When I Woke Up This Morning Chapter 14 – Confrontation
Chapter 14 – Confrontation. “Hi, my name is Wayne.” The gentleman who answered the door of the small home said.
“Hi Wayne,” John said. “I’m John, and this is Maria, Emily, and David. Gabriel told me that you would be expecting us. The group looked cold and wore down. “Come in, come in and warm up and take a load off of your feet. Make yourselves at home,” Wayne said.
Wayne held open the door; everyone walked into the small living room. David was the only person carrying a bag. “We need to get cleaned up for service this morning,” John said.
“Gabriel told me that the four of you would be coming,” Wayne said. “I have a small consignment store in town, and I was visited by Gabriel yesterday, who told me to prepare for your visit. I have a change of clothes for most everyone and hot showers before service this morning. Gabriel told me this suit, and these two dresses would be perfect for you.”
“I’m sorry sir, I don’t have a suit for you, David,” Wayne said. “That’s interesting,” David said. “I have a suit packed in my backpack.”
“Well, it looks like everything is as it should be, then I guess,” Wayne said. “There are three bathrooms in the home; one in the master bedroom, a second one here in the hallway. The third bathroom is in the guest room at the end of the hall,” Wayne said. “Make yourselves at home; please lock the door when you leave, and drop the clothes off the next time you’re ever this way again. I would appreciate that.”
“John, here’s the keys to the Dodge Ram in the driveway.” You can leave it parked over at the church when you’re finished with it. Just toss the keys above the visor on the driver’s side; I’ll grab it when I get home later.”
“Thanks, Wayne, and God Bless, “I’ll park your truck in the Pastors spot,” John said. Where are you heading this morning if I might ask?”
“I walk down to the creek behind the church most every Sunday morning. I can hear the Church music from there; it’s beautiful; it’s where I feel truly connected with God.”
“It’s funny, you know, I never felt comfortable in a Church building. I always felt like an outsider, like I didn’t belong. I love Jesus John; He’s real, He loves me, and He’s the only one without an agenda. Most every church I’ve been to had an agenda. So I found Jesus at the creek instead.”
“Do you mind if I join you on a Sunday; someday in the future,” John said?
“I think that be great, John; I’ll look forward to that someday. You take care now, nice to meet you all.”
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – How ironic; Gabriel picked a person who didn’t even go to church. John thought about this weekend and everything he had learned. John thought about his beautiful bride Maria.
John was waiting for everyone to re-group in the living room. He was waiting nervously for Maria to join him. There she was; Maria came out of the guest bedroom looking stunning. John had never seen Maria in a dress or makeup before. Maria is a natural beauty, entirely drop-dead gorgeous; she took John’s breath away.
David finished getting ready and walked out of the bathroom. He grabbed his jacket and put on his boots; he stepped outside to start the truck to warm it up. David used the snow brush on the porch to clean the snow off of the Dodge. The snow was very wet and heavy.
John grabbed the snow shovel and made a path from the house to the truck for the ladies walking in their heels.
Maria swept the house for her belongings while Emily was finishing her makeup. John gathered his dirty clothes and put them in a trash bag for later, tossing them out the front door.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – The clock kept ticking away; ticktock, ticktock. It was almost time for John to be at the church, getting ready for the first service. “We should get going,” John said. John and Maria walked outside hand in hand. John picked up the trash bag of dirty clothes and placed it under the seat of the snowmobile. Next, he walked Maria from the house to the passenger’s side of the truck and helped her step up inside the truck.
John and Maria were waiting for David and Emily to join them. The truck began blowing heat after five minutes of the engine idling. The windshield wipers had ice stuck on them, causing the windshield to streak.
John turned to Maria and grabbed her hand. “No matter what happens today, Maria; I love you, I’m so glad I met you, and that we fell in love. I can’t believe that you wanted to be my wife. I’m so grateful for you.”
“I love you too, John. I’ve never felt this way about another person before. I never planned on sharing my life with anyone, much less getting married. I didn’t think I deserved anyone good in my life, yet here you are, and you love me for who I am. I’m ecstatic, John.”
Emily and David came out of the house just in time to see John and Maria embraced in a passionate kiss. After the kiss, John looked up to see Emily and David looking at them. That’s awkward,” John said. Emily didn’t look happy. John feared he might have jeopardized the mission.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – John’s plans hinged on Emily stalling her father while John gets his well-crafted lesson out to the television audience. “We need Emily,” John said. David and Emily walked around the back of the truck. “Maybe this would be a great time to try that plan you have, the one where you ignore things,” Maria said.
The back door opened, and David helped Maria into the super cab truck. John couldn’t see well enough to back out of the driveway, though. The massive snowbanks blocked everything. “David, would you mind spotting for me,” John said. “Sure, John,” David said. He walked back into the street, motioning for John to back up, and guiding him to turn the giant truck safely.
John brought the truck to a stop; David got in and fastened his seat belt. As John drove off, he caught Emily staring at him in the rearview mirror. John was sure he loved Emily before all of this; those feelings were all messed up now. John reached up and tapped the rearview mirror, hiding Emily’s scrutiny from view.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – John hit the accelerator, and the truck moved, it lunged forward and sideways at the same time. John reached for the floorboard and engaged the four by four by pulling the wheel lock into position, four-wheel high, while slowly moving forward, the wheels snapped into gear and the truck straightened out.
John drove around the back of the shopping center, through the Church parking lot. He pulled into the Senior Pastor’s spot and parked the truck. “That was non-eventful,” John said. Maria laughed nervously; John placed the keys in the visor like he promised Wayne.
John looked up at the Church steeple; it didn’t feel inviting today. David extended his arm; asking Maria to grab a hold, he escorted her safely into the building. John followed, accompanying Emily carefully as well. Once inside, everyone hung up their coats at the Sanctuary entrance and huddled together in the back lobby.
There are a lot of people here considering the lousy weather,” John said. The audio/video crews checked volume and lighting levels throughout the auditorium. The spotlights danced in the room.
“Perhaps we could wait in your office John,” Emily said?
“Absolutely,” John said. “This way, please.” John guided everyone back to the office hall, where a few of the elders were gathered as usual this morning.
“Good Morning, John,” one of the senior elders said as they all walked by. “Good Morning Al,” John said. “God Bless you.”
“God Bless you as well, John,” Al said. Everyone turned down the office hall and walked down to the Senior Pastors office.
“Good Morning John, Hi Emily,” Janet said.”
“Good Morning Janet, have you seen my father today,” John said?
“He’s not coming in today, John; he’s not feeling well and with the weather and all. I don’t think he wanted to risk coming in today.”
“Janet, I’d like you to meet Maria and David. Both are new friends of mine. Maria and David, this is Janet, our office manager. If you need anything, she’s the person to ask.”
“An office manager that bounced you on her knee when you were a cute baby,” Janet said.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – Maria laughed out loud. “Hi, it’s nice to meet you, Janet,” Maria said.
“Nice to meet you as well, dear,” Janet said.
“John, they’ll be expecting you on stage in fifteen minutes,” Janet said.
“Have you made your rounds this morning, John?”
“Not yet, Janet, but I will in a few minutes when we finish up down here.”
“Very nice to meet you, Maria and David. I hope you enjoy your visit here.”
John led everyone down to his office. He opened the door, and everyone walked inside. “Oh my goodness,” Maria said. Your office view is beautiful,” Maria said.
“Don’t get used to it,” John said. “I’m not sure how much longer I’ll get to enjoy this.”
Matthew opened the door to say hello on his way down the hall. Emily and John were standing close together. “Hi, Dad,” Emily said.
“Chapter 14 – Confrontation – It’s nice to see you, my love. If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get off to last evening? I couldn’t find you anywhere,” Matthew said?
“I’ll tell you all about it later, Dad,” Emily said.
“No, I insist, come with me, my love, Matthew said. He held the door open for Emily to follow him out. “I’ll see you guys at service then,” Emily said.
“I almost forgot, Dad, this is Maria and David.”
“Nice to make your acquaintance,” Matthew said. “I hope to see you after the service this morning.”
“I love you, John,” Emily said as the door shut. John opened his desk and grabbed the security remote that David gave him, and placed it in his pocket.
“That’s what I needed,” John said. “Let’s go; the service starts in about ten or eleven minutes. Walking back down the hall, the group passed Janet’s desk again and walked back into the lobby. A surprising number of people turned out for worship this Sunday morning. The lobby was bustling with people; “I didn’t think this many would make it out today,” John said.
Walking into the Sanctuary, a few people immediately competed for John’s attention. It’s a weird part of the job. Some people don’t want to go through the trouble of having a relationship with God. So they do the next best thing, they settle for knowing someone who has a personal relationship with God.
John walked up to the tech desk. “Hey good morning, are we online with CTV this morning?” “Affirmative sir, the general manager came in this morning to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – Joe, the Music Pastor, walked up. “Hi John, we’re short, a lot of people today. Would it be OK with you if we did a couple of fast songs and then came back to you for the sermon? We don’t have the number of people required for the Choir, unfortunately, and we don’t have a pianist today. I’ve never been without a pianist before John, and I’m freaking out about it.”
“I can play the Piano,” David said.
“I can sing lead vocals,” Maria said.
“Thank you two so much,” Joe said. “Let’s see if we can pull a couple of songs together quickly.”
Maria winked at John as she headed up on the stage with David and Joe; fantastic, both of them will be on stage so John can keep an eye on them. That takes a bit of the burden off.
The stage has well-hidden Teleprompters built into the stage landscape; all of the latest gadgets in broadcasting were in use. The overhead projection screens started broadcasting welcome messages to the members as they arrived for service. The video was all streamed live via the Internet as well.
Joe, David, and Maria went to the choir room behind the stage to practice their songs before broadcast. John walked to the wall phone behind the risers and called the floor at CTV. “CTV production floor, Michelle speaking, can I help you,” Michelle said.
“Hi Michelle, this is John Smith at the Crystal Cathedral. How are you this morning?”
“I’m good, John, thanks for asking. Kris, Brent, and Tim are here in the studio with me. Hang on a second, John; Kris wants to talk with you.”
“Hi John; how is everything there this morning? I trust by your phone call you managed to get in OK,” Kris said?
“It was easy, a little too easy actually, but I’m just counting that as a blessing right now. How is everything downtown?”
“Excellent, we’re going live in five minutes, John; I just wanted to talk with you before you went up on that stage. It’s been great working together, and I know we’ll see each other again. I just wanted to wish you good luck on getting the message out there. I’ll talk to you later. Good luck, and God bless you, John.”
John looked through the curtains at the audience; people were flowing in the building at a fast pace. John was both terrified and extremely excited for everyone at the same time. John’s an odd creature. He’s one of those that put his interests behind those of others.
Maria and David were busy working out the vocals for ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘our God is an awesome God’; both David and Maria know the lyrics to these two beautiful songs. The sound of people greeting each other fills the air. With just a few minutes to spare John looked out in the audience and noticed Matthew. He was out shaking hands and welcoming people, “that’s a great sign,” John said. “Matthew isn’t aware of what’s going on yet.”
Joe and Maria were finishing up vocal scales in the choir room. They were learning how to sing with each other. David walked over to the side of the stage behind the curtain, where John was hanging out. “Are you doing OK,” David said?
“I’m doing fine, David,” John said. “Thanks for asking, how are you doing brother?”
“I’m doing pretty well, John; if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a personal question?”
“What do you think is going to happen this morning,” David said?”
“After you and Maria finish singing your two songs, I’ll be out there on stage, probably giving the last sermon of my life. I’ll lay the truth on the line as best as I can. And then pray for the best.”
“What’s that on the teleprompter John,” David said. “The true Church sermon that Matthew wrote,” John said.
“That’s the lesson I was supposed to teach today. Why the Crystal Cathedral is the one true church. Our Senior Elder wrote it. It’ keeps everyone feeling holy. To make them believe they’re Saints. It’s a great way to keep the flock in your tight grasp and choke the life out of them.”
Dave, from security, was making his rounds before worship began. John looked up and noticed Dave waving as he walked by. John motioned for Dave to come over. “Dave, I’d like you to meet David. David’s a friend of mine, and the preacher for the church up in Ely.”
“What do you here, David,” Dave said?
“I’m in charge of security here at the Church,” Dave said.
“Dave. We might have a serious security breach here,” John said. “I’m going to need your help. I have a bad feeling about going on stage this morning. God has some things on my heart that He wants me to share that will not be popular. What do we have here for protection Dave? I’ve heard at the drinking fountain that we have a few members who conceal weapons in the Sanctuary for safety. Is that true?”
“It’s true, alright. I’d guess there are at least thirty handguns out there this morning.”
“Get them ready,” John said.
“Yes sir; if you don’t mind me asking, what are we protecting you from?”
“I don’t know how to describe it yet Dave; you’ll know it when you see it, that’s for sure. Can you get some of your people to the front row please, and have the rest cover the exits,” John said? “David and Maria are going on stage in a moment, and I’d like to get things secure.”
“Yes, Sir,” David said. He walked out the back door into the corridor that led to the gym and cafeteria. The teams of greeters out front traded places with the friendly gentleman packing nine millimeters and forty-five caliber peacekeepers. The same with the ushers, they were substituted as well. The building was locked down well now.
Joe, Maria, and David walked out on stage. Loud applause and a standing ovation from the members marked the start of the service.
Matthew and Emily walked in together. Emily took Matthew’s hand and walked with him to the back row by the door.
Joe grabbed the guitar and started strumming a catchy rhythm for the first song. David joined in with the Piano; people were up on their feet, swaying to the music, and singing along.
Joe, Maria, and David were extraordinarily talented, and they brought the song to an impressive finale; the audience gave a standing ovation, the applause lasted for many seconds.
Maria began singing Amazing Grace a cappella. After the first verse and chorus, Joe and David joined in. Maria’s voice was terrific; it brought a tear to your eye if you had a beating heart. Maria sang her heart out this cold winter morning. She will have touched millions by the end of the day via YouTube.
After the applause settled down, Joe softly played the Guitar while David and Maria walked off the stage to the choir room. John could see Maria out of the corner of his eye on the right.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – John walked carefully out on stage. He turned on his microphone and settled in.
The spotlights tracked in on John as the congregation looked on. The spotlights made this more comfortable than it would be otherwise. The bright lights blinded John for the first few minutes, and he’s not able to see anything.
“Thanks for joining us today on this beautiful winter day for our Christmas service,” John said. “There are approximately three hundred people in the audience and more than two million people worldwide tuning in.”
“I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. You know, I wonder how many of us believe that December twenty-fifth is Jesus birthday? I’m not going to ask anyone to raise their hands; please follow along with me for a moment. ”
“I think most of us celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday as a remembrance. Jesu Christ being born is a historical occurrence that changed the very foundation of the world. But was this the exact date?”
“Some people believe that Jesus Christ was born on December twenty-fifth, which also coincides with the winter solstice. Was it combined to make it easier for people to celebrate together? We’ll never know for sure. But one thing is for sure; Jesus was real, and He walked this Earth.”
“I’ll not be able to sugar coat this, so let’s talk about it now and get it out into the open and let the light of truth shine on it. The example of celebrating Jesus’ birthday on Christmas day is an introduction to this way of thinking.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – A thinking mind should be able to expand on this. I can believe in Jesus’ birthday and celebrate it on December twenty-fifth without understanding He was born precisely on this day. This way of thinking doesn’t hurt the gospel or change the message. Keep this in mind as I’ll be coming back to it.”
Everyone was intrigued; Matthew was starting to look a little uncomfortable in the back, but Emily was successful in keeping him in his seat so far. John reached into his pocket and grabbed the remote security trigger, and palmed it in his right hand.
“If you think Christmas is intriguing, you’re not going to believe the rest of this, trust me. Grab your smartphone or tablet if you have one with you, open a web browser and go to wheniwokeupthismorning.com. I want you to bookmark this in case our program gets interrupted, and you need to finish up this study on your own.”
“Write the website address down and put it in your pocket for later. The rabbit hole is deep; but getting on the right track is easy, just by substituting a few words, just like King James did. You can physically change the entire meaning of Christianity into a real caste-based Institutional Church.”
“Folks, you want to take your time on this material.”
“For example, Hell has been used on people as a weapon for a long time. Hell is a fear-mongering tool that forces people to join the church to escape the fiery torment of Hell. Read that web site it explains it all, and you need to understand that this is a false doctrine.” So, if you get it wrong in this life, you don’t go to a dark place to be tortured for eternity, you get annihilated, end of the story. I’m not saying annihilation is fun or anything, but it’s a just punishment that fits the crime of us not loving our Creator. He can un-create us, problem solved.”
“So that great grandmother, or uncle, brother, sister or parent that never found God? They’re not destined to Hell to suffer in torment forever. Scripture is pretty clear; only God has eternal life; for everyone else, it’s granted to them if their name is in the book of life.”
“You folks don’t need a Preacher to find God; nor a Pastor or Father, or a Reverend or a Minister, none fit the bill. It’s really up to you; it’s in your hands if you want to make it to Heaven. It’s something you have to want very much, and you have to do it on your own. Believing in God is a one on one personal relationship, not some mass ritual you participate in every weekend.”
“I know I’m droning on, oh I see Pastor Joe coming this way. How are you doing this morning, Pastor Joe?” Joe walked up to John; John cupped the microphone for a moment to talk with him. Pastor Joe left the stage in a huff. After Joe walked out, Matthew stood up. “Shut up, John,” Matthew said. “I certainly hope we’re off the air,” Matthew said.
Emily tried to tell Matthew about the salvation she found. Emily thought that Matthew would at least understand getting saved if that opportunity presented itself. Instead, Matthew grabbed Emily and threw her violently across the room into the coat rack; she hit the wall so hard all you could hear for a moment was the jingling hangers.
“Shit,” John said to the surprise of most people in the room; some thought it to be appropriate, though. Matthew looked almost demonic when the light caught him right, his fiery red eyes reflecting from the stage lights.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – John pressed the remote that David gave him last week. David and his security team down front positioned themselves between John and Maria, and the rest of the church. The doors to the Sanctuary opened as well as the fire and hallway exits.
“Do you think these guards can hold me back Johnny, me, do you know who you’re dealing with here John,” Matthew said?”
“I’m getting a good idea,” John said.
Maria walked out from the back of the stage and took John by the hand. “Continue, John,” Maria said.
“I’d also like to talk about the collection or tithing that most Churches do every Sunday,” John said. The example we see in the New Testament is a one-time gift to the Church in Jerusalem,” John said. There’s no scriptural support for a weekly giving system. The scriptures have to be twisted pretty hard to come up with a commandment for us to give weekly to an institutional Church; it doesn’t make us bad people if we do, though.”
“I’d rather see you folks take the money that you’re donating to the Institutional Church every week and give it to someone in your life who needs it instead. I bet we could make a big difference there. This building we’re in right here cost millions and millions of dollars; I wonder how many lives we could have changed if we would have given most of that money directly to the people that needed it What would have changed if you could cut out the middlemen; that’s pretty much what we are here.”
Matthew started yelling at John furiously in what sounded like Latin; it was very bizarre indeed. John and Maria held each other close as Matthew transformed from a short, frumpy businessman with a crooked tie into a dark angel standing about seven and a half feet tall.
He was slender, very handsome, and deadly. Matthew picked up a Church pew weighing hundreds of pounds and threw it, sending many of the other seats and some members flying through the air. Screams reverberated through the Sanctuary from the spiritual brawl.
John and Maria both heard the silent still voice to kneel. Their eyes caught each other briefly as they were kneeling. Maria smiled at John. “I’ll see you on the other side, love,” Maria said.
“I love you, Maria,” John said.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – The next thing John knows he’s in the river house again searching for Maria. That familiar place he finds Maria in his dreams. He’s on the back porch watching the boats float by, the beautiful water jetting out of the hot tub and pool looks inviting.
John hears someone upstairs. He went up what seemed like an endless set of stairs to reach the kitchen, four floors of stairs to be exact. The faster he moved, the slower his progress seemed. Comparable to trying to outrun someone in a dream.
John looks to the left and follows the water noise coming from the kitchen. There’s his love, Maria. He walks up behind her, slowly, trying to surprise her. He cups his hands and places them over her eyes, guess who John says. Maria turns around and recognizes John; this has never happened in their dreams before, they’ve only seen each other, they’ve never known each other, and to see each other standing here is a miracle.
“I love you, John,” Maria said.
“I love you to Maria; I always have,” John said.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – They embraced and kissed in a moment of bliss. It was the most passionate kiss John and Maria ever shared. In the middle of the kiss, Maria disappears. John can’t find her anywhere in the house. After looking inside, he runs outside looking everywhere he can recall. “Maria,” John screams into the night. “Where are you, Maria? I love you, Maria. Oh God, John says as he falls to the ground in tears.
“I can’t lose Maria,” John said. John closed his eyes and prayed for God to help. John prayed for God to bring them together again for this lifetime. So John can have the one true love for his life if God wills it. Please God, please John cried. I love her. John’s consciousness drifts away gently into nothingness.
A bright light is bearing down on John. It feels like his head is about ready to explode from the pain and pressure. John hears a beep, and another, and another. He opens his eyes; John wakes up in a hospital bed with Maria at his side, holding his hand. The hundreds of sounds, images, and memories from the other world start fading away at the moment John woke up. How sad it would be if he had a different outcome, he thought. But he didn’t, John woke up with the girl of his dreams by his side, which brought a huge smile to his face.
John squeezed Maria’s hand. Maria screamed in surprise and jumped up. “Get the doctor,” Maria said. John could hear people scurrying around and saying some things, but he was having trouble following the conversations.
“What happened,” John said?
“John, Oh my God, you woke up, oh my God John,” Maria said.
Chapter 14 – Confrontation – A well-decorated police officer walks into the room and shuts the door behind him. He stands there with his back to the door, guarding it; no one can get in or get out without going through him. He stares out the window, looking through John and Maria. After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, the guard begins to talk. “Mr. Smith, I’m Levi with the Minneapolis State Police Department. I’m here to hang out with you and your wife until the President of the United States gets here,” Levi said.
“When is that Levi, what time does the President arrive,” John said?
“He’s en route, Mr. Smith; he should be here within the hour. Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable until he gets here?”
“Well, that’s a surprise,” John said.
“I have another surprise for you, John, “Maria said.
“What’s that, John said?
“I’m pregnant, John, and I think we’re going to have a baby girl,” Maria said.
John thought back to his dream at the cabin long ago, the one where he first saw Maria and the girl. Maria was precisely in the same pose as she was in John’s dream. She had the same smile and everything, an exact match. This moment is a place keeper frozen in time as a marker that told John he was where he was supposed to be – doing what he was supposed to be doing.
John looked at Maria, their eyes met, and he smiled. “Guess what God has planned for us next,” John said?