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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Pastor (11/30/06)

TITLE: Sheila’s Deception
By
12/04/06


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Pastor Michael Collins turned and walked away from the house. It was the hardest decision he had made in twenty years of ministry. Why hadn’t he seen it coming? What would he tell his wife, Marylyn? Sitting in his car he prayed briefly before turning the key. He drove directly to his office which was located behind the church.

*****

Michael married his childhood sweetheart shortly after seminary. He loved her dearly and although unable to bear children they were deeply in love and drew strength from each other and their Lord.

Sheila Langley, a divorcee, joined their church almost a year ago, shortly before her son married and moved away. She was pretty for her age, but lonely. A number of times over the past year, Marylyn had revealed her concerns regarding Sheila’s flirtatious behaviour.

“Why didn’t I listen, Lord? Why didn’t I see this coming?”

Michael wept before the Lord. He poured out his soul and pleaded for forgiveness - forgiveness for his failures and blindness. He knelt resting his elbows on the leather lounge where many of his congregation, including Sheila, had sat to listen to the counsel of their pastor. He replayed the incident over in his mind.

*****

Marylyn served dinner as usual at six o’clock. The telephone rang, a typical coincident for the pastor’s home.

“I’ll get it.” Michael said, rising from the table.

It was Sheila. She was crying. “Pastor Michael, I’m at my wits end. I’ve had enough. Tonight will be my last night on earth. I’m going to kill myself.” The phone clicked; the line went dead.

“You eat without me. This is urgent. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

He kissed Marylyn on the cheek and grabbed his jacket on the way out the door. It was a chilly autumn evening and he would have rather stayed home.

The door opened as soon as Michael knocked. He entered the over-heated and dimly lit house. He unzipped his jacket before realising the seriousness of the situation. He was too stunned to speak. Sheila was dressed in a flimsy night-gown. The air was thick with the scent of aromatherapy candles. Haunting music played softly from hidden speakers. She pawed at his shirt like a love-crazed tiger. She even began to purr.

“What is this?” he finally managed to respond.

“Come on, you know you have always wanted me.”

Fear filled him. “I am a married man. I am also your pastor, a man of God. How could you even think I wanted you?”

Snivelling like a pouting child, Sheila resumed her threats of suicide and sat heavily in an over-stuffed chair crying pitifully. He froze and began praying silently for direction. He wanted to help her, yet he knew this was a dangerous situation.

“Sheila, I’m sorry. I cannot counsel you any more. I will investigate another pastor or counselor for you. A woman.”

“But, you are my pastor and I don’t like to talk about my problems to other women.”

Michael turned and walked to the front door. “I’m sorry Sheila, I can’t.”

He closed the door silently behind him.

*****

Michael rose from his kneeling position and went to his desk. Picking up the telephone receiver he dialled home and asked Marylyn to come straight to the church. He didn’t give her time to ask for an explanation. He couldn’t. Not over the phone.

Head bowed in solemn meditation, he heard her footsteps softened by the center-aisle carpet. He stood and moved to meet her at the end of the pew. Taking her hands in his, he looked into her puzzled, frighted eyes.

“Michael, what is it? What’s happened?”

He wept as he confessed his indiscretion. They sat quietly on the floor in front of the alter for almost twenty minutes before Marylyn spoke.

“What do we do know, my love?”

Her tender words almost broke his heart. The love of his life still cherished him despite his weaknesses.

"God, I don’t deserve her, but thank you."

He fought back tears. “We need to pray about our future here. There’s the invitation I received last week to pastor the church up north. Maybe it’s time to move on.”

“Maybe we should trust God and not run away from trials.”

Michael smiled and hugged his wife. “Maybe you should be the pastor. You are very wise, my dear.”

Side by side they knelt before the Lord and prayed for direction and peace.


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This article has been read 1064 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 12/07/06
Great job! It is because of this that many pastors will not meet alone with a woman. Wise decision of the pastor to leave the house right away.
Gregory Kane12/08/06
Excellent and vivid retelling of the temptations that confront every pastor. The narrative held me to the end, desperate to know the outcome. My only confusion is that on second reading I’m not sure what the outcome actually was. The first time I read it, I assumed that the pastor closed the door on his way out, resisting the seductress, and this is probably the right take. But the second time, I read it that he closed the door, locking himself in the room with the Sheila, such that his ‘indiscretion’ was therefore much more serious. Either way an engaging tale.
Gregory Kane12/08/06
Excellent and vivid retelling of the temptations that confront every pastor. The narrative held me to the end, desperate to know the outcome. My only confusion is that on second reading I’m not sure what the outcome actually was. The first time I read it, I assumed that the pastor closed the door on his way out, resisting the seductress, and this is probably the right take. But the second time, I read it that he closed the door, locking himself in the room with the Sheila, such that his ‘indiscretion’ was therefore much more serious. Either way an engaging tale.
Jan Ackerson 12/08/06
Well-written!

I'm a bit confused, too...you have the pastor confess his indiscretion, but it appears that he didn't give in. Perhaps he should have confessed his temptation, instead? Unless by "indiscretion" you meant just going to Sheila's house alone.

A small matter to clear up...unless you left it intentionally vague, perhaps? Well, no matter, because this is compelling reading, and should be read by all pastors as a cautionary tale.
Joanne Sher 12/08/06
So VERY compelling and engaging. You had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. You did an awesome job of characterization and setting. You definitely deserve to be where you are, dear friend. :)
william price12/10/06
You had me from start to finish. I too am a bit confused as to the pastor's indescretion. I too thought it was he shouldn't have went there to start with, and maybe his indescretion was the motives for doing so. I actually thought for a minute the lady did kill herself after he left. Or, maybe he stayed? Yet, with all that said, the story was engrossing and very well written. God bless.
Jesus Puppy 12/10/06
A well done story. Sadly gripping portail of a man in grief for those in his care, knowing the the only thing he could do to remove temptation, was to step away. Even when it meant leaving the others of his flock behind.

Quite the Godly strength on your pastor's part, to leave the 99 so the one would not fall further. Well done..
Jesus Puppy 12/10/06
Upon reading the comments of his Idriscretion i read again the story, and could see it clear. It seems he was stricken by the fact that if he had seen it before hand, perhaps he would have, or should have, take his wife along. He had been worned of such but though nothing of it, as she was not a tempation to him. he did not see it as him being one to her.
Jesus Puppy 12/10/06
ummm... indescretion
Edy T Johnson 12/10/06
This is quite a gripping story that keeps a reader to the end, for sure. I think the pastor's heightened sense of remorse might lead readers into suspecting "more happened" than actually did (perhaps if he had just mentioned to his wife "Pray! This is a suicide call," as he left the table). But,it seems clear to me his grief only shows what a conscientious pastor he is, and he takes Sheila's situation and deception so seriously. The fact that he reacted with horror, prayed for direction, and said what he did shows me without a doubt that he closed the door "behind him" as he fled the house. I didn't sense that he was tempted, but rather revolted by this woman's scheming behavior. The "attraction" was all in Sheila's mind.
Edy T Johnson 12/10/06
On second read, I noticed something I missed first time around. The timing of the opening paragraph: he isn't walking away from his own, but Sheila's house just after he closed her door behind him (scroll down to the episode and read it in that order). That gives me a better understanding at the level of his grief and dispair. The difficult decision to which he refers is turning his back to this suicide-threatening church member because he cannot help her, given her twisted intentions. It wasn't at all difficult, as I read it, for him to reject her advances (which might be where some readers were confused).
Catrina Bradley 12/12/06
I wasn't confused until I read the other comments. :)
The decision he had to make in the opening was clearly the decision to time of great need. I thought his indescretion was to the Lord, not to his wife. Anyway, I enjoyed the story - good job!
Catrina Bradley 12/12/06
Oops, just read my own comment and saw where I left out some words. Should say: The decision he had to make in the opening was clearly the decision to abandon this one sheep in her time of great need.
Leigh MacKelvey12/12/06
Excellant idea for "pastor" and well written. I have to add too, I was wondering about the indescetion. I understood he was walking away from the woman's house in the first paragraph, but I thought he resisted her advances. I wondered why he was asking his wife's forgivness. The little bit of confusion didn't keep me from the great enjoyment of reading it!
Betty Castleberry12/12/06
This story rings true. It certainly could have, and no doubt has, happened to a pastor. You did a good job of desribing what the pastor was dealing with. Nicely done.
Ruth Neilson12/12/06
I love the reminder of how Pastor's are humans too. Nice job with the transions back and forth. Thank you for sharing.
Cheri Hardaway 12/12/06
Your opening paragraph drew me in immediately. The story kept my interest throughout. It would have been clearer to me had you used the word temptation rather than indiscretion, but that didn't detract from the story for me. Good work. Blessings, Cheri
Sara Harricharan 12/13/06
Whoa! Some heavy stuff in here, but sadly a realistic situation that some pastors do deal with. Good job with writing this, it was pretty clear and I loved the character of the pastor's wife.
Lisa Claro12/14/06
Hi. I felt disappointed at first because your meaning seemed so unclear, then I realized that the ambiguity is what makes it compelling. His indiscretion could arguably be any number of things; it is left to the reader to decide what he or she thinks it is. This is thought provoking, which makes it a pleasure to read. Thanks.
Valora Otis12/15/06
I'm glad I read this after the fact. I understood your article very clearly. I saw it as Edy did in her second comment. To leave her alone after such a desparate attempt for attention, although innapropriate––was a cry for help. This is truly a cautionary tale. Well done, Chrissy! Welcome to Advanced!