not lawful in Heaven
Wednesday Morning – August 14, 2013
“Lee, I can’t just sell out and move to Ridgeview on the off chance that you and David will be able to unite enough people to actually rent a building and pay salaries. David may have faith enough to trust in God to supply all of his needs. I’m not sure I do.”
“Noel, be honest with me. Would you be willing to make the change if it wasn’t for Charlotte’s aversion to this community and her fear of coming back here?”
Noel Renwald shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Lee had hit the nail squarely on the head and he hated to admit it.
“I’m not so sure all the fear falls to Char. I’m more than a little apprehensive about it myself, Lee.”
They were seated on the shady side of Lee’s cottage, enjoying a soft drink and until this exact moment they had been enjoying a soft conversation. Now, there seemed to be tension building between them. Lee recognized placing the blame on Charlotte had been a tactical error on her part. David had warned her not to make any divisive remarks to either Simon or Noel when it came to the part their wives had played in slowing the forward progress of their plans over the past several weeks.
“Oh well yes,” she leaned toward Noel with a big smile and shouldered her share of the blame. “I’m afraid, too. Maybe we all are, a little.”
The air went out of the tension as quickly as it had begun. Noel reached across the little patio table and patted her hand.
“Don’t worry, dear.” he soothed. “We’ll get there. That is to say we’ll get there if it is God’s will that we get there. And when we’ll get there will be completely up to him, too.”
Relieved, Lee sat back and smiled at him again.
“You’re absolutely right, Noel. Of course you are.”
“What time are you expecting the others,” Noel asked.
“Should be here any time now. David is driving down with plans to stay for the next few days and Simon had a couple things to finish up in town before he comes out. I imagine they’ll both be here by eleven-thirty.
“Okay…. Before they get here I want to ask about you a couple of things.”
Lee had known this was coming. Or at least she had felt certain it would come eventually. She knew Noel and Simon had been talking for the past six weeks on a fairly regular basis and she had already talked with Simon about his conversation with Bill Whitmore.
“Lee are you aware of the attitude the fine folks of Ridgeview have about our plans? Have you heard the rumors and the slanderous things they’re saying? The names they’re throwing around?”
“Yes Noel. I’ve heard most of if. Probably a lot more of it than you or Simon have heard, even,” she said and she silently breathed a quick prayer before going on. “Lord, give me the right words here.”
“Noel, it is my firm belief Jesus’ words recorded in the Matthew, chapter 18, should have been translated, ‘...if two of you could ever agree about anything I would be there in the midst of you and my Father would do what you agree upon.’
“If I have learned anything from my years walking with the Lord it is this—getting Christians to agree in unity is nearly an impossibility. In my opinion the Body of Christ could function, with signs and wonders following, exactly as the first century church functioned if…if… brothers could or would agree together in unity.”
“Hello you two!” David’s greeting melted the moment and both of them stood to meet him.
Wednesday Afternoon – August 14, 2013
August was normally hot along the foot hills. This afternoon was no exception. Roz Gundersen’s shirt was sticking to her back and there was a trickle of perspiration between her shoulders. The heat made her irritable. Irritable was not her normal mode of operation. But lately nothing seemed normal to Roz.
She had been plagued with headaches, weird dreams, strange urges and hyper-sensitive emotions for more than a year. She was sick and tired of feeling as though she was stuck in somebody else’s skin. She was also feeling abandoned and ignored. Simon had gone out to Lee’s again. Yet another meeting.
She was seriously involved in the process of working herself into a full-blown pity party when the phone in the hall rang and distracted her.
As an indicator of her mood she snatched the phone from it’s cradle, looked at the caller ID read out and snapped, “What?”
“Well pardon me for living,” Charlotte’s voice sounded a little shocked, as well it might.
“I just called to see if you’d gone out to Lee’s with Simon. Obviously not. What’s wrong?”
“Sorry… I’ve been out in the yard picking up trash from last night’s wind storm and it’s hotter than blue blazes. I’m drenched in sweat and….”
“Not interested in talking about Lee or anything she’s involved in involving our husbands. I get that.”
Roz blinked back a few tears, cleared her throat and stammered, “you… you do?”
“Oh yes, my dear. I do.” Charlotte was sure she had found a sympathetic ear so she went on. “Noel’s down there again this afternoon. Actually he’s been down there all day. Left early this morning…before I was even out of bed.”
“David’s out there too. He’s coming to town for a few days according to Simon. That means the weekend is shot. They’ll be in meetings every day.” She hated hearing the whine in her own voice, but this whole thing was getting to be too much and Roz really didn’t care who knew it any longer.
“I think you and I need to have a meeting of our own. Can you meet me at the top of the hill. It’s cooler here in the high country and nobody up here will care if we’re seen together.” Charlotte’s invitation couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Roz jumped at the chance to share her frustration with someone who could really see the problem from the inside out.
“I can be there by three. Three-thirty at the latest,” Roz put the receiver back in its cradle and ran for the shower.
“I’ll have to stop for gas and I should call Simon…”
But as Roz showered she continued to nurture her resentment and another thought came in…
“Why should I call Simon and let him know I’m going to meet with Charlotte? He’s too busy to care anyway.”
As she brushed her hair and put on fresh make-up her Pastor’s wife voice of reason chimed in…
“Because taking off for the mountains without telling him takes me out of his protection. Deliberately not telling him when I know he’d worry if he came home to find me gone with no explanation is a lie by omission, if not by commission … and”
Again, another thought. A rebellious thought. This time more insistent…
“I hate being left out of everything. I hate all the controversy and gossip. I hate…” she was on a roll now and the words were pouring out audibly. “I hate Lee and David. And Noel. And the whole idea of building a new church. It’s stupid….just stupid. That’s all. I’m going to talk to Charlotte and Simon can like it or….”
By the time Roz pulled her old Chevy up to the gas pump she was in such a state of anger she was hardly able to manage the nozzle or her ATM card.
If Lee had been in that Chevy she would have felt evil swirling through the air…and probably smelled the sulfur. Lee would have seen what Roz could not—that the enemy was taking full advantage of an old, old trick, knowing it would succeed, as it had succeeded for millennium.
Wednesday Night – August 14, 2013
The shades were drawn, the house locked for the night. Lee, with a cup of tea and a sheaf of papers documenting the afternoon’s work, was headed to the library to review the lists and notes. A sound from the yard caught her attention. She stood still and listened for a bit then sat down her tea and papers and moved to the door. When the tapping came again she realized it was nearer than she’d first calculated. Not from the yard, but from the front door, and more urgent this time. She stepped out of the kitchen and into the darken hallway, pausing to flick on a small table lamp and glance at her watch.
“Eleven-eleven, late for visitors.”
Tap, tap. Tap, tap. TAP.
“I’m coming. I’m coming!” She paused again, hand on the dead-bolt. “Who’s there?”
“Lee, it’s David. David Dale. Can you let me in, please?”
Within seconds the door was unbolted and thrown open, the porch light switched on. Lee stood staring at the pale face and trembling hands of a man she would never have expected to appear so shaken.
“David! What is it?”
Reaching out to study him, she guided him into the hallway and closed the door behind them. For some reason taking time to throw the deadbolt back into place seemed important. In the dim light she again thought how remarkably pale and shaken he seemed. This was a man, normally tanned and rugged, who she had at once decided would remain self-possessed in most any crisis. At the moment self-possessed would have been the last attribute Lee could associate with him.
“Come in to the kitchen and sit down, David”
She sounded motherly and old-fashioned to herself. Not her normal persona and she gave herself a mental shake before saying another word. “He doesn’t need a mommy, Lee. Find out what’s happened and what you can do to help, but remember he is the head here. You are a servant. Nothing more.”
Taking a chair at the kitchen table, where only hours before they had been listing names of potential congregants and the talents each one might possibly bring to the group, David dropped his face into both palms and inhaled a huge gulp of air.
“It’s…. It’s Roz and Charlotte. Lee…. Lee, there’s been an accident!
“What! What sort of accident? Where? Are they okay? Where’s…..”
“They’re both all right,” looking up and shaking his head like a dog emerging from the water, David pulled himself together and told her the whole story.
Sometime in mid-afternoon Roz Gundersen had driven out of Ridgeview alone, apparently headed for the Ridge Route. She was seen at the Texaco station at the edge of town about four o’clock. The station attendant told Simon she seemed nervous and distracted, that she’d filled up, asked for help checking the air pressure in a front tire and had been vague about where she was headed when he asked.
At quarter to five she inquired for Charlotte Renwald at the roadside dinner near the top of the Ridge Route and was told Charlotte had been in around three, had waited for perhaps an hour, then left. She had seemed upset and refused all offers of help. The waitress said she had tried making several calls, none successfully, then got back in her Chevy and continued on over the pass toward Granger.
A bit past six-thirty the Highway Patrol was called to a one car accident in the foothills outside Granger. When they arrived on the scene they found a car—totaled but with no one in or near it. They identified the car as the Chevrolet registered to Simon and Rosalyn Gundersen. At that point the Patrolman contacted Simon. He was on his way home from Lee’s and had no notion that Roz was not at home waiting dinner on him.
Simon’s first instinct, considering where the car was found, was to contact Noel and his wife. Roz was with them, but that was about all the information he could get out of Noel. There was nothing left to do but drive to Granger himself and find out what was really going on.
About ten Noel had called David, given him the story so far as he knew it, and asked for prayer and any suggestions he might have as what they were supposed to do now.
David had climbed out of the motel bed where he was going over his notes and lists from the afternoon, asked the Lord to direct his steps and headed for his car. Instead of heading over the Ridge Route to take on the Renwalds and the Gundersens himself, he had driven straight to Lee’s, determined to pound on her door until he could wake her no matter how long it took.
As David talked Lee put on a pot of coffee, set out a plate of cookies, wiped the counter-top and kept busy in general. Her hands shook slightly as she poured mugs of the steaming brew for both of them. Then she plopped down in a chair across from him and began firing questions at him again.
“Roz is at the Renwald’s in Granger?”
“That’s what Noel said.”
“Simon is up there too?”
“Do they plan on staying in Granger tonight?”
“Not sure. Noel didn’t say one way or the other. My guess, they are both too upset to try the drive home in the middle of the night. I think Roz left the boys in the care of a neighbor.”
“Good. That was going to be my next question.” Lee sat turning the cooling mug around and around, making a symmetrical pattern of circles on the table. “Did Noel offer any suggestion as to what brought this on?”
David shook his head, shrugged his shoulders and told her, “Not a clue. Apparently Roz and Charlotte planned to meet at the diner sometime around three or three-thirty. Charlotte got there a little before three, waited an hour or so, then went home when Roz failed to show up. Said she tried calling, but her calls went straight to voice mail. He wasn’t sure exactly what they were planning to talk about thought.”
“Oh well…that’s easy enough to figure out.” Lee’s face was a study in concern and frustration. “They were planning on agreeing together on all the ways they disagreed with what their husbands are doing right now.”
“I was afraid of that.” David shook his head again and continued. “A house divided…”
“So now what?”
“David, you know as well as I do once a chasm opens and a division starts to spread the only way to stop it is…”
“Pray,” he cut off what she was going to say. “We’ve been praying, Lee.” Holding up a hand, palm facing her, “Okay… I know you’re right,” as she opened her mouth to push her point further. “But how does one pray to change a persons thought processes when they’re so far gone they lose all perspective on a subject?”
“We pray to bind the divisive spirit that’s planting the thoughts. Wait, I’ll show you.” She left the table and hurried to the library. In a moment she was back, laying an Amplified Bible on the table in front of him she jabbed a finger at a couple of brightly high-lighted verses.
…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it [or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it]. I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-20
“…humm. right…? I’ve studied this passage for years, Lee. Somehow it never said quite what I’m getting from it tonight. Why is that?”
“Because you’ve probably never needed to have it come alive in exactly this light before tonight, David. I’m glad you see it though. If what we’ve been led to undertake is God’s will, if this division is from the enemy and, if what’s happening with those young wives is aimed at becoming a strong detriment to the plan…why, then David, we can safely pray to bind the enemy from troubling them an further.” She paused, took a sip of the now cold coffee, and finished, “because what’s going on in those homes right now is, most certainly, not lawful in heaven.”
to be continued…
"Inappropriate Behavior" by Ellen Lebsock — protected under International Copyright Laws. May not be reproduced, stored, offered for sale, or altered in any way without my permission.