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God First Christian Center
The Devil's Deception
From the Book written by Pastor Ross:
"I'm Still In His Hands"
“As the clay [is] in the potter’s hand, so [are] ye in mine hand.” – Jeremiah 18:6
It was a cold winter day. The worship service at Holiness Cathedral Church was long, but the word preached this particular morning was provoking and filled with inspiration. Theodore Whitesmith had been a member of the church for two years. He loved the church, and his church family loved him.
Two years earlier, Theodore received Christ as his Lord and Savior, and through his conversion, he was delivered from drugs and alcohol. Since receiving Christ, Theodore had enjoyed a near picture-perfect life as a Christian. As a member of the helps ministry and an usher, Theodore attended church on a regular basis and never missed a service. He remained faithful in his tithing and regularly gave to those in need. Everyone liked him. The pastor of Holiness Cathedral was in prayer about ordaining Theodore into the diaconate.
This particular winter morning found Theodore joyful and optimistic. Today was the day he would pop the question to Jessica. Jessica was a member of Holiness Cathedral. She grew up in the church and served on many of the auxiliaries. Theodore and Jessica had become close friends, and for over a year now, they’ve been fellowshipping outside of church functions and become very dear to one another. Jessica had influenced Theodore to join the church after he began attending two years ago. She witnessed to him coming out of a whiskey store one Saturday morning. That day, Theodore received Jesus into his life and was given an invitation to visit Holiness Cathedral.
“God is good,” Theodore thought to himself. “Just two years ago I was drinking and drugging, and now I have a future. As soon as Jessica says yes to my marriage proposal, I’ll be on my way to having a lovely wife. Yes, God is good.”
Dreams of marrying Jessica had dominated Theodore’s mind since the day she met him coming out of the whiskey store. Today would be a day of rejoicing. Things were looking up for him. A new job, new car, money in the bank, his ministry at the church, everything had fallen into place. The only thing needed now was Jessica as his wife.
Jessica hadn’t attended church service this particular morning. Her job was doing their yearly inventory, and she was required to work. She went in at eight that morning, but it was only a four-hour shift, so Theodore concluded she would be home by the time he arrived at her house.
The drive took about twenty minutes. She lived on the outskirts of the county, off Rock Mountain Road, in a subdivision called Washington Farms. Upon arriving at her house, Theodore noticed that the door was up on Jessica’s garage. It was strange, because Jessica was particular about closing her garage door. “Well,” he thought, “maybe she just forgot to close it today.”
Theodore pulled into the driveway and parked behind Jessica’s car. He walked to her door and rang the doorbell.
“Who is it?” a voice asked.
“Theodore,” he replied.
The door opened, as if by magic, and standing in the doorway was Jessica. They smiled, greeted each other, and Jessica invited Theodore in. “This is a surprise,” Jessica said with a bright smile.
Theodore smiled back and said, “I needed to talk with you.”
It was the moment of truth. Excitement and fear seem to engulf Theodore at the same time. He was excited about the prospect of her saying yes to his proposal, and fearful of her saying no. Each emotion struggled for dominance.
“Well, take a seat,” Jessica responded. They sat on the living room couch. “What’s on your mind?” Jessica asked.
Theodore paused for a moment and nervously began. “Jessica, we have been friends for nearly two years now. I feel closer to you than to anyone else. “I think—” He paused. “I would like for us to become even closer. Jessica, what I’m trying to say is—would you marry me?” There was a moment of silence. It was as if the world had come to a halt, become mute, and awaited Jessica’s voice. Jessica stood, walked towards the window, and stared into the yard.
“I don’t know what to say,” she whispered.
“Just say yes,” Theodore replied. Once again, the room fell into a deep silence. The minutes that passed seem like hours, and then there was a break in the silence.
Jessica turned, looked at Theodore, and apologetically said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t. I feel close to you, and I truly enjoy your company, but I can’t marry you. I see you as a brother, and I enjoy that relationship with you. I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
Silence returned to the room. Theodore rose from the couch, stared at the floor, and said, “I must admit I’m disappointed, but I respect your answer. I’ll find my way out.” He walked towards the door and left the house. Hurt and bewildered, he got into his car. The drive to his house was lonely and plagued with thoughts. He thought to himself, “This isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen.”
Three weeks later, early Sunday morning, as Theodore prepared for church he received a phone call from one of his old girlfriends. It was Nancy. He hadn’t talked with her in almost three years. “Hey, Nancy,” Theodore exclaimed in surprise. “This is a surprise. What’s going on?”
Nancy replied, “I was thinking about you and decided to give you a call. I thought it would be nice if we could maybe get together and talk about old times.”
Surprised by the call, Theodore replied, “Sure, let’s do that.” They made plans for lunch that week, and after a fifteen-minute conversation, Theodore resumed getting ready for church. He arrived at church about fifteen minutes late. It was his first time being late for church since joining. Theodore loved the Lord and his church, but for the past couple of weeks, his mind had been elsewhere. He hadn’t completely recovered from Jessica’s rejection.
As time passed, Theodore and Nancy’s relationship rekindled. They began to see more and more of each other. One night, after dinner at Nancy’s house, the couple began to talk about their past. Their past involvement had been a very physical and passionate relationship. The conversation eventually led to an embrace. They began kissing passionately; Nancy got up from the couch with Theodore’s hand in hers and led him into the bedroom. Nancy wasn’t a Christian, and that night Theodore forgot that he was a Christian. They had sex, and Theodore spent the night.
The next morning, after leaving Nancy’s house, Theodore returned home, but things were different for some reason. He wasn’t himself. “Maybe it’s because I haven’t prayed this morning,” he thought. He kneeled in the living room to pray, but could think of nothing to say to the Lord. Theodore thought about Nancy and last night. “God is not pleased with what I’ve done,” he grieved. “I can’t pray because God has left me,” he painfully concluded.
Feelings of guilt overtook Theodore, and he began to weep, bitterly and uncontrollably. It seemed as though hours had passed, but the tears continued to flow. He thought about Jessica. She would be so discussed with him if she ever discovered what he had done. “How could I be so weak? God can never use me now,” he thought to himself.
Weeks went by. Theodore’s attendance at church became very erratic, and then he stopped attending altogether. Theodore’s prayer life ceased to exist. He felt God didn’t want to hear anything he had to say. The pastor and many of the brothers from the church called him, trying to encourage him to come back to church, but to no avail. Theodore and Nancy began to see more and more of each other. Nancy loved to have a good time. She often had friends over for drinks and party treats.
One night at Nancy’s house, Theodore decided to have a beer. He hadn’t touched alcohol in over two years. “It wouldn’t hurt to have just one beer,” he said to himself. After drinking the beer, he kissed Nancy and went home.
The next morning, while preparing to go to work, Theodore felt a sudden need to call his pastor. He picked up the phone and began to dial, then canceled the call. “He doesn’t want to hear from me,” he concluded. Theodore felt that he’d lost his salvation and everyone in church would look down on him. “After I’ve gotten myself together I can call the pastor and go back to church,” he reasoned.
Theodore started drinking. It began with a beer every now and then, but soon he began to drink rum and coke. At first, it was just on weekends, but it soon became a daily thing. His job performance and attendance began to suffer. One day, after a night of heavy drinking, Theodore arrived at his job two hours late. He had already been warned about his increasingly poor attendance and tardiness. He rushed to get to his workstation, but before he could take his position on the line, his supervisor stopped him.
“Come to my office,” he motioned to Theodore. After entering the office, the supervisor said bluntly, “Theodore, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to let you go. Your attendance and performance no longer meets the requirements and expectations we have of our employees. I’m sorry.”
Flabbergasted, Theodore walked out of the office, left the warehouse, and drove home. Sitting at his kitchen table, he poured rum and coke into a glass and
began to sip the drink. “God is still mad at me,” he thought. I’ve lost my ministry, my salvation, Jessica, and now my job—what’s next?” He pondered in his mind, “what’s next?”
Theodore sat at his kitchen table for hours, drinking. The half of gallon bottle of rum was now empty. “Nancy! I’ll go to Nancy’s house,” he decided.
He struggled to his feet, picked up his keys, and staggered out of the house to his car. It had begun to rain. While driving down the wet pavement of Boulevard Street, a thought suddenly became clear to Theodore. “I know how to straighten out the mess I’ve made of my life. I’ve disappointed Jessica, I’ve disappointed the pastor, God is disappointed with me, and my salvation is lost. There’s only one thing left for me to do. Yes, that’s it,” he decided.
Theodore made a u-turn and drove back towards Rock Mountain Rd. Jessica lived off Rock Mountain Road, a mountainous road on the outskirts of town that extended into the mountainous region of the county. Driving up the mountain, Theodore thought about the church. He wished he could return, but he felt he could never go back after what he had done. “My presence would only bring shame to the church and congregation,” he thought. “They know I’ve lost my salvation, and I am no longer a Christian; no, I can’t go back there.” He continued to drive.
Reaching the highest point on Rock Mountain Road, Theodore turned the wheel sharply to the right and drove his late-model car through the railing. The car plunged violently down the side of the mountain. A vision appeared to Theodore. Jesus was weeping and holding his hands out to him. He glanced to the right and saw his pastor and church family praying and calling his name. He focused his eyes to an image to his left and saw the devil laughing uncontrollably, Theodore suddenly realized the devil was laughing at him. Visions of family members and love ones flashed across Theodore’s eyes. Just before the car struck the rocks at the bottom of the mountain, Theodore cried out, “Jesus, forgive me for not being able to keep my salvation! I’m sorry.” Then he heard a voice whisper, “Nothing and no one can snatch you out of my hands. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.”
The car slammed into the bottom of the mountain and exploded into flames. The aftermath could be seen for miles. As the car burned, Theodore’s cell phone echoed from the smoke and wreckage. It was Jessica on the other end, calling to tell Theodore that she’d changed her mind, and if he still wanted to marry her, she would be delighted to be his wife.Type your paragraph here.