When I first announced that I was leaving everything to follow Him, my wife and daughter couldn't understand. Well, first let's clarify one thing--in my mind, leaving sounds so negative. I was embracing, finally, an epiphany. I was progressing in a most important direction, more important than anything else I had ever done. But my wife couldn't see it that way. To her, it was simple and blunt yet incomprehensible all at the same time. I was leaving.
"What are you doing to us?" she cried. "You've got love here! Look at your daughter! She adores you, I adore you! Look around at your beautiful house. You're going to leave all this for Him?" I nodded and she slumped down on the couch, shaking her head from side to side, wiping tears from her cheeks. My daughter cried too, but she was too young to know why. Mommy was crying so she cried too. She was a beautiful little girl. And smart, very smart. I had faith that she would understand when she got a bit older. Hopefully she would choose to follow Him too.
"Can't you have both?" my wife pleaded. "Can't you have us and Him together?"
I loved my wife and daughter and they loved me. I saw their pain.
I gave them the house and the car and all the money except for a small amount that I had in a personal account which I cashed out and closed. This I put in an envelope and zipped into a pocket of my suitcase. That was a couple of months ago. Now I live in a motel down by the lake. The room is small and relatively clean with a tv on a stand and a double bed that is only slightly lumpy. I have some clothes and His Book and enough money for simple meals and a few more weeks of accommodation. But I'm not concerned because He will provide. He promised.
It may appear that my decision to walk away from conventional life to follow Him was impulsive. I'm sure my wife has this opinion. But it's actually not the case. It was a long time coming; I just kept everything to myself. A year ago, maybe more, I was watching tv. It was late, probably two in the morning. Not much was on other than infomercials. I was dozing. Then I heard a voice that struck me like a bolt. I opened my eyes. On the screen was nothing but white light. The voice came out of the light and spoke to me. It was Him. For the next hour I was enthralled and absorbed as He shared His message with me. When the phone number appeared through the light at the bottom of the screen, I called immediately and ordered His Book. It arrived a few days later. I read it every day from then until now. I memorized it. I listened to Him through the light on tv every chance I could. But I was still stuck in my life and I didn't want to hurt my family and the months dragged on and I was in more turmoil every day. Eventually though, I knew I had to be honest with myself and embrace His path fully and spread His teachings, no matter the fallout. It was for the greater good. That was when I finally broke the news to my wife.
The day was windy and cold. I was standing out front of the train station as commuters rushed by. They pushed and cursed and bemoaned their fate, looking miserable. I used to be one of these commuters.
"Listen to me," I began. "This path you're on, it's not right. It's a trap. It's stifling. I was on it too, for a long time, but it can't bring you truth or happiness. Only He can provide real meaning to your life. Look at this Book I hold." I waved it above my head. "It will teach you everything and you will gain peace." Today, like all days, no one seemed to be listening. One man insulted me though and another passed by and swore, so they must have heard something. Maybe they absorbed some of His teachings by osmosis. It can work that way.
I stayed by the station for a few hours, doing my best to spread His Word. A couple of people engaged me in conversation but it quickly became apparent that they were just making fun.
"It's not a joke," I said.
When the rain started, I left and walked down the street to a dingy little café. I went in and sat down at the counter, placing His Book on top in an obvious manner. Sometimes people will see it and initiate a conversation. Today I was the only one here, other than the server, an angry-looking middle-aged woman with short brown hair and bright red lipstick and a black rose tattoo on her left arm, who approached and stared at me.
"Just a coffee, please," I said. "I'm just going to sit and read a bit, if that's ok." I pointed at the Book.
"Suit yourself," she replied. She turned her back and walked away, then returned shortly with a small cup filled with steaming-hot coffee. "Here."
"Thank you," I said. Then, not too subtly, I began. "This is a great Book, do you know it?" She glanced at it but didn't answer and turned away. "I can tell you, it sure changed my life for the better. I'm at peace now." She stayed silent so I continued. "You know, the teachings here, His teachings, my purpose now is to share them with the world. They're the most pure, most honest..."
"Mister," she interrupted, turning back around and staring directly at me with a look of disdain, "look where you are. Look at your clothes. It's the middle of a work day and you're here talking to me. No offense but that book's not doing a thing for you. Why don't you just pay for your coffee and go home."
"Because His truth is important," I answered calmly. "I'm not concerned with superficialities. As long as I proclaim His Word, He will provide." I stood up and placed a couple of bucks on the counter. I walked out into the rain.
In my motel room, just after two AM, my tv screen turned white and He started speaking to me, like He did every night. His voice came through the white like a beacon.
"Good evening, believers and viewers. It's a tough time, this mortal life of ours. But we can make it. We know what is true and our army of disciples is spreading the News as I speak. Together we will heal the world."
"Yes," I acknowledged back to Him, closing my eyes and nodding my head several times.
He continued. He spoke of peace and love and spreading positivity to all.
"Yes," I repeated.
For the full hour, the entirety of His message, I was, like always, entranced. When He finished speaking, I opened my eyes. The phone number had appeared through the white. I dialed and ordered another copy of His Book, as mine was getting tattered from so much use. And, for the first time, an image of a gold chain and pendant appeared, a simple circle, and so I bought it as well. And also a small silver bell, that was new too. They were expensive, probably costing me a week's accommodation. But He will provide. He promised. When they arrived a few days later, I put the chain around my neck immediately and placed the bell on the table next to my bed. Now it would be like He was physically with me every day.
The weather was great for the next week so I was able to spend a lot of time outside spreading His message. "I have the best News for you!" I held His Book above my head, waving it energetically. People saw me, some listened briefly, some scoffed, twice the police told me to go away.
"You've got to go," they said. "You can't yell at people for hours in a public place."
"But I have His Truth to tell," I replied. "It's for their own good, can't you see? It's for the good of everyone, even you."
I turned and started walking. My left shoe had a hole in it, that was new. And the cuffs on my pants were starting to fray. I hadn't noticed that before either.
The little café, the one I had visited a couple of weeks ago, wasn't too far away. When I got there, I entered and sat down at the counter, and placed His Book in view like last time. A skinny pimply-faced boy with long hair approached.
"What would you like?"
"Just a coffee please." He brought it quickly. Out of curiosity I said to him, "Hey, do you know the short-haired lady? She served me here once and I was hoping to say hi."
"She quit. Last week."
"Oh, that's too bad. She was nice."
"She was horrible. We're glad she's gone." He glanced at my Book. "What are you reading?"
Finally, my moment. "This is the Book that changed my life and it can change yours. It's the guide to peace and happiness." I turned it towards him.
"Oh I've seen this before," he said. "You can buy it on tv, right?" I nodded. "Yeah," he continued, "it's from that late-night infomercial, I remember. There used to be a phone sex commercial that I watched but it got cancelled and this replaced it. Those channels, they'll promote anything to make a buck." He smirked at me. "Looks like they scammed you for a few dollars." He laughed and turned away.
"No, this is real," I called after him. "This is the Truth, His Word." I heard the boy laugh again. "He can save you," I implored. "He saved me." I stayed another ten minutes or so, finishing my coffee and hoping he would come back so I could share with him the News. No one else was there. After a few more solitary minutes, I dropped my money onto the counter and walked out.
On my way back to the motel, I spoke with Him. "I don't feel very successful," I began. "Maybe I'm not a good disciple. What am I doing wrong? I'm doing my best to spread Your Word but where are the results? Have I convinced anyone? Have I enlightened anyone? I have holes in my shoes and my pants are frayed and I'm hungry most of the time and there's no more money in my pocket. Can You show me that I'm doing a good job for You?" I spoke out loud, hoping someone would overhear and ask me who I was talking to. A few people glanced quickly but that was all. The rest of the way was silent with swirling thoughts.
I napped off and on for the evening then jolted awake just before midnight in a panic. I had miscalculated. The envelope in my suitcase, I realized, the one with the money, when I checked it earlier, only had enough for one more day. I thought I had funds for one more week. I don't know what happened.
At two AM I turned on the tv and sat on the edge of the bed. The screen stayed dark for a few minutes longer than usual. Then, instead of a burst of white light and the sound of His soothing voice sharing wisdom and the path to contentment, a face, bearded and smiling, stared into my eyes. A man, standing in an artificial kitchen and wearing a red apron and white chef's hat, happily pretended to sharpen a knife. He asked if I would like to buy the best dishware on the market.
I turned off the tv and laid back on the bed. He has to provide. He promised.