He called the meeting with his hired professionals as soon as Emily and Joe left. So while the couple relaxed at the retreat and prepared to return home, refreshed and encouraged, ready to serve God . . .
“Let’s go over this again.”
The three staff members stood at attention, ignoring the overwhelming scent of singed hair.
“F. A., you have a plan that can’t fail? Please enlighten us with your grand wisdom…and stop crunching your fingernails.”
“Okay, sure, I mean, I know what I’m doing. Their son’s a baseball camp counselor; good reputation, well-liked and all, but likes to goof around and wrestle the other coaches. So see I’ve got this plan to have one crazy mother press charges. And oooh… this’ll really mess them up.”
The master nodded as he stroked his beard to a crisp point. “I like it. Go on.”
“First he’ll be suspended from his job. Then the parents will have to get a lawyer who’ll eat up all their money, and they’ll spend a year in the court system.” F. A. wiped the dripping sweat from his brow, anxious to get on with his assignment. The unbearable flames danced around the perimeters.
“Just make sure the family’s reputation suffers so they can’t witness to neighbors. I want them ashamed and drowning in self-pity.”
“Got it. False accusations are my specialty.”
“What about you, D? Got some destruction brewing?”
“Big time. I got permission to destroy their house in the next storm. They’ll never praise Him when they lose everything they own.”
“Music to my ears.”
“Yeah, bet they won’t even celebrate Christmas.”
“Okay, who’s handling money problems?”
W inched his gnarled hand up. “I’ve got this one, sir. They won’t have enough to rebuild and pay for two sons going to college. And I’m gonna jab at them with worries and annoyances too: no heat or electricity for a while, family tensions, sickness, bills…
Their boss smiled as his red eyes bore threw each staff member. “Your jobs depend on this one. This department has the highest reputation. Don’t blow it or else.”
They knew and shivered at the thought of failing.
“Well, scram, you fools.”
When they returned from the trip, their second oldest son greeted them with the news that he was suspended from his coaching job.
The stunned look on their faces couldn’t compare with the shock of the phone call from the police asking for a statement.
Jason tried to explain: “You could ask anyone on the team, I was just goofing around with the other coach, wrestling. I don’t get it. I thought we were friends.”
The peace from the trip dissipated as they took their first step down the spiritual spiral staircase and called a lawyer…for a whopping two hundred-fifty per hour.
The hurricane swept through their beach town, worse than expected. Emily evacuated with the kids; Joe braved the storm. Monster waves rushed in and wiped out the first floor, their home. Emily couldn’t return for two weeks.
D nodded with a smirk, sure to gain the master’s approval.
All phone calls were brief, to the point: house ruined; living upstairs with mom; throwing out everything; we’re cold, but alright; keep praying; love you; miss you.
D. cringed, hoped his boss didn’t hear them. They’re supposed to be crying and depressed by now.
One problem wiped out the other. They couldn’t worry about the court case anymore when they had no home…and City Hall was flooded too.
“Maybe this will help his case. Wrestling can’t seem that important when the town looks like a bomb exploded.” They stopped worrying about what they couldn’t control. And prayed more.
F. A. pounded a rock until his knuckles bled. “Curses to you! You can’t pray—I’ll lose my job!”
“Lord, only you know what we should do, how to fix this mess. How do we get back to normal?”
The Lord didn’t answer with words, but with peace.
W made sure that Emily and Joe spent their savings before Christmas and sunk into debt again.
But God blessed them: unexpected checks arrived; strangers gave from their hearts; and volunteers swarmed to their town. Emily prayed and was offered a promotion the same day.
Emily felt tears as she read: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial… (James 1:12) She knew it was true.
The boss fired his loyal staff; after all, he needed the best for the job since his time was near the end.
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