I was whipping around the corner (in a hurry, as usual) at the Food Court in the Mall when I ran into Pastor Ben. If I hadn’t been as sure-footed as I am, it would have been literal; I later pictured myself with my face down in his hot dog, getting an Orange Julius shampoo.
I did catch myself in time, though, and because I was in a hurry, I only had time to wave and rush along.
Fifteen minutes later I was waiting at the cashier’s at the Christian bookstore, CD and credit card at the ready, when my mind flashed on the “meeting” with Pastor Ben. It just then registered that the woman he was with was not his wife. Not his wife?!? At the Orange Julius? Well, that’s harmless, I told myself. I’m a natural snoop, and I know that’s one of the spiritual weaknesses that plague my growth in grace.
This time, however, I would not jump to conclusions. A man and a woman sitting at a table outside the Orange Julius at the Food Court does not a scandal make, Lynette. Calm down.
I put the matter out of my mind.
For the next three nights I dreamed of “orange.” Yep, that’s right. Not “Orange Julius;” simply the color Orange. Orange dresses, orange walls, orange hair on a grocery checker, and yes, oranges.
Was this because there really was a problem with Pastor Ben having a snack with a woman not his wife—or was this my usual overactive imagination?
Just before Sunday morning services, I cornered my mom (I hadn’t seen her all week, and discussing something like this over the phone made me nervous). I quickly told her the basics, and said I was sure there was nothing to it, but why the orange dreams?
She was silent for a half-beat, a funny look on her face.
“Lyn, that’s just your subconscious loving the snoop part of you. You know how you like to be in the middle of the action.” Mom wrapped an arm around me and gave me the shoulder hug (we both were laden with Bible, notebook, etc., getting in the way of the full-on mom hug). “If it’s really bothering you….”
“I know: pray about it,” we said together. A peck on the cheek and we waved bye.
A few months later I had occasion to “run into” Pastor Ben again. It wasn’t at the Mall this time; it was at the back of the church. A couple were embracing. It was Pastor Ben—and a woman, not his wife. I couldn’t see who it was, but I saw Pastor Ben’s face, full-on. He caught a glimpse of me, and literally jumped away from the woman, who scuttled past him.
My heart pounding, I whipped around and charged out the side door to the parking lot. I ran to my car, shaking, barely able to see for my tears. I vaguely remember hearing Pastor Ben’s voice behind me: “Lyn? Lyn! Wait up!”
Now, I know most of our churches these days are very touchy-feely, and most of us are pretty free with hugs. But this one said “embrace,” not “hug.”
The shock of this literally wiped away all vestiges of “snoop.” I was overcome with emotions: hurt, distress, outrage, panic. I still wasn’t quite sure…. Yes you are, my heart said.
I waited several days, and prayed like I’d never prayed before. At last, with a peace that “passed understanding,” and a deep love for my Pastor, I went to see the Elders of the Church.
Through tears, I poured out my heart. I told the whole story, feeling that I was betraying my Pastor. An “Orange Judas,” I said, with much more levity than I felt.
The Elders simply looked sad. I thought they would be stunned, appalled, angry—but at last Sam Pedersen thanked me for having the courage to come to them. They admitted they’d known about this problem, and had taken steps to manage it. The next day was Sunday; there would be a special announcement then.
For the first time ever, I sat on the back pew, tears streaming down my face. I realized it was not I who had been the “Orange Judas;” Pastor Ben was.
My conclusion? Pastors are human; my duty was to pray for him. It would take a while for me to really know that “all things work together for good to those who love God.” Even this.
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