“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”
–1 John 2:6 (NLT)
Will sat back, sighing in relief. For once, he had not put everything off until the last minute. Packing his suitcase last night had given him a little extra time to play with, and now he was putting his belongings in the car for his trip back to school.
He assumed the morning meeting would be a success, and that with the help of the other girls, Ellie would be able to find housing. He would be heading out later than intended because of the slight delay the meeting would cause, and that meant he couldn’t stop and see his parents. Will knew they had been looking forward to his visit just as much as he had, so he hated to disappoint them. The very thought of his mother’s home cooking made his mouth water like crazy.
“When was the last time I ate a home-cooked meal?” he asked himself, smacking his lips. His mother made delicious fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy that he could practically taste.
Will forced a resolute grin. He couldn’t help imagining the wonderful comfort food his mom would serve him someday, but for now he had to focus on Ellie’s needs. At least the girl didn’t have many possessions to speak of, so there was little to move.
As Will grabbed his keys and hurried out the door, he went over a mental checklist.
“Let’s see,” he muttered. “I’ve been able to recruit a few volunteers to help, and I promised Conner I would talk to him after we were finished. So if everything goes as planned,” he thought as he slid behind the wheel, “I can probably leave shortly after noon.”
Remembering that he had a call to make, Will took his phone out of his pocket and hit speed dial. The pastor picked up on the first ring, and after some warm greetings between them, Will began.
“I wanted to talk to you, John, but I was busy last night and I forgot to call. I need to fill you in before the meeting.
“I met a man in the hospital while I was on a code. His name was Mr. Conner. He’s dealing with the loss of his friend, but in spite of his grief I asked him for a favor. I’ll tell you more later, but the gist is that he has agreed to help us out.”
“What kind of help do you think he can offer?”
“He used to work for the state, and he has experience in equipping the blind with travel skills. These skills would help Ellie get to know her immediate environment, and become more independent.”
“That sounds great,” the pastor replied thoughtfully, “but what about the timing issue? Mr. Conner has experienced a huge loss, after all.”
“I understand all that,” Will interupted impatiently, “but when I broached the subject with him, he said he had a few days to spare, with little but grief to occupy his mind. I will refer him to Chaplain Pete for further help, but he has agreed to be at the meeting, and he’ll try to help Ellie become accustomed to her surroundings.”
“Okay then,” said the pastor, “the meeting will start promptly at 9. But since you called, I have something to ask you. Would you mind staying over one more day?”
“Why?” Will asked, starting the car.
“I have some important news for you.”
Will grudgingly agreed to stay in town. Since that was the case, he figured he had time to go through his favorite drive-in restaurant. Not counting on the long line, though, he was late for the meeting. He walked in just as the pastor was opening in prayer.
When he was finished, the pastor looked up and nodded. “Come on up front, Will. I’m glad you could make it.”
As Will walked up sheepishly, the pastor continued, “I’m aware that you organized this meeting with Ellie’s housing in mind, and we’ll definitely tackle that. But before we do, I have an issue that I need to address. I would have brought it up after yesterday’s party, but as I told you, there were some new developments.”
“Go right ahead,” Will interjected. “Take your time.”
“I won’t beat around the bush. Despite the fact that you’re often late, Will, your work is outstanding, and the board was wondering if you would consider staying on as our outreach pastor?”
“I’m honored,” faltered Will, “but I really don’t know if I could handle it right now.”
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“Of course you can!” the pastor grinned. “Cut out the false humility. You don’t have to tell me now, but I’d like your decision soon.”
“Wait a minute,” Will said thoughtfully. “There’s one thing I didn’t tell you that might stand in the way.”
“Oh, what’s that?” the pastor mused.
Addressing the small group as a whole, Will began. “Most of you know that I’m a former cop, but I’m also a private investigator.”
Some laughter rang out, and then everyone began talking at once. When the pastor finally held up his hand, everyone grew quiet.
“Are you telling us that you’re like one of those guys on TV?”
“No,” piped up someone from the back of the room, “he couldn’t be. He doesn’t have a lovely girl on each arm. And where’s the big, fancy car?”
Holding his hand up, Will smiled and replied, “It’s really not that glamorous. Let me explain. When I received my call to the ministry, I knew I would have to go back to school, but I was in a quandary. I had bills to pay, so I started working as a cop on the side.
“I had a change of heart, however, when a convenience store was robbed one night. We were close by, so the robbery was in progress when we arrived. My partner bravely put himself between me and the gunman, saving my life. My partner was severely injured, but fortunately he survived.”
“Thank God you’re still alive!” the pastor exclaimed. Will nodded in agreement.
“After my brush with death, I began to question my vocation, and ask myself what I was doing. It was a time of soul-searching for me. While I knew that God had called me to be a cop at one time, I also knew that my life had changed. Now I felt Him calling me into a different field, so I tried to draw closer to God and listen instead of doing all the talking.
“I knew it was no coincidence when I came across an old friend on Facebook a few days later. I asked God for further guidance, and the person He seemed to lead me to was talking about how much he liked being a PI. I spent all night wondering and praying. Was detective work something I should look into?
“Feeling a sense of peace, I finally contacted him. ‘Your profile interests me,’ I wrote. ‘Can we get together for coffee?’ He agreed, and we decided to meet the next week.
“As a student, I had thought about working from home, so one of the first things I asked the PI was how he liked his job. He told me he felt like he had his life back.
“Intrigued, I asked if he could go into more detail. ‘In a nutshell,’ he said, waving his hand, ‘while being a PI is similar to being a copp, detective work turned out to be more flexible than I ever dreamed. Sure, you still put in long hours, and there are definitely risks, but those don’t compare to what a cop goes through.’
“‘Could you expand on that?’ I asked.
“‘Of course,’ he said. ‘Unlike a cop, detectives can reject cases they don’t want to deal with.’
“Then, telling me he had more to tell me later, he invited me over for dinner. After sharing a meal, we sat down in his home office and opened up to each other.
“‘I told you what I do now,’ the PI said, leaning back, ‘but you never really told me what you were looking for.’ So I went over everything with him, asking for advice.
“‘I understand,’ he said, tapping his finger on his desk thoughtfully, ‘and this might be just what you are looking for. There are many different careers in the forensics field. For example, there are domestic cases, and insurance fraud cases. Honestly, the street meetings you told me about sound more dangerous than most of the things I would undertake.'”
With that, the pastor cleared his throat and looked at Will intently.
“Everyone in this room has already concurred as to your work and your character. Therefore, I see no reason to rescind the board’s offer. It would mean finishing up your courses online, but you don’t have that much longer to go. Further practical experience, would be invaluable as well.”
“Before I knew about this,” Will choked, “I prayed and ask the Lord if there was any way I could stay here. This might be an answer, but I don’t know yet. I’ll need a week to pray about it, but I’ll let you know after that.”
“That sounds reasonable,” agreed the pastor, “but since this has taken quite some time, let’s take a break until tomorrow.”
To Be Continued …
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