Dr Rex Osborne was not what I expected.
“Welcome, Brother Danny, welcome!” The psychologist greeted me with a moonfaced grin that appeared ready to burst with joy. His door opened into a room cluttered with books and files.
“Sit, sit, sit!” he exclaimed scooping up a pile of papers.
Fresh coffee sat brewing on a side table. My host poured two cups and set them down.
“Now, how can I help you, young man?” Dr Osborne leaned forward invading my sense of personal space.
“Um,” I struggled. “It has been put to me that I might benefit from your unique approach to therapy.” I spoke very slowly.
Dr Osborne’s eyes filled with tears before he threw back his head and roared with laughter.
“Well said!” he exclaimed.
Suddenly he was on his feet searching through a stack of papers. “Ah here it is,” he said skimming it’s content.
“Brother Danny, why are you doing the work of three men?”
The statement was an accusation not a question. Weren’t counselors suppose to listen, reflect and create a non threatening environment, I wondered?
Before I could answer he was on his feet again.
“This is your homework,” he said handing me a notebook. “Please open it.”
The same words were printed at the top of each page.
FATHER GOD, I GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO SEARCH MY HEART AND TO REMOVE ANYTHING THAT CAUSES YOU OFFENSE.
“What I want you to do is to sign this contract each day for a week,” he continued. “Then keep a record of what you learn.”
“Hmm,” I hesitated. This was not what I had expected. Sensing my discomfort Dr Osborne paced the floor as he gathered his thoughts.
“Do you see that computer?” he asked pointing at his desk.
“Yes,” I replied.
“People are like computers. The human brain, on its own, is nothing more than a glorified answering machine.”
I listened patiently. Perhaps he might appreciate my listening skills, I mused.
“A glorified answering machine,” I repeated.
“Yes, yes, yes!” Dr Osborne applauded . “You ask a question and it gives you an answer.”
The psychologist warmed to his subject.
“Somewhere in time our computers were hacked into and someone took control of the question.”
“Give me an example?” I asked innocently.
“Can anything separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ?”
“Did God really say?” I responded immediately.
“Excellent!” Dr Osborne applauded again. “Since then our minds have been open to a host of viruses.”
“You mean lies,” I offered.
“Lies. Viruses. Whatever. All I know is that when I find a Christian who is tormented, driven or oppressed the chances are a Devil has planted a virus deep down in the little grey cells.” He tapped the side of his head to emphasize the point.
“I will see you one week from today,” he said handing me the notebook. Our first meeting was obviously over.
There are times when my mind feels like a room full of television sets, each tuned to a different station. Slowly and deliberately I isolated each thought and mentally switched off the picture. For several months I had been living in slow motion exhausted by the constant struggle of ministry. Now I was on stress leave, burnt out at 32.
The notebook lay open on my lap.
“Why not?” I asked as I signed the first page. The strange counselor had struck a chord. What harm could it do?
The view from the café looked out over Sydney Harbour. Winter sunlight only added to the beauty of the vista.
“You are not wanted.”
I turned to see who had spoken before I realized the voice was inside me.
“You are not wanted,” it spoke again.
A series of images flashed across my imagination. My single mother behaved more like a child than me. Her boyfriend was openly hostile to my presence. My home life had been a constant battle for acceptance.
“But it’s lie,” I responded. “Can anything separate me from the love of God that is in Christ?”
Sydney boys do not cry. But as the revelation came I felt shaken to my core. What a waste of time, I thought, to fight a battle that has already been fought.
I closed my eyes and pictured the rejection.
“It’s your battle,” I prayed. Suddenly a hand appeared in my mind and I heard a click as the screen faded to a point of light.
The virus had been deleted.
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