Catching Grenades – Dodging Darts – A Story of Pastoral Affliction – Part 13

Part 13: Game-Time…

Monday came fast and furious. Indeed, Derek’s mind was a mushy blend of suspicion and paranoia. Stealing a glance at his wristwatch, he knew that he needed more sleep, but he just couldn’t. 4:33am. Whatever. I can sleep when this mess is over, he thought to himself with drained energy. As his mind bounced from dark to darker, the coffee pot dinged, indicating a completed brew of the black liquid. He poured himself a mug, sunk two cold ice cubes into it, and guzzled it down quickly. Derek perked up a bit…Got to get to the office. Better call Draike. ‘God, what am I supposed to do? I need to figure this out’…

He drove to the office with a greater recklessness than normal. Surely 70 in a 55 is okay, he reasoned to himself as he pointed his vehicle in the direction of the church. Turning onto the road that led to the darkly lit church building, his stomach churned with anxiety. God, I hate this place…Entering his office, he quickly whipped out his phone to call Draike. “Dude, it’s like 5 in the morning,” Draike said with groggy annoyance. “Mount up. I need you here at the office. We got to figure this crap out,” responded Derek – slightly irritated that Draike could still be sleeping when the church was clearly in a crisis. “Whatever. I’ll be right there,” said Draike.

About 30 minutes later, Draike staggered into Derek’s office, gripping a large travel mug of liquid magic. “Coffee?” asked Derek. “Unfortunately. I wish it were something stronger,” said Draike. Derek snickered, “Yeah, for sure…Well, what are we going to do?” Draike inhaled deeply and then let out his breath slowly. He responded, “Simple is best. Let’s just assemble the deacons for an emergency meeting to make sure we’re all on the same page. And then, well, I guess we need to outright confront Caleb and his crew.” Draike’s advice was always straightforward – black and white – clear advice. Derek had come to appreciate Draike’s uncomplicated plans and ideas. To be sure, Draike didn’t overthink anything. For Draike, right was right and wrong was wrong; and there was simply no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Derek responded positively, “I like it. Let’s see if we can get all the guys here for a meeting today.” “I’m on it,” said Draike with somber enthusiasm.

Later that evening, the full Leadership Team had assembled for the emergency meeting. The vibe in the room was thick with fear and uncertainty. No one said a word. Derek went right into it…”So, Caleb has decided to start his own church and is pulling members from our church to join his,” Derek’s voice caught in his throat as his heart raced between rage and regret. Derek tried to continue, “I just don’t understand why he’s doing this. We’ve tried to play ball with him for years. Why would he do this while he’s still a member here? And he was just on the ballot to be one of our deacons in the last election!” As Derek spoke with flashes of anger, Draike nodded with fierce, loyal focus.

The deacons on the Leadership Team did their best to offer words of encouragement and counsel. They advised Derek and Draike to pray, to work towards diplomacy, and to try to stop the mini exodus at the church from becoming a bigger problem. Useless meeting, thought Derek to himself as the quick 1-hour meeting came to a close. I still have no concrete idea of what I should do. Great. Just great…Derek flashed a smile at the end of the meeting, thanked the men for their time, closed in prayer, and dismissed the meeting.

After the deacons left the building, Draike looked straight at Derek and started to laugh. “What’s so funny?” asked Derek. “Oh, you know, it’s just I still don’t have the foggiest clue of what we should do with this whole thing,” Draike said while shaking his head. Derek huffed, “Yeah. You and me both. Let’s just try to get Caleb and his crew into a meeting with us tomorrow.” Derek looked at Draike. Draike looked at Derek. Both knew what the other one was thinking…”Fine. Whatever. I’ll make the call to Caleb,” Derek said to Draike. “Yeah, it’ll probably be better coming from you anyways,” said Draike, totally relieved that he didn’t have to talk to Caleb himself.

Leaving the office, Derek looked at his phone. 4 missed calls. What in the world? He looked at his call log. He had a missed call from Mark (one of his deacons). He must want to have a follow up meeting about the meeting. Probably will offer great advice that he should have mentioned in the meeting. Another missed call was from Hannah (one of his counselees). Great. I really need to get back to her. I wonder how things are going at home for her. Derek’s third missed call was from his wife, Patricia. Man alive, how am I going to handle this crisis and be a good husband at the same time? It is what it is. She’ll understand. His last missed call was from Louis (his Presbyterian pastor-friend who was recently admitted to the psych ward for a mental health breakdown). What in the world?! Why would he be calling me? Derek, almost without thinking and running on pure intuition, immediately called Louis back. It rang twice before Louis picked up. “Hey, Pastor Louis. Pastor Derek here. How ya doing?” Silence met him on the other end of the line. “Hello? Pastor Louis?” “Hey there, Pastor Derek [Awkward, Sinister Silence]. Are you ready to play…’the game’?” “Game? What game are you talking about?” Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. The phone went dead. Derek looked up from his phone call and stared into the cold, dark parking lot in front of the church…Am I ready – to play – the game?

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