Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Controller - Installment #13 - trepidation, peace and more trepidation

Monday morning, his first day at the office after the one-week hiatus, Allen uncharacteristically tells Jenny about his week away.
“And, the Lord has asked me to attend that excuse for a church, Powerhouse...for a season.”
“Are you sure?” Jenny asks. “How can you be sure?”
I heard his voice in my mind.
“It could be the enemy talking to you.”
“Really? It sounded like God.”
“How did it make you feel?”
“Filled me with trepidation, that’s for sure.”
“Scummy or slimy?”
“No, just unprepared and unsure.”
“Did you ask Him if it was Him?”
“Well, ask Him.”
“Right now?” 
“Why not?”
“Okay...Lord was that you telling me to attend Powerhouse?”
My ways are higher than your ways. I am with you always. Trust me.
Allen feels a settling peace as Mork gives him a mighty angel hug.
“There is no way this isn’t a God thing,” Allen concludes, but, to tell you the honest truth, there are a lot of places I'd rather be than Powerhouse.
“What did God say?
“He said His ways were high and to trust Him. 
Jenny nodded. “Sounds like you have an assignment. When you're following God's direction, there's nothing better.
“I guess I'll find out.

Later that morning Nick pops in. “I see you looked rested from your holiday. Where did you go, the Caribbean?”
“No, I’m afraid it was a working holiday.” As soon as he says it, Allen regrets what sounds like misgiving in his comment. “I mean I did a lot of necessary stuff around the house.”
Nick ignores this entirely. “Good news, Gold is going up in the markets. We’re richer than we think.”
“How’s the court case?” Allen asks.
“Not so good. We need more money. It seems the lawyers have to have some documentation released and it all takes funds. Nick reaches out his left hand, palm up and rubs his thumb back and forth across his fingers. I have to raise about $10,000 before Friday if we want to maintain our timeline. I'd like to borrow it against the company.”
“This could severely challenge your cash flow if it goes beyond the new year.”
“Oh, I’ll have it paid off way before the new year. Not to worry.”
Allen draws up a cheque for $10,000 and Jenny co-signs.
After Nick leaves, Jenny knocks lightly on Allen’s door. “Can we talk? I am concerned.”
“Nothing we can do about it. He is the boss. It’s his company.”
“And our jobs.”
“I think we'll will be okay. He has lots of time to pay the money back into the company and he’s got the potential to do it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Don’t worry Jenny, this will come out with us on top. I may even invest in that goldmine.
“You better pray first.” Jenny heads back to her desk.

Allen has a pile of emails to answer and doesn’t give the issue another thought. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Controller - Installment #12 in which Mork frolics in gleeful anticipation

That evening Allen decides to walk through his house as if he is seeing it for the first time. He sees the worn and shabby furniture. He sees the pictures on the wall that haven't been changed since he was a child. He sees the layers of dust which have settled after Melanie moved out. Where did that girl put the duster? Regardless, Allen knows the place needs more than a good dusting. 

Allen books a holiday-week to purge his house. He cleans and sorts, chucking things he doesn't use and replacing things he considers tired or tacky or just plain worn-out like his mattress and bed coverings. By the end of the week, the house is a different place although he still hasn't done anything about the wallpaper....  

“Now what?” he prays.

This is a picture of what I am doing in your heart.

Allen tours his home once again, this time asking God about his heart. In the master bedroom he allows himself to fall into the luxurious new pillow-top mattress on the king-size bed he inherited from his grandparents. Allen wants to stay here forever. 

Rest in me. 

After several minutes, he reluctantly gets up and heads toward the upstairs bath where he admires his new shower curtain and the freshly painted walls. He thinks briefly about the Jacuzzi Shirley had mentioned. That would mean tearing a wall out and giving up a spare bedroom.

Your sins are washed away. 

Downstairs in the living room where he has eliminated chunky side tables, along with several extraneous chairs, and three ancient lamps, he sees that his remaining furniture has to be rearranged. The way it is, the large-screen TV has become the main focus. This won't do. He shoves a few things around until the room is centred on the brick fireplace crafted by his grandfather.  

I am your centre.

The dining room looks good. Allen thinks he should use this room more often. He remembers the days gone by and special family dinners when they all gathered round the large oak table laughing and feasting on his mother's roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and three kinds of vegetables. Those were the days. These days, he mostly stands at the kitchen counter eating out of the pots. 

I am the bread of life. Feast with me.

When he gets to the kitchen Allen knows he has to remodel. The the cupboards are decrepit and the drawers stick. Surely, he can afford a new kitchen.   

I am making all things new. My ways are higher than your ways. 

Allen feels convicted. “God your ways are higher than my ways. What do you want me to do? Anything, Lord...I'll do it.” 

Sunday morning the spirit of God impresses upon Allen to attend Powerhouse. He groans. The conviction to do whatever the Lord asks is not quite so strong this morning. 

I have an assignment for you.

“God help me.” 

By the time he crosses the threshold at  Powerhouse, the service is already going strong. Pastor John is in the midst of delivering a mini-sermon on the joy and rewards of giving. “You can’t out-give God. The windows of heaven are set to pour blessings into your life. All you have to do is tell God you are ready to receive. Tell him by giving. The more you give, the more you get. It is a law of nature.”
Allen, who had found a place in one of the back rows, lets the collection plate slip past.
When the worship music begins he sees Melanie near the front with her hands raised. Despite everything else, he wishes he could worship that freely. Nobody was demonstrative in his denominational church.

I’m asking you to change churches.

Lord please don’t ask me that. I don't like this place.

Only for a season. They need you here.

Allen’s heart is in turmoil. He prays in tongues under his breath. 

Mork on the other hand is flying around the church in gleeful anticipation. What an assignment. right in the heart of enemy territory.

Allen's misses most of the rest of the service. He leaves during the benediction in which Pastor John tells his flock to go out and be blessed. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Controller - Installment #11 in which Allen delights the angels

Mork leaves Allen to make his own way home. He surfaces directly into the throne room.
Yes, God.
I see your frustration, Mork, but things are about to break. Be attentive. Jenny will be praying for Allen in the next little while. Your instructions will be rather vague, so be creative, take liberties. Now, go enjoy your assignment. 

The next day before Jenny shows up, Allen bounces into work with a bouquet of red and white carnations which he arranges in a vase and sets on her desk with a note, “Thanks for listening.”

Mork, more attentive than ever, waits for a clue, any clue for action on his part. What in the world did God mean by take liberties? Surely God didn’t want him to act on his own. He needed to minister to his person. Mork knew better than to initiate anything. Look where that got Satan. He would have to wait for instructions and maybe use creative liberties in the initiation of those instruction. God wasn’t legalistic but he had his standards. Justice and mercy.
Marvel appears that morning with the glow of joy, which Mork recognizes as the joy of angel work. He tells Mork that Jenny had skipped breakfast. She’s decided to fast and pray for the next three days. Powerful. Mork is impressed. There is hope.

For three days nothing much else happens to match the expectation in the air. Then on the third day, Allen kneels beside his desk. Tears stream down his face. “Lord forgive me. Lord, forgive me. Lord, forgive me.”

Mork cradles him in his wings and whispers forgiveness. Jenny can obviously hear the commotion but stays at her desk, praying under her breath in tongues. Her language is the language of angels. Mork and Marvel understand every word and listen in amazement as Jenny, who doesn't know what she is praying, prays clarity into every one of Allen’s dilemmas. She even prays answers to dilemmas he doesn't know he has.
In that instant Mork and Marvel have a salad-plate full of assignments. They clap their wings and fly around the offices in delight. Allen gets up speaking in tongues which he has never in his life done or even wanted to do.

“Jenny, I have to share this with you. I feel so free. I feel clean. My life is so worth living. I have dedicated myself to do the Lord’s will. He spoke to me. He said...” and here Allen chokes up, “He said He loves me. And, and He forgives me for living without him. Funny, all this time I thought I was living with Him, but really I’ve never even heard Him before.”

Mork flies around the room again. Glory, glory, glory, glory Hallelujah!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Controller - Installment #10 in which Mork gets called up

 “I pray when I am having trouble deciding about stuff,” Jenny says matter-of-factly as she sticks a baby tomato on her fork.
“I did that. But, I still have to decide.”

Pray, shmay, hello, It’s two-way.

Jenny tries a different track, “How many ingredients do you have in this salad?”
“About seven. Maybe six.” Allen knows he is not going to mention Shirley. I think I’m in a rut. I live in this big old family house, by myself—now that my sister has moved out. I go to work every day, the same work, year after year….”
“Now I have a chance to change things up a little. I think I’m stalling. Maybe I don’t like change.”
They each take another bite of salad. “You still haven’t really told me anything about what you are looking at,” Jenny says.
“For one, the house. Melanie wants her money out of the house. She has every right to that. On the other hand, I’m her big brother and I’m not too sure she would be all that wise with her money especially looking at the church she is attending. I don’t trust that place.”
“A church? You don’t trust a church?”
“Maybe I’m off, but they seem to be a lot about giving money and as far as I can see they don’t have any causes except themselves.”
“Have you been there?”
“I see.”
“So, do I buy her out, sell the house, fix up the house or what? Do I buy a condo? Should I be looking for someone to share my life with? I always thought I would have a wife and kids. I’m 37 now and the clock is ticking.”
“Sounds like mid-life crisis.”

These people, they have a label for everything. When they don’t live to their full potential, of course they get bored.

“I could invest in Nick’s gold mine and use the money to start my own business.”
“Your own business?”
“Just a thought.”
The main course comes. They eat in silence. “I like this. Thanks so much,” Jenny says. “I haven’t been out much lately, since I broke up with my boyfriend.”
“I didn’t realize….”
“Let’s just say he was a jerk.  I found out he was cheating on me—a lot.”
“I’m sorry. You never said anything.”
“I didn’t want to bother you with my personal stuff.”
As they walk to their cars back at the office, Allen thanks Jenny for listening.
“Sorry, I wasn’t able to help more.”
“It was just good to get it out.”

Man, your life could be so much more exciting. Please God give me a better assignment next time.

Mork, report to the throne room.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Controller - Installment #9 - in which Allen tries to make decisions

Allen quietly prays, “Oh God, help me with this.” Then he grabs a notepad and makes three columns. At the top of the page he writes, 'decisions to be made.' He labels the columns, past, present and future. On the left side he writes 'issues,' and underlines this. Then he sits and thinks. Finally, he writes in the present column, 'sell house' and under that he writes 'buy house.' He draws a line under that and writes 'dress up house' and under that he writes 'renovate.' He works his way down the page: 'invest in gold mine,' 'find a new job,' 'ask Shirley out.' He doesn’t know why he has written past, present and future as everything hinges on his present.
Allen walks around contemplating his list. In the front hall, he notices the mail scattered across the floor where it always lands when the mail carrier pushes it through the slot in his front door. He gathers up an assortment of flyers and several envelopes. One of these appears to be from Powerhouse. He rips it open. Inside he finds a note.

Dear Mr. Jenkins,
Thank you for visiting our church and filling out our questionnaire. We hope you get to know us in the near future.
Pastor John

Allen goes back to his list and writes 'keep an eye on Melanie.' 
“Lord help me to make some decisions.” Allen is feeling himself getting annoyed. 
He stares at his list and can’t make up his mind on any of it. If only he could talk this over with someone. He thinks of Jenny. She always has a listening ear about work-related stuff. She might be able to help him sort through this. He’ll ask her tomorrow. Maybe take her out for dinner after work.
The next morning Allen seizes the opportunity when Jenny tells him she had had a rather mundane evening catching up on laundry and politely asks about his evening.
“Well actually, Jenny,” Allen says,  “I was trying to make some decisions. I didn't get anywhere. I guess that never happens to you.”
“What kind of decisions?”
“Personal.” He looks at Jenny with pleading eyes.
“You want my help?”
“How did you know?”
“That’s the look you give me when you don’t understand something in my bookkeeping.”
“Maybe we could go some place for dinner. I’ll pay. Allen says. And, you could help me by listening. I used to talk about these things with my sister, but not since she moved out. I hardly see her any more.” Suddenly Allen feels foolish. Why is he allowing Melanie to see this personal side of him?
Melanie appears to be thinking about it.
“Okay, after all, my laundry is done.”

Mork and Marvel exchange glances.

At 5:30 Jenny and Allen leave the building. ABC headquarters is in Unit 6 of row 5 in an industrial complex. Allen locks the door. They decide to walk to a chain restaurant a short kilometre away.

 Mork and Marvel follow two steps behind, smiling their angel smiles.

"Table for two?" the hostess asks. She shows them to a booth in a corner. 

There is plenty of room for Mork and Marvel to fill in beside them. 

While munching on garlic bread appetizers, Allen works through what he might say. He blurts, “This was a dumb idea. Why would you want to hear my personal dilemmas…they aren’t even dilemmas. I’m just having trouble sorting through some decisions that I need to make.”
“Fire away. I’m generally a good listener, or so people say.”
Allen looks down at the table, “It’s like this salad. Lots of stuff going on at the same time. Different stuff but it all works together and I want to sort it out, but it gets all scrambled up together. Why can’t I just put it into a spreadsheet and see the obvious?”
“A real man’s problem,” Jenny says.
“What does that mean?”
“Men like to compartmentalize.”
“And you don’t? Miss Bookkeeper.”
“You got me there.”

Mork here. I would love to add some clarity to this conversation. These earthlings don’t know much. Wisdom from on high is at a whole other level. Sure, Allen has been been sending up prayers, but as I mentioned before he doesn't listens for the answers and I don't think he even expects them. He could be sitting here totally at peace knowing that God is on this.
Marvel here. Don't underestimate my girl Jenny. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Controller - Installment #8 - in which Mork complains

Back at the homestead, Allen walks through the various rooms, musing about his life. Did he want to stay here? He could buy a condominium...sell this place. What would he get for this old house? Probably a lot more if he spruced it up. Never mind selling, he needed to update. There were only so many times you could glue the wallpaper edges back down. Maybe he should talk to a decorator.

Allen inadvertently finds an opportunity to do something about his home, when he calls Nick’s designer friend to have a look at the offices. Alphonse waltzes into the workplace first thing one morning, takes a quick peek around, then drags a chair into a corner where he sits with his laptop. “Don’t mind me, I like to get the feel of a place.” Two hours later he leaves promising to have the work done while the office is closed on the weekend.

The following Monday, Allen and Melanie have a hard time recognizing their offices: the walls have been painted, the floors recovered throughout and the furniture rearranged.
“Everything is so bright and fresh,” Melanie declares.
Allen looks around sceptically, “I have to get used to having my desk over here by the window.”        
Yet, it takes him less than a day to realize that Alphonse is a genius. His filing cabinet, his computer, everything is in exactly the right place.
At the end of the day, Allen phones Alphonse to thank him. “And by the way, do you do homes?”
They arrange for an evening consultation.

At the appointed time, a trim, attractive young woman knocks at Allen's door.
“And, who are you?” 
“I’m Shirley, I work for Alphonse. Pleased to meet you,” she extends her hand.
 Allen feels electricity.
Shirley steps in and looks around, “I love these old homes.” She rubs her hand down the rich wood oak trim of the door frame into the living room. 
“The place needs a bit of something possibly,” Allen says suddenly wanting to apologize for the wallpaper.
“Is it okay if I wander through? I like to take pictures if that's okay.”
Allen nods.
Later, they sit down at the kitchen table. “You keep a very neat home…but it does need some attention,” Shirley lays out several options from the cheapest simple advice to the most expensive complete overhaul by Alphonse. They settle on a middle ground with Shirley providing a plan. 
I assure you the added value on your home will more than pay for this,” Shirley says. They shake hands and again Allen feels a tingle.
Shirley shows up the following week with two plans. The first is a simple cosmetic makeover, paint and up-to-date accent d├ęcor. The second plan involves renovation options for a new kitchen and an expanded bathroom with a whirlpool tub on the second floor.
Allen decides to think about it. 

Okay, Allen you’ve been so busy that you haven’t even had time to give me a stitch of work. My next contract I think I’m going to ask the Lord for someone who takes this spiritual realm seriously. My friend Leman over in China is getting a lot of amazing work right now. His human is one of these guys without a material concern in the world. He doesn’t usually know where his next meal is coming from or where he is going to be sleeping. Leman is constantly arranging divine appointments and setting up miracles. The last ‘almost work’ I had was getting Nick out of  Allen’s office. What kind of assignment is that? I don’t know why the Lord doesn’t just call me into a special project. I’m next to useless here. 
Wait a minute...look at this…a small miracles: Allen is praying. Praise be to God. Although he's probably praying about what kind of tiles to buy for the kitchen.