so I just stormed off in bewildered anger and grabbed
Linda so that we could get out of there immediately. “What’s wrong, honey?” she asked as I hurried her into our car.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing,” I mumbled, peeling out of the
Driving home, I earnestly hoped that I was wrong about what I
had seen and that I had just misinterpreted things. But deep within
me I knew that Bob was messing around with the young lady. My
eyes weren’t playing tricks on me: I had seen what I had seen.
I didn’t know what to do or think at that point. I spent the rest of
the day worrying about the situation, and I didn’t talk very much. As a result, my wife noticed my abnormal and withdrawn behavior (I was usually a chatterbox at home) and asked me what was wrong. I really didn’t want to tell Linda what I had witnessed at church, but I decided being upfront with her was the best course of action. She was my wife, after all, and she deserved my honesty. “I saw Bob groping one of the teens today,” I began nervously. “He didn’t think anyone was watching him, but I was. And…I’m sure God was too!”
Linda and I didn’t fight very often, and when we did it usually
wasn’t a big deal, but that argument was different. “Your dream is
making you crazy! Bob did no such thing! What’s gotten into you,
Herman?” she snapped, her voice laced with condemnation.
“He was hugging her too tightly, and his hand—” I started, but
quickly stopped when I looked into my wife’s reddening eyes. Linda
hadn’t been that angry in years. I tried to calm her down, but she
would have none of it.
“You’re paranoid! Why are you doing this to me! Are you out to
ruin our lives?” she yelled.
“No, I’m just trying to tell you what I saw, honey,” I pleaded.
I think Linda was more irritated at the changes I was making in
my life, however, than at my allegations concerning Bob. As our
argument continued, she kept bringing up my new hobby, Bible reading; plus, she told me that I wasn’t the same man anymore.
“You’re acting weirdly different, and I want my old Herman back!
It’s like you had a dream one night and then all of a sudden turned
into a fanatical fool!” she chided.
But I knew what I had observed in church that morning, and I
wasn’t going to let it pass. I would confront Bob and find out the
truth about what was going on; I couldn’t let a young girl remain
victimized. In my dream, I couldn’t help Trisha, because I couldn’t
touch her. However, my subway reverie was long over, and I was
determined to touch the very real situation that was going on in my
church. I would indeed scream for it to stop—and Bob would hear
me this time. And if I was wrong about the whole thing, I reckoned
that I could always soothe things over with a nice-sized donation—
say $10,000 or so. Yet the more I thought about it that day, the more I knew that my manipulative ways had to die. Soothing things over was no longer a viable option for a follower of Christ Jesus: I would have to act and then let the chips fall where they may.
Before going to bed that night, I had a long talk with Stacey.
“Has Bob ever molested you?” I asked her repeatedly. After saying
that I was “out of my ancient mind,” she assured me that Bob had
never touched her.
Subsequently, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me and guide me in response to what I had witnessed that day. “Show me what to do, Jesus,” I beseeched Him repeatedly. I awoke the next morning with a strong sense that I should trust and wait: the Spirit was in charge of my march. And so, I trusted and waited. For a while, anyway. It’s funny, though, how a dream and a couple months can totally change your life, isn’t it?