Paul fell off a Colorado mountain on August 17, 1994.
We were close friends.
A few years after he died, his wife, who ended her grieving period by marrying a denominational executive, called and said, "I blamed you for Paul falling off that mountain. I've decided it's time to forgive you."
I gasped, "Why do you need to forgive me? I play golf. I never mountain-climbed with Paul."
She said, "It was your attitude. You always wanted to have fun and always talked about freedom."
"Oh," I replied.
I was thinking about that while riding my chrome pony on Route 20 near Rockford two days before the start of PAM; then, suddenly, I saw two big bricks fly out of a truck in front of me, swerved and missed 'em, accelerated, pulled alongside the truck, signaled about the problem, accelerated some more, and felt an exhilaration that I can't explain.
It was fun.
I felt free.
According to the man who was with Paul on that Colorado mountain, my friend fell backward and seemed to be floating to his death with a smile on his face.
Maybe that's why it never occurred to me to ask his wife to forgive me.
Another close friend, an elder in a New Jersey church that I left too early, said this to my wife on our wedding day: "He's a kite. Hold on so he doesn't fly too high and away; but you've got to let him fly."
Martin Luther King, Jr. often said something like this, "If you're not willing to die for something, you'll never really live."
I think it has a lot to do with Jesus saying, "If you want to save your life, you'll lose it; but if you lose your life because of Me, you'll find it."
I don't pretend to know all of what that means; but knowing there is life after life that makes this current one nothing more than a speck of sand on the beachfront of eternity, I'm really into fun, freedom, and trying to be faithful even when fun, freedom, and faith collide into an emotional/intellectual/spiritual headache pour moi.
Getting back to PAM, I just received three more takes on it (NP for non-pastor and P for pastor).
NP in California: "Your survey on PAM should have been more probing...1. When you think about verbally attacking your pastor, what is your true motivation? 2. In your mind, pastors are: (A) Perfect by a special anointing and immune from error; (B) Somewhat imperfect but far more holy than anyone else in the church; (C) Just as flawed as the congregation; or (D) Pretenders who chose the easy money and short work week. 3. If your pastor was your boss, son, neighbor, father, or best friend, would you treat him differently and why?"
P in Illinois: "I know some pastors get the crap kicked out of them regularly and don't deserve it. I've been there...In the midst of having my guts ripped out and stomped on, I asked in my heart, 'How long, Lord?' Then he sent me to ___. It is not perfect; but better...There are options. We can move down the road or work at Home Depot or retire. But the shepherd owes the Owner of the flock, not vice versa...I will never be the same because of the wounds I have received at the hands of so-called friends in the church, but I will always have hope because those wounds have been healed by Him and His."
P in Missouri: "I don't feel so angry toward my parishioners. I think they're oblivious to PAM. We're a new church. So it's understandable. The most wonderful gift, however, that I have received, as the pastor of a brand new church, is that we never seem to suffer from a lack of volunteers...When I was a pastor in mainline churches not too long ago, it was almost a miracle if I could wrench one or two reluctant volunteers for any given ministry...Mainliners are notorious fulfillers of the Paredo Principle where 20% of the people do 80% of the work. There were always a few lovely gems who had great spirits, but so many of the rest gossiped, grumbled, and complained. It sucked the life out of the church...O.K., my current church isn't perfect or prestigious. I don't make as much money as many youth pastors...But I wouldn't trade it for my old six figure paycheck, two PAM cards, and a sanctuary full of snoozing losers. No thanks! I'll stick with people who are really building His Church! That's appreciation enough for me!"
Speaking of big paychecks and prestige, I used to send a monthly check to Paul when I was pastor of a fabulously well-to-do church and he was not.
I've never been able to "have" in the face of "have not."
Uh, that's not my problem today.
Anyway, Paul was in a poor church and couldn't even afford mountain-climbing boots.
Maybe his wife was right.
I'm still not apologizing.
Blessings and Love!
I don't text, twitter, My Space, or Facebook. KD and e-mail are all I can handle.
But Kathie has created a "Facebook Fan Page" that can be accessed by going to, uh, Facebook and searching under Kopp Disclosure, going to our website, and clicking on the link or also on the blog archive. Uh, I have no idea what the preceding means; but Kathie told me to tell you that it'll work. If not, just send $!!!
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