One weekend a few months ago, Robert asked me to find his pocket phone book. I knew we didn’t have this but I looked in his closet anyway. I told Robert there was no pocket phone book to be found.
|Robert's Bible cover|
The next weekend, he asked again. I explained we didn’t have it.
This happened for several more weekends.
I finally realized he wanted a particular phone number so asked him who he wanted to call.
Well, goodness. I told him I could find the phone number of the church and could call them. He liked that idea so I called the church and left a message, not really expecting a call back. After all, Robert has been sending Christmas cards to this church for the past five years and hasn’t received a call or card back.
As gently as I could, I told Robert not to expect a response. "I'm sure they won't call" is pretty close to what I said.
The following weekend, Robert asked for his pocket phone book.
Oh boy. This topic is not going away. I had to get a little tougher with my message.
I explained that we had already called the church and left a message. Robert was right there when I had called! I explained that I already looked for the pocket phone book and it was gone.
It’s gone – we do not have it.
“It’s at the other house.”
No – it’s gone; it’s gone. It’s really gone. There’s nothing more I can do. I’m sorry.
Silence and a stare. Never a good combination.
That was on a Sunday.
Monday morning, someone from Robert’s church called me.
If ever there was a time for a hallelujah this was it!
He remembered Robert and was grateful I had called because they wondered if Robert was okay. They had grown fond of him and had hoped for the best when he was no longer attending the church. It was great to hear how much Robert meant to this person. He promised to have one of the pastors call Robert and we discussed the best times to call.
I was thrilled to come home and tell Robert a pastor from his church was going to call him. Robert’s eyes got a little bigger and brighter and his smile was spread across his face.
This meant so much to him; I hoped the pastor really would call and would call soon.
Two nights later, Pastor Franz called to talk with Robert but first he talked with me for quite some time.
Pastor Franz told me how much Robert meant to him and the church. He explained that Robert helped him (a pastor!) solidify his own faith way back when and he was extremely grateful we contacted him and was grateful to know how Robert was doing. Pastor Franz told me he had been on a bad path but he admired Robert’s faith and conviction and their conversations helped put him on the path to becoming a pastor.
For almost 15 years I have held a grudge against this church because a few of Robert’s church friends had convinced Robert God had cured him of epilepsy and he no longer needed to take his anti-seizure medication. I don’t even know if this church was the same one Pastor Franz was from but I held a grudge against “Robert’s Church” anyway. As a result of this irresponsible advice, Robert had several relentless seizures while our entire family was visiting the ocean with my mom who was dying of cancer.
To say I held a grudge is an understatement.
After talking with Pastor Franz, I put Robert on the phone. Pastor Franz spoke with Robert for several minutes (even though it can be difficult to understand Robert over the phone) and I overheard them praying together, talking about God and Jesus. It appeared Pastor Franz was asking Robert if he needed anything but Robert didn’t quite understand him. They eventually said their goodbyes and Robert handed me the phone again with a look of pure joy on his face.
Pastor Franz thanked me for contacting him and promised to send DVDs of their services - every week - and offered to send anything else Robert needed.
I in turn thanked Pastor Franz for giving Robert something I can’t give him – a prayer with someone from his church whom he clearly respects.
Robert was elated the rest of the evening and I could feel my heart letting go of the grudge. It kind of didn’t want to but I thought it was time.
I am very grateful for what Pastor Franz gave Robert that evening and am grateful for his gifts of the promised DVDs which faithfully arrive in our mailbox twice a week.
I am also grateful to Pastor Franz for giving me the gift of forgiveness of people who were no doubt well-intentioned but woefully (and dangerously) uninformed.