Sharon – A Matter of Perception

Another look at the book, ”Sharon”

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Sharon

SharonPatty comes to Reverend Cox in a jealous rage. He shows her it’s all a matter of perception

 

The preacher was in today, too. “Patty,” his voice called from his now open door, “what can I do for you?”

She rose quickly, and walked into the office, shutting the door behind her. “Reverend Cox, I’d like to ask you a couple of things.” She sat on the couch in his office.

The preacher was seated in his big leather chair and leaned back. His fifty years had been hard on him, and it showed. Like Mary his heart, too, was pierced by many things. In addition to the spiritual pain, there was physical pain now, also, but he kept this to himself. His life now, as it had always been, was in God’s hands. He was fully aware that Patty hadn’t asked about his family, and she had closed the door. His years of experience told him that she had something on her mind a little deeper than what time the next choir rehearsal, or Sunday school class was going to start.

“Sure, Patty, what can I help you with?”

“Well, I don’t know how to really approach this, but I’ll try. As you know, I’ve been helping out over at Reverend Joe’s little church, but Brother Cox, I just don’t know how much longer I can stay there. First, I have to put up with all those kids he brings in from all those other churches, and now, last night,” she paused, “How well do you know the Reverend Woodward?”

“Well, I guess as well as anyone here. He came highly recommended by Robert Hunter, and I’ve known Robert, and his father for years.”

“Did you see what happened last night at the revival? I mean, it’s bad enough that he brings all those kids from the projects into his church, but now he ferries several bus loads of them to the revival!”

“Well, yes Patty. I agree that it was a little out of the ordinary, but let’s be frank here, the tent was gonna be empty last night, and Brother Joe did fill up the tent with people. “Even if it was full of a bunch of teenage kids. I think John pulled it off rather well, actually. Do you have another opinion?”

She adjusted herself in her seat. Patty wasn’t a gossip. She’d never complained about anything in her church, and in fact, this matter wasn’t in her church it was in another Baptist church. She went on, “Brother Cox, I was also disturbed by his talk with those kids last night. He just suspended the whole revival for those kids. And , compound that with calling the Apostle Mark a ‘punk.”

“He didn’t call Mark a punk, he just took a statement and used it to communicate with the children. And, oh, by the way, Patty, Mark wasn’t one of the Apostles. You should know that,” he wagged a finger at her.

She felt her cheeks flush a little. It was a terrible thing to be called down in such an error by the preacher. Whether Mark was an apostle or not was not the issue here, it was her offense at what she’d seen at the Catholic Church. She decided to play her trump card now. “Brother Cox, I just saw the Reverend Woodward hugging all over a girl.”

So this was it. Cox had heard that Patty had eaten the pot luck lunch with Woodward at the other church that Sunday. She probably naturally thought that she’d accompany him to the revival that night. Patty was twenty-five and still lived at home with her mother. Maybe this traveling preacher was her one interest in marriage in her whole life. He decided to go easy.
“When did you see this Patty?” He came around the desk and sat beside the young woman on the couch
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“Today, over on Westend. They were coming around the side of that Catholic church, the ‘Holy Immaculate Con- something,” a tear came to her eye but she bit her lip. The tear was real. She was working herself up into a rage. He owed her the courtesy of hearing her out. Her family had practically founded this church, and they contributed more money than any other family in it! He’d better listen to her!

He took her hand in his, “Patty, you’re upset. If he was just giving a lady a hug what do you think you saw?”

“They weren’t just hugging they were hugging, Brother Cox. Big long hugs. He was all smiles, and so was she. There was some Mexican girl there, too. Is he even supposed to be over there at that place? I mean, they’re all over Brother Joe’s church. And not a one of them is saved or anything!” She was shaking now. All the rage, and supposed rejection had surfaced. The wise old minister put his arms around the sobbing girl.

“There, there, c’mon Patty, it’s gonna be all right. Now, to answer as much as I can; First, I have no problem at all with Brother John being over at the Catholic church. You really don’t know what he was doing there, now do you?”

She put her head down, but he gently put two fingers under her chin and brought her eyes back to his, “He may have been trying to bring those two girls to Christ. After all, we had a tent full of kids last night. Perhaps the Lord has moved their hearts in our direction. Second, Patty, do you really believe that an ordained minister, with a calling to serve the flock in all of the conditions that he finds them in, would be having some kind of adulterous affair with a woman right in full view, and at a church to boot?”

“I will never refer to that place as a church. And, what about the busses full of gang members, Reverend we are having a revival!”

“Yes we are. God hope that the spirit of our Lord has moved the gangsters to come to his mercy. I’d feel safer at the mall, wouldn’t you? Brother Joe’s church that fosters that bus ministry has been joyfully received by all the brethren. As you well know, the very reason that you’re over there helping out is because his efforts are applauded by all the churches in the area.”

She had no argument, but he continued quickly before she could come up with one, “Patty, years ago, when I was real young, one summer, before I got the call I worked in a doughnut shop. It was near a large military base, and the man who owned the shop had a contract to deliver doughnuts to all the mess halls. My job was to get them all out there before six-thirty in the morning, every morning. Well, as you know, the military has a way of doing everything ‘by the book’. When you bring any food onto the base it must be inspected by the vet. Now the owner of that shop told me to pull up to the vet’s office and do what I was told. The first day I went there and the old colonel sent a sergeant out to me. He opened the back of the step van that I was driving and pointed to one of the boxes of doughnuts and told me, ‘Give me that one.” I did as he said. He took one out and started to eat it, and as he walked back into the office he turned, looked at me and said, ‘You can go.”

“Patty, I was flabbergasted. I had actually paid a bribe to a government official. As long as that old colonel got a dozen doughnuts for his coffee he didn’t care what went into that base. Well, this stayed on my mind the whole summer. Every day the same thing. A dozen doughnuts, and I went right in. I went back to college that next fall, and never went back to work there in that doughnut shop again. Years later I chanced to see the owner of that doughnut shop and I brought it up to him. I asked him if he knew that his shop was paying a bribe to get the doughnuts onto the base. He looked at me as said, ‘Do you think that a career officer in the Army, who was about to retire, would risk it all for a few dozen doughnuts. What better way to inspect the whole one hundred plus dozens of doughnuts on that truck than to eat a dozen. I guarantee you that if they were bad you would not have gotten onto that base the next morning!”

“You see, Patty. Mine was an error of perception, and I think that’s what we have here also. I don’t personally believe that a man who follows Christ into the desert as the Reverend Woodward has done, would just throw it all up in the air for a few hugs from some girl at a church.”

She felt embarrassed, “I’m sorry.”

“Oh, don’t be sorry. You’re human. I saw the light in your eyes the first night of the revival, but you know what?”

“What?”

“I think I saw a little twinkle in his eye too.”

”I’m still jealous.”

“That’s OK. At least you’re calling it what it is now. Patty, no little Catholic girl is gonna beat you for any man. You’re very special. Let’s pray.”

She got down onto the carpet with the preacher and he said, “Dear Lord, help bring us understanding, and help us also to accept things we cannot change. Show us how to love our fellow Christians. Most of all, help our sister Patty to be happy and free her from these thoughts. You and I both know she is a very special person by all of the wonderful fruits she has given our church through the years. We pray this and all things in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

“Amen,” Patty responded.

They got up and walked out into the reception area. “Thank you Reverend,” Patty said, and shook his hand. She smiled prettily at the girl behind the desk as she left.

As the preacher turned to walk back into his office the receptionist said, “Your wife called, and she wanted to know about the grass.”

He slapped his head, “Oh, yes. Send Mike over there. I simply must take more time with my house. Tell him I’ll compensate him out of my own pocket and remind him that he is such a blessing.” He went back into his office for his nap, and shut the door.

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Bill the Butcher
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