CHAPTER 7 UNFORGIVENESS
THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN
Copyright (C) 2003/2007
All rights Reserved
CHAPTER 7 UNFORGIVENESS
He heard the beep of Bill's truck horn and he rushed out of the
garage. Pressing the close button, he heard the big door rolling shut
behind him as he hurried to the street.
"Morning, pastor," Bill said. "Are you ready?"
The pastor had already placed his fishing gear in the bed of the
big pickup truck and was climbing in. "You bet, Bill. I haven't been
fishing since last summer and there's nothing like spending a day in a
boat and feeling the pull on your line."
Bill glanced in his rear view mirror to check to see if there
was any traffic before pulling out and saw the boat dutifully waiting
to be pulled to the lake just thirty minutes away. "Well, it's been
last summer since I even had the boat in the water so I'm looking
forward to it, too," he said, and put the truck in gear.
At the lake, Bill had expertly backed the truck and boat trailer
down the boat ramp. The pastor had leaped out, as excited as a kid,
and releasing the boat lock downs, shoved the boat backwards. It slid
effortlessly off the well oiled rollers and splashed into the water.
Holding on to the rope secured to the front of the boat, he watched
the almost new boat float backwards away from the boat trailer. When
the boat was clear of the trailer, he gave the high sign to Bill and
Bill pulled the truck forward and the trailer slopped its way off the
boat ramp; dribbling water all the way. The pastor walked the boat
line down the bank until he came to the docks, and climbing to the
water stained wooden structure, he walked down the length of the
dock; gathering in the line and pulling the boat closer and closer as
By the time Bill had returned, he had it secured to a dock
support post and stood admiring his friend's boat.
"It sure has turned out to be a comfortable fishing boat," Bill
"You can say that again," his pastor replied; still staring down
at the craft bobbing on the water.
"Well, pastor," Bill said, "Let's go catch some fish."
They motored out to their favored fishing hole and dropped
anchor. By the time the waves which the boat had created had rolled
to the surrounding banks and died down, they were bated up and tossing
their lines into the clear water. This end of the lake was a deep
cove and surrounded with lush green lily pads that carpeted the
water's surface for about 20 feet out into the lake. Rarely did they
have company joining them in the cove. Apparently no body figured out
how good the fishing was in their favorite spot. Although the water
was ten to twelve feet deep at the edge of the lily pads, the water
was as clear as glass clear to the bottom. If you watched carefully,
you could even see your fish darting out from under the shadows of the
overhead lily pads and making a run for your worm wiggling around at
the end of your line. It was the most peaceful place anyone could
want. Even the wind hardly blew in the cove because the banks rose
high above the water all the way around and the trees were tall and
served as good wind breaks.
The two men lean back in their comfortable padded boat chairs and
watched their bobbers floating on the placid water. "Sure is mighty
beautiful here," Bill said softly.
"It surely is," the pastor replied. "God is everywhere present
in this place."
"Should we pray for some good fishing then, pastor?" he said;
smiling. Both men laughed and began to relax.
When the noon yellow sun centered itself in the middle of the
blue sky, they decided to head for the boat house for a break.
Neither man were what you called dedicated fisherman but they loved
the water and they enjoyed eating the fish they caught.
The pastor tied the boat up at the boat house dock and they
climbed out of the boat and walked into the cool shade of the
building. They drifted around the counters and looked over the latest
of fishing gear on display but didn't buy anything.
"Let's go eat," Bill suggested, and they entered the small cafe
attached to the boathouse. After ordering and having their coffee
placed in front of them in large thick mugs, they sipped at the hot
brew and enjoyed the scenery beyond the large windows. A half a
dozen colorful sailboats crisscrossed the lake and a few fishing
boats motored about. The lake wasn't large enough for speed boats
and water skiing so it made for a perfectly peaceful place to fish.
In the middle of the week, there weren't many people on the water and
the pastor had noticed very few swimmers at the beach as they passed
by on their way to the boathouse. All in all, a man couldn't ask for
anything more relaxing. The food always tasted the best of any
restaurant they had eaten in but both men likely knew it was just the
smell of the lake and the overall atmosphere and the sheer enjoyment
of being away from the big city that made the food taste so good.
Paying and leaving a double tip, they stopped in at the boathouse
again and Bill bought two dozen minnows. "You never know what they
like to eat unless you try," Bill said happily.
The pastor had never once seen Bill catch anything with a minnow
in this lake but he always bought minnows every single time they
Boarding their boat and opening the sandwich bag full of minnows
and dumping them into the minnow bucket Bill had in the boat, they
cast off, fired up the outboard, and Bill guided the boat back to
their favored fishing hole. It was 2 o'clock by the time they
returned to fishing and they settled in for a good afternoon of pure
Bill caught a half a dozen, large enough to eat, bluegill using
worms. The pastor had hooked a single perch but tossed him back
because he wasn't large enough. He knew Bill enjoyed catching more
fish than he did but what Bill didn't know was that his pastor didn't
care about catching fish at all. When it came to fishing, the pastor
only cared about catching one kind of fish and that was a big mouth
He watched Bill hook up a minnow and toss his line. The pastor
figured Bill like watching his bobber dance around and move little by
little due to the frantic swimming of the small fish at the end of
his line more than he believed the minnow would catch him a big fish.
It made little difference, the pastor thought, because all the
differences between two people melted away when two buddies went
fishing together. Too bad a church couldn't work the same way, he
Suddenly he saw a darting figure rocket out from under the
shadow of the green lily pads and strike his line. His bobber
instantly disappeared and he began reeling. Whatever it was liked to
fight and for a moment, he thought his line might break. He finally
got it close enough to the boat and Bill tossed him the net. Leaning
over the boat, he scooped up the struggling fish and got him into the
"Holy cow!" Bill exclaimed when the pastor held the fish up.
"Yep," the pastor smiled, "it's as big as a cow, too." It was a
two pound big mouth bass. After tossing the fish into the large
bucket filled with water on the bottom of the boat between them, the
pastor said, "I knew there were bass in this lake but that's the
biggest one I've ever seen."
Bill said, "I heard they've been stocking the lake over the last
couple of years and put more bass in. That one though," he nodded
toward the open bucket between them, "has most likely been around for
awhile. He's two pounds if he's an ounce," he concluded.
"They sure are fun to catch, that's for sure," the pastor said;
baiting his line for another try. "It will all be worth it today if
that's all I catch."
"You ever caught one bigger?" Bill asked; reeling in his line
when he realized he'd lost his minnow. He pulled off the bobber and
said, "Oh, shoot. I'll just go back to worms but fish off the bottom
for something different."
"I went to Texas once and fished at a place that specialized in
bass. You ain't never done anything until you have been on one of
them high speed flat bottom bass boat skimming the water at 80 miles
"80 miles an hour!" Bill said; annunciating each word separately.
"That's moving right out."
"Yep," the pastor responded. "It is a thrilling experience. The
bass I caught that day, though, made the high speed boat ride pale in
"What'd you catch, pastor?" Bill said, pulling his hat down over
his brow, to protect himself from the glare of the sun bouncing off
the smooth surface of the water.
"I caught a six pound bass and two four pounders."
"Yep," the pastor continued, "It took me 10 minutes to get the
big rascal into the boat, too. His mouth was so big, I literally
could stick my entire fist down his throat. I've never seen anything
like it. The guide said he'd seen even bigger ones pulled out of
that fishing hole, too."
"did you eat him?" Bill wanted to know.
"He's at the taxidermy as we speak. I just got a letter saying
he would be shipped within the month. I can't wait to put that one up
on the wall."
"I don't blame you," Bill replied. "I'm excited to see that big
Just then, Bill's pole bent nearly double. Bill nearly lost his
balance trying to recover and almost went overboard.
"Watch your line, Bill," the pastor called. "What ever is on
the other end has the power to snap that line cleanly and it's big,
"Oh, it's probably a dumb snapping turtle," Bill growled. "I've
had them do this to me before. They bury themselves in the mud down
there and you can't pull them out even with a tow truck."
Thirty minutes later, with both men wrestling the scooping net
over the side of the boat, they pulled the huge fish into the boat.
This time, it was the pastor who nearly fell overboard trying to get
the net, with the fish, into the boat.
"Watch out," the pastor yelled, "That crazy thing is a bottom
feeder cat fish with horns as big as darning needles."
They tossed a thick towel over the struggling creature and held
him down until he settled down.
Pulling the towel slowly away from the big fish, both men
whistled at his size.
"Get the tape measure out, Bill. This cotton picker is three
feet or my name ain't John Hix." The pastor held the tape at the
head end as Bill ran the tape out to the end of the tail. "Well,"
the pastor said. What's the verdict?"
"You were about right," Bill grinned. "This crazy fish is 37 and
one fourth inches."
"It is a miracle he didn't break your line before we got him into
the net," the pastor said quietly; admiring the fish in the bottom of
"He nearly snapped my pole; forget what he almost did to the
line." Both men laughed.
"You bring your camera?" the pastor asked.
"Naw, who ever thought something like this would be in this poor
"Well," the pastor said, "I brought my digital camera so this
puppy ain't going anywhere without being recorded. Maybe its a lake
record, too. Let's drive on over to the boathouse and see if they
keep the lake records there."
"Good idea, pastor," Bill said. "Wouldn't that be something if
something like this was a lake all time record?"
"Well, if it ain't," I'll eat my hat," the pastor laughed. "Fire
up the engine behind ya and let's shoot on over there before this
whopper takes a mind to try and jump out of the boat."
"Tie him down, or something," Bill said. "If he jumps overboard,
I'm going in after him. I can't let something like this get away."
The engine fired on the first pull and the pastor quickly reeled
up the anchor. Bill was skimming over the water's surface before the
pastor even had the anchor secured.
"The pastor turned to tell Bill to crank the throttle full open
but it wasn't necessary. The front of the boat was lifting a few
inches out of the water as Bill opened it wide up. The wind blew and
they had to snatch their hats off their heads before they were blown
away. The spray and the cool breeze made, from the sheets of water,
cooled their hot skin. The rooster tail thrown out behind the boat
was throwing curtains of water almost 3 feet into the air as they
made the trek across the wide lake.
Tying up the boat, the pastor said, leaping to the dock, "You
stay and guard the hunk of fish while I go asking questions. Don't
let him out of your sight either."
"Good idea, pastor. I'd sure hate for some kid to pass by and
swipe my fish and claim he caught it."
"My sentiments exactly," the pastor replied. "I'll be right
back," and he turned and ran for the boathouse.
Soon he was back with the boathouse owner in tow. Bill had
shoved a couple of fish ropes down the throat of the large catfish
and secured them to the arm rest of one of the seats.
"My land!" the boathouseman said. "I can tell you right now
this one is a record buster." He jumped down into the boat and
handed one end of the tape measure to Bill. They measured it three
times. The boathouseman whistled silently. "Help me get this big
thing into the boathouse so we can weigh him. He's a whole foot
larger than any catfish ever caught in this lake and I fish for them
all the time myself."
The scale read 20 and a half pounds. They had literally carried
it by pulling one of the fishing poles apart and running it through
his gills. Even then, with a man holding either end, the tail of the
fish dragged the ground.
"Well, sir," the boathouseman said, "fill out this form and let
me take some pictures to put in the trophy case and you will be the
proud record holder of the biggest catfish ever pulled from these
waters. I've been trying twenty years to catch something like that.
I'm mighty envious, too." the men all laughed.
The boathouse owner went to the old pop machine, opened it with
a key, and extracted three orange Crush sodas. "This calls for a
celebration," he said, slamming the pop machine door closed with one
large hip. Finding his bottle opener under the counter, he pried the
lids off and tossed them into the trash nearby. Each man took a
bottle and clanking them together, the pastor said, "To the best
fisherman in these parts."
"Here, here," the boathouseman boomed and they all drank their
orange pop and then laughed.
They went out fishing again just before sunset and although they
saw, and heard, a lot of jumpers, caught nothing.
"Kind of anticlimactic," the pastor commented as he reeled his
line in, "after that whopper."
Bill yawned, "Yeah, I guess it is. You wanna go home or is your
wife and kids expecting you this early?"
"Naw,' Val knows when I go fishing, I might be out all night. It
wouldn't be the first time I walked in with a mess of fish to have
her fire up for breakfast."
"Well, then," Bill said; rubbing the stubble on his chin, "why
don't we go up to one of the camping spots, find ourselves a nice fire
pit, gut the fish we caught, and have ourselves a good old fish fry
before going home."
"sounds great to me," the pastor said, taking his pole apart and
sliding it down the carrying case. "I'll drive to that little
grocery store and get us a few potatoes so we can slice them up and
fry them in with the fish."
"Boy," Bill belched, "I'm hungry already. Sounds great. Let's
They put the boat back up on the trailer and found a perfect
camping spot. "Drive on into town to that little store," Bill said
"and I'll get everything cleaned and a fire going while you're gone.
Hurry up, though, my stomach is rumbling."
"Hey," the pastor said before leaving, "what did you do with that
"Awe, don't worry about him. I bagged him in a big trash bag and
locked him in the truck tool box. Ain't no body gonna walk off with
my fish without taking the truck, too." Both men laughed.
By the time the pastor had returned, the fish had been cleaned,
the fire built, and the fillets frying. "I was beginning to wonder
if you'd stold my truck," Bill laughed as the pastor walked into the
light of the fire.
"Well, I had a flat," he said, and being unfamiliar with your
truck and all, it took a little while to get the thing changed. I am
glad you have a full sized tire instead of one of those little
"Yeah," Bill replied, "those little tires might be all right in a
pinch but in a truck, you might be a long ways away from some station
where you could get a tire fixed. So I have a balanced full sized
tire I carry around."
"Good idea," the pastor remarked as he sliced potatoes into small
strips and tossed them in along side the sizzling fish. "I stopped at
that station and they fixed your tire already. It was just a small
nail so they plugged it."
"Well, you didn't have to go and do that, pastor," Bill said.
"Oh, don't think a thing about it," the pastor replied. "Boy
those bluegill look tasty to me," he said; tossing the last potato
into the skillet.
"They do, don't they," Bill replied. "I brewed some coffee while
you were gone. Want some?"
"I surely do. Man, does coffee sound good to me all of the
They sat and drank the old fashion brewed coffee and spit out
the grounds occasionally. They each commented on the good flavor.
"I brought us some dessert, too," the pastor remarked.
"My," Bill said in mocked admiration, "for a couple of harden
woodsman like us, dessert sounds almost like heaven. What'd you
"It'll be a surprise," the pastor laughed. Bill laughed along
with his pastor and turned the fillets again.
After supper, they sat back and poured more coffee. The two
Hostess Twinkies tasted like nothing they'd ever eaten before. They
washed them down with more hot coffee and sat and watched the dying
fire between them.
Bill had been pondering all day on how to bring it up. He felt
closer to his pastor than ever before and this day seemed to bring
them even closer. He'd never felt anything like it and he figured it
must be some of this male bonding stuff he'd heard about. He still
hesitated when he considered bringing up the topic on his mind. He
knew if he did not do it tonight, he'd never bring it up again and he
knew it would tarnish this, what seemed to be, a newly established
friendship he had with his pastor.
Pastor," he sighed, "could I ask you something personal like?"
The pastor stared across the glowing embers of the fire and
tossed a couple of sticks on to them and watched them flame up a few
inches. "Bill, we're friends and friends can ask each other
"Well," he stammered, "I sort of figured it that way, too. I'll
be right truthful about it, pastor, I ain't never been close to a man
before. Me and my pa were almost enemies. He beat me so much, it is
a miracle of God that I am still alive today. I got scars on my back
from where he beat me with barbed wire once."
"Good grief" Bill," the pastor gasped. "Barb wire?" He'd
noticed the scars on his back in the boat when Bill had taken his
"He was drunk most of the time and never worked and when he did,"
Bill continued, "he never came home with the money."
"What ever happened to him, Bill," the pastor asked; knowing this
had nothing to do with what Bill was wanting to talk about.
"I was riding my bike one evening, and I loved riding because it
gave me time to think about things, when I saw my dad helping a
floozy up the stairs of a well known whore house in town."
"What happened then, Bill?" the pastor said; encouraging him to
"Well," Bill said, taking another swig of his coffee before
refilling his cup, "Nothing I am too proud about."
The pastor waited for him to continue.
"I just got plum mad, really," Bill continued slowly. "I saw
red, as they say. My poor little mama worked her fingers to the bone
to keep food on the table and the rent paid and all my pa did was
drink and," he hesitated slightly before continuing, "and screw
"I understand, Bill, the pastor said trying to show his friend he
wasn't turned off by his language. "Go on."
"Well, I rode my bike right up to the front door."
"How old were you at the time, Bill," the pastor interrupted.
"I was just fifteen but built like a brick outhouse. I was
working myself by this time carrying hod for some pretty busy brick
layers. They were good brick layers, too. Anyway, I was already
bigger than my pa but seeing him drunk and holding that floozy around
her skinny waste and barely dressed to boot, something just snapped
inside of me. I jumped off my bike after they had already been
inside for a minute or two. I tried the handle but the door was
locked so I kicked it clean of its hinges. It was a solid core door,
too, pastor. I didn't know my own strength I guess.
I slowly strolled into the place, not ever having been in a
whore house before, but no body was around and no body came to see
what the noise was all about. I walked down the hall and stopped at
the first opened door and glanced in. There was my pa with his
britches down to his knees. The woman had pulled her dress up and
she had nothing on underneath. My pa had a bottle in his hand and I
watched in horror as he took a pull at the bottle and fell on the
woman like a load of bricks. I'd seen enough."
"Did you just turn and leave, Bill?" the pastor asked, knowing
he'd likely done no such thing.
"Nope. I should have, I know, but I was one mad son of a
bitch." He stop abruptly and stared across the fire at his pastor.
"I'm sorry, pastor. I don't normally talk that way. I was just
reliving the whole thing and it slipped out. Father," he said
quickly lifting his eyes to the stars, "forgive me for talking that
way. I didn't mean it."
The pastor did a poor job of stifling a laugh and said, "Go on,
Bill. What happened."
"Well," the big man sighed, "I ain't proud of what I done but it
just seemed the thing to do at the moment. I ran over to the bed
where my pa and this floozy were already going at it and snatched my
pa right off her. He was like a five pound bag of potatoes. That was
probably because I was so mad. I chucked him right out the nearest
"Was it opened?" the pastor asked; a chuckle in his voice.
"Nope," Bill said, "It weren't opened."
"You mean you tossed your dad right out a closed window?"
"Yesum, that is exactly what I done. I could have killed him.
It was a big picture window that looked out on to a nicely kept court
yard, too. It had nice high and well trimmed bushes all around the
outer edges of the court next to the house. I heard later this was to
keep peeping Toms from sneaking up and peaking in the windows at what
was going on inside the house."
"What happened to your dad, then, Bill? Was he hurt?"
"Only his pride. Besides, drunks never seemed to get hurt. The
whole window bowed when his head hit the glass and everything flew
outward and away. Pa never even got a scratch. Well, not from the
"So he did get hurt, then?" the pastor asked.
"Naw really," Bill said as he tossed on a small dry log and
watched the flames lick up around it for a few moments. "His pants
stripped completely off him as he went out the window, he wore no
underwear, and he landed on the top of the big tall bushes outside
the window. I walked over and looked down at him. He was so drunk,
he didn't even know what had happened to him. Lights were beginning
to come on all around the court yard and heads popped out of windows
to see what all the ruckus was about. There was old pa, naked as a
jay bird and rolling around trying to get off the sharp sticks of the
bushes that were poking little holes in him all over the place."
"Then what happened?" the pastor asked. He saw Bill smile
slightly in the faint light before answering.
"I walked back to the big bed where the half naked woman lay and
told her she best be putting some clothes on because the cops would
likely be here any minute. Then I left and went home."
"Did the cops ever come? Did you get in trouble?"
Bill laughed. My pa, once he realized I'd made a fool out of
him in front of loads of people who saw him rolling around in the
court yard, tried taking me on two nights later but I just picked him
up and carried him out of the house and dropped him on the front
lawn. He was drunk, I'm sure he didn't even know what he was doing.
We never saw or heard from him again. I got saved shortly after that
and so did mama and my two sisters. I went to college, for all the
good it did me in my job, but mama insisted. That old woman had saved
enough money for my first semester, too. I got a job right away and
paid the rest of my way through."
The pastor began laughing. Soon he was holding his sides and
roaring like a dog baying at the moon. Bill joined in and they had a
good belly laugh for several minutes.
"Bill," the pastor finally gasped, "That has got to be one of the
funniest stories I have ever heard. Thanks for telling it to me."
"You ain't going to be using it in a sermon as a story
illustration or anything, are you, pastor?"
This set off another five minutes of laughing.
The pastor's laughter finally died away but he was holding his
head. "Oh, my head hurts, I've laughed so hard. No Bill," he
assured the big man, "I won't use your story as a sermon
illustration. There's probably a good sermon illustration in that
story somewhere but right now I can't think of one. It is just a
funny story, that's all."
They sat for another 10 minutes, both men chuckling occasionally,
until the fire was nothing but a soft glow in the darkness.
"The stars sure are pretty things, ain't they, pastor," Bill
"Bill," the pastor replied, "you should see them in the desert or
on top of a mountain at night where there's no city lights to hinder
"You have?" Bill asked.
"Yep. They are beautiful, too. They are beautiful right now,
for that matter," the pastor concluded. Both men sat in silence for
long moments as they watched the stars.
Finally Bill cleared his throat and the pastor knew it was time.
"Bill, what is it you want to ask me?"
The big man was silent for several moments before he spoke. "I
have it figured, Pastor, that you done already know what I'm about to
ask ya. How so?"
"Oh, he shrugged, "I don't know. I think it was the Spirit
telling me. I've just known all day you've had something on your
mind. At first I thought it was the story you told me about your pa
just now but I know now that you have something bothering you so ask
The big man cleared his throat again before speaking. "I don't
rightly know how to bring this up, pastor. It's really none of my
"Bill, we're friends. I know I'm your pastor but I'm your friend
first. Friends can talk. What you have to ask me may hurt but I've
been hurt before. I know you aren't going to ask me because you want
to hurt me but in your heart, you think it is going to hurt me and you
just don't want that to happen. Ask me any way, brother. Get it off
He said nothing for long minutes but then spoke. "Pastor, I
ain't never had a day with another man like this before. I listened
to a Christian radio broadcast the other day on the way to the plant,
oh, I can't recall which one now, and they talked about male bonding.
I'd heard about it before but I've pretty much been a loner all my
life. I had no brothers and few guys ever wanted to pal around with
me when I was a kid. College was different but that was because of
something else. Today, on the other hand, was an usual day. I felt
close to you like I never dreamed possible."
"But something bothers you, doesn't it, Bill?" the pastor added.
"Yes, sir," he replied, more in the dark now that the coals were
dying down. "I reckon it does sort of bother me but my problem is, I
can't hardly believe it is true after today."
"Bill, I already know what you are going to ask me so just spit
Bill hesitated for a few silent moments trying to gather his
thoughts. He was confused at both what he had heard about his pastor
and puzzled at the pastor's word that he already knew what he was
going to say. Finally, he began speaking slowly. "Well, pastor," he
said hesitantly, I was doing some business for the plant the other
day and had to go to the bank. I saw a new loan officer. Somehow,
and for some reason, I mentioned where I went to church. He goes to
the Missions Church over on the west end of town."
"Yes, I know of it," the pastor said quietly.
"Well, anyhow," Bill continued, "he told me that he could never
go to our church. When I asked him why, he told me..." Bill's voice
trailed off when he found he couldn't finish his thought.
"Because he thinks I am a homosexual, you mean, Bill?" the pastor
said; finishing it for him.
Bill's mouth dropped open but when he realized his pastor
couldn't see it in the darkness, he closed his mouth and said, "Well,
pastor, I'm sorry but yes, that is exactly what he said."
The pastor laughed softly. He is sort of right, you know?"
"What?" Bill sputtered. "I figured he was just making it all up
and trying to make me mad enough so I'd come over and join their
church or something."
"No, Bill. What he is trying to do is ruin my ministry and I
doubt he even knows he is trying to do that. What he doesn't know is,
it isn't my ministry in the first place. Our church belongs to god.
He called me here, that's for sure, but if the Lord wants this man to
stir trouble up for me, then go ahead and let him try because I'm not
afraid of him or his accusations."
Stopping to poor a little more coffee, he suggested Bill brew
another pot. "It's going to be a long night, Bill, so we might as
well have some good coffee to wash the dirt away. If you want to
hear it, I'll be happy to tell you the whole story."
"Well, pastor," he said as he began making more coffee, "it ain't
really none of my business; like I said."
"It is your business now and you have a right to hear the truth.
Especially since this man, whoever he is, thinks he can rock my
foundation enough to cause me to fall off. So do you want to hear
the whole story, Bill?"
Sitting the coffee pot over the fire he had just stirred up, Bill
looked over the glow of the flames at his pastor and said, "I sure
would like to hear it if you don't mind telling it, pastor."
"Good," he replied. "Here's how it began.
In high school, I joined ROTC. I wasn't planning on joining the
military you understand but I enjoyed the training I received through
Long before I turned sixteen, I loved guns. I especially loved
rifles. Dad and I hunted often. I pulled my first trigger when I
was four years old. Missed the target but loved the thrill of it
all. By the time I was ten, I never missed a thing I pointed my
rifle barrel at. In ROTC, therefore, it was noticed that my
marksmanship was far advanced compared to everyone else.
One day I was introduced to a man whose name I can't offer you.
He was very high up in special government operations, however, and he
asked me if I would shoot for him for awhile one evening. He took me
to a shooting range and for two hours I pulled the trigger on a very
unusual rifle he supplied. Again, it is something I cannot explain
because the rifle itself is still a top secret type of special ops
weaponry. I triggered off over two hundred rounds that evening and I
am proud to say, I never missed once.
On the way home, the man offered me a job. I can't say what
exactly what sort of a job but I will explain further as I get into my
story. I told this man I was too young to be in the military and
that I already had a job sacking groceries 3 nights a week and most
weekends. The man laughed and told me, due to my marksmanship skills,
my government had a special place for me. I would go through one
year of specialized training and then I would receive a special
assignment which he refused to identify at the time. I told him I
would have to discuss this with my father and he said that he had
already spoken about it all with my dad and that my father was all
for it. I didn't believe him until I walked through the front door
and dad said, "Well, are you taking the job?" To make a long story a
little shorter, a week later I was put on a special airplane and
flown to some place to this day I have no idea where we were. I spent
a year there and besides learning how to shoot some high technical
and specialized weaponry, I was taught escape and evasion jungle and
desert survival, and about a dozen other specialties I can't even talk
about to this day. They even flew me to some mountains with snow and
we trained for two months in the snow. I about froze my butt off,
too. I also learned two other languages, Bill, in one single year.
I can still speak them both fluently now, too."
Bill's curiosity got the best of him and after pouring their
cups full of hot steaming coffee, he said, "Can you tell me those
other two languages, Pastor?"
The pastor laughed and said, "Sure. French and Vietnamese."
"I'm starting to get the picture, I think," Bill replied.
"I'm sure you are, Bill. Well, on my 17th birthday, I found
myself in the Nam. I was, of course, a year under age but somebody
with a lot more clout and really high up the latter had no trouble
fixing that little problem for me. If you are wondering what my job
assignment was, I was a sharp shooter. I can tell you that much at
least. I shouldn't because if the word ever got out and the wrong
people, or should I say, the right people, ever found out, I would
most likely be arrested and serve a lot of time in the military
"I understand," Bill replied softly.
"At any rate, Bill, your pastor served in-country for two years
before I quit."
"You quit?" Bill said; astonished.
"Yep," the pastor replied, "I quit."
"But why?" Bill queried; confusion in his voice.
"Because, Bill, "your pastor killed 88 people. One of them was a
woman, too. After two years, I was just nineteen. We had more than
thirty sharp shooters in the Nam in my unit and I was the second
Bill whistled softly. "88 people," he said out loud without
"They were all, of course, the enemy. Unless, of course, my
government lied to me. They were very bad people. In fact, half the
group I killed were responsible for the deaths of over two million
cambodian people. That's something you probably never heard on the
nightly network news."
Bill was a few years younger than his pastor but he well
remembered the Vietnam war. Finally he said, "Two million people? I
surely never heard nothing about that."
"It's true, Bill. The CIA director at the time, one of the top
Vietnamese soldiers, and I went to the Cambodian river and saw the
bodies floating in the river ourselves. Satellite recon photos
confirmed more than two million bodies in the river. I can't explain
further but believe me, it happened."
They both dropped more wood on the fire but the fire didn't blaze
up; it just began to crackle.
"You want to know who the best sharp shooter in Nam was back
Bill nodded but he again realized his pastor wouldn't have
probably been able to see the movement so he said, "Sure."
"It was a woman."
"A woman?" Bill said; puzzlement in his voice. "I knew women
served back then but I thought it was just as nurses and stuff like
"You're right but this woman was a very special woman. She could
shoot like no body's business and the military snapped her up as fast
as a duck on a June bug when they discovered her skills." After a
pause for a few seconds, the pastor said, "and you know her, too."
"I know her?" Bill said; confused. "How could I know her."
"Because, Bill, she is my wife."
Bill dropped his almost full coffee cup directly into the fire.
The flames hissed as the liquid spilled. He quickly, and without
thinking, retrieved his cup before it burned. He sat it on the hard
ground next to him because he didn't trust himself to try and poor
any more coffee into it at the moment. "You mean to tell me that
Sister Val...?" He couldn't finish his sentence.
"Yep," the pastor said, Valerie Hix was the best sharp shooter in
our unit and probably in all of the Nam war. We called her Annie, for
Annie Oakley back then and her last name wasn't Hix then, of course.
She drilled 127 targets."
"Dear Jesus," Bill said reverently. Then, realizing what he had
said, he quickly added, "Oh, excuse me, pastor. I didn't mean that
like I was swearing; I meant," and he hesitated as he tried to think
how to explain."
The pastor laughed. "I know, Bill. Don't worry about it. Jesus
knows what you mean anyway." they both laughed then but Bill was
still trying to turn all this information over in his mind.
"Hard to believe, isn't it?" the pastor asked.
"You got that right, pastor."
"Bill," the pastor continued, "like I said, if anybody, and I do
mean anybody, gets wind of this, Val and I most likely will end up in
jail. In fact, due to the nature of our missions, you probably will
never hear about us again, if we get arrested I mean."
"Oh, I won't breathe a word of it, pastor. You can count on me."
"I'm not worried, Bill. I just wanted to make sure you
"Oh, I surely do. I won't repeat anything you've said. But Miss
Valerie? she killed, how many people?"
"127," the pastor replied.
"My, oh my," Bill said; wonderment filling his voice.
They were silent for several moments as the pastor allowed time
for things to run around inside his friend's head.
Finally Bill spoke. "Is that how you two met?" Bill stammered,
"being sharp shooters and all?"
"No, Bill. We met years later. I knew Val of course, because we
trained together as teenagers but the Lord brought us together in a
very unusual way. I'll save that story for another time. I've told
you all of this, however, because I wanted to answer your other more
"What's that?" Bill said; totally forgetting what he had
"About me being gay? You know?"
"shoot, pastor," he grunted, "I plum forgot all about that. Now
it sounds mighty lame to me anyhow."
"Naw, Bill, it isn't lame. Let me explain because I want you to
understand and I want you to know the truth."
"Ok, pastor," he said hesitantly, "but now I don't think I really
need to know anything."
"No, you are wrong," he replied, "you need to know the truth so
let me tell you.
Perhaps, if I had been older, killing 88 of the enemy would have
been psychologically more tolerable to me. The military tried
helping me and I talked to a lot of shrinks but they finally gave me
an honorable discharge and sent me on my way. I spent the next six
years in and out of VA hospitals trying to get my mind to work. It
was during this time I turned to homosexuality. I couldn't hold a
job for anything and what I did make, I spent on pot."
"You smoked pot?" Bill asked incredulously.
"Sure did. Why?"
"Well, shoot, pastor," Bill answered, "you just never seemed to
be the type. That's all."
The pastor laughed. "Listen, Bill, I lived in the bush and came
in about once every three months for debriefing and new orders. I had
the best spotter a sharp shooter could ask for. He got captured and
tortured during my last tour. I finally found him. He'd been in a
tiger cage for three months and was a breath away from death. I
sneaked into the camp under the cover of darkness to free him but he
was too far gone. We had made promises to each other that if either
of us were ever caught and tortured, the other would get in and kill
the other. I kept my promise that night. So I guess you could say I
killed 89 people in the Nam." Tears came to his eyes when he
remembered his friend. "They had literally pealed strips of his skin
from his body with a pair of pliers. They had stuck rats in his cage
and the rats were literally eating him alive. If it hadn't been for
the tattoo, I wouldn't have even been able to make a positive ID
before killing him. The damn rats had eaten most of the tattoo away
even then." The pastor hung his head as the heaviness of the great
sorrow rolled over him. He still had nightmares once and awhile.
Bill was so caught up in the wonderment of the story he was
hearing, he hadn't even noticed his own pastor had swore.
Suddenly the pastor said, "Bill, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to
swear," and he softly prayed and asked the Lord to forgive him just as
his big friend had earlier.
"Shoot, pastor," Bill replied, "I never even noticed. I'm sorry
about your friend, though, pastor." Bill had seen the sparkle of his
pastor's tears in the flickering firelight as he had reached to point
of confessing he had to kill his own friend.
"I didn't want to do it," the pastor said, his voice hoarse, but
he never would have made it out alive. I shot the camp commandant
from literally 1800 yards a month later as he stood kissing his
mistress in the small village two miles from the prison camp. It had
taken me a full month to study his movements before I found the right
time to kill him. I then shot all twelve guards and let all the
prisoners out. My spotter had been the only American in the camp."
He stopped for a moment; thinking. Then he spoke again. "I guess you
could add the commandant and the 12 guards to my total kills, bringing
my total to 102, but my government didn't count my spotter and the 13
others as official kills, of course; just the 88 I killed."
"1800 yards?" Bill said with wonderment filling his voice.
"Pastor, that's way over a whole mile."
"It sure is, Bill. It was the best shot I ever took but I did it
for my spotter, the best friend I ever had, until I met Val. I
carried my spotter, by the way, 16 clicks to an LZ where I radioed in
a chopper to extract us from the bush. Choppers attract a lot of
attention and we ended up in a fire fight just trying to get out of
the jungle. I don't know how many I killed during the fire fight but
As I was saying, I spent the next six years in and out of VA
hospitals. Finally I ran across a psychiatrist who believed in
treating all his patients by keeping them stoned. Just my kind of
doc. He knew I was crazy and he knew I liked being high so he made it
easy for me. He provided me with lots of morphine and lots of other
drugs. I visited him three times a week for 3 years and he shot me
up each time I came in. In between visits, he gave me pills. There
was a price to pay for my addiction, however."
After a moment of silence, he continued. "My shrink who kept me
high? He was a homosexual. The morphine kept the pain away most of
the time so I didn't care and was more than willing to do whatever he
wanted as long as he kept me stoned."
"Then, that wasn't your fault, pastor," Bill interjected.
"You're wrong there, Bill. I was plenty responsible. I knew
what I was doing and why. I hurt big time. The drugs helped kill
the pain and so did the sex with the doctor, too. I tried everything
to keep the pain at bay.
I told you I killed one woman? She was the last person I killed
in Nam. Something snapped inside of me at that moment, Bill. I never
wanted a woman after that time. It was like coming up to a draw
bridge and not having enough toll fair to pay to let the bridge down
so you could cross to the other side. So you just dive in and swim
for it and hope you don't drown. The drugs and the sex buried my
pain deep. Besides, during that time I had sex with at least 30
other men. It is only a miracle I don't have AIDS. I was HIV tested
for 15 years after all that but 10 years ago, I stopped it."
Neither man spoke a word for at least 10 minutes. The pastor
looked at his watch in the low firelight. It was 3 in the morning.
He knew neither of them were done yet. He was glad he'd called his
wife on his cell phone coming back from the little grocery to let her
know he likely wouldn't be home till morning.
Finally Bill spoke. "Me, to, pastor." I should have died of
AIDS 20 years ago."
"Why, Bill?" his pastor asked.
"Well, I guess if you are willing to tell me about your personal
life, it is only right you know about mine."
"Naw, Bill," he replied. "You don't have to tell me a thing. If
you do, believe you me, I won't be able to judge you because only God
has that right."
"Yeah, well, that's what I'm afraid of; being judged by God I
mean. I don't think God can forgive me for what I've done either."
The pastor let that remark pass for the time being and said,
"Tell me about it then, Bill."
Taking a deep breath, he began. "It all started when I went to
college. Well, no, it started before then. I was pretty sexually
active even as a teenager. I laid everything that wore a skirt. Back
then they wore skirts, you know. In fact, my buddies, if you want to
call them that, all said I'd screw a snake if somebody would hold it's
head. They were right, too, so they nicked name me Snake. I even
have a tattoo on my right biceps."
The pastor didn't bother saying that he had already seen the
tattoo on his friend's arm earlier that day.
"I wanted to be accepted and I had gained a reputation among my
pals based upon who I laid. At fifteen I had been with at least a
dozen girls at school. I even had sexual intercourse with one of my
teachers and she was 40 years old.
When I went to college, I found a gold mine of beautiful, sexy,
willing and free women. Four of us fellows that roomed together off
campus literally wrote a pact and signed it in our own blood."
"What was the pact about, Bill," the pastor asked as he prepared
another pot of coffee for them.
"The pact read that we had to lay one woman a week, including
during the summers when school was out, and that each woman had to
sign her name in her own blood. I know this sounds demonic, pastor,
but we weren't Satan worshipers or nothing like that. In fact, none
of us believed in God at all, I don't think. We were just crazy
college kids trying to out do each other."
"So did you all keep your agreement which you signed in blood?"
"Well, yes, we did. Well, at least the other three boys did.
When we graduated, we presented our signed papers during our
graduation party, from all the women we'd laid which lasted, by the
way, four days. I drank so much alcohol and smoked so much grass
during that time, I nearly died. I ended up in the hospital for a
week but that wasn't the worst of it, pastor."
The pastor poured the steaming coffee into the mugs when it was
finished boiling and waited for Bill to continue.
Bill blew on his coffee a few times to cool it and then took a
couple of sips. "You see, pastor, I was the all time winner of the
group. I had 356 signed forms and yes, every girl I slept with signed
her name in her own blood. Well, not every one. Some refused so that
meant I had to find another girl to go to bed with me. So, the bottom
line is, pastor, I've slept with over 400 women. It is only the
grace of God that I am not dead from AIDS but back then, no body knew
anything about AIDS."
"That's some story, Bill."
"Yeah, well, the guilt is like a 500 pound tombstone I have been
carrying around my whole life. I got my life straightened out with
the Lord shortly after college. Sally is the best thing that has ever
come along in my life. I'd be dead if it weren't for her love for me.
The horrible truth is, she was one of the girls I slept with during
college. I even corrupted her and I knew I loved her before I even
crawled into the sack with her."
"Bill," the pastor asked quietly, "Have you ever asked God to
forgive you for your sin of immorality?"
"Oh, have I ever, pastor. I've prayed and prayed and prayed till
I am blue in the face. I even fasted once for two solid weeks,
praying every day, asking God to forgive me but the guilt never goes
"Has the Lord forgiven you, Bill, do you think?"
"I don't know, pastor. The Word says he has and it even says I
am cleansed from all unrighteousness once I confessed my sin to Him.
I just can't get rid of the guilt, though. So, I guess, when it comes
right down to it, God hasn't forgiven me and I wouldn't even blame Him
if He didn't."
"Bill," the pastor began slowly, "I am not a murderer but I have
killed over 100 people and one was my best friend. I am not a drug
addict but I have done enough dope to stock a pharmacy for 20 years.
I am not a homosexual but I have had sex with more than 30 men. I
even enjoyed it at times. I should be in jail right now because I
robbed a few gas stations years ago just to get enough money for drugs
and alcohol. I am not a drunk but I drank enough boos that I was in
AA for a couple of years. When I got saved at age 25 in a little
church, the Lord forgave me of all my sins. The guilt never went
away, though, just like you said. I cleaned up my life. I won people
to Christ. I served in every area of the church I could find. I
finally went to Bible college. I even prayed about being a
missionary. I guess I figured that if I could fly away to some
distant place, I could get far enough away from what I once was so it
couldn't hurt me any more. Finally, though, the Lord led me into
intercessory prayer and even to a man who really knew what true
intercessory prayer was all about. In short, I have no more guilt, I
can return to any memory I have and feel no pain, and I am the
happiest person on the planet. I don't just know I am forgiven; I
actually feel the forgiveness of God inside of me. This church has
been such a wonderful blessing to me, too, and I consider it a gift
"No guilt?" Bill said suspiciously. "And forgiven?"
"Absolutely no guilt and totally forgiven," came the reply.
"But how could that be?"
"Bill, how do you feel when you consider those memories of your
"I feel rotten as sin. I feel fearful that I will end up being
HIV positive some day. Most of what I feel is guilt. I mean, why
would I do all of that. I was even a Christian at the time but that
didn't stop me. I knew better, too. I also wonder why God didn't
"So," the pastor said, sipping at his coffee, "you feel the guilt
and you feel fear and perhaps some anger?"
"Anger?" Bill said; puzzled.
"Yeh, anger," the pastor confirmed. "You said that you were a
Christian back then and you really knew better. You also said you
couldn't figure out why God allowed it to continue."
"Well, that's right I did say all that but what's anger have to
do with it?" Bill wanted to know.
"Bill," the pastor replied, "the feeling of, why God didn't stop
you since you were a Christian, is an indication you most likely have
anger toward God. Your statements about the fact you were a Christian
and new better but did it anyway, indicates anger toward yourself.
The fear is obvious. The guilt, in this case, is the key but the
anger is used to mask the real pain of the guilt. How would you like
to get rid of all these feelings once and for all and know it will
never return once you are healed?"
"That would be wonderful. Is it possible though?"
Glancing at his watch, the pastor said, "Bill, we've got to get
packed up and back into town. I need a couple of hours of shut eye
because I have some people coming in tonight from out of state for
intercessory prayer sessions. I want you to know, however, I
guarantee the Lord can heal you of the guilt and fear and anger and
anything we might find when we pray together."
"I'm ready any time, pastor," he replied. "You know my work
schedule. Set me up for whatever times you want and I'll be there."
The two men kicked out the remains of their fire, poured water on
it, packed up the equipment, and drove away as the sun began to
lighten the eastern horizon.
COMMENTS ON UNFORGIVENESS
Unforgiveness has invaded and plague the church. No matter how
many times we try forgiving others, and ourself, it never seems to go
away. It is even worse if the one we need to forgive is ourself.
In my story, two very different men had the same problem of
unforgiveness of immorality in their lives. That is, they could not
forgive themselves for what they had done. The pastor had found a
way, however, and he was able to begin sharing it with his friend as
they fished and later talked and bonded as men and Christian brothers
around their campfire.
Now, about this time, someone is saying, "I know God forgives and
cleanses from all sin but..." and from that point onward, their voice
trails off. What they are thinking, which remains unsaid, is related
to the sin of the pastor in the story. They can somehow believe that
God would forgive the church member in the story because he only had
sex with 400 women and everybody knows God certainly can forgive that
degree of sinful immorality. Right? It's the homosexual behavior of
the pastor, of all people, that they find impossible to believe can be
forgiven by God. You see, it works this way.
"God can, and does, forgive certain sins more than He does
others. I mean, the heterosexual sin of the one is understandable.
Well, not exactly understandable, but it is normal. Well, it isn't
normal exactly but it is..."
Did you run out of words there or what happened? Try explaining
what you mean, then, concerning the homosexuality of the pastor, if
you can, and see if you can explain why that is different than the sin
of the immorality of the other man.
If you are thinking, about this time, we have missed something
somewhere along the way, you would be on target. What we have missed,
and overlooked, is the problem of forgiving because we haven't
understood the holiness of God's nature to forgive equally the same.
Something else we have not recognized, as part of forgiveness, is The
healing power of God in healing us of our own woundedness.
Generally, about this point in the conversation, someone says,
sputtering, "but where do you draw the line?" What they really mean
is, where does God draw the line? In their heart, they know where God
draws the line and that's the line of total forgiveness and total
healing of the woundedness. If any of this bothers you, it does so
because it is somehow tapping into your own lie based thinking. You
see, we secretly want to forgive the one man and not the other because
of what we "feel" concerning sin. God has no such feelings; He only
knows our confession of sin and His own power to forgive.
Furthermore, God isn't remotely interested in our opinion concerning
Jesus asked Peter a very unusual question one day. You can read
about it in Luke 7:36-50. Peter was asked by Jesus in this
illustration of forgiveness and love, whom did the man love the most?
Peter thought about it and confessed, "Probably the man whom he
forgave the most." That was somewhat paraphrased but you can read it
for yourself. Forgave the most? That's what Peter said and Jesus
didn't correct him. So in my story of the pastor and his friend that
went fishing together and later had a man to man discussion, according
to the bible, whom did Jesus love the most? Let me turn that question
around so we can see its true impact. Whom would you rather be? The
one God forgave the most or the other? The truth is, Jesus forgives
those who come to Him in repentance equally the same. We think there
are differences, or degrees, of sin and thus the same must be true, we
reason, concerning forgiveness. Because of this theological
confusion, we humanly perceive, the Enemy can implant lies which will
keep us from being free.
Taking this to the next level, if Jesus can forgive you, why
cannot we forgive ourselves? There is only one answer and that is
that someone is lying to us and it isn't the Lord Jesus. Think about
it. Who is the father of all lies? (See John 8:44). What is it that
the devil is lying about? Is it the unforgiveness or the guilt
you"feel" related to the sin? Remember where we started: The
Deceitfulness Of Sin. It isn't the sin, therefore, but what we are
deceived by which creates the lie based thinking.
Finally, if you do not understand forgiveness and cannot
understand how to forgive yourself, can you at least see how this sets
you up for demonic attack and gives them place in which to continually
End Of Chapter 7
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