"Interesting reading," I told Annette when I took her book back a few weeks later.
We discussed it briefly several different times. One Sunday when she was all set up for the next break I said, "One thing I noticed in your book -- Jesus got a lot of emphasis."
"I don't understand the way churches look at Jesus," I said. "At every church I ever went to, I got the idea Jesus was a wimp. He hung His head, turned His cheek, and never stood up for anything."
Furrows dug into Annette's forehead. She looked totally puzzled. "Jesus? A wimp?"
"Yeah. He was such a milquetoast."
"That's not the Jesus I read about in the Bible," she said.
"Me either. Jesus talked pretty straight -- called hypocrites whitewashed tombstones full of dead men's bones. Even told some they were snakes ... right to their face."
"You're right." Annette said. "Jesus was strong. And intelligent and clever and ..."
By the end of our discussion I shook my head. "I can't believe it! Another Christian sees Jesus the way I do! The way I always have!"
"You've got to read another book I have!" Annette urged. "It's by the same author as the other one I loaned you, but it's all about the life of Jesus. If you thought the other book was interesting ... well ... this book'll knock your socks off. You've gotto read it, Jay."
"It's really that good?" I questioned.
"It's better than that."
"OK, OK. You've sold me. Can I borrow yours, or do I have to go buy it?"
"I'll loan you mine," she said. "I'll bring it next time I come in."
Life never got boring at the station. I did some sales on my own and spent considerable time training new salespeople. Sales presented some unique challenges since our station was regional and several smaller stations broadcast to separate communities within our market area.
"What? You want seven dollars for one commercial?" one business owner questioned. "Our local station sells me ads for a dollar a holler."
I'd heard that maneuver before. "I understand that, sir and I hope you keep supporting your local station. They can reach many of the 3,500 people in and around your town, but we can do something they can't. We not only have a lot of listeners here, but with our 50,000 watts of power, we can reach the surrounding counties, taking the message of your business to thousands of people who are, right now, unaware of you."
We sold some accounts. Some we didn't.
Often when I sold advertising in Clarksville, in the evening I'd go to the bookstore in the mall and look for New Age books. I'd nearly worn out my old standbys. I pretty well understood reincarnation and growth in this physical life. With stress keeping me feeling like I was wired to 220, I especially looked for the books about the new age of peace and the descriptions of the events that would usher it in. I compared the new books to the information Edgar Cayce had shared. He was the standard, as far as I was concerned.
But then there was Annette's book. Ideas from it rolled around in my mind from time to time. One of the things it talked about was peace in spite of all hell breaking loose around you. I remembered a phrase I'd heard someplace. Was it from the Bible? "The peace of God which passeth all understanding."
That kind of peace was foreign to me, for sure. When I'd arrived in Waverly for my first radio station general manager job, I was physically fit and raring to go. I had dreamed big and made plans -- in short order as long as karma smiled on me; I'd take V-105 to heights it had never known.
But what was wrong? Cooperation didn't materialize. My frustration level soared.
Peace? I pondered one afternoon at my desk. I thought about the goings on at the station and the varied people involved. "Hm-m-m," I said as I realized, Annette's the only one around here that stays cool under every circumstance. I wonder ... what does she know that the rest of us don't?
"Jay," the receptionist called. "Telephone."
So much for a moment to think. I grabbed the receiver.
A few days later Annette poked her head in my office door. "Good morning. I'm headed out to help John with a remote broadcast. But here's the book I promised you.
"Thanks," I said. Then, as an afterthought, I asked, "Does it have anything to say about peace?"
Annette turned back. She smiled in her unperturbable way. "Sure does. A lot."
That evening, I turned off the TV and folded into the orange love seat with the book The Desire of Ages. "God, please guide me," I prayed.
I felt my eyelids getting heavy, my head nodding a time or two. The next thing I knew I woke up, groggy, with an uproar echoing in my mind. For an instant I groped to figure out where I was and what was going on. I rubbed my eyes open. I'm home. I was reading. Annette's book! This is like before! What IS going on?
I thought about the chapters I'd read in Annette's other book. It showed clearly from the Bible that there were two powers vying for supremacy in people's lives, in their minds. The instruction I was given when I learned about hypnosis was to always pray for protection from evil spirits.
"God," I prayed, "I don't know what's going on, but besides guiding my mind and helping me find truth, would you please protect me from evil spirits?"
I opened the book and read. And read.
In the following weeks, I always prayed for God's guidance AND protection before I began reading. Occasionally, the extreme fatigue would settle over me again. But I nearly always caught myself before I went to sleep. I would pray again and start reading. Sometimes I'd have to pray repeatedly before I could go on with the book. But as I read and prayed, the overpowering sleep tripped me up less and less.
The book on the life of Christ was fascinating. One night I caught myself pounding the arm of the love seat shouting, "This is Jesus! That's who He is!"
Inki cocked her head and looked at me like she thought I'd lost my mind. I felt a little foolish. But this book made Jesus come alive. I felt like I was getting acquainted with Him. He lived not only in the Middle East two thousand years ago. He walked through my life in Waverly, Tennessee, U.S.A.
The Jesus I now read about was patient. Though He didn't hesitate to help hypocrites see where they stood, He never condemned an honest seeker of truth. He was not weak or weird. The principles He taught weren't dry relies of the ancient past. They were relevant to today! To my world! To me! I was getting acquainted with Jesus. And admiring Him more than I'd ever dreamed.
Whenever I had a chance to talk with Annette, we discussed the latest drama I'd been reading in the life of the strong, decisive Jesus. I'd met lots of churchgoers, but I'd never before met anyone who took the Jesus of the Bible as seriously as Annette did. The deeper our discussions, the more excited I got.
"You seem to really enjoy talking about Jesus," she said one day when I was nearly through reading the book.
"Yes, I do ... now that I've found someone else in the world who sees Him as a real person."
"I do too. But there are others, also, who share our interest, she said. "Would you like to go to church with me sometime?"
"Go to church?" My mind raced.
From Annette's comments, it has to be more of a traditional church than I'm used to. But it surely promotes some interesting ideas. Going to church would maybe answer a lot of questions for me. Besides, I'd never yet met a preacher I couldn't stump. All I'll have to do is go once and ask a few questions. If they don't use the Bible any more carefully than the rest of the traditional Christian preachers I've ever met, I'll know they're not worth their weight in salt either. And after Annette sees her preacher fumbling for answers to simple questions, it will be a lot easier to share reincarnation with her.
I looked back to Annette. "Sure," I said. "I'll go to church with you."
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