My Date with the Dog
Long ago and far away I was once a teen seeking to be baptized into God's One and Only True Church. The minister at that time serving our local congregation was a man by the name of Paul Royer. Mr. Royer, like so many others selected to the post of field minister was a man with a strong military background and found nothing more important in this life than the establishment and maintenance of law and order. Law and order, we were taught is a foundation upon which all else, including love, can safely rest.
I suppose everything was going along according to the will of God until Mr. Armstrong threw a wrench into Mr. Royer's theological euphoria. Mr. Armstrong changed the truth of divorce and remarriage into the blasphemy of forgiveness. We were now being taught, but not by Paul Royer, that a person could even be forgiven for breaking a marriage vow to God, and move on with their lives, even if it meant making a new vow to someone else.
Right about now I receive a phone call from a dear, dear old friend. He's free, he explains to me on the phone. He's going to get a divorce from the woman he has not lived with for quite some time, and would like to take me out somewhere. I say, "You bet!" and my best girl friend and I head out with him for a hike in the woods. During our walk he is understandably pouring out his heart about all the things he had been feeling about his life for these long, long, lonely years.
So when we get back to the apartment where I lived my girl friend gets out first and goes to my apartment. My friend wants me to stay a minute, because he wants to apologize for the way he had been on the hike. Now here is where everything starts going south on me. I tell him not to worry, and give him a huge hug. Poor guy! He was so lonely for so long that he started to try to kiss me, and I got scared to death! OH NO!!!!! I'm counseling for baptism with PAUL ROYER!!!!! So rather than just give my dear friend a simple little kiss, I slid away from him, jumped out of the car and ran past our nosey know-it-all then tell-it-all neighbor in the church back to my apartment. My not-yet-formally-divorced friend came running behind me, frantically trying to apologize. My self-righteous neighbor was probably on the phone reporting everything she had just SEEN to the minister before my friend's hand knocked on our apartment door.
So the next night I get a phone call from MR. Royer. He's heard about the incident, and not only may I not be baptized, but I may no longer attend church. "But...." I started to say. He then told me he would not discuss his discussion, and I was then told not to call him on the phone, period, end of phone call...click. I then thought that he just didn't understand, so I got on my bicycle even though it was well past dark and peddled the several miles to his home.
When I finally got there I found his house to be surrounded by a higher than my head chain link fence. The gate was unlocked and I could see them walking around in front of their large picture window. They were up and dressed, so I thought, okay, I'll see if he'll talk to me. Then I immediately saw why he had few worries about having to lock that gate as his huge German shepherd came trotting around the corner. The dog marched down his sidewalk, stopped at the front door, turned around and returned back the way it had come. I tried to call from the gate, but received no response from the Royers, or the dog. "Uh-oh!" I thought to myself when the dog didn't respond to my shouting. "This here's one well trained pup!"
I should have just gone home, but I was desperate that my local representative-of-god should hear my side of the story. So I watched the dog for several minutes and counted the seconds that it took to make its round. I then divided the seconds by two to determine the dog's furthest distance to the front door. I then tried to estimate the distance to my man-o-god's front door. Then I prayed, "Dear God, Please don't let that dog hurt me too much." I opened my eyes, waited for that dog to make his about face, then I did my count. I didn't dare even touch the fence until I had reached to middle of the count because I knew that if my being there in front of the gate wouldn't distract him from his rounds I was definitely dealing with an attacked trained animal. Okay! The middle of the count. I opened the gate as fast as I could and ran like the lake of fire was behind me to Mr. Royer's front door. I pounded on the door, "Mr. Royer!" Pound, pound, pound. "Mr. Royer! Please answer the door." I knew the dog must be running by now, and I was RIGHT! Here comes Fluffykins racing around the corner, as I pound on the door one last time, "PLEASE!" I shouted as the dog started to leap toward me. I shut my eyes, bracing myself. The next thing I hear is Mr. Royer lashing out an angry order in German and the dog paws almost hit my feet as it came skidding to a stop. I opened my eyes and then resumed breathing, but it wasn't easy. Mr. Royer shot an angry look at his dog for its apparent failure, which then turned to winter ice as he turned his head back to look at me. He broke the uncomfortable silence by saying, "as long as you are here, you might as well come in."
I thanked him for his kindness as I was shown to his formal living room and shown where I may sit. I was then told he didn't want to hear my side of the story. He had been praying, he said, that God would reveal to him any reason that I shouldn't be baptized, and God had. I tried to say that nothing really had happened, but he simply wasn't interested. Just the simple fact that I was involved with an event that started a scandal demonstrated to his satisfaction that I was not living a life clean enough to justify baptism. I was disfellowshipped. (Never mind that I wasn't even baptized yet.) Then he capped off our "counseling" session with, "Besides, I don't want people like YOU in my church anyway." Even then I was thinking, "But it's God's Church," but I dared say nothing as I still had to get past that dog to get back to my bicycle.
Years later my friend was still tormented by the incident and apologized again. I said to him, "I love you. I have always loved you. I always WILL love you. You have done nothing I feel you need to apologize for. And frankly, if you promise not to tell anyone in the church, I think its kind of normal for a guy to want a little kiss now and then.
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