It hadn’t been the best of days for John Mowry. He picked up a burger and threw the empty wrapper on the floorboard of the passenger side as he drove home. John wanted a good night’s sleep but that hadn‘t happened in a very long time.
He entered his apartment and threw the keys on the counter. John had been the pastor of Lakeview Community Church for about a year. To say that things weren’t going very well would have been an understatement - this had been a position of last resort. John’s life had been in a tailspin since the death of his wife and son.
The silence became tangible. Suddenly he heard a voice. “John?”
A deep intake of air brought John’s head up quickly. “Lynette?” He looked around the room for his bride; the one he had heard just a moment before. Nothing.
Wait, there was a note lying nearby and he recognized the handwriting.
I know you’re having a rough time, but don’t struggle so hard.
You will receive a visitor who will show you what you must do.
John held the letter and breathed in the scent of his bride. Tears popped from his eyes in an unrestricted cadence. What was happening?
He placed the letter on the table and wiped his eyes. When he reached for the letter, it was gone. In its place was the remote to the television.
He was so tired of life and the injustice of loss. He sighed deeply as he began to channel surf hoping to ease the pain.
“Are you tired and weary? Has life got you down?” John clicked the remote. “Have we got good news for you - The Shrewdness 2000, a handheld device allowing you to plot a course to a brighter future.” He clicked again. “You won’t find this product in any store - but wait, there‘s more. It‘s free!”
“What is going on?” John replied as he looked at the remote. He clicked once more.
“John Mowry?” the tinny voice of the announcer called as John looked at the screen in disbelief. “Look, I know you’re there and we don’t have a lot of time. I’ve got plenty to show you and this seemed to be the best way. Isn’t modern technology great?”
“What….? Who…? I…”
“Yes, I know this seems pretty strange, but, trust me,” the voice replied.
John watched as scenes from his life came in rapid fire succession. He struggled to absorb the meaning behind each impression. The whole event was put together like one big news magazine show with running commentary that included interviews with family and friends. The ethereal documentary moved to the present and he saw fast food, dusty pictures, and a life devoid of purpose. Three-dimensional models of what John might look like in years to come showed him on the streets with a grizzled beard and threadbare clothing.
“That‘s enough!” John called out.
The screen went blank and John instantly regretted his demand. “Is that really the end? Tell me what will happen to me?”
No picture returned to the screen but the same voice said, “John, today you preach because you don’t know what else to do. It wasn’t always like that.”
“I know,” John replied.
“You are no longer the shrewd servant you once were. You need to return to your first love and invest the resources God gives you in things that have eternal value. Right now, you are investing in self pity and the pain that comes with it. There’s not much return on that investment.”
“What are you saying?” John asked.
“Simply that it’s time you invest your time, talent and resources in something other than yourself. You’ve become a warped, bitter man. God’s trying to get your attention.”
Suddenly the phone rang and John woke from slumber as he stared at the cold eye of the television. He picked up the receiver, “Hello.”
“Are you coming to the prayer breakfast this morning?”
“I haven’t missed it?”
“No, but it’s starting soon.”
“I haven’t missed it!” John jumped from his chair and was as giddy as a school boy. “Yes, and this week, I’ll really be there, you have my word.”
John was better than his word; the church grew as he invested in the lives of men, women, and children, many of whom discovered a relationship with Jesus for themselves as God used a renewed and very shrewd servant.
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