Roses Are Red and So Was His Face
By Bob W.
It was a beautiful summer day. It was the kind of day where it would be nice just to lay on the lawn, look up at the sky and watch the fluffy white clouds pass by. But when you have work to do, places to go, that relaxation will just have to wait for another time. For that day I promised the secretary at the landscape office I would sit in for her during lunch and watch the office while she ran some errands.
As I was sitting there at the desk, looking out the window I noticed the college garbage truck drove up into the parking area behind the Del Mar men's residence. The operator jumped out to push the large trash bin on to the forks that would raise and dump the garbage into the truck. He was struggling, trying to get the bin positioned so the forks could pick it up. But it seemed to be stuck...Then I noticed Dr. Hoeh walking by. He put his brief case and books down and went over to help the driver with the bin. They struggled with it for a moment, and then it happened, some of the garbage splattered on to Dr. Hoeh's suit, what a mess! The driver was obviously upset, but Dr. Hoeh assured him not to worry, he would simply go home and change his suit...his students could entertain themselves, I mean study until he arrived. Here was one minister who cared even for the so called little guy.
They had no sooner finished their conversation when in through the open door walked a church pastor and college professor, and what he was about to profess was anything but Christian love....
Up to that point all was fairly quiet, not much phone activity during the noon hour. I greeted him and asked how I may help. He informed me he would like some roses from the rose garden, which was adjacent to the office. He did not say please, but he was nice about, at least at first.
And who could blame him, the roses were absolutely beautiful. They were there for all to enjoy and were available for the taking, anyone could pick the roses just as long as they were a minister. They were not available to the rest of the work force, just the brass. I always thought a brass was a instrument used to make beautiful sounds in the hands of a professional, but in the hands of a obsessed amateur it makes a loud screeching and ear piercing sound by a mouth full of hot air.
I scrounged around for a moment or two and found the clippers so he could help himself by cutting the particular roses he wanted. But that's when things started to get just a little complicated. Interestingly enough he informed, not asked, me that it was my job to cut the roses for him. Somewhat of an arrogant approach, but that was OK, it was his attitude and not mine. And I knew that as soon as he left he would take his attitude with him and I could get back to enjoying the afternoon.
I told him that under most circumstances I would be glad to go and cut some roses for him, and I would have, however I had promised the secretary I would attend to the office until she returned. Once again I told him he was welcome to get the roses for himself.
It became obvious that he really did not care about my commitment to watch the office, the only thing he wanted was his roses, interesting that all of a sudden they became his and not the colleges roses. And I must admit he was getting a little hot. I told him as polite as I could that unless he got the roses himself he would have to wait until the secretary returned.
That was obviously not what he wanted to hear. So he did an HWA imitation. His face got red and he bellowed out, "Don't you know who I am!!". Sounds like the actions of a spoiled little child doesn't it? As if speaking louder somehow empowered him with the authority of his ministerial office.
I knew exactly who he was and what office he held and the power of his authority. I also knew the potential trouble I could be in if I did not bow to his whims. All of it had nothing to do with whether I should or should not yield to his demands. This was not a spiritual matter, although there were many that thought that not obeying the commands of an ordained minister, unreasonable or not, was a special kind of sin. (Interestingly enough there were many who obeyed the commands of a minister and died because of their obedience. Some lost homes, some their jobs and a whole host of other hurts because of blind obedience.) To make matters worse, and to be honest with you I knew it would, I said, "Yes I know who you are and........". I then paused waiting for him to fill in the blank.
That was perhaps not the smartest thing to do, but I hate bullies and arrogant blowhards. What was to follow was a display of anger that a man in his position should never allow to take place, it was about as close to profanity as one could come and not actually use it.
I was young, still in my early twenties, and people like that just did not bother me. He neither scared or intimidated me. I guess that was one of the reasons that made him so angry, I did not tremble at his feet. I never let the college or church rob me of my personal identity and individualism. That's probably why I was considered to be somewhat of a rebel by my peers. In these situation I would not allow them to dominate me...Actually it is surprising that I lasted as long as I did in the church, well over 40 years, some of us are just slow learners!
As it turned out he no sooner finished his outburst when Ellis LaRavia, at that time he was not even a local elder, just a want-to-be, walked in, calmed the pastor down and went out to the rose garden to cut him some roses. (Now when I say Ellis LaRavia was a want-to-be minister I mean that with the deepest respect for the man. His desire for the office was to serve and help his brothers and sisters in the Lord. It was one of his greatest dreams to be able to serve in the capacity of a minister. And it was a dream that finally became a reality. Unfortunately, later it would also become his worst nightmare.)
After he got his roses he glared at me and walked off. I suppose the pastor could have gotten me fired but that never happened. It was a couple of days later that I learned that he had his own serious troubles. Shortly after that incident he was disfellowshipped, which had nothing to do with the roses. But I think we can figure it out, his attitude was a little putrid and he finally got dumped into his own cesspool. Do they ever like to dish it out, but get as mad as hell when it comes right back in their faces.
There were some fine and upstanding servants in the ministry like Dr. Hoeh who were truly servants and shepherds of the flock. But they seemingly were in the minority. Now that does not mean I agree with all that he did or wrote. It just that his attitude, at that moment in time was one to serve and help.
It is up to us to take the examples of ministers that truly were servants of Christ and to take the good qualities of Christ's ministry and apply them to our lives. The others? Just put them back in the cesspool from where they came.
We can learn from positive examples of Christian love. We can also learn the power of deceptions and all the negatives that go with it when unChrist-like rulership is forced upon us. The choice is ours, we can either learn or we can white wash them and say they did not happen and never existed. It is God's desire that we learn to judge situations for what they really are, and not for what we want them to be. We need to understand and recognize the beauty of His life in us or the horror and harshness of life without Him.
Life on campus was at times difficult and emotionally draining, but it was far from being dull.
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