See What Happens?

It doesn’t seem so bad, does it, to… relax… sometimes?

To skip reading the bible a night… or two.

To play hooky from church when the weather is bad… or too good to be inside.

To get lazy in our prayers every once in a while.

 

Acee, my tiny rescue dog, was delighted when her grooming was… relaxed. She HATES haircuts, baths, clipping toe nails, etc. She was very happy to skip these things over the few months I was gone.

 

But see what happened? IMG_20180906_163204643 (2)

 

Her fur grew so long she could no longer see clearly. It became matted in areas, and got so dirty she developed a skin condition.

 

 

 

 

The cost of the… relaxation… was way more than she expected and it’s taking a long time to get her back in shape. She has had to endure an extra long time to trim her fur and she now has to suffer through longer aggressive baths with medicated shampoo to treat her skin condition. But, finally she is looking and feeling so much better! And she can see again!

IMG_20180908_202540302 (2)

 

So was… relaxing… so bad?  Or should we call it by what it really is – neglect?

 

Psalm 119:16  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Hebrews 10:24-25   And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

1 Timothy 4:14  Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

2 Pet 1:3-9   His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Prov 24:30-34  I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense;  thorns had come up everywhere  the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.  I applied my heart to what I observed  and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

Bella – part 11 Humiliation

“Strange? Like what?” Amanda looked at Bella as she sipped on her coffee in the church lobby.

“Like… they… aren’t like other people. Like… maybe… they’re not from here.”

“Well, Pastor Toby and Jude have been here longer than I have so I can’t speak on where they might be from. But I do agree that they aren’t like other people.”

“How so?”

“They’re nicer. They’re good all the time. Everyone else I know have times when they’re selfish or maybe do something that hurts someone else. But Toby and Jude never do. They are always supportive, loving, and kind no matter what I say or what I do.”

“Sounds too good to be true,” muttered Bella.

“You would think so, but in the ten years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen them be anything but good.”

“Haven’t you wondered about their background? Where they came from?”

“Sure, sometimes, when I first joined this church. I asked a few people and got a few crazy answers, but mostly I was told they had always been here. And after talking with them, I came to believe that also.”

“What were some of the crazy answers you got?”

Amanda looked curiously at Bella. “Why do you ask?”

Bella thought about pretending it wasn’t so important, that she was just curious. But she decided to be upfront.

“They just seem out of this world. Like they’re not only not from here, but they aren’t from anywhere near here. Like they are from a whole other world.”

“Ah, yes. They do say things sometimes that is so opposite to what we hear all around us. And their values are very different. I can see how you might think that And maybe you’re right. Maybe they are from another world. But they’re here now, and that’s all that matters to me.”

“So, you’re saying they might be aliens?”

“Maybe, but they don’t have any accents or anything that would suggest which country.”

“No,” Bella said slowly. “Not another country. Another world. Another planet.”

Amanda stared at her and then burst out laughing. “Who put you up to this? Was it Robert? Robert is always kidding me about my love for sci fi.” She looked around, still laughing. “Robert! Where are you?”

Bella, feeling foolish and not wanting to involve anyone else in this, forced a laugh and said, “Um, no. I don’t even know Robert. It’s just me and my stupid sense of humor. Sorry.”

“Oh, no problem. I needed a good laugh.” Amanda stood up. “It was a pleasure meeting you. Let me know if you have any other… questions.” Still laughing, Amanda waved and headed to the kitchen.

Bella got up and thought about finding someone else to talk to when she heard a burst of laughter come from the kitchen. Amanda! She must have told everyone about their conversation. Humiliated, Bella looked around for the nearest exit door, then quickly joined the people who were headed that way.

“Hey, watch where you’re going!” growled a voice. She looked up just in time to avoid bumping into a man who was carrying a toddler.

“Sorry,” she said. She veered away from him and ran into a lady who was handing out IMG_20180804_082909664bulletins. The bulletins went flying, causing the lady to yell out.

“Sorry,” Bella said again, embarrassed. As she bent over to help gather them back up, she heard a loud grunt as someone tripped over her and landed with a crash.

“What are you doing?” cried the lady with the bulletins. “Stand up. You’re in the way.”

“I was trying to help you pick up the papers.”

“I don’t need your help.” She frowned and pointed to the door. “I can handle this. You just go ahead and leave.”

As Bella, eyes filling with tears, hurried through the door, she heard a voice behind her.  “Aw, don’t be so rough on her. She didn’t mean to trip me. It was my own fault for not watching where I was going.”

Bella slowed a bit and chanced a glance behind her. A man was speaking to the bulletin lady as he got back on his feet, but his eyes were on Bella.

“Wait up,” he called when they made eye contact.

She waited for him on the other side of the door. “Are you OK?,” she began as soon as he caught up. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to trip you.”

“I’m fine. I’m more worried about you. I didn’t want you to leave upset.” he said, taking her arm and directing her to the side of the large number of people streaming through the doors.

“Thanks, but I’m fine. Have a great day.” Relieved that he hadn’t gotten hurt, Amanda tried to leave. She felt humiliated and confused, and needed time to think which she always did best when alone. But the guy holding her arm wasn’t letting go.

 

Bella stories:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 1 Part 2

Bella part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Bella, part 9 –Aliens? Really?

Bella spent the night restlessly. Dream after dream filled with aliens reaching out to her kept her from the deep sleep she so desperately sought. Each time she would wake up trembling, half expecting to find herself being watched by something not quite human. Finally she gave up trying to sleep and got up in time to watch the sun rise.

Holding a cup of coffee, she stood at her east facing window and watched the sky change colors. From dark to ever increasing light, the sky spoke to her in a way she had not experienced before. She didn’t know why, but for some reason it filled her with excitement, like it knew something she didn’t. Something good.

As the disturbing remnants of her dreams faded, replaced with feelings of expectant hope, she walked back to the kitchen to make herself something to eat. Passing by her computer, she noticed the notebook on the desk. Should she go back to it, do more research, try to find out more about this supposedly pastor? Or should she toss it in the trash and forget the whole thing? No, she couldn’t forget it. She had seen and heard too much to just let it go. But she did want to know the truth of it. Were they aliens, as far-fetched as that sounded now, or were they just a couple of eccentric men? Maybe she’d do a little more research after breakfast. Actually, maybe, she should go to a church service that morning and talk to the people there. They would know more, wouldn’t they?

After cleaning up her breakfast dishes she sat at her computer to check on the church’s service times. There were three that morning, and one that evening. She decided on the earliest service since she was already up. Besides, the sooner she went, the less time there was for her to get nervous. She hadn’t been to a church since the few times she had gone with friends when she was little. She was pretty sure the adult service would be nothing like the kids’ services she had attended all those years ago. What would this service be like? How would the people react to her? Would she know what to do and when to do it so she’d fit in – or would it be obvious to everyone that she didn’t belong? Would she be put on the spot having to introduce herself or something? Would there be wild or crazy behavior? She had heard about some pretty weird churches.

She showered, then stood in front of her closet. What should she wear? Do people still dress up for church? They did when she was little, but that was a long time ago. She decided to wear the same thing she had worn the first time she had gone to see Pastor Toby and hope he didn’t recognize it. She didn’t want him to think she didn’t own anything else.

It was still too early to walk to the church so she sat down at her computer and tried a new search – this time about aliens and force fields. She felt foolish now. Aliens? Really? That was just crazy. What had she been thinking? There had to be a better explanation to the missing rain than an alien spaceship.

An hour later, she didn’t know whether to feel disappointed or relieved. She hadn’t found anything she hadn’t already heard before. She shut down the computer and got ready to leave for church. Maybe she’d discover something over there.

The short walk got her to the church well before the service started. And it was a good IMG_20180707_143126043thing. She hadn’t realized how many people attended this church. It was packed! People stood in groups talking, at tables looking at the literature, at the counter near the kitchen getting coffee, and sitting on chairs that were arranged around the room. Many more people were walking in every direction. The ones with children seemed to all head for the door in the middle – the one that opened into a hallway with more doors along each side. Classrooms? The largest group of people streamed towards Pastor Toby’s living room door, which was being held open by a smiling man who greeted each person as they passed. No way could that many people fit in the living room. Were they all heading for the garden? She entered the stream and let it guide her, fully expecting to end up in the garden. But she was wrong.

When she entered the room, the first thing she noticed was that it was crowded just like she expected. Extra chairs had been put out and everyone in the room was either sitting in a chair or leaning against various pieces of furniture, door frames, or the wall. But what she didn’t expect was that no matter how many other people came into the room, it never got more crowded.

The second thing she noticed was that regardless of the number of people in th room, her chair – the chair she had chosen to sit when she had been there before – was empty. She watched as a steady line of people passed it on their way to find a place of their own. Why didn’t anyone sit in it? Didn’t they see i? Was there a sign on it that she couldn’t see? Was there something about this chair that no one was telling her?

“Please, sit down,” she heard a gentle voice behind her say. She turned and saw Jude motioning to the chair. “My dad is almost ready to start.”

“Why hasn’t anybody sat here yet?” she asked as she sat down.

“Because that’s your chair, your place. No one can take your place. They don’t need to since they each have their own places.” He pulled up a chair and sat down beside her. “You don’t know how glad I am that you came. I know it wasn’t easy.”

Bella looked at him warily. He didn’t look like an alien. She couldn’t detect any signs of shape shifting or anything that seemed to be off. He looked as human as she was. Maybe she was completely wrong about this. Maybe there’s a simple explanation about the rain. She really hadn’t stayed to ask questions. But she could ask now.

Just as she opened her mouth to ask, Pastor Toby entered the room with a loud greeting. Every eye went to him, including hers. She couldn’t have looked away if she wanted to. His presence filled the room like warm sunshine, a brightness that filled her with longing for more even as she drank it in. All questions fled her mind. She didn’t care if he was alien or not. All she knew was that at this moment, there was no other place on earth she’d rather be.

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

Bella, part 6 – A Little Rain Won’t Hurt

Bella, part 7 – Singing, Water, and Other Surprises

Bella, part 8 – It Can’t Be!

Bella, part 6 –  A Little Rain Won’t Hurt

Bella woke earlier than normal the next morning, excited to find out more about that church and the two men who lived in it. But before she could get out of bed, a loud crash of thunder shook her room.

“Where did that come from?” she asked, startled. Had she been sleeping through this storm? Is that what woke her so early?

She usually loved thunderstorms, but this one only brought disappointment with it.  How was she supposed to walk to the church now? A little rain wouldn’t hurt, but lightning? No way could she walk outside with lightning flashing around her. She’d be walking in puddles holding her own personal lightning rod! Maybe this storm wouldn’t last long and she could still go later today. She picked up her cell phone from the small table by her bed and touched the weather icon. As she waited for the web page to come up, she imagined what it might be like to go to the church on a rainy day. They wouldn’t be able to go into the back yard so there would be no sitting on the pier soaking in the beauty. They’d have to stay inside. She frowned. Having to maintain a conversation in an ordinary environment might be awkward. Would they just sit and look at each other? She found carrying a conversation hard, even with all her questions, and Jude hadn’t been exactly the chatterbox the last time she was there. If Pastor Toby was there, it might be OK, though. He seemed comfortable with carrying any conversation.

She looked down at her phone. The weather forecast said the thunderstorm should be gone by mid-day but rain would hang around until the following day. Great. She wouldn’t be able to enjoy the garden or lake, and she’d have to chance an awkward afternoon. Or she could put off the visit for another week.

Shaking her head, she got up to get dressed. She HAD to go today. She didn’t think she IMG_20180608_110929626could make it through the following week if she didn’t.  Her mind was so full of questions that she could barely think of anything else. And her heart was tugging for her to return as soon as possible.  It was almost like she could feel their love for her filling her and drawing her to them. She would get ready now, and leave as soon as the storm was gone.

While waiting for the storm to move on, she kept herself busy doing the chores she tended to put off for when she had more time. Well, she had time now so she swept and mopped the floor, washed the baseboards in the bathroom and hallway, dusted – this time moving objects instead of just dusting around them, sorted and put away a couple piles of clean laundry, and cleaned the microwave.  By then, it was lunch time so she ate lunch while checking on the updated weather map. All the yellow and red of intense activity was gone. There was still a blanket of green covering her area, but that was just rain.  Without lightning, rain was safe enough. It was time to go!

She got her large umbrella and headed for the church. The rain was not hard, and there was no wind, so the walk was actually pleasant. The best part was the empty sidewalk. No one else was crazy enough to be out walking in the rain. Or dodging the splashes made by passing cars, she thought, as she jumped just out of reach of another splash.

When she got to the church, she shook out her umbrella and stood it just inside the door to drain. Then she walked across the foyer straight to Pastor Toby’s living room door. The door opened just as she was about to knock on it.

“Bella!” Jude said, his face breaking into a smile so big it lit up his whole face. “I’m so glad you came! Come on in!”

He held the door open as she came in. She looked around tentatively, not sure where to go.

“Have a seat,” Jude said. “I’ll go get dad.”

Bella looked around and chose the big green comfy armchair that was near the door. That way, if things got too awkward, or she felt the need to escape, she’d be right there by the door. She still didn’t know how much she could trust this man or his father.

While she waited, she looked around the room. The wall behind her held several paintings of a garden and a lake. To her left was  a reading nook with several bookshelves filled with an amazing assortment of books, including one extremely large book that almost filled a shelf all by itself, and an armchair with a small table and lamp. The wall on her right had an incredible fire place and several chairs facing it.  Across the room, next to the door that led to the rest of the house, was a desk with a computer. And in the center of the room was a large couch and matching love seat with a coffee table between them.  Everything in the room spoke of comfort and there was such a feeling of peace that she found herself relaxing.

After a few minutes, Jude returned.

“Dad will be right here. He’s finishing something in the kitchen. Do you want anything? Something to eat or drink?”

“No thanks, I just had lunch.” Then she added as she realized she was thirsty, “but some water would be nice.”

“Water coming right up!” Jude left again, turning left in the hall, towards the kitchen.  Bella sighed. At this rate, she wouldn’t have to worry about who carried the conversation. She almost got up to follow him into the kitchen but a sound stopped her. Singing. Someone was singing and it wasn’t coming from the kitchen. It was coming from the other side of the hallway, where she imagined the bedrooms would be. And it didn’t sound like either Pastor Toby or Jude. Was someone else here?

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

As she slept, she dreamed.

She was in her car trying to get somewhere. But there was road construction everywhere and she kept running into detours. No matter how long she drove, she never got any closer to her destination. Frustrated she had decided to ignore the next detour sign but woke up before she could do so.

The first thing she noticed were the shadows in her room. Oh no, she thought. How long did I sleep? She picked up her phone to check the time.  It was almost dinner time! Well, I guess the decision has been made for me. There’s no way I can go now.  It’s too late.  Not wanting to interrupt his dinner, she decided to visit Pastor Toby another day. But then she heard that tiny voice whisper “come” again to her heart.

Responding, she took a deep breath and summoned every bit of strength she had, and headed to the front door.

Where are you going?

She was going to go to the church. She needed to know the truth. And she wanted to be loved for a few more minutes, even if it was only by a stranger. She need to be with Pastor Toby and his son.

But what if they turn you away? No one likes visitors when they’re eating.

If they turn her away, she wouldn’t be any worse off than she was right now. And if they didn’t turn her away, she would finally know the truth.

Determined not to be side tracked again, she walked the few blocks to the church. At this hour, there weren’t as many people on the street. I guess they’re all eating dinner somewhere, she thought. She remembered the last time she walked down this sidewalk. She was still limping a little from her fall, but the redness in her leg gone.

 

Actually, she was surprised to realize, her leg had healed while she had been with the pastor.  Strange that she hadn’t noticed that until now.

She got to the church without incident this time and entered through the unlocked doors.IMG_20180514_142540261 She crossed the foyer and went straight to the doorway leading to the pastor’s living quarters and knocked on the door.

Before her hand could drop away from it, the door opened. Pastor Toby smiled warmly at her.

“Welcome back! We’ve been waiting for you!”

He opened the door wide and motioned for her to enter.  “I need to finish some preparations in the kitchen but you can walk on back to the garden. You’ll find my son there. I’ll join you as soon as I can.”

Nodding, she walked across the room and out the back door. Jude saw her as soon as she stepped outside and opened his arms wide to her.

“You’re here!” he exclaimed. “I’m so glad! I really enjoyed our last visit and was hoping you’d be back.”

“You did? I was afraid you were only being nice last time.”

“It’s more than that. You are valuable and special. We take great delight in you.”

She looked uncertainly at him. “Valuable? I’m nobody. Why would you take delight in someone like me?”

“Someday you’ll understand. Right now, let’s just take a walk. I know you’ve been studying hard and am tired. Let me refresh you.”

Smiling, she said, “Can we go to the lake? I have some more questions to ask.”

 

 

 

related links

Bella, part 1 – Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

(Bella’s first trip to the church can be found in I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1 and I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2)

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 1

The sidewalk was crowded as Bella made her way down the street. As she walked, she watched the people. Most of the people were not paying attention to anyone else as they hurried to their destinations, not even slowing down as they bumped into fellow travelers. A few people were looking around, lost in the sea of bodies. Even fewer were the people who were actually smiling and trying to make contact with anyone who looked at them.

Bella felt alone in that crowd of people. Everyone, or at least most of them, seemed to know what they were doing and where they were going. Bella knew neither. Full of sadness that she didn’t understand, she walked through the throng trying to avoid being bumped and jostled.

Bam! Without warning, she was knocked flat to the ground.

IMG_20180504_145111100

“Hey, are you OK?” Bella looked up to see a lady rushing towards her.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She said, trying to brush the lady off. She didn’t need anyone’s help. But as she tried to stand, pain burst through her right hip. She looked down and saw that her entire right side was blood red.

“You ARE hurt,” the lady exclaimed, leaning over her. “Stay down. I’m going to call for an ambulance.” The lady touched her cell phone and groaned, “My battery’s dead. I’ll go find a phone. Be right back” and ran off towards a nearby store.

Bella didn’t wait for her to come back. She didn’t want her help. She was sure she was OK. Maybe a bit bruised but nothing to make a fuss over. Not near as bad as the pain inside her. She managed to get on her feet and began limping in the other direction to avoid the lady seeing her. Up ahead was a church. Perfect. she could hide in there. She really didn’t want to deal with that lady’s insistence that she needed help.

As she limped towards the church, she noticed her limp was getting less pronounced. See, she thought with justification, I’m fine.

Opening the front door to the church, she was surprised at how big it was. Much bigger IMG_20180504_145124393on the inside than it looked on the outside. She was in a large foyer. Several tables were scattered around, most with pieces of paper on them. There were signs   directing church goers to the bathrooms and exits. And in the center stood an indoor fountain. As she limped towards the fountain, she noticed several doors along the back wall. Thinking they might provide a better place to hide, she tried them. The first door went into the kitchen. She peered inside. Empty. She could hide here, but no, it was too close to the door and if that lady had seen her enter the church, it would be the first place she’d look. Bella needed to go deeper into the church.

Opening another door, Bella saw a long hallway with many more doors. Even though she wasn’t limping as much as she did at first, her hip still hurt and she didn’t feel up to trying a bunch more doors that may or may not provide a suitable hiding place. So she closed that door and opened the third door. It looked like a living room. The preacher’s private quarters? She didn’t see anyone so she decided to sneak in there to hide. If she was quiet enough, no one would know she was there. And maybe she would be lucky enough to find a back door leading to a different street where that nosy lady wouldn’t think to look.

As she made her way slowly across the living room she noticed there was indeed a doorway in the back. It looked like it led into a hallway. She shifted her course slightly and headed towards it. Just before she got there, she heard a voice.

“Well, hello there!”

She froze in her tracks. Should she make a run for it? But she was already across the room from the door, and there was no telling where the hall would lead.

To be continued.

Just Leave Me Alone

It had been a long day. A very long day. And all day long, frustrated with things going wrong and the stress of so many people making demands on her, she had lashed out at Jesus.

“Why do You allow this to happen? Why won’t You do something about it? You’re all powerful, You could make things easier if You wanted. Is this how You take care of the people You love?”

Now that she was home, she was tired and wanted nothing more to do with anyone. Just let me be alone in peace, she thought, planning on going to bed early.

IMG_20180428_202927705

But then she remembered this was church night. Great. Should she skip church this night? Or go even though she really didn’t want to?

As she considered her choices, she decided what she needed most was Jesus to refill her. Since she found it easiest to open herself to Him during worship music, she went to church.

Once there, she sat in the least occupied area she could find hoping that everyone would leave her alone. Maybe if she kept her eyes closed, they would assume she was praying and not want to disturb her. She didn’t open them until the music started and was promptly disappointed to find out the music chosen for the service were songs she didn’t like. Just my luck, she thought. I should have stayed home.

Near the end of the service, she decided good music or not, she needed a touch from IMG_20180428_202916014Jesus. So she closed her eyes and asked Jesus to totally fill her. She pictured herself kneeling in front of Him, not moving, not saying anything, just being in His presence. As she did, she began to feel lighter and lighter – like burdens were being taken off her shoulders. Enjoying the feeling, she didn’t want the service to end, but no one asked her and so it ended much too soon.

She was delighted to find that the feeling of lightness and peace went home with her.  As she prepared for bed, she smelled something burning. Sniffing, she tracked it down to the fuse box. She called the landlord who came over to check it out.

“The hot water fuses shorted out,” he reported. “It’s a good thing you caught it. Too much longer and it most likely would have caught fire.”

After he left, she remembered that she had wanted to go to bed early. And if she had, there’s a good chance she wouldn’t have noticed the burning smell while she slept. She knew who was responsible for her catching it. And she thanked Him for not leaving her alone, for taking care of her even after all her ranting and raving that day. His unconditional love was truly amazing!

The Attack… and Some Brown Leaves

Already feeling low from struggling with a decision she was finding hard to make, she was not prepared for her dad’s attack.

“Christians are all ignorant fools,” he told her. “Too stupid to use their own minds, they just follow whatever the church says. Blind faith. Stupid faith.”

“It’s not like that,” she tried to explain. But he wouldn’t listen.

“You’re no better than them. You have been brainwashed into believing God can actually love you. That He’s actually interested in your life. He is God! Creator of the universe! He doesn’t care about each tiny individual. He made the world and now it’s up to us.”

“But that’s not what Jesus said…”

“Jesus!” he interrupted her. “He may have been a good man, but he was not God. He didn’t know any more than anyone else. People just made him into something he wasn’t because they needed something to hold on to when life got tough. Jesus is nothing more than a crutch.”

“He’s more than that, dad. He is God and He is with us. I know! I met Him!”

“If you believe that, you’re no better than any of those other delusional people. If you were smart, you’d drop this fantasy and look at life as it really is.”

“What about the Bible? The Bible says that Jesus is God and..” She was cut off again.

“It was written by ignorant people trying to explain a world they didn’t understand. We know better now. Science has proven most of the bible inaccurate. It’s just a book of fairy tales…”

And on and on he went, his voice rising as his anger against Christianity grew. Eventually, he got tired of ranting and left the room. She sat there, feeling as sore and bruised as if he had actually beat her. She slowly got up and got ready for bed. She started to pray but stopped. How could she? She didn’t deserve to be with Jesus. She had not been able to defend Him, to speak up for Him, to make her dad understand. She had let Jesus down. She felt like she couldn’t have Jesus anymore – not because He didn’t want her, but because they just couldn’t be together anymore. And she wanted Him. Not just because she needed Him and without Him, she wouldn’t have life, but because she loved Him. And so she wept.

The next day was spent in misery. She felt like God was on her side concerning her belief VS her dad’s belief, but that didn’t help much. She still felt like she had let Jesus down.

That night, before entering the church hall for the weekly prayer meeting she attended, she decided to take a walk down the church yard. It was dark, and the ground was covered with brown leaves from the many trees in the yard. As she walked with her eyes down, she began talking to God, telling Him how she felt. She really didn’t feel like attending the meeting. She was in no mood to go in there and greet everyone with hugs and smiles and pretend everything was OK. So she asked God what she needed to do.

“Rejoice, and praise Me in song and with your words.”

She sighed. “OK. Fine. But it won’t be emotional.” Then she added, “Please keep me from being a wet blanket on everyone else.”

As she walked, she pictured Jesus walking next to her. As often was the case, her image seemed to take on a life of its own, and she saw Jesus act like He was feeling as down as she was and kick at the leaves.

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This made her smile. Jesus feeling down? And kicking at the leaves? She looked up at Him as she joined Him in kicking leaves, and she saw that He was smiling.

“Jesus, You are amazing! You always know just the right thing to do for me!”

And she went into the hall to greet everyone with hugs and smiles and act like everything was OK. Because it was.

What If Statues Came Alive?

“Really?” She raised her eyebrows at him with disbelief. “You mean, for real?”

“Yeah, for real. Want to?” He smiled at her playfully.

“It’s storming outside!”

“No, it’s just raining now. The lightning is gone. It’ll be safe.”

“But it’s…” she looked at her watch, “two in the morning!”

“So?”

She didn’t answer.

“You afraid of the rain?”

“No. I love the rain.”

“So, let’s go!”

” But what if there’s someone else out there? Someone who might hurt us or rob us or something?”

“No one is going to be out there. It’s raining!”

“We’re going to be out there.”

“Yeah, but we’re crazy.”

Reluctantly she agreed. This was probably going to be one of the stupider ideas he’s had. Walking  down a street, in the middle of the night, in the rain?

But as they walked, hand in hand, hair and clothes plastered to their bodies, she had to admit it was fun. Way more fun than saying good bye to him and driving that long drive home.

Laughing with delight in the experience, they made their way to the end of the road, where they came to his church.

“Hey, let’s go inside,” he suggested.

“Won’t it be locked?”

“Nope. They never lock the door.”

“What if someone sees us? We’re a mess!”

“Who’s going to be there in the middle of the night? Besides us, that is.” He laughed again.

So she agree and they went inside.

“We should leave,” she said, looking at the floor. “We’re getting the floor all wet.”

“Don’t worry. It’ll evaporate.”

They walked down the center aisle and looked around at the stained glass and the large statues all around them.

“Just imagine if these statues came alive,” he said.

“That would be spooky.”

“But what if they did? What would they say?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know.” She wasn’t so sure she liked this game.

As they turned around to head back out, a large statue of Jesus caught their eyes.

“I have an idea,” he said. “Let’s imagine that statue of Jesus coming alive and coming down the aisle to stand right in front of us. And let’s listen to what He would say.”

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“He’d probably say we’re being stupid for being here instead of at home, considering tomorrow is a work day, and…”

He cut her off. “Let’s just see, OK? Close your eyes and listen.”

She sighed, but did as he asked.

Within seconds, an image filled her mind. An image of Jesus standing in front of her, looking at her with so much love all she could do was gaze at Him. Then He put His arms around her encouragingly, and walked her out of the church saying, “Let’s do it together.”

“Well, anything?” he interrupted her imaginings.

She shared what she had seen, and he smiled. “That’s pretty much what I got too.. Jesus loving me and holding me in His arms.”

As they left the church,  awed at His response to their silly game., she was filled with thankfulness to the amazing God who loved her and promised to do life with her.  Even in the rain.

That Wasn’t Fair!

“There she goes again,” Evil One said to Evil Two.

“Is she running with that four-legged beast again?” Evil Two asked.

“Yeah, ” Evil One said.

“I’ve got an idea.”

There was a long pause.

“Well, are you going to tell me?” Evil One glowered at Evil Two.

“Sure.”

Another long pause.

“Now would be a good time.”  Evil One spat at Evil Two. “I don’t have forever.”

“Umm… actually, you do.”  Evil Two smiled his evil smile.

“Enough of this! What is your idea?”

“Well, you know how she goes in that room every week to … worship God,” Evil Two barely got the words out, but then continued. “And then comes back out and runs down the block with her dog?”

“Yeah, so?”

“What if we gave her a little nudge.”

“A nudge? Like to make her go faster?”

“A nudge. Like to make her fly.”

“Oooo… that would be awesome! Then when she landed, on her face of course, she will get mad at God because she believes He protects her from everything!”

They both chuckled savoring the image her hitting the ground and cursing God.

Then Evil One turned to Evil Two. “Whose going to ask His permission to do this?”

“Hmmm, that’s right.”  Evil Two grimaced. “We have to have permission to touch her. So what can we say that would make Him agree to this?

Evil One said, after a moment, “I’ve got it! We can say we only want to help her run faster to get back to the safety of her car. After all, it is late at night and evil does hide in the darkness.”

“You mean like us?”

“Yeah. No. I mean like another human that would want to hurt her.”

“Think He’ll go for it?”

“Let’s go see.”

 

Moments later they were back.

“I can’t believe He fell for it.” Evil One said. “Whose going to do the honor?”

“Oh, you do it,” Evil Two responded with an look of anticipation. “I want to see her expression from the front.”

They began moving towards the girl and the dog, who were now running back towards the parking lot.

“Wait!” Evil Two said. “Make sure you nudge her to the right so she lands on her bad right shoulder. Another dislocation would be awesome right now!”

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“Well, that didn’t turn out too well.” Evil Two said sadly as they watched her get back in her car with her dog and drive away.

“Yeah. I didn’t see that coming. Who said anything about an angel protecting her fall? He sure came out of nowhere, didn’t he?”

“And did you hear what she said?” Evil Two’s face scrunched up in disgust. “She thanked Him! She actually thanked Him for His protection! She’s flat on her face and she’s thanking Him! The only one she got mad at was us.”

“Well, actually, she wasn’t flat on her face. I had the angle just right, but that angel rolled her in the air. Her face and right side never even touched the ground. ”

“That wasn’t fair. And angel was not part of the deal.”

Evil Two shook his head. “Just wait until next time. We’ll make sure we include a ‘no angels’ clause.

 

The next day, Evil Two asked Evil One, “Want to go see what she wrote in her journal? Maybe after thinking about it, she might not be in such a thankful mood.”

“You might be right. As hard as she hit the ground, she should be feeling pretty sore. It’s hard to be thankful when you’re hurting.”   He gave a nasty chuckle.

She was just finishing her journal entry when they appeared in her room.

They read: “I don’t know what happened. But somehow I fell last night and hit the ground pretty hard. It could have been so bad. If I had landed on my right side, my arm could have been dislocated again. But I didn’t. Somehow I didn’t even land on my face even though I fell face first. God is so amazing! He must have protected me and made me roll on my left side. I am so thankful to Him for His protection.  I know I can’t always protect myself. My trust is in Jesus…”

“Disgusting,” Evil Two said to Evil One. “Let’s get out of here!”

And God laughed.