Sam sat on the deck at Max’s bach, beer in hand, watching another brilliant summer sunset with the sun’s rays wreaking colourful havoc in the clouds. But he wasn’t enjoying the display. He was troubled, mainly about his future. That future had not become any clearer since he left the ship. Oh, yes, he did have great fun while it lasted. But now? Now, at last, he had to ‘come out’. He had opened a Pandora’s Box and found himself confronted by things he hadn’t expected and certainly didn’t want.
While Sam had remained incognito, he could enjoy the feeling of blessing people in great need, and he could see them enjoy receiving it. But most of all, he could avoid the questions. He didn’t have to explain himself or his actions. He could slip quietly away and leave people to draw their own conclusions about what had happened. Where simple people had been in great need, they were happy to accept unwarranted blessings as a gift from God. They were grateful and thanked Him in their own way. As it should be.
But now? Now I’m known. Now people want things from me. Me? I have nothing to give anyone. Why can’t they understand it’s not me?
“So what’s the problem? It never was you.”
You know that, and I know that. I imagine the people I just referred to as simple knew that too. But now…
“Now what, Sam? What’s changed?”
What do You mean, what’s changed? Everything has changed. I’m a hunted man. Everyone wants a piece of me, and all the others have an opinion about me.
So I don’t like feeling trapped. Should I not have gone back to the ship? Was I getting in my own way again?
“Do you remember I once asked you if you really wanted this?”
Sam drew down a mouthful of ice-cold lager and let it settle. It tasted great. I can’t lie to You, can I?
“It doesn’t work, does it?”
Yes, I remember. And before You ask, yes, I remember You saying it would be a rough ride at times. You said there would be times when I would want to drop out and go back to life as I remember it. This is one of those times, right?
“Right first time, Sam. And before you ask, yes, I do know what it’s like. You’ve read about what happened when I ‘came out’, haven’t you?”
Yes. You tried to keep things quiet to begin with, didn’t You? And once they knew it was You, You couldn’t have much peace. And You didn’t run away and hide. You kept going. How did You do that?
“Remember what I told you? Desire will fuel your journey. You don’t lose desire; you just redirect it. Your desire has to console and empower you when you get lonely or scared. Like now, Sam.”
What did You desire?
“For the joy that was set before me…”
You endured death, even death on a cross.
“What’s the joy you see set before you, Sam?”
I thought it was helping people in need. But now…
“Yes, what about now? I’m all for helping people in need. But they need more than a healing or a blessing and then you disappear. You’re giving food to a hungry man. He will appreciate the meal, but he’ll be hungry again tomorrow. No, Sam. There’s much more to this than healing and helping the needy. Why else would I have needed the joy set before Me?”
You mean I have to be…
“One step at a time, My friend. Sooner or later, we all face that, but let’s get back to the here and now. Can you remember what you said to Me when I asked if you wanted to come on this journey?”
I said yes.
“But why did you say yes?”
I think I said something like ‘I could put up with anything if you were in the middle of it’.
“Has anything changed, Sam?”
No, Lord. Nothing has changed. I just forgot why I started the journey. I started to look at all the other things that were getting in my face. You have no idea how easily they creep up on you.
“Do you really think so?”
Sorry, I’m doing it again, aren’t I?
So what should I be doing now? Do I let all these people interrogate me? Some of them aren’t very pleasant people, you know.
Still no reply.
It was the same for You, wasn’t it?
“You have a platform now, Sam. Those things you’ve done have given you speaking rights. You don’t have to ask for them. People will come to you now. You know how hungry they are. Will you turn them away?”
You mean like the loaves and the fishes again? No, it has to be more than that. It’s like You said about the water of life. Those who drink ordinary water will get thirsty again. Those You fed with the loaves and the fishes were hungry again the next morning, right?
So I need to give them more than man’s bread. I have to give them some of Your bread.
“Correct. Now that you have speaker’s rights, you have to decide what you’re going to say.”
And presumably who I’m going to say it to and how I say it as well?
But being right isn’t much help if I don’t know what to do with it. Can You give me a clue or two about how to feed these hungry ones?
“Do you know what a custodian is, Sam?”
Sure, they look after people in jail, like a jailer.
Well, they could be someone who looks after something valuable, like at a bank or a museum. Hang on a minute. I think I get it. A custodian is like a curator who looks after a rare treasure. When people want to come and see it, the curator doesn’t tell them all he knows. He lets them discover things for themselves.
“It worked for Me, Sam.”
You mean I should become a story teller and let people take from it what they will?
“Like I said, it worked for Me.”
So why do we feel we have to do a hard sell. Every church I’ve ever been in wants to sell me something or change me into something like them.
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“Can you find anywhere where I did that?”
Sam thought for a while. No. Offhand, I can’t think of any time You told anyone he or she had to do anything. You told them, or showed them, and allowed them to make their own decision. You didn’t even go after the rich young ruler to help him change his mind. But what about in Revelation, where You tell the seven Churches what they had to do?
“I told them of the consequences, but they still had a choice, Sam. They could choose whether to obey or not.”
Man, that takes a huge load off, doesn’t it?
“What do you mean? A load off what?”
I’m thinking of all those people who feel guilty because some members of their family don’t want to join Your club. They believe it’s their fault if people they know go to hell. It’s a real guilt trip. But the way You say it, everyone is like the rich young ruler; they have to make their own choices.
“But how can they make a choice if they don’t know what their options are?
You’re right. If they did, surely the people wouldn’t resist so much. They’d see something worth their serious consideration, not just some pushy religious fanatic.
“Now you have speaking rights, just as I did. You can see the treasure you’re carrying. Yes, you can help them to understand it, but if six people visit a curator, and they all see his treasure, they won’t all see the same thing.”
You mean like going to see some famous painting? Not everyone sees the same thing, let alone what the custodian says they should see.
“That’s right. But they don’t have to. Not everyone needs to see everything the curator sees or know everything the custodian knows. They only need to see what I show them. That way people learn to trust Me, not the custodian. My custodians need to learn that as much as anyone else.”
So all I do is show—or tell—them what I have and leave them to decide what to do with it?
“How about leaving Me to show them what to do with it. What do you think about that?”
I’m not arguing, but what about all the other curators or custodians—or whatever?
“Good point. Now you’re thinking, Sam. No one curator has all the treasure. Seekers can find treasure, or bread, or revelation in more than one place.”
You’re saying no custodian can satisfy everyone all the time. People need to find another custodian who can show them what they need to see next, right? Man, that’s not what happens now. How will the custodians react to that?
“They didn’t react well in my day, Sam.”
Yes. You took some pretty big hits from those guys, didn’t You?
“And you might have to as well. Are you ready for that?”
I’m not sure about that. I have to confess I’m not exactly happy about the possibility.
“No one in their right mind would look forward to that sort of scrap, Sam. I didn’t either. But I knew it had to come, so I prepared for it.”
And You’re saying I need to prepare too?
“It will make things easier when it comes.”
How do I prepare?
“You need to know where you stand, Sam. And you need to stand there.”
You mean having stood, stand.
“Yes. And all the other things in the chapter you’re quoting. It’s all about the situation you’re going into.”
Greater is He who is in me…
“Exactly. You’re not the one they’re fighting against. As Paul said, it’s the Christ who lives in you that they have to contend with. I don’t change, Sam, and neither do My promises. I will never leave you or forsake you. You know that, don’t you? Oh, Sam, you may think you have seen and done some amazing things, but they’re nothing compared to what is still to come.”
That’s kind of hard to believe.
“No eye has seen…”
No ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. Yes, I know those words. But it’s still difficult to believe.
“The good news is they’re true, whether you believe it or not. The Scriptures don’t say ‘what has God prepared for those who believe it’. As I recall, it says ‘what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
I’ll work on it. Good enough?
“I will too. Good enough?”
Sam couldn’t help but laugh. Is this a variation of I will if you will?
“No, Sam. It’s the same old ‘I will, even if you won’t’.”
Okay, okay, I give up. You win. But can You help me out with what I need to do next?
“Take it one step at a time, Sam. Maybe you could earn some local speaking rights and then take it from there.”
Right. I’ll look for a place somewhere not too big and public and see what happens. Thanks again. I really do mean that.
“You’re welcome, Sam. And remember, I want this to work a whole lot more than you do. You’re not on your own out there.”
Yes, I know You do. And by the way, thanks for the light show earlier. I’m sorry I didn’t show my appreciation.
“I think I’ll survive, Sam. Lots of other people did. But you’re still welcome.”
How do you finish a conversation with someone who never leaves you? Just stop talking? But I’m not even talking. How do I just stop thinking?
* * * * * * *
“So why are you driving there, Sam?”
Because I can, I guess.
“You didn’t drive to those places you went to overseas. You couldn’t. But why would you drive here, just because you can?”
I don’t know. Perhaps because I like driving?
“No, Sam, you love driving, especially on a day like this. And there’s nothing wrong with you liking to drive. But that’s not the real reason today, is it?”
I don’t feel comfortable doing the supernatural stuff here at home.
“You make it sound like using your gifts is a bad thing.”
I guess it makes me think I’m showing off, especially now that I’m known. You’re right; I didn’t have much choice overseas. And it was really cool. I won’t forget the first time in a hurry. I don’t know who got the biggest shock—me or the guy who saw me arrive.
“Are you starting to worry about what people might think of you? That’s new.”
Well, yes and no. It didn’t matter when I went to some lost corner of the world where no one knew me. But even then, I must have thought about what people might think, right?
“Yes, quite possibly. But you had to start somewhere.”
I guess you’re right. But now people know who I am. They will have opinions about me and what I do.
“That’s true too, but what does it have to do with you wanting to drive. Aren’t you running the risk of being seen by more people when you drive?”
I hadn’t thought of that.
“You had better start thinking about it because if you don’t slow down, you’re going to meet someone you don’t know and won’t particularly like just around the next bend.”
Sam’s foot came off the accelerator pedal as if he had been bitten by a nasty insect.
Sorry, I guess I wasn’t concentrating on the road. As he guided his car through the corner at a regulation 100 kph, Sam saw a plain clothes police car tucked behind some trees. The officer was operating a radar detector.
Sam breathed out, long and slow. Phew, thanks. I get to say ‘thanks’ quite a lot, don’t I?
“You’re welcome. What are friends for? But you wouldn’t have to worry about such things if you travelled the other way, would you?”
No, I guess not. But hey, was he there all the time just so You could make the point?
That prompted the delicious chuckle Sam so loved to hear. “There are some things you may never know. But don’t change the subject. You haven’t told Me why you’re driving hundreds of miles when you have a better option.”
I guess I thought You might think badly of me if I, well you know, abused the privileges You have given me. You know, You might think I was showing off.
“So if someone gave you a brand-new car, would you choose not to drive it because you might be seen as showing off?”
Sam could see a hole he couldn’t avoid opening up in front of his argument. Of course I’d drive it. And I wouldn’t care who saw me. I’d have a ball showing it off and telling everyone what an amazing gift I’d been given. I see where You are heading. The friend would be a bit confused and disappointed if I didn’t use it.
“He probably would, especially if you needed the car to do your job.”
But my friend would still want me to use it responsibly. He would be disappointed if I did anything stupid or dangerous in it.
“Yes, he would. But do you think he would take the car back if you did. What kind of friend would he be? It’s your car now. Stupidity isn’t a crime as far I can remember unless I forgot to slip it in with the big ten.”
Sam felt the message begin to sink in. Do You know how awesome You are? I mean…
“Yes, I am.”
When I think of all those people who have no idea what You are really like. You are amazing. That must drive You crazy. And them—they’re already being driven crazy because they don’t know! How crazy can we get? The whole thing is insane.
Sam heard the chuckle again. It resonated right through him, leaving him so contended and loved that he struggled to focus on his driving.
Hey, go easy with that stuff. If you keep it up, then I’ll have to stop. I’ll end up being late.
“And who wanted to drive there and run the risk of being late?”
Okay. You are the boss. You have made Your point.
“Have I? Perhaps you need something to remind you, just in case you’re tempted to forget.”
Sam had no time to react or respond. He ran into a wall of something he couldn’t begin to describe. He couldn’t see it with his natural eyes, but he never doubted its presence or its power. Sam didn’t stand a chance. He just had to let go and let it take over. He was vaguely conscious of the car slowing and pulling off the road. But quite frankly, he couldn’t have cared less.