A long, long time ago in Israel, before they had kings to rule over them, God was Israel’s King. For more than 300 years, after escaping from slavery in Egypt, under Moses’ leadership, and after wandering in the desert for 40 years, God appointed judges to rule and lead the children of Israel. Now, during the time of these judges, the children of Israel were sometimes very faithful to the Lord, while other times, (often when one of the judges would die, and before another took over), the Israelites would do what was evil in the Lord’s sight, choosing to do what was right in their own eyes, rather than walking in obedience to God. During this time, the nation of Israel did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and so He handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for 40 years.
Now, it was when the nation of Israel had chosen to go their own way, rather than walking in obedience to God, and were suffering under the oppression of the Philistines, that a woman received a very special visitor, who brought her good news. This woman was married to a man named Manoah, who was from the tribe of Dan, and though they had been married for many years, they had no children, for she was barren.
When she was younger, she suffered from deep depression, especially when her friends were having one baby after another, year after year, while she was unable to conceive even one. For many years, she had cried out to YHWH, the Creator of all life, pleading for Him to give her a child, but finally, she had accepted the fact that she would never know the joy of carrying a new life in her womb. Therefore, she made up her mind that she would make the best of the situation, and though she couldn’t give her husband a baby, she determined to be the best wife any man could want in every other way.
That’s not to say that she didn’t still have bad days, because sometimes, when she thought about what it would have been like to give Manoah the son they both longed for, it felt like her heart would be rent apart. On those days, it was hard to stop the tears from flowing, but she tried not to let her husband see her pain, because it broke his heart to see her so upset. He was a good man, who loved her deeply, and the only thing worse than her own pain was seeing pain in Manoah’s eyes.
And so this precious woman resolved that she would love and serve the Lord with all her heart, and place all of her trust in Him. For though He had given her no children, He had blessed her in other ways. After all, she had a wonderful husband who loved her dearly, despite the fact that she could give him no heirs. She also had a lovely home to live in, plenty of food, clothes on her back and so much more. How could she not love the Lord her Provider?
Yet, as deep as this woman’s love for the Lord was, His love for her was even deeper. You see, long before He laid the foundations of the earth, Elohim had given her a very special place in history, and though no one remembers her name, they do remember her story…
One day, while she was drawing water from the well, a Stranger appeared before her, saying, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.”
She was elated. So strong was her faith in God, that it never occurred to her to question or doubt the Stranger’s words. As soon as He finished speaking and left, she gathered the hem of her robe in hand and took off running, (Yes, running at her age!) to find Manoah as quickly as possible and share the good news with him.
“Manoah! Manoah!” she shouted. “A Man of God came to me; His face was fearsome, like that of the Angel of God. I didn’t ask Him where He came from, and He didn’t tell me His name. But He told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’”
Manoah was stunned as he gazed down into his wife’s glowing eyes. She was radiant with joy, reminding him of the girl she had once been, before the cares of life had doused her youthful luminescence. Manoah didn’t question his wife’s sanity, for he, too, was a man who loved the Lord, and like his wife, he had a deep and abiding faith in the Almighty One. Therefore, in response to her joyful announcement, he dropped to his knees, praying, “Lord, please let the Man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.”
In answer to Manoah’s earnest prayer, the Angel of the Lord appeared once again to the woman of God, this time, while she was sitting in the field. Hurriedly, she ran to find her husband, telling him, “The Man who appeared to me the other day is here again!”
Quickly, Manoah ran back to the field with his wife to find the Angel of the Lord and question Him. “Are you the One who spoke to my wife the other day?” When the Angel of the Lord responded that He was indeed the one who had spoken to Manoah’s wife, he began to question Him about what rules should govern the child’s life. He repeated to Manoah what He had spoken to his wife a few days prior.
After listening to the Angel of the Lord’s instructions, Manoah invited Him to stay, while he and his wife prepared a goat for Him to eat. The Angel of the Lord agreed to stay, but informed them that He would not be eating the goat. Instead, He instructed them to offer the goat as a sacrifice to the Lord.
Manoah, still unaware that this was the Angel of the Lord, agreed to do so, asking Him for His name. “Why do you ask for My name?” He responded, “since it is Wonderful?”
Manoah then offered the goat and a grain offering as well, on a rock. Then, what happened next, caused both Manoah and his wife to fall to the ground on their faces in worship, as a flame of fire shot up from the altar toward heaven, and the angel of the Lord soared up to heaven in the flame. It was then, that Manoah realized that this was the Angel of the Lord. As he grabbed his wife’s hand, and the two stood, looking up to heaven, he whispered fearfully, “Now, we shall surely die, for we have seen God!”
Tenderly, this woman of great faith looked up into her husband’s eyes, taking his face into her hands, as she responded softly, “No Manoah. If the Lord was going to kill us, He wouldn’t have accepted our offering. And surely, He wouldn’t have appeared to us to give us such wonderful news and shown us such miraculous things!” Tears slid down both of their faces as they held one another in the field that day, and worshiped their Creator…
And so it was that before the year was over, the faithful woman truly did give birth to a son, as the Lord had promised, and she named him Samson, which means, “sun,” perhaps in homage to the brilliance of the Lord that flashed before her and her husband, the day they saw the Lord ascend into heaven in a flame…
Words cut deeper than the sharpest razor or sword, piercing a person’s heart, and severing his/her very soul, killing his/her as the life just drains out of him/her like blood gushing from an open wound…
Wanda sat in the middle of her bed, trembling and hyperventilating as she rocked back and forth. Her stuffed animals and school books were strewn all over the floor, where she had thrown them all in a fit of rage when she got home from school. “I can’t take it anymore,” she said to herself, as the tears that she’d held inside all day began to pour down her cheeks in a steady flow, mingling with the snot that freely flowed from her nose, as though the floodgates had been opened. Grabbing a tissue from her nightstand, Wanda blew her nose, though the tears and the snot continued to flow unchecked.
What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week I will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just use it for direction. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Fear and regret welled up inside him, as searing hot pain burned him from within and without, consuming him in a blaze of hopeless torment. “Oh God,” he cried out in agony, as the bitterness of his current state engulfed him with sorrow and remorse, while the unrelenting holocaust drove home the knowledge that it was now too late to go back and change anything.
He had always lived his life on the edge, like a tightrope walker, while never fully committing to the Lord, he enjoyed many of the forbidden fruits of life, being careful not to do anything too terribly bad, and always making sure that he never missed going to church on Christmas and Easter. How sharply focused everything suddenly was, as revelation came in a flash of lightning, burning through all of the lies he had told himself through the seventy-eight brief years of his self-indulgent life, when he had vowed to himself that he would make Jesus his Lord and Savior when he was older, only to continue putting it off until now, when his life was used up, and it was too late. The truth is that even if he had lived another seventy-eight years, he’d never really had any intentions of making peace with God, and now there was hell to pay, as the flames unceasingly tormented him.
What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week I will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just use it for direction. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Her words were like a razor, sharp and hard, slicing their recipient to shreds, with each lashing from her tongue.
Just moments earlier, that same tongue had spoken words that were soft and soothing, a healing balm applied to the one she loved with gentleness, as she sought to heal some of the wounds caused by a lifetime of pain and abuse. There was great power in her words, and she was amazed at the transformation in her friend, who seemed to change from a lowly caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly, as she spoke those words of love and truth to her.
Yet now, as she peered at her reflection in the mirror with self-loathing, heaping those hateful curses on her image that looked back at her with tears in her eyes, she heard different words, coming from the Word Himself. “Be still, My love,” the Word tenderly whispered to her, “for you are My beloved, whom I have created fearfully and wonderfully in My image, for My glory and I command you to love yourself as I have loved you.”
The bitter bile of remorse rose up from his stomach, causing him to retch painfully as he sobbed, crying like a distraught child. Waves of pain and sorrow, guilt and regret washed over him as he cried unashamedly, while memories of another time played on the screen of his mind’s eye in vivid high definition. Meanwhile, he stumbled, weeping and gagging, as he made his way past the rioting crowds in the darkness as he sought a place of refuge, some place where he could escape the noise of the angry mob.
Finally, he collapsed in a heap beside the Dung Gate, while he continued to weep bitterly. “O Jesus,” he sobbed in anguish, “I have denied Messiah, Son of the Living God!”
Without warning, as he spoke those words of agony, another image flashed before his mind’s eye, of him and his eleven comrades, co-disciples near Caesarea Philippi with Jesus. It was a barren place of emptiness and waste. There was nothing remarkable about the place to stand out in his mind, but it was what happened there that forever changed Peter.
Earlier that day, they had seen Jesus feed over five thousand people with just two fish and five loaves of bread, and afterwards, they crossed the lake to the other side. They were all so excited about all they had witnessed, that they forgot to bring any food along with them, until they got to the other side, and Jesus told them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. Not understanding what He was saying, they thought He must be referring to the fact that they had no bread.
They were so earthly minded, that it was often difficult for them to understand what Jesus was really trying to tell them, and yet, He continued to love them, and explain those things they didn’t understand, much like a mother teaches her children… “You have so little faith! Why are you worried about having no food? Won’t you ever understand? Don’t you remember the five thousand I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of food that were left over? Don’t you remember the four thousand I fed with seven loaves, with baskets of food left over? How could you even think I was talking about food? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'” Slowly, understanding dawned on them, and they nodded knowingly, like children, eager to please their father.
And then Jesus asked them another question, and like children eager to redeem themselves from their previous misunderstanding, they took turns answering their Teacher’s next question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Some say John the Baptist,” a few of them burst forth eagerly.
“Yes, and some say Elijah!” still others eagerly stated, their eyes glistening with the hopes that their answer was the correct one.
“That’s true,” others responded, “but we’ve heard people say that You’re Jeremiah or one of the other prophets!”
While all of this questioning and answering was going on, Peter, who was normally so boisterous and vocal, stood there in silence, watching his Master’s every move, thinking of the miracles of healing and deliverance, the feeding of the multitudes, and the raising of the dead. He felt his heart begin to pound loudly in his chest, and his ears began to ring, as Jesus posed another question to the disciples, “Who do you say I am?”
A sudden blinding revelation came to Peter, as the answer to the question burst forth from him, like the flood waters forcing their way past a dam, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Sitting beside the Dung Gate, Peter continued to weep bitterly, as he remembered Jesus’ response to him that day, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.”
“Heavenly Father,” Peter now prayed on the darkest night of his soul, “Forgive me. In my foolish pride and arrogance, I was so sure I would do the right thing, even though no one else did. I was so sure that I would stand with Jesus, that I would be the rock that He could depend on. I had so much confidence in my own strength and character, that I forgot my strength comes from You. Forgive me, Lord, for strutting around like a pompous rooster, so proud of all my achievements, when apart from Jesus, I can do nothing! El Hakadosh, apart from Him I have nothing — apart from Him, I am nothing,” Peter wept brokenly, as memories of his time with Jesus washed over him.
He remembered His first meeting with Jesus, who looked intently at him and said, “You are Simon, the son of John — but you will be called Cephas (which means Peter).” A few days later, he saw Jesus again, walking along the shore of Galilee, where he and his brother, Andrew, who were commercial fishermen, were busy fishing with a net, while the sweat rolled off them. “Peter and Andrew,” Jesus called, as they stood in their boat holding the net. Both waved, happy to see Him again, as Jesus beckoned them, “Come,” He shouted to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Just like that, without even a second glance, both Peter and his brother Andrew drew the net back in, beached their boat, on the shore, and left it all, to follow Jesus from that day forward. He remembered that day on the Mount of Olives, when Jesus taught the people for hours. His words were like manna from heaven and Peter loved feasting on them, savoring each tasty morsel that came forth from Jesus’ tongue. He spoke with such authority — like no one Peter had ever heard before. He saw Him heal lepers, and many others who were sick. Jesus even healed his mother-in-law, who had fallen ill with a fever! He watched in awe, as Jesus gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, a voice to the mute, and even life to the dead!
There was nothing He couldn’t do! He cast demons out of men and women, and calmed the raging seas! He even walked on water, and invited Peter to join Him! Never had there been someone more loving and compassionate than Jesus, forgiving people of their sins, no matter how great they were, “And how did I repay Him, Lord?” Peter groaned miserably. “I denied that I even knew Him,” Peter shuddered as he remembered his vehement denial of Jesus, as not once, not twice, but three times, he denied knowing the One who had given him the abundant life he had never dreamed possible.
He would never forget the look on his Savior’s face, when he denied knowing Him that third and final time, cursing and swearing as he did so, and then, as the cock crowed for the third time, in the midst of his cursing, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. For what seemed like forever, but in reality, was probably a matter of seconds, their eyes locked, and Peter was shocked at what he saw in Jesus’ eyes. As He stood there battered and bleeding, Jesus gazed at Peter with compassion and sorrow in His eyes! There Peter stood, ranting like a lunatic in order to convince everyone that he didn’t know the King of glory, while the King of kings stood swaying from the onslaught of the brutal beatings He had received, feeling sympathy for Peter!
Overwhelming shame engulfed Peter, as he took off running and crying like a baby. He had hurt the One that he loved most, and the last memory Jesus would ever have of Peter, the fool who had declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will…” and when Jesus had responded that Peter would deny Him three times, Peter had passionately exclaimed, “No! Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!” Those words tasted like bile in his mouth now.
After a night spent weeping bitterly, Peter picked himself up early the next morning, slowly making his way to the upper room, where they had gathered the night before for what was their last supper with their Master. His eyes and his nose were red from sleeplessness and crying, and he felt as though he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. Jerusalem was abuzz with gossip, and he had heard the outcome of the sham they called a trial, as he made his way back. He had heard the vociferous crowd as he quietly skirted around the back of them, wending his way to the last place where he and his brothers had been united as one with Messiah. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” the angry crowd shouted, and Peter fought not to begin retching again. “Give us Barabbas,” he heard them cry, as he entered the upper room and quickly slammed the door shut.
He saw that most of the disciples had already returned there, and though some wanted to talk, he just waved them off, stalking over to the darkest corner of the room, and resting his weight there on the floor, he drifted off into a troubled sleep. In his dreams, he again saw Jesus looking at him with love and compassion, while he wept inconsolably. Scenes of the times they had shared together were woven into his dreams, and Peter heard the voice of his Savior speaking to him, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you… Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven… Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s…
“If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?
“For I, the Son of Man, will come in the glory of My Father with His angels and will judge all people according to their deeds. And I assure you that some of you standing here right now will not die before you see Me, the Son of Man, coming in My Kingdom.
“No one can take My life from Me. I lay down My life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it again. For my Father has given Me this command…
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to Me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.”
He was awakened later that evening to the sounds of screaming, both inside the upper room, and outside as well, as the tremors of a violent earthquake shook the city of Jerusalem. There was an eerie darkness that spread throughout the land, and they watched through the window in fear and amazement, as many tombs were ripped open, and the dead rose up out of those tombs. The men and women in the upper room were just as frightened as those outside were, and Peter again heard the voice of His Savior last night when He told him, “Simon, Simon… I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to Me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.”
“I repent, Lord,” Peter whispered brokenly, “Forgive me, and help me to be the man You want me to be, Lord.” He looked around the room, at the frightened men and women who had gathered there trembling and crying, and he spoke to them. “Fear not, brothers and sisters, no one took Messiah’s life,” he said, as the tears traveled down his dirt stained, care worn face. “He gave His life willingly, for our sake. Even though there is darkness all around, let us trust in the Lord, with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding. Let us pray together and stay together, until our heavenly Father shows us what to do next,” he said, as the men and women in the room nodded and knelt to pray.
Three days later, Mary Magdalene came running into the upper room and told Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!”
Peter and John ran to the tomb to see, and John outran Peter and got there first, stopping at the entrance, where he stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there. Peter arrived shortly after, and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side. Then the John also went in, and he saw and believed — for until then they hadn’t realized that the Scriptures said He would rise from the dead.
John looked at Peter with fire in his eyes, “He’s alive, Peter!” Both were stunned as they continued to stare at the empty tomb and the burial cloths, and then looked back to one another. “He’s alive!” John said exuberantly.
Later that evening, Jesus miraculously appeared in the midst of them, from out of nowhere, showing them His nail pierced hands and feet, as well as His side…
“Ring around the roses, a pocket full of posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!”
“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.”
“See, see, my playmate, Won’t you come play with me?
And bring your dollies, three? Climb up my apple tree?
Slide down my rainbow,
Into my cellar door,
And we’ll be jolly friends,
Forevermore, 1, 2, 3, 4!”
Tears slid down her cheeks as she walked into the yard of her childhood, hearing and seeing the children playing again in her mind’s eye. Was it possible that she had once been so innocent and carefree or was it all only a dream, a wish for what could have — no, for what should have been? Nostalgically, she walked over to the swing that was still tied to the old oak tree, fingering its chains and testing the wooden seat before easing her weight onto it. Someone had obviously taken great pains to care for this swing, to ensure that the ravages of time wouldn’t render it a danger to other children who might use this swing, or in this case, so this now middle-aged woman could sit here, close her eyes, and remember…
She remembered playing with her neighborhood friends and her cousins until well past dark on those steamy summer days and nights, and then rising early the next morning, to do it all again. The year was 1971, and things were different back then. This was an era where you’d better be on your best behavior, because the neighborhood mothers kept watch on all of the children as if they were their own, and if you acted up, Suzy’s mommy would spank you for misbehaving, and then she would call your mommy, and she would spank you too! She smiled, remembering that Suzy’s mommy had indeed spanked her on more than one occasion, for her mischievousness.
She smiled as she gazed at the steps leading to the upper level of the yard, envisioning the little girl with her little purple hotpants under the cute little mini dress, wielding her brush as though it was a microphone, as she put a record on her record player and prepared her one-woman stage show, imagining the audience below, which sometimes included neighborhood children, and other times was completely imaginary. A lone tear slid down her cheek as she remembered that little girl standing right there, with her imaginary audience applauding as she softly sang Donny Osmond’s, “Go Away Little Girl.”
She remembered staying up late on hot summer nights, catching lightening bugs with her cousins and her friends. Life up until then was so carefree, as it should be for a little girl of ten, but that all changed one dreadful night when she was playing a game with her cousins. It was a dark, moonless night, and they were playing one of their favorite games, “Midnight in the Graveyard.” She was “It”, the “Ghost in the Graveyard,” and she had to find a hiding place, where her cousins wouldn’t be able to find her, but if they did find her, she still had a chance of winning, if she could escape without them tagging her and run to the empty swing, which was “home base.”
She remembered finding the perfect hiding place. She shuddered now, as she remembered that night, hearing the voices of her cousins, as they counted the hours until they could go and look for her… “It’s One O’Clock in the graveyard, and I see no ghosts,” they counted. “It’s Two O’Clock in the graveyard, and I see no ghosts,” they continued, as she softly giggled, crawling towards the big bushes on the left side of the house. The other kids were scared of bugs and spiders, so they would never try to find her in the middle of these bushes, she thought, when suddenly, from behind, someone grabbed her foot and clamped a hand over her mouth.
“That’s not fair!” she thought angrily, as she squirmed to get away and tell whichever cousin had cheated, but as hard as she wiggled and tried to escape, he wouldn’t let her go. And then she realized that whoever it was that held her was much too big to be one of her cousins. This person had strong, hairy arms, like a man, and he smelled too — like he needed a bath and some deodorant. She kept trying to wiggle away and get his hand off her face, because she couldn’t breathe. What was wrong with him? Didn’t he know he was too big to play this game? “He doesn’t even know the rules!” she thought angrily. “Just wait till I tell my daddy about this,” she thought. “I bet he’ll straighten him out.”
She wasn’t frightened until he opened the door of a dark van, and threw her down in the back, while ripping a piece of duct tape from a roll, and placing it on her mouth. Her daddy and mommy liked to watch “The F.B.I.”, and her heart started pounding rapidly, as it suddenly dawned on her that she was being kidnapped by a stranger. “Oh God,” she prayed silently, as tears began to fall rapidly, and her struggling ceased as fear paralyzed her. “Please help me. Please don’t let him kill me, Lord.”
The back door of the windowless van slammed shut, as her kidnapper opened the front door and climbed in, starting the van and turning the radio up loudly, as The Doors sang, “Riders in the Storm.” As she lay weeping on the hard, dirty floor in the back of the van, Shelley suddenly realized that her life had just changed drastically, and there was nothing she could do about it, but pray and try to survive. Her mommy and daddy had always said she was headstrong, and that trait would prove to be necessary for her survival.
Her husband quietly walked up to her, as she sat on the swing, reminiscing, softly speaking, “Are you ready to meet them, Shelley?” before he touched her. In their more than thirty years of marriage, he had learned to never walk up behind her and touch her or grab her, without first announcing his presence, lest he trigger a traumatic episode. He looked at his wife of many years with deep love and admiration for her courage. Over the years, she had fought her way past many obstacles that might have stopped anyone else, but she was determined to be whole, for her own sake, as well as for his sake, their children’s sake, and now for their grandchildren as well.
It had taken her many years of prayer and counseling to work past the painful memories that she had locked deep within her mind, as she allowed each one to surface. Sometimes, only one memory would surface periodically, and other times, she would be brutalized by an onslaught of many memories. Sometimes, they came in broken, hazy fragments, while other times, vivid, sharp memories bombarded her soul.
Still, with the help of her loving Savior, she had continued to press through those memories, which had led her here, to this place, her childhood home, that she hadn’t seen since that dreadful night in 1971, when her idyllic life had been ripped away from her. And God, in His infinite mercy and kindness, had kept her parents alive. She hadn’t seen them since that horrible night either, and she nervously stood up from the swing, and lifted her hand to her hair, to smooth it, glancing up at her husband uncertainly. “Do I look okay?” she asked him worriedly, and he smiled warmly, cupping her chin in his hand as he replied, “You look beautiful.”
Hand in hand, as the two of them climbed the steps to the upper yard, she glanced to the left at the bushes that were supposed to have been her hiding place on that dreadful night, so long ago, and shuddered, as the door opened and she saw the aged faces of her mother and father. Though time had left its toll on their faces, in the forty-two years since she had last seen them, she recognized them immediately, as they fell into one another’s arms, weeping for joy. “I thought we’d never see you again,” her mother cried, as she held her tightly, as though afraid to let go, for fear that she’d vanish again.
“My little princess,” her daddy choked out as she was engulfed in his arms. “I’m so sorry I didn’t protect you better,” he groaned helplessly.
“Don’t say that, Daddy,” Shelley gently replied, as they made their way into the living room. “You were wonderful parents, and you had no way of knowing that such horrible predators lurked about.” It was a joyful reunion, as Shelley introduced her parents to her husband of more than thirty years and showed them pictures of their grandchildren as well as their great-grandchildren.
Their conversation soon took a more serious tone when her mother asked, “Can you tell us what happened, Shelley? Why did it take you so long to come back to us? There hasn’t been one day that we haven’t cried out to God to bring you back home to us,” she said, as she sat on the faded green sofa, leaning against her husband, who periodically swiped at his nose and his eyes with a wrinkled white handkerchief.
“It was awful, Mommy,” she said softly, as she shared the story of her abduction while playing with her cousins on that fateful night. She told her parents how he raped her repeatedly, and then forced her to prostitute herself in the city, against her will. She told her parents that she had tried to escape numerous times, and how he would find her and beat her each time, until she finally stopped trying to run away from her captor.
She told them of her arrest at the age of fifteen, and how it had changed her life. When the police had picked her up, she told them of her abduction and her forced prostitution, and how they arrested her kidnapper, charging him as a rapist and a pedophile and locking him away for a very long time. The one thing she didn’t share with the police was her real name.
The truth of her identity was locked somewhere deep within the recesses of her mind, but the years of repeated abuse and rape had wreaked havoc on the child’s fragile mind, and it would take years to unlock some of the secrets within. Because times were different then, there was no computer database for kidnapped children, and no DNA testing, which made it nearly impossible for the police to locate her family. By God’s grace, the courts were very kind to the broken teen, placing her into the home of a Christian couple who lavished her with love. They loved her when she acted out in anger and rebellion, and they loved her when she cried herself to sleep each night.
It was this loving couple who introduced her to Jesus, and demonstrated His unconditional love to her in so many ways. They took her to Christian counseling, several times a week at first, then, as she began to heal, less and less. Throughout the years, she and her foster parents had prayed for Shelley to be reunited with her parents, especially when she married Gabe, and again, when each of their three children were born, but though she saw their faces in her dreams, she couldn’t remember their names. She wasn’t even sure if Shelley was her true name, until two weeks ago, when after more than forty years, there had been a breakthrough, and she suddenly remembered her name, her parents’ names, and even her former address. “I was surprised to discover that you still live here,” she finished amid the tears.
“Shelley,” her father said gently, “we thought of moving many times over the years, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave, in case you escaped and came looking for us. We had to stay here so you could find us, and I’m so glad we did,” he cried, getting up and throwing his arms around her and her husband.
“Shelley,” her mother said softly, “Would you like to see your old bedroom or would it be too traumatic?”
“Mommy, I have longed to see you and Daddy, and my old room for so many years,” she responded, standing up, and grabbing her husband’s hand, as the four of them headed up the wooden staircase with the gold shag carpet. She laughed delightedly, as she saw pictures of herself as a child hanging on the wall to the left, as they ascended the stairs, running her hand along the oak banister. Sadly, the wall seemed incomplete, as the pictures went from infancy until the age of ten, and then they just stopped. There were no prom pictures, no sweet sixteen pictures, no graduation pictures.
It suddenly dawned on Shelley just how ghastly this must have been for her parents, who never got to experience the joys so many other parents enjoyed. Her mother never got to share with her about the changes that happen when a little girl becomes a woman. Certainly, she had been deprived of these joys, but so too, had her parents.
Waves of compassion swept over Shelley as she, her husband and her parents stood in the hallway outside of her bedroom, and impulsively, before they opened the door to her bedroom, Shelley turned to her mother and whispered, “Mommy, I’m so sorry for all of the joy that you and Daddy missed out on. I’m so sorry for the pain this has caused you, and both of you need to know this was not your fault. You did all that you could do, and what that horrible man intended for evil, God has turned into something good. You see, if none of these horrible things had happened to me, I might not be working with teenage prostitutes and rape victims. This has all worked out for good, because I love God, and He has called me for this purpose.”
After comforting her parents, Shelley turned and opened the door to her bedroom, which had remained unchanged for forty-two years. The bright purple bedspread on the white for poster bed, and lavender walls covered with posters of Donny Osmond brought a smile to her face. There were her old record albums and her record player. She smiled as she saw her collection of stuffed animals neatly arranged on her bed, just as she liked them. She picked up Mr. Bean, a fat fluffy golden stuffed cat, cradling him in her arms as she had done as a child, and walked to the window overlooking the trees and her swing.
“I’m home now, Mr. Bean,” she whispered quietly, as she turned around to look at her family, and with tears brimming from her eyes, she fell to her knees, as her husband joined her, and reaching for her parents hands, they all joined hands and prayed, giving thanks to the Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, who in His infinite love and mercy, had reunited this broken family, and restored the years that the enemy had stolen from them.
When I saw the following troubling video, I was heartbroken… heartbroken for the many women whose lives have been destroyed by abortion…
I was heartbroken for the millions of unborn babies who will…
Never see their mother’s face…
Never hear their mother’s voice singing a lullaby to them…
Never feel the warmth of their mother’s arms around them…
Never press their lips to their mother’s breast to draw nourishment and comfort from her…
Never feel the warmth of their mother’s breath, as she bends down to kiss them and whisper, “I love you” to them…
After watching this video, my heart was filled with overwhelming compassion for one of the women in particular… Although this young woman had changed her mind about aborting her baby, she had been forced to undergo the abortion anyway, and I was inspired to write a parable loosely based on this incident… Even though this parable is loosely based on the incidents that occurred in the preceding video, the characters are not based on any one person but on humankind in general… The message that flows from the story below is the immeasurable value and sanctity of every human life… ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From a distance, as though they were coming through a black tunnel, she heard voices talking about someone. “She seems to be coming to,” the voice of a female spoke. Although she couldn’t see her through the blackness, she could tell by the sound of her voice that she was a white woman.
“Don’t worry about it,” said an educated male voice. This voice sounded as though it came from a black man. Both voices sounded familiar to her, as though she knew the people who spoke, but her mind was so fuzzy, that she just couldn’t remember where she had heard them before.
Her mind was so… so… cloudy and murky… She felt so nauseated… so dizzy… There was a dreadful ringing in her ears, and the voices whirred around her, becoming louder and louder… “I think I’m going to throw up,” she spoke… or did she speak? Maybe she just imagined she was speaking.
And then she heard another sound coming through the long dark tunnel. It was the thin reedy sound of a newborn baby crying… she fought with all her might to open her eyes, because it suddenly dawned on her that the baby she was hearing was her baby. Tears began to slide down her cheeks, but her arms were tied down, and she couldn’t move to wipe them. Through lips that were dry and chapped, she struggled to speak. “My baby,” she croaked, as she fought to rise to the surface of the shroud of darkness and open her eyes.
Suddenly, as she battled with her heavy eyelids and the nausea, she heard a terrible snapping sound, like the sound of breaking bones, and as her eyes finally opened, she saw her newborn infant, a little girl, twitching spasmodically, as her cries immediately ceased. She watched in horror, as the doctor uncaringly tossed the infant into a trash can, and then unconsciousness once again mercifully engulfed her.
She awakened again, in the same dirty bed, with blood splattered on her sheets and the floor. She was alone in the room except for an office worker, who smiled when she opened her eyes. “Oh good,” she said exuberantly, “you’re awake now. I was beginning to worry.”
“My baby,” the woman moaned painfully. “Where is she? I want to see my baby.”
“Your baby?” the other woman queried. “You had an abortion, don’t you remember?”
“No,” the patient moaned, shaking her head from side to side. “I told you I changed my mind. I said I didn’t want an abortion. You know I did. I told you and I told that doctor that I want to keep my baby.”
“I’m sorry, Sweetie,” the middle-aged office worker calmly replied, “You signed all of the forms, and you didn’t say anything to us about keeping the baby. Now, let me go over these orders with you, so you can go home, and we can lock up for the day. It’s past quitting time, and I need to get home to my family.”
The patient looked at the woman incredulously, as the truth began to dawn on her. “That wasn’t a dream, was it?” she questioned. “You killed my baby girl, didn’t you?”
This time, the woman looked at her with a look of hatred and contempt, as she replied, “You’d better watch what you say,” she snapped, “or you could easily end up being just another statistic. Wouldn’t it be awful if something happened to you on the way home?”
The patient met her gaze with fear, feeling helpless as she lay there in the filth and squalor of that room, not responding as the woman continued, “Not that anyone would miss another one of you girls if you just disappeared. You and your kind are a dime a dozen. You fool around, get knocked up and then you want an abortion. It’s the same thing, day in and day out. I won’t be surprised to see you right back here in a couple of months, knocked up and wanting another abortion.”
The patient, whose name was Shimera, shook her head silently, as tears slid down her high, milk chocolate colored cheeks, which had a reddish hue, due to her upset and the fever that was setting in. “Now,” Charlotte, the middle-aged office worker stuck her face into Shimera’s. “Here’s a prescription for antibiotics. You’ll probably have some bleeding for about a week or so, and after that, it should begin to lighten up,” she said as she led the young woman to the door, taking her coat off the rack and handing it to her as she pushed her out the door. Grabbing Shimera’s arm, and digging her nails into it, Shimera looked up into Charlotte’s eyes, which were as cold as ice. “Remember, you were the one who wanted the abortion, and we have the forms you signed to prove it. No one is going to take the word of an ignorant young black girl over that of a kind and benevolent doctor and his staff.” With that, she gave her a shove, causing Shimera to stumble and fall to her knees at the bottom of the steps.
Slowly, painfully, in the frigid winter air, Shimera made her way down the street, glancing behind her periodically, to make sure she wasn’t being followed. Tears slid down her cheeks, as she made her way to her Aunt Tessa’s house. They had taken every penny she had out of her wallet, leaving her penniless. Aunt Tessa’s house wasn’t too much farther. A slow rage began to boil within her, as she stumbled along in the cold. Dr. Johnson and Charlotte had made a big mistake in judging her, for although Shimera was poor and black, she was not stupid, nor was she ignorant to the laws of the land.
Finally, shivering from the cold and the fever that blazed through her body, she made her way to Aunt Tessa’s house, and began pounding on the door, and shouting weakly, “Aunt Tessa,” she cried out weakly, please open up. After what seemed like an eternity, Aunt Tessa appeared at the door and opened it, as Shimera crumpled to the ground in a pool of blood.
To read the rest of this parable, please visit the Justice for Shimera page on this website.
The news was devastating. How could it possibly be true? What had started out as a simple stomach bug had turned out to be something so much worse.
I was so excited when after years of obesity, the pounds seemed to melt away. After years of failed dieting attempts, I went from a size 22 to a size 14, and I was still losing weight. For the first time in my life, I felt pretty, and now, people were always complimenting me and telling me how pretty I am.
A small whimper escaped from my lips as I fought to maintain my composure. I would much rather have all of that weight back and have people think I’m fat than to hear this news. I was sorry now that I hadn’t asked my husband to come with me to the doctor’s office. After all of the tests they had run, I figured the news wouldn’t be good, that I probably had stomach ulcers that would require surgery. We had talked about it last night, and I’d insisted that he go to work instead of coming to see the doctor with me, because we really needed the money, and would need it even more so if I had to have surgery.
“I’m sorry Melanie,” Dr. Chaffinch said as she leaned forward, and took my hands into hers. “Why don’t you let Jen give your husband a call?”
“No,” I forced out. “No — I’ll be fine. I need to tell him alone. So, what’s the prognosis?”
“I’m afraid it isn’t good,” the doctor replied gently. “It’s already spread to the bile duct and the liver.”
I swallowed hard, trying to rid my throat of the painful lump that was throbbing, and fighting to control the tears that were threatening to spring forth. I looked around the doctor’s office, taking in the dark walnut paneling, with my doctor’s many medical credentials, licenses and awards. I continued with my sweep of the room, taking note of the clock on the wall. Could it be that I had only been here for a total of seven minutes? It seemed like an eternity since I had entered this room. My eyes looked past the clock and settled on the bookshelves loaded not only with medical journals and such, but with many of the great classic novels and books, coming to rest on “A Grief Observed,” by C.S. Lewis. How ironic. Shaking my head, I focused my gaze on the pictures that hung on the wall, of Dr. Chaffinch and her family.
A lone tear slid down my cheek as it suddenly dawned on me that I would never bear Alan’s children. We had only been married for a little over a year, and had just started trying to have a baby. “Oh God,” I silently prayed, “how do I tell Alan that we’ll never have a baby… that we’ll never grow old together?”
“Melanie,” Dr. Chaffinch spoke with concern. “Please, let me call Alan. You shouldn’t have to deal with this alone, and I know he would want to be here with you.”
Again, I drew in a deep breath and sighed, shaking my head. “No, please. This is difficult, but I can handle it.” I smiled uncertainly. “After all, how many times have I said, ‘To be absent from the body is to be present from the Lord,’ or ‘To live is Christ; to die is gain?’ Now, it seems I’ll be tested on that very foundation of my life.”
Now, it was Dr. Chaffinch’s turn to look away. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The patient was the one who was supposed to be in tears and in need of comfort, not the doctor. She brushed her tears away, somewhat surprised to see them.
“So, Doc,” I stated flatly, “you still haven’t told me the prognosis.”
Dr. Chaffinch drew in a deep breath and began, “Pancreatic cancer has three stages,” she spoke sadly and softly. The first stage is resectable, and in this stage, the tumor nodules can be removed. The second stage is locally advanced, which means the cancer has spread to areas surrounding the pancreas, such as tissues or blood vessels. The third and final stage of pancreatic carcinoma is metastatic, which means that the cancer resides in multiple organs. Because a tumor can grow in the pancreas for quite a while without any noticeable symptoms, more often than not, when it is discovered, the patient is already in the advanced stages of the disease.”
“It’s in the final stage, isn’t it?” I asked bluntly.
Dr. Chaffinch nodded, still warmly clasping my hands within her own. I sensed that she longed to offer me hope, yet all of the test results made it clear that barring a miracle, there was no hope. “I’m sorry Melanie,” she said softly.
Even though I didn’t feel very brave, I still managed to smile as I worked up the courage to ask, “How much time do you think is left?”
Dr. Chaffinch gulped, then said, “Maybe three to six months if you’re lucky, and I pray you are.”
I felt as though I’d been punched in the stomach. “I see,” I responded after several seconds, which felt like a lifetime, had passed. “What about surgery, or chemo and radiation?” I queried.
Dr. Chaffinch shook her head as she responded, “I’m afraid it’s beyond that.”
“Whoa. I see. Will… will it… will it be painful?” I stammered. “Duh! What a stupid question. The pain is what brought me here.”
“It is painful, Melanie, but we can put you on pain meds to combat the pain, so that you can have as much quality time as possible. You’ll also want to contact Hospice as soon as possible, or we can contact them for you if you like, because they will be able to provide you with palliative care.”
I laughed shakily, “Hospice – that’s crazy. I’m only twenty-four years old.” Then, seeing the pained expression on my doctor’s face, I got up from my chair and embraced Dr. Chaffinch, comforting her, as the tears spilled from both of our eyes.
After leaving the doctor’s office, I drove to my favorite spot by the river. Because it was winter, I had the place to myself, as I got out of my car and walked to the river’s edge, sitting on an empty park bench. There, on that bench, with no one else there besides the Lord, I allowed myself to mourn. I cried out loudly to the Lord, seeking His comfort and His peace. For three hours, alone by the river, I poured out my grief for me, my husband and the children we would never have now, and when I was finally spent, I sat there quietly, waiting for the Lord to respond…
And as I sat there quietly, I felt the gentle brush of His Spirit, as He wrapped His arms around me and began to comfort me. “Fear not,” He whispered in the stillness. “From everlasting to everlasting, I am the Lord your God, and I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore, with lovingkindness, I have drawn you. Though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will be with you. I will comfort you with My righteous right hand. Just as I was with you before you were born,” He spoke, “so I will be with you when you come home to Me. And just as I am with you, so I will be with Alan. Therefore, fear not,” He gently spoke, “for My love for you is eternal.”
Inhaling deeply, her heart began to beat and feeling flooded her very being, from her head to her feet. She felt good — no, she felt marvelous. Her eyes flew open of their own accord, and she found herself gazing into the fathomless eyes of her Father. As she felt His love surrounding her, she smiled, for the first time. After what could have been a lifetime, or what may have only been a few minutes of staring into His eyes, her smile broadened into a grin, and a giggle of delight escaped her, quickly turning into loud, joyous laughter, that grew as her Father laughed with her.
Soon, her eyes began to drink in her surroundings, noting the lush carpet of green grass beneath her, and the many multicolored flowers that sprang up all over. She took note of the royal blue water that ran through the garden, and the exotic birds and animals that roamed freely. Her eyes turned back to those of her Father as she whispered softly, so as not to disturb the exquisiteness of her surroundings, “It’s beautiful, Abba.”
He smiled softly at her, His love for her shining in His eyes, as He held His hand out for her and gently pulled her to her feet when she placed her palm in His, and they walked through the garden a short distance to where the man laid. Briefly, He left her standing behind Him as He held out His hand to the man, just as He had done for her a few minutes earlier, and when the man had risen, Abba turned back to her and brought her forward.
The man’s eyes grew large when he saw her, drinking in her long coal black hair, which ran halfway down her back in thick, luxurious waves. He looked at her almond-shaped eyes, a brilliant sapphire blue, with lovely black pupils in the center. The brilliance of her blue eyes made their whites seem even whiter, and her long eyelashes perfectly framed them. His eyes wandered down her pert little nose, perched delicately between her eyes and rested on her full ruby-red lips. With tears in his eyes, he spoke for the first time since seeing her, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh ; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
They smiled openly at one another, each one absorbing the beauty of the other, as the Lord placed the woman’s hand into the larger, stronger hand of the man and stated in that first marriage ceremony, “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and the two shall be united as one. Now, you are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The man and the woman gazed at one another solemnly, then both turned their eyes on their Father, replying, earnestly, “Yes Father, according to Your will.” The Father smiled down at His children, pleased with His creation, pleased with both of them, and He said, “This is very good.” Then, throwing His head back, He laughed joyfully, the sound of His glorious laughter echoing through the garden, and rippling through the waters.
At the sound of His laughter, the birds hushed their singing as they listened with glee, and the animals bowed low in wonder as His laughter shook the foundations of the earth. And then, His laughter turned into singing, the likes of which none had ever before heard. The Lord God Almighty, Elohim, Creator of the Universe rejoiced over this man and this woman whom He had just united in holy matrimony, with singing and with dancing.
What joy they all shared on the sixth day of creation. And though the man and the woman had never seen one another before that day — indeed, neither had ever even existed before that sixth day, the day of their creation, they weren’t strangers to one another. For each knew without a shadow of doubt, that they had been created for each other.
And though neither were clothed with earthly garments, they weren’t embarrassed or ashamed, for the glory of the Lord covered them, and neither saw anything but beauty as they regarded one another. The man, Adam, was the first to speak, “You are far more beautiful than any other creature that I’ve seen,” he said, fully enamored with her. “Your eyes are like beautiful blue sapphires.”
The woman smiled in delight, replying, “And you are so very handsome. Your eyes are like burning embers. Oh, Abba!” She impulsively turned to their Father, and taking His hand in hers, she said, “Thank You so much for creating me. Thank You so much for giving me this man to be my husband. Thank You Lord!”
Smiling benevolently upon these two children, created in His image, the Father replied, “The pleasure was all Mine, My love. Now go, and be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” With that, the Father departed, and the two were left alone.
“Would you like to explore the garden?” Adam asked the woman, and at her assertion, the two began to explore. Adam took great delight in introducing his bride to each of the many creatures living in the garden. The woman’s face was very expressive as she giggled delightedly at the sight of chipmunks adding more nuts to their already full cheeks, enticing Adam to join her in laughter.
She was awed at the sight of the peacocks with their beautiful plumage spread for her enjoyment. The sight of tiny little kittens brought her to her knees, and as she held them and cuddled them, Adam caught a glimpse of the lovely mother she would one day become. When Adam introduced her to the great woolly mammoth, her eyes grew almost as large as the mammoth itself.
Throughout the rest of the day, as they explored, they talked and shared their hopes and dreams, and though neither had existed before this day, they knew that they were made for each other, and that the Lord had given each of them the desires of their heart. Before long, twilight descended on them, and both sat by the water’s edge to enjoy the setting of the sun, the most glorious sight they had ever witnessed. It seemed that each blessed and glorious sight simply begat another more glorious sight for them to enjoy, and the Father had pulled out all stops, to make this, the day of their birth, as well as their wedding day so spectacular that neither would ever forget it.
And now, as the moonlight reflected on the water beneath them, the woman sighed contentedly in the arms of her beloved. Though she didn’t know what the future held for them, of one thing she was certain, she would always be loved by her Father, and by this man, as their lives were sure to be filled with unspeakable joy.
She had no way of knowing that her eternal bliss was about to be disrupted, and that pain, something neither she nor Adam had ever even heard of, let alone thought about, was about to fill her life. She had no way of knowing that an enemy lurked in the garden, ready to rip all that she loved and held dear from her hands. They had no idea as they rested in one another’s arms that night, that their dreams would suddenly turn into nightmares, and that their unblemished love would soon turn into bitterness, anger and accusations against one another, and that it would take a very long time to mend their broken relationship. Who could have known on that wonderful, starlit night, that their actions would soon separate them from their beloved Creator and Father?
God knew, but in His infinite mercy and compassion, He didn’t share this knowledge with them. He chose instead, to let them enjoy their honeymoon.
“Do you want to be made whole?” Anger rose up in me when I looked at the man who asked me the question. “Do you want to be made whole?” What a stupid question! What fool would dare ask such a question of a poor man such as myself?
For thirty-eight long and miserable years, I had suffered. I had lost everything and everyone I ever cared about. My friends and family had long since deserted me, leaving me to lay here in my misery beside the pool of Bethesda. Bethesda! The name of the pool had two different meanings… For some, Bethesda was known as the “House of Mercy” or the “House of Grace”, while for others such as myself, it was known as the “House of Shame and Disgrace.”
Perhaps I sound bitter to you, but if you had suffered as I have, then you too, would be bitter. And now, as I looked into the eyes of this stranger who squatted beside me, thirty-eight years of pain and sorrow welled up within me. It was immediately obvious to me that this man had never suffered a day in his life! He certainly didn’t know what it was like to be in anguish, while everyone you love rejects and abandons you. I sighed deeply, as I tried to explain my situation to this ignorant man, “Sir,” I said, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get there, someone else always gets in ahead of me.”
“Now that should shut him up,” I thought to myself, rather proud of the self-restraint I had shown, when I could have given him the tongue lashing that he deserved. But sometimes, I surprise even myself with the kindness and patience I show to others, even though I have endured so much agony. I looked around to see if anyone else noticed my commendable behavior, but everyone else was too consumed with themselves to pay any attention to me. Sometimes I’m astounded by how self-absorbed so many people are.
“Stand up, pick up your sleeping mat, and walk!” I looked at this man in disbelief, astounded by his audacity.
“Very well then,” I thought to myself in irritation. “I’ve tried being polite and kind, but that doesn’t seem to work with this one, so I’ll just do as he says, and when he sees that I am unable to get up by myself, maybe then he’ll be ashamed of himself!”
And so I turned over, getting to my hands and knees, and I arose! I was amazed! I hadn’t been able to stand unassisted in thirty-eight years, and now, I was standing. Unbelievable! I looked at the man, who was smiling at me, dumbfounded, and I rolled up my sleeping mat and picked it up, as he had commanded, not knowing what else to say or do, as I walked off.
“Who was this man?” I thought to myself as I walked outside for the first time in decades, wondering where I would go now and what I would do. Perhaps you’re wondering about my lack of enthusiasm over this whole event, but you must understand that I didn’t ask to be healed. And now that I was healed, my life would change dramatically. I had no place to live, and no money to live on. Now I would have to try to find work, because people certainly wouldn’t pay alms to a man who was no longer ill.
And then, as if my life hadn’t suddenly become complicated enough, a group of Pharisees came dashing towards me, looking very angry. “You there!” one of them shouted, “stop!” I stood there nervously, as they approached me, wondering what they could possibly want with me. “You can’t work on the Sabbath! It’s illegal to carry that sleeping mat!”
I looked at them, appalled by their accusation. Me? Working on the Sabbath? I hadn’t worked for thirty-eight years, let alone on the Sabbath, and now suddenly these men were hurling their accusations at me.
Really — it was all just too much! I hadn’t asked for any of this, and who knew what these men would do to me now. The Pharisees weren’t known for being compassionate, so I quickly replied, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Pick up your sleeping mat and walk.'”
“Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded, but I was unable to give them his name or any other information about this man who had so completely disrupted my life. When they finally realized that I truly was ignorant about this man who had healed me, and that he could no longer be found, they left me alone, after throwing several more threats against me.
Frustrated, I hid my sleeping mat, hoping no one would steal it. I certainly didn’t want to wind up in jail for working on the Sabbath! Then, I wandered around Jerusalem looking at the sights — something I hadn’t been able to do for such a long, long time. Finally, I walked into the Temple, observing the money changers and thinking that perhaps this would provide a lucrative living for me.
It was while I was pondering the possibilities of this, that he sauntered up to me again. I was scarcely able to hide my irritation when he said, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”
Enough was enough! This man had entered into my life uninvited and turned my world upside down. I hadn’t asked him to heal me! Indeed, this whole thing was his idea. And now, he accused me of sinning and threatened me.
As soon as he walked away from me, I asked the people who were standing nearby if any of them knew his name. When I learned that his name was Jesus, I rushed to find the Pharisees who had approached me earlier that day, and told them that it was Jesus who had healed me and commanded me to fold my sleeping mat and carry it, all on the Sabbath!
It didn’t take them long to leave my presence, and to go and find him, while I stood watching from a distance, careful to remain hidden from his sight. There was something about this man that frightened me. It seemed as though he had the ability to read the thoughts and the motives of my heart.
Perhaps you think I should have been grateful, especially when I heard people claim that he was the son of God. However, if this was true, then why did God wait until I was an old man and allow me to suffer for thirty-eight years before he decided to heal me? I believe I’ve earned the right to be bitter… What do you think??? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Author’s Note: The account above is my interpretation of John 5:1-15. This particular passage has challenged me for a long time, and I’ve often wondered about this man who was healed, and his response to Jesus… or perhaps I should say his lack of response to Jesus. I’ve read this passage many times, and I always leave this portion of scripture with many questions…
Why did Jesus ask him, “Do you want to be made whole?”
Why didn’t the man give Jesus a direct answer?
Why didn’t the man seem thankful for his healing?
Why did Jesus go back to the man and tell him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you”?
Why did the man run back to the Pharisees and tell them about Jesus, knowing that they intended to harm him?
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled (Hebrews 12:15 ESV)
“Oh God, why did I do it?” she whispered, heart pounding loudly in her ears, as the officer pulled her arms behind her back, cuffing her. Suffocating shame enveloped her in its darkness, as she was fingerprinted, booked and led to a cell filled with three other women, who brazenly looked her over. Never, in a million years, had she ever dreamed this would happen.
She fought the tears that rose in her eyes, as she walked over to the only unoccupied cot, sitting on it and drawing her legs up to her chest, trying desperately to shrink away into nothingness. Fear also crept over her, wrapping its clammy fingers around her heart, threatening to squeeze the life out of it. She closed her eyes to avoid looking into the curious faces of the others who occupied the dank cell with her.
“Lord forgive me,” she silently prayed. “I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway, with no thoughts of anyone but myself.” The wounded look on her parents’ faces when she was arrested haunted her, though not as badly as the terror in the eyes of the girl she had pummeled in a fit of rage and jealousy.
“Guilty,” she thought to herself, shuddering from the weight of it. “Oh God,” she whispered as the tears slipped from beneath her closed eyelids, “I could have killed her. I wanted to kill her,” she wept, awash with fresh guilt and shame.
“I deserve to die,” she thought, “I want to die. Oh God, who knew I was so evil?”
“The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked,” she heard the gentle voice of the Lord, “who can know how bad it really is? I know,” He said, “because I have searched your heart.”
“Oh Lord, forgive me! I know what I did was wrong, and I deserve whatever punishment I receive, but Lord, heal me and I shall be healed. Save me and I shall be saved!” she cried desperately.
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a Baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:9-14 NLT)
Do you ever think about how the angels must have felt on that first Christmas evening, so long ago? I do. Think about it with me and dream about what it must have been like to be an angel on that wonderful evening so many years ago…
Imagine living in heaven with Elohim, Almighty God, Maker of the heavens and the earth, God the Father, in all of the splendor of heaven. Every day of your life, since the time you were created, long before the earth and all that is in it was created, you stand in the presence of Almighty God. You not only call heaven your home, you have the honor and the privilege of standing in the presence of God. Can you see it?
Just imagine, You have seen and bear witness to Holy Spirit, as He hovered over the deep. You were there, as His breath was breathed into mankind, a curious being, created in the very image of God. You have beheld His glory, when He would fall upon the prophets of old, equipping them with power to speak the Word of the Lord in the midst of trials, tribulation and circumstances of great joy. You were there to observe Holy Spirit as He descended from heaven like a dove and lit upon Jesus. Do you see the image in your mind?
As Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, King of glory, was with His Father, while Holy Spirit hovered over the deep, you were there to see Him, the Word of the Lord, there in the beginning, going forth and creating. You watch as He even now, holds all of creation together.
Since the instant you were created, who knows how long ago, you have witnessed Almighty God, in all of His glory and magnificence. You are blessed to hear His voice as it thunders across the sky. You are honored to hear as He speaks in His still, small voice. You were present at the rebellious outrage of Lucifer and 1/3 of your fellow angels. You saw with your own eyes, how the Almighty God cast them out of heaven and threw them to the earth below, causing mass destruction.
You watched in consternation as God has allowed Satan to prowl about the earth, like a roaring lion, seeking to destroy all of mankind and the earth as well. You watched in alarm, as Adam and Eve sinned against the Almighty, and you witnessed the Lord’s response to them. Were you surprised that He showed such mercy to them?
And, when the Lord chose Gabriel from among you, to deliver two separate messages, to two different people about the appearance of the Son of God, were you bewildered, or were you not informed of this mission until later? When Holy Spirit came upon Mary, overshadowing her in His presence, did you watch in wonder, as this meager peasant girl was granted an honor that no one else in all of eternity would ever experience before or again?
When Jesus stripped Himself of His heavenly garments, and clothed Himself in the frail flesh of humanity, were you confused? As you watched Him lay aside all of His heavenly privileges as the Holy One, the Son of God, and allow Himself to be carried in the womb of that peasant girl, were you curious to know what was going on? As you watched the girl’s perilous journey to Bethlehem with her betrothed, did you stand ready to leap to their defense for the sake of the One who was carried in her womb?
As the King of kings made His entrance into the world on that first Christmas, borne into the squalor of a filthy stable, were you amazed? And when the Lord commanded you to go forth and deliver the good news to the lowly shepherds who were in the field that night, were you perhaps just as awe-struck as they were? Did your heart pound with joy and wonder as you too, beheld the newborn King who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid to rest in a manger of straw?
Do you try to puzzle in your mind what the Lord’s plan is as you see the Ancient of Days, crying helplessly, as the girl gently lifts Him, kissing His holy face before nuzzling Him against her breast, feeding and sustaining the very One who gave her life and sustains her? Is it possible that you have not been informed about what God’s majestic plan is? Could it be that you don’t yet know of the suffering in store for this infant King?
Do you understand that this, not the presents, the commercialism, Santa Claus and all the other hype, is what Christmas is about? As people bustle about giving glory to themselves, their families, the merchants and the things that they receive on Christmas, do you give glory to the One whose birth is to be celebrated on this day?
This Christmas, let’s give glory to God with the angels, as we rejoice in the gift of Jesus Christ, Messiah, Son of the Living God, the Word of God, the Light of the World, King of kings and Lord of lords, Lamb of God, Lord and Savior!
This Story of Christmas is the best, we are told.
It has tragedy, action and drama to boot.
There are gifts for a King – one of them gold.
And a wicked old king, a vile jealous brute!
Now, a long time ago, in a land far away,
The poor people cried for a Savior to come.
They cried out to God and they knelt down to pray,
They asked God to have mercy, and please send the One.
And the Lord who is kind, heard their cries and He said,
“I love them so much, Father, let Me be the One,
To save them from Satan, who wants them all dead.”
So the Father with love sent Jesus, His Son,
To a virgin named Mary to hold in her womb.
With Joseph beside her, to Bethlehem they did go.
She gave birth in a stable, for the inn had no room.
Surrounded by animals, while the cattle did low,
The babe laid in the manger, to rest His sweet head
While a star brightly lighted the way from above.
The shepherds cringed in fear and in dread,
While angels announced His birth and His love.
They followed the star to the stable so bright,
And knelt down to worship this glorious King,
Then left rejoicing with all of their might,
For the peace and good will that Messiah would bring.
From far, far away, wise men came from the east
To find the King of the Jews, the Savior of all.
They went to King Herod, that wicked old beast,
And he spoke a great lie with the greatest of gall.
“Please come back so I can go worship this King,”
While in his heart he plotted to murder the babe.
The wise men departed and gifts they did bring
Frankincense, gold, myrrh by the child were laid.
In worship they came, on their knees they did bow.
Then warned by the Lord in a dream they all had,
“We must return home another way,” they did vow.
They tricked wicked King Herod, oh my was he mad!
Then an angel visited in Joseph’s dream
And warned him to take Mary and Jesus and flee
To Egypt away from Herod’s evil scheme.
“Kill all baby boys two and younger,” he decreed.
Then sorrow and sadness was in Bethlehem.
Weeping and mourning, they cried to the Lord,
And prayed for His mercy and asked Him to save them,
From the evil of Herod and death by the sword.
But the Savior grew up strong to His mother’s relief.
Full of mercy and love, though despised by His own
Rejected, acquainted with bitterest grief,
They thought He was punished for sins of His own!
Oppressed, treated harshly, He said not a word.
Led like a Lamb to the slaughter, battered and bruised.
The Pharisees, Scribes and Priests all conferred.
Humiliated, tortured, yes, He was abused.
From prison and trial, He was led to His death.
But who understood, it was for their sins He died?
“Father, forgive them,” He gasped for a breath,
While He hung on that cross with His arms opened wide.
For God so loved the world that He gave us His Son
To suffer and die for the sins of mankind.
He paid that great price and our freedom He won,
Accomplishing the work that He was assigned.
To death, hell and the grave, He descended with power,
Preaching good news, dead saints fell to their knees.
Setting captives free, He made Satan cower
Conquering them all and taking the keys.
From death, hell and the grave, Christ in triumph arose.
Death now was defeated and Satan was too.
Saints no longer bound by sin and death’s throes.
In Christ, old things passed – Behold! All things are new!
At Christmas we celebrate the advent of Christ.
He rescued us once, and He’s coming again.
So, people get ready and look to the skies,
When He returns this time, He’s coming to reign!
Hallelujah! After yesterday’s sad prompt, I was excited to see today’s prompt. Yippee! I get to tell you about my hero. Before I get started, go get a cup of coffee, or a soda or some hot cocoa; get a nice comfy pillow and a warm toasty blanket, and maybe a little snack, then come on back, settle in, and make yourself comfortable, while I tell you about my Hero.
Although He is:
Faster than a speeding bullet More powerful than a locomotive
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound
Look! Up in the sky! He’s not a bird! He’s not a plane!
He isn’t Superman… Although He’s simply amazing, He isn’t Spiderman… And though He’s incredible, He isn’t the Hulk… Though He can cut pollution down to zero, He isn’t Captain Planet… Though He comes to save the day, He isn’t Mighty Mouse… Though He is fantastic, He isn’t Mr. Fantastic… He isn’t the Lone Ranger… He isn’t Tonto… He’s the Light of the World, therefore, He can never be the Dark Knight…
Shall I describe my hero to you?
He is the fairest of 10,000
He is the bright and morning star
He is the Alpha and the Omega
He is the First and the Last
He is the Beginning and the End
He is my Peace
He is my Light and my Salvation
He is my God – in Him I trust
He is my Refuge and my Fortress
He is the Rock of Ages
He is the Ancient of Days
He is Hope for the hopeless
He is Rest for the weary
He is the Defender of the defenseless
He is the Author and Finisher of my faith
He is Ageless and Timeless
He is the Wheel in the middle of the wheel
He is the Lamb of God
He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah
He is the Only Way
He is Life
He is Truth
He is a Strong Tower
He is Safe
He is Jesus…
He is the Hope that I cling to
He is Life to my soul
He is my Refuge from the storm
He is the Love of my life
He is the One that I trust
He is Emmanuel – God with me
In good times and bad
Through thick and through thin
When I’m right and when I’m wrong
He is faithful to the end
He has seen me and loved me at my worst
He has suffered with me through my pain
He has rejoiced with me in my joy
He has strengthened me in my weakness
He has conquered all my fears
He has turned my mourning into dancing
He has turned my weeping into singing
He has turned my sorrow into joy
He has turned my darkness into light
He has turned my weakness into strength
He has made a way for me where there was no way
He has released me from the bonds of shame and fear
He has loved me when no one else did
He has set me free from doubt and depression
He is my joy, He is my strength, He is my life, He is my hope…
He is my reason for living
And that’s why Jesus Christ… Son of God… Son of Man… the Resurrection and the Life… the Soon Coming King… is my Hero!
There was also a prophet named Hannah Bat-P’nu’el, of the tribe of Asher. She was a very old woman — she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and had remained a widow ever since; now she was eighty-four. She never left the Temple grounds but worshipped there night and day, fasting and praying. She came by at that moment and began thanking God and speaking about the child to everyone who was waiting for Yerushalayim to be liberated. (Luke 2:36-38 CJB)
She grimaced in pain as she awakened that morning, the inflammation of old age searing through her hips and lower back. Groaning, she stretched her legs carefully, before rolling to her side and pushing herself up to a seated position gingerly. “Oh Yahweh,” she groaned as a sharp burning pain shot through her legs, “How much longer must I tarry?” Grabbing her cane from the ground beside her, Anna awkwardly hoisted herself up, standing hunched over, as the burning, tingling pain again radiated from her lower back down her legs. She used the cane to steady herself, breathing deeply from the exertion of getting up. As her labored breathing slowed, her palpitating heart also slowed to a regular rhythm, and her pain settled to a dull ache.
With each day that passed, it became more and more difficult for Anna to move about, but she firmly set her face like flint as she determinedly forced herself to get up each morning and worship Adonai. After rolling her bed mat into a neat bundle, Anna placed it in the same spot she had been placing it in for more than 6 decades. Cane in hand to steady herself, she then walked toward the Beautiful Gate, as she did every morning, briefly leaving the Court of Women behind, as she went to relieve herself and then wash up, singing softly to the Lord as she did so…
“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Anna softly whispered as she rinsed her face, wiping the sleep from her eyes. After filling her flask with fresh water, Anna combed through her long silver hair, and plaited it before covering it once again. Then she continued worshiping the Lord as she walked back toward the Beautiful Gate and once again entered the Court of Women.
This was as far as Anna was allowed to go on the Temple Grounds, as women were forbidden to go any farther. It didn’t occur to Anna to be upset by this law. That’s just the way things were, and this is where she had made her home for many years. Long ago, when she was a young girl, she had once been married to a man she had loved passionately, but after only seven years of marriage, Elohim had called him to Paradise, and Anna had been alone ever since.
Well-meaning friends had told Anna that she would find another love and remarry, but Anna knew that she would never marry another man. She had given her heart to one man, and that was the only man she would ever love. When he died, Anna made a vow to be Elohim’s bride and to serve Him and worship Him for the rest of her life, and so she had. She had given all of her belongings away, save for her bed mat and a few personal items, and she had made her home on the Temple Grounds, in the Women’s Court, where she worshiped night and day, praying and often fasting. She trusted the Lord to take care of her needs, and He always had.
As she worshiped the Lord in spirit and in truth, He had given her the gift of prophecy. He had also promised Anna that she would see Israel’s Messiah before she died, and she clung to that promise. “O Adonai,” she would whisper each day, “how much longer till I see Him? Will it be today?”
Feeling melancholy, Anna sat down in front of the fire in the Women’s Court and thought back over the years, remembering when Rome had conquered Jerusalem, shortly after her husband had passed away. She was glad he hadn’t been alive to see the destruction caused by these brutes. That was a time of great horror, for the Romans were a cruel, harsh people. Anna looked beyond the Temple towards the hill of the place called Golgotha, and shuddered. When they gained control of Jerusalem, the Romans had brought a cruel new form of punishment with them, and the hills were often covered with crosses. This shameful, barbaric death penalty was horrifying to watch, as many Jewish men were stripped and hung on a wooden cross, arms and legs held in place by large crude nails driven into the victim’s hands and feet.
As God’s chosen people were brought low under the weight of this oppressive government, they cried out mournfully for their Emmanuel to come, and Anna cried out for Him too. She tried to comfort the people with the promise that she had been given by Adonai, but most refused to believe, often treating her as though she was a crazy old woman, rather than a prophet anointed by God. “Lord,” she often cried, “Your people are so frustrating! They see, but they don’t see, and they hear, but they don’t understand!”
Anna often wondered and asked the Almighty, “What will happen when He comes, O El Kadosh? Will they see Him and not recognize Him? Adonai, please tell me they won’t miss Him!” Sadly, the Lord was silent when Anna shared these fears with Him. Still, Anna tried to prepare the people, and her impassioned pleas for them to, “Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding. In all Your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path,” had grown even more urgent, as she shared the imminence of Messiah’s coming.
For she had heard of the birth of the son of Zechariah, the priest, who was said to be the forerunner of Messiah, and in her spirit, Anna knew that this was true, and so now, she looked for Messiah even more ardently than before. Her heart quickened this morning, as she worshiped the Lord, hoping and praying that today would be the day. “O Adonai,” she cried out, unmindful of what others might think of her. “You said that if I would delight myself in You, that You would give me the desires of my heart.Yahweh, You above all others know that I do delight in You, for there is none that I love any more than You. So hear my cry, O Lord, and attend unto my need. How I long for Messiah’s arrival. Please, Elohim, let today be the day that I look upon His face. Please! Let this be the day!”
As she worshiped, Anna looked around, and it was then that she saw Simeon rushing into the Temple Court, and when she saw Him, her spirit quickened, and she knew. “This is it!” she whispered to Adonai, as she struggled to her feet and cane in hand, walked as briskly as she could to Simeon and the young couple he was speaking to, watching as he gently and reverently lifted the infant and gazed into the baby’s face.
There was deep reverence on Simeon’s face, as he lifted the child to Yahweh and said, “Lord, now I can die in peace! As You promised me, I have seen the Savior You have given to all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!”
Anna drew her breath in sharply, as she felt the power of the Almighy hovering over all of them. It was breathtaking to gaze at the young couple, who stood there listening respectfully to all that Simeon said, as they bowed their heads in reverence when he blessed them both. Anna felt indescribable joy, mixed with overwhelming grief and heartache as Simeon looked at the mother of the child and spoke again, “This Child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But He will be the greatest joy to many others. Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
The young mother looked frightened and confused at these ominous words, and Anna wanted to comfort her and tell her not to worry, that all would be well, but the old prophet knew that Simeon spoke the truth. A sword would pierce this young mother’s soul, and most of the people of Israel, the very people who continued to cry for their Emmanuel, would miss His arrival, and they would reject Him, the One born to be their King.
Still, it was not yet time to mourn. It was a time of great rejoicing, because Emmanuel, God With Us, had come! And so Anna lifted up her voice, crying out to the people that on this day, in God’s holy city, God was indeed with His people. And those who lived in darkness have now seen a great Light, and for those who lived in a land where death cast its dark shadow, the Light has come! “Rejoice!” Anna cried, “Rejoice! For the long awaited Promise, Emmanuel, Yeshua, the Messiah has come to you, O Israel!”
In the light of her joy, suddenly, all of the years of pain seemed to melt away, as Anna continued to sing and shout praises to the Holy One of Israel. She had seen Messiah’s beautiful face. She had looked into the face of glory. All was well, and it had all been worth it, for she had received the long awaited promise.
He was up early that morning, well before the sunrise. Like a child, he ran to the window, beaming with delight as he saw the snow. Yes, he was an old man of eighty-seven years, but there was still a twinkle in his eye, still a childlike wonder as he gazed outside and saw the freshly fallen smooth, white blanket of snow that covered his lawn.
As quickly as his old body would allow, he scurried to put on his long johns, insulated socks, trousers and a blue flannel shirt, given to him last Christmas by his lovely granddaughter Adelaide. He smiled as his gnarled old fingers snapped the buttons, thinking of Adelaide’s clear blue eyes as she peered into his eyes, explaining that she had gotten the flannel shirt with snaps because she knew how hard it was for him to button his shirts, with his arthritis. He sighed. Adelaide was so much like her namesake, his beautiful wife of fifty-seven years. His heart still ached for his beloved Adelaide. Though she had been gone for ten years, her absence still pained him. Shaking his head, briskly, he finished dressing and walked into the kitchen to make some hot cocoa before he went outside.
Then, cocoa in hand, he opened his bible as he did every morning, and prayed. He read just a few verses, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3 KJV)
Removing his glasses, he wiped the tears that suddenly filled his eyes, and whispered, “How much longer, Lord? I miss my Adelaide so much, and I yearn to finally see Your face.” His body shook as great sobs overwhelmed him, and he gave in to the pain and loneliness that had wracked his spirit for so long.
Finally, after several minutes, he pushed his chair away from the table, and regaining his composure, he blew his nose with the sound of a trumpet blast into his handkerchief, replaced his glasses and placed his empty mug in the sink, to be washed later. He grabbed his winter coat from the hook beside the door, after wrapping a warm woolen scarf around his neck and a toboggan over his head, both knit for him long ago by his beloved Adelaide. Finally, after his coat was zipped all the way up to his neck, and the hood tied onto his head, he placed insulated gloves on his hands, laughing at himself as he caught his reflection in the window of the door.
“I look like an Eskimo,” he chuckled, as he walked outside into the bright, pristine whiteness. “Lord, You make all things beautiful,” he whispered, in awe of the beauty all around him. He loved gazing at the beauty of the snow, before any animals or humans had walked in it. There was just something so pure and holy about it.
As he continued to gaze at the beauty around him, his heart suddenly skipped a beat. “What’s this?” he exclaimed, as he spotted footprints in the snow, leading away from his house. Now the sight of footprints walking away from his house might not have been disturbing, but for the fact that it was obvious that whoever had been walking away from his home was barefooted.
Curious and fearful lest someone was injured, the old man began following the footprints, until they stopped, at the little grave under the oak tree, where his beloved Adelaide had been laid to rest. Confused, and somewhat fearfully, the old man looked around, and his heart began to palpitate irregularly when he saw Him, and he fell to his knees in the snow, unmindful of the cold dampness as he stared into His eyes, which looked like flames of fire.
Tears filled his eyes, as he looked at the beauty around him, and at the One who now stood before him, asking, “You did all of this for me?” As his Savior nodded, he whispered in awestruck wonder and joy, “Is it time, Lord?” He nodded and lifted him up.
“It’s time, Beloved,” He replied, smiling gently, “Let’s go home to our Father.”
“I had it all,” Gomer thought to herself as she drank some water and stared through the fire into her memories. She didn’t know when Phineas would return, but she prayed it wouldn’t be today. “Look at me,” she thought. “I married the most loving wonderful man there ever was, and I wasn’t satisfied with that. No, I left that life behind and traded it for this prison – what a fool I was!”
Staring into the fire, she thought back to that morning shortly after Jezreel’s birth. “There’s laundry, laundry and more laundry. Dirty diapers, breakfast to fix, then lunch and then dinner! Oh yes, and let’s not forget, I must clean the house too! And I never get a full night’s rest. No – I must get up every few hours to nurse the baby – and that may satisfy him and shut him up for awhile, or it may not. He might just decide to scream the night away. There’s got to be more out of life than this!” she shouted angrily at Hosea.
“I know you’re tired Gomer,” Hosea spoke gently to her, massaging her tense shoulders, but she angrily shrugged his hands off. “Why don’t you go lay down and rest while I take Jezreel for a walk?”
“A little ‘rest’ won’t make things right! I didn’t bank on all of this when we got married. Hosea, I’m still young – I want to have some fun, but at this rate, I’ll die of old age early. How about if I go take a walk while you stay behind, cooking and cleaning and taking care of him?” Gomer stormed, reaching for her cloak and stomping out, slamming the door behind her.
“I want to have some fun. I’m so sick of living with a prophet, always having to say the right things and do the right thing. Heaven forbid if I’m not pious enough and I laugh at an off-color joke or something. No, I must stay sober and always put everyone else first – well what about me?” Gomer continued fuming to herself as she marched through the town, kicking at the stones along the pathway and cursing loudly.
“Who cares if anyone sees me? I’ve heard how the other women talk about me – as though I’m not good enough to associate with! They’re probably just jealous anyway. I’ve seen how their husbands look at me – I could have anyone of them with just the snap of my fingers,” she said snapping her fingers, as she rounded the bend, coming to an abrupt halt as she ran headlong into Nabal, who caught her in his arms, thus preventing her from falling flat of her face.
Laughing loudly, he steadied her, looking down at her lustfully. “Be careful Gomer, there’s no telling what could happen to you if you keep storming about not watching where you’re going.”
Smiling flirtatiously, Gomer looked up at Nabal and noticed, not for the first time, how handsome he was. It boggled her mind to think of how such a handsome man would settle for that cow he was married to. Coquettishly, Gomer caressed his muscular arm, replying, “Well, isn’t it lucky that I ran into such a big strong man like you, Nabal?”
Nabal turned a deep shade of red as he pulled her closer to him, “Does that prophet realize how lucky he is to have you?”
“Well, I don’t know – does that wife of yours realize how lucky she is?”
Hitting her fist to the dirt floor, Gomer cried out in shame. “What a fool I was! My Lord, in my selfishness I ruined so many lives. I was so angry and stupid – so blind! I had everything and I threw it all away for a little fun.”
She remembered how she enjoyed the attention and the gifts that first Nabal, then others lavished on her. Wincing, she remembered walking home later that day to a clean house and the sound of Hosea singing to Jezreel:
He smiled as she walked inside, never once suspecting what she had done that day, welcoming her back, loving her with arms wide open. “See Jezreel?” he said softly. “I told you Mama would return soon. I love you, Gomer. I love you with a love that will never let you go,” he said gently kissing her. “I’ve been thinking since you left earlier, and you’re right. You do need more help around here and I will help you.”
Tears welled up in her eyes as remorse swept over her. “What have I done?” she thought to herself. The guilt was overwhelmingly heavy, and she found it impossible to look into Hosea’s eyes as she took Jezreel in her arms and sat down to nurse him. “I can’t believe this! I go out and cheat on him and come home to find him doing my job. What kind of fool is he anyway?” she thought with contempt…
Sighing, Gomer ate some jerky, then slowly, unsteadily, she stood, shaking from the effort, but already the food had strengthened her. She brushed the tears from her eyes with her gnarled fingers, while talking to herself. “I thought he was the fool, but I see now that I was the only fool. I went from one man to another, openly mocking Hosea and not caring, and still, he kept right on loving me.”
A few short months later, she discovered she was pregnant. Gomer was panicked – what if it wasn’t Hosea’s baby? What if he found out? But if he suspected anything, Hosea never said so during her pregnancy. He kept right on loving her, but when her daughter was born, he named her Lo-Ruhamah, which means not loved, saying, “… for I(the Lord) will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. But I, the LORD their God, will show love to the people of Judah. I will personally free them from their enemies without any help from weapons or armies” (Hosea 1:6b-7NLT).
As he spoke, Gomer’s heart pounded wildly, worriedly wondering, “Did he suspect that Lo-Ruhamah might not be his daughter? Did he know that she had been cheating on him?” He didn’t act as though he suspected anything. He still kept loving her, helping her around the house and with both children, while Gomer would disappear some days leaving the children to Hosea.
Then, after Lo-Ruhamah was weaned, Gomer found herself pregnant yet again. And when her third child, a son, was born, there was no longer any question as to whether Hosea knew what was going on. The child was of another race, and Hosea, with tears in his eyes, said, “The LORD said, “Name him Lo-Ammi — ‘Not my people’ — for Israel is not My people, and I am not their God” (Hosea 1:9 NLT).
“I’m sorry Hosea,” Gomer wept, seeing the tears and the pain in Hosea’s eyes. “Please forgive me.”
“I do forgive you Gomer,” he said as the tears flowed freely down his cheeks. “I told you before – I love you with a love that will never let you go.”
Collapsing in a heap on the floor, Gomer wept and cried out, “And I took that love and destroyed it!”
The Lord spoke to Gomer that night that night before she fell asleep, saying, “I have loved you, my daughter, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself. I will rebuild you, My virgin. You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines.”
“But Lord,” Gomer softly replied, “I left You for raisin cakes… I left You for other lovers… O Adonai! I left You for nothing.”
“Yes,” the Lord replied, “You have cheated on Me and gone astray, and I am indeed married to a harlot, but My love will make you pure.”
“Lord, I’ve hurt so many people – my husband. O Yaweh! Hosea is such a good and loving man, and I betrayed him and left him to raise my children. My Lord,” she wept, trembling as waves of grief and remorse swept over her. “I’ve lost Hosea, but if You will have me, I will give myself to You and I will walk in obedience to You from this day forth, only please, please help me. Don’t let me wander away again. Hedge me in Lord!”
The Word of the Lord came to Gomer, wife of Hosea, daughter of Diblaim, “Fear not, My daughter. I have hedged you in with thorns on every side so that you cannot chase after those other lovers anymore. And yes, I will have you as My bride and I will help you. “
For the first time in many months, Gomer slept soundly and peacefully. She awakened the next morning to the sound of cursing. He was still there! “Adonai, please protect me,” she prayed fearfully as her heart pounded rapidly in her chest. “O Lord, You are my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? You are the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” Slowly, she inhaled, then, as she exhaled, she felt a strange peace envelope her.
She opened her eyes to find him looming over her, his beady eyes scrutinizing her. “Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help,” she silently prayed as she cowered on the floor where she had slept so peacefully the night before, slowly rising up to sit and look up at her intimidator, holding the rag she had used for a blanket tightly in front of her.
“Here,” he said gruffly, throwing a loaf of bread and some jerky on the ground beside her, “eat this. There’s water by the fire.”
“What are you up to, Phineas? Why are you suddenly so interested in my well-being? You’ve never cared before,” Gomer calmly stated, bracing herself for the blow which was sure to follow.
Instead of the rage that normally possessed him, Phineas threw his big ugly head back and laughed uproariously. “Let’s just say I’ve had a change of heart,” he said evilly, and his seemingly benevolent words brought a chill of fear down Gomer’s spine. “Go ahead, eat up! You’ll need your strength.” At this, he cackled gleefully, as he left the cave that was their makeshift home.
Ravenously, Gomer grabbed the loaf of bread and the jerky as soon as she was sure he had gone, and began to eat. She had only eaten a little, when she felt her stomach revolting in pain against the food, so she quickly put it aside and crawled to the warm fire that her foe had rekindled before he left. Thanks be to Elohim! He had also left enough firewood in the cold damp little cave to keep the fire burning for the rest of that day and the next. “And look at that,” she marveled. “There’s more food and water too! O Lord, I don’t know what he’s up to or why he’s being so generous and kind all of a sudden, but thank You. Whatever his motives are, I will trust You to protect me.”
Gomer smiled as she settled herself before the warmth of the fire, and she thought back to better days. She smiled as she remembered the look in Hosea’s eyes when Jezreel was born, as she held him to her breast for the first time. They were both so happy then…
“Just look at him Gomer! Have you ever seen a more beautiful child? Or a more beautiful mother?” Hosea softly spoke, as he leaned down to kiss her gently on her mouth.
“Oh! He is beautiful Hosea, and so are you my love! You are such a good man, Hosea and I love you so much,” Gomer said passionately. “So, what shall we call him?”
“The Lord said we are to call this child Jezreel, because He is about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel,” Hosea said with passion. “Yes, we will name him Jezreel, which means God sows, because He has planted this child as the firstborn of our family. He has blessed our union!”
“Yes He has blessed us, but really Hosea, can’t we just enjoy this time together with our new baby without you always preaching? I’m grateful and happy, but I don’t want to talk about religion right now. I just want us to enjoy the moment together,” Gomer said irritably, feeling instant remorse when she saw pain flood Hosea’s eyes. “I’m sorry Hosea,” she said quickly. “I love you, and I am really thankful for our son. It’s just all so overwhelming, and I’m tired and cranky. Can you forgive me?” she asked, reaching up to caress Hosea’s beard, pulling him down to lay beside her and their newborn son.
“Of course I forgive you. I love you Gomer,” Hosea responded huskily. “Don’t you remember? I love you with a love that will never let you go.”
Joyfully, the three of them drifted off to sleep until the baby’s cries a few hours later woke them up. They were so young and excited, so very much in love, and as Gomer nursed Jezreel, they talked about their hopes and dreams for their life together. They made their plans like most young people do, with rose colored glasses, never dreaming of the obstacles and disappointments that would come their way. They had no way of knowing how the everyday humdrum of life would wear on their love, distancing them, building walls between them. How could they know as they lay there laughing and holding one another and their son, so filled with love for one another and joy, that in the next few months their lives would run a course of anger, pain and destruction?
Gomer lifted her twisted fingers to her sunken cheeks, wiping the tears that freely flowed, then looking at her tear soaked fingers, she silently mused, “I thought my tears had all dried up.” The wind continued to howl, and the small fire was slowly dying, as the brisk sound of footsteps brought Gomer from her silent reverie, causing a chill of fear to run up her spine. “O Lord, he’s back,” Gomer desperately prayed. “Lord, I know I’ve given You no reason to forgive me or to hear me, but please, please have mercy on me! Don’t let him rape me and beat me again tonight – please! Save me Lord!”
At the sound of his raucous laughter, Gomer scurried away from the fire, into the darkest corner of the room, hoping he wouldn’t notice her, as she shrunk down in terror. “Gomer!” the drunken beast called as he entered the room, “Come here,” he said as he fell down beside the fire. Fearfully, Gomer crept to him, being careful not to speak and send him into a drunken rage. She knelt at his feet and waited for him to speak to her. “She won’t bring much with all those bruises and that bony body,” he mumbled to himself. “Stand up and let me look at you, Woman!” he bellowed, and though she tried, her bony legs didn’t have the strength to hold her up, and she crumpled to the floor, cringing as she waited for the first blow to fall.
“Please Yaweh!” Gomer desperately prayed silently, “Have mercy on me, O God, because of Your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my shameful deeds — they haunt me day and night. Against You, and You alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in Your sight. You will be proved right in what You say, and Your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner — yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But You desire honesty from the heart, so You can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; You have broken me — now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence, and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. Then I will teach Your ways to sinners, and they will return to You. Help me Lord!” It became apparent that he wasn’t going to hit her after all, and slowly, shrinkingly, Gomer lifted her tear stained face up to look at the man – her tormentor, as he gruffly handed her a piece of bread.
“Eat this,” he said gruffly. “You need to build up your strength.”
Fearfully, gratefully, Gomer took the bread, and though she was starved, she lifted it up towards heaven and thanked Yaweh, truly thankful for the first time she silently spoke these words to Him, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all my iniquities, Who heals all my diseases, Who redeems my life from destruction, Who crowns me with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies my mouth with good things, So that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Then quickly, she gobbled the bread down before he changed his mind and took it from her, and when he offered her some water, she gratefully gulped that down too.
It had been many days since Gomer had eaten, and though she still loathed him and was fearful of him, she was also grateful for the food he gave her. “Got to build up her strength for a few days,” he mumbled to himself, as he drifted off to sleep in a drunken stupor. Gomer wasn’t sure what he had in store for her, but she knew that whatever it was, it wouldn’t be good. Still, for the first time in who knows how long, she had some food in her belly. He would probably sleep for hours, so Gomer quietly slinked back to the dark corner where she had hidden before.
“Could it be that Hosea was right?” she whispered to herself. “Could it be that Elohim cares for me – even now, after all I’ve done?” Her heart traveled back to another time, shortly after she and Hosea were married, as they walked back to their home following a visit to Jerusalem. “Did you hear what they said about me?” she wept, as Hosea held her close.
“I heard,” Hosea replied softly. “Listen Gomer, it’s easier for people to condemn someone else than it is for them to look at themselves -”
“But they hate me!” she sobbed.
“Yes, they hate you, and they hate me because I speak the Word of the Lord. You mustn’t worry about what man thinks of you. Instead, see what our heavenly Father thinks about you. That’s far more important, and Gomer, He loves you with a love that won’t let you go. No matter where life takes us, no matter what we do, He will always love His children. He may have to chastise you and punish you for bad behavior, but He still loves you with an everlasting love, and so do I.” He stopped and lifted her chin, gently kissing her. “All Adonai wants, and all that I want in return is to have your love.”
“Gomer, I knew about your past when I asked you to marry me, and I loved you then. Now, you’re my wife, and you’re carrying my child in your womb, and I still love you with all of my heart. You are more beautiful to me now than ever, and I want to shower you with all of my love, so that you will never want for anything! Let people talk if they want, as long as we love the Lord, and as long as we have each other, let them think and say what they will,” Hosea said laughing and kissing her again, as they continued toward their home.
“O Lord, is it true?” Gomer whispered in the dark dreary little room. “Do You really love me with a love that won’t let me go? An everlasting love? How can this be? And is it really true that all You want from me is my love? Yaweh, I know I’ve been unfaithful to You, but I see now that You are all I have. And I don’t have anything else to offer You but my love. Lord, will You accept the love of a harlot?” Gomer whispered as she drifted off to sleep…
The cold wind howled, blowing rain into the dark musty room where she lay, naked, cold, alone and penniless. He would be back soon, and the thought of his return brought a sick feeling to the pit of her stomach. She loathed him, yet she needed him. She nervously tried to run her gnarled fingers through her matted hair, but it was no use. Bruises and lesions covered her body and she was filthy and emaciated. Her once flashing dark eyes were now dull and lifeless. She, who once boldly and passionately sought to live a life of luxury and good times, was now reduced to a cowering, fearful wretch.
“O God,” she wimpered, as she shivered, searching for something to cover herself with. “Forgive me. I’ve made such a mess of things and I’ve hurt so many people. How could I have been so foolish? I once had a husband who loved me and children, and now I have nothing.
“I’m hedged in by thorns on every side of me. I chased after other lovers without a thought of anyone but myself. I prostituted myself for money and wine, but now I don’t even have that, because no one wants a used up whore, no one cares if I live or if I die.
“O Lord, I remember my first love. I remember the day he came to my father’s house to ask for my hand in marriage. He was so young and handsome…”
Gomer grimaced with pain as she crawled to the fire, which wouldn’t last much longer, and threw the last of the sticks in it. She was too weak to stand, and the effort of crawling and sitting up had drained all of her strength. Then, sitting as close to it as possible, she pulled a thin rag over her back and remembered better times, when she was young and beautiful and happy…
The sun shone brightly as Gomer quickly ran up the path to her house, quickly stopping at the door to run her fingers through her curly black hair, nervously trying to smooth it, while silently hoping her father wouldn’t notice that she was late for dinner once again. “O God, don’t let him be home yet,” she silently prayed, smoothing her rumpled clothing, hoping he wouldn’t see anything amiss. Finally, gathering her courage, Gomer took a deep breath and opened the door.
Her heart dropped as she saw her father’s back, and she briskly walked toward the fire to stir up the coals and prepare for dinner. “Hello Father – I’m sorry I’m late, the market was just so busy! Don’t worry though, I’ll have our dinner ready in a flash,” Gomer said anxiously, hoping her father was in a good mood, as she mustered up the courage to turn and look at him.
That was when she saw him – Hosea – the young prophet! What was he doing there? Oh, he was handsome, and his amber eyes seemed to look right into her soul, as though he was reading her thoughts. Nervously, she looked away from his intense gaze to that of her father’s.
“Gomer,” Diblaim cleared his throat. “Please prepare enough for Hosea to join us for dinner. He has come to talk to me about you.”
“About me?” Gomer replied faintly. “Why would a prophet want to speak about me?” she thought. “O Lord,” she prayed, “I hope he doesn’t see my every thought and tell my father! Surely he has more important things to prophesy about than me!” Gomer quickly turned from Hosea’s piercing scrutiny and cautiously scurried about preparing a meal for Hosea, Diblaim and herself, worriedly wondering all the while what Hosea had to say about her. Whatever it was, she was sure it couldn’t be good.
“Hosea,” Diblaim said as he cleared his throat. “Will you do us the honor of asking the Lord’s blessing on this meal?”
“Yes sir, I would be honored to do so,” Hosea replied. Then, stepping up to the table in front of an empty bowl, Hosea lifted a container of water and poured it over his right hand three times, then over his left hand three times, before drying his hands and passing the bowl and the container of water to Diblaim, who followed the same ritual, and then Gomer finsihed. Next, Hosea prayed, “Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us through His commandments and commanded us concerning the elevation of the hands.”
Then, Diblaim and Gomer sat as Hosea lifted the bread, breaking it in half and passing one half to Diblaim, who broke some off before passing the rest to Gomer, who also broke some off. After everyone had a piece of bread, Hosea prayed, “Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” Then each of them solemnly placed their portion of bread in their mouths and ate it.
Next, Hosea lifted the carafe of wine in his hands, pouring some first into his cup, then into Diblaim’s cup, and finally into Gomer’s cup. When he finished pouring the wine, everyone silently lifted their cups toward heaven, as Hosea prayed, “Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” Then everyone drank from their cups, and Hosea sat, as the meal commenced.
Everyone ate in silence, as Gomer and Hosea sneaked glances at one another. Hosea seemed as nervous as Gomer, blushing and looking away from her whenever she caught his gaze, and it quickly dawned on Gomer that Hosea liked her. Armed with this knowledge, she smiled flirtatiously at him for the first time. It was evident that he was attracted to her, and Gomer knew how to deal with men and boys who were drawn to her beauty. Now, it was Hosea’s turn at nervousness, and his face turned a deep shade of red as he quickly looked away from her.
Finally the awkward meal ended, and Hosea gave the after meal blessing. “Give thanks to ADONAI, for He is good, for His grace continues forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for His grace continues forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His grace continues forever; to Him who alone has done great wonders, for His grace continues forever; to Him who skillfully made the heavens, for His grace continues forever; to Him who spread out the earth on the water, for His grace continues forever; to Him who made the great lights, for His grace continues forever; the sun to rule the day, for His grace continues forever; the moon and stars to rule the night, for His grace continues forever; to Him who struck down Egypt’s firstborn, for His grace continues forever; and brought Isra’el out from among them, for His grace continues forever; with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, for His grace continues forever; to Him who split apart the Sea of Suf, for His grace continues forever; and made Isra’el cross right through it, for His grace continues forever; but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Sea of Suf, for His grace continues forever; to Him who led His people through the desert, for His grace continues forever; to Him who struck down great kings, for His grace continues forever; yes, He slaughtered powerful kings, for His grace continues forever; Sichon king of the Emori, for His grace continues forever; and ‘Og king of Bashan, for His grace continues forever; then He gave their land as a heritage, for His grace continues forever; to be possessed by Isra’el His servant, for His grace continues forever; who remembers us whenever we are brought low, for His grace continues forever; and rescues us from our enemies, for His grace continues forever; who provides food for every living creature, for His grace continues forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His grace continues forever.”
After Hosea blessed the meal, Diblaim invited him to step outside to speak, while Gomer cleaned up, wondering all the while, what they were saying about her. Finally, the house was clean, and Gomer was sitting at the table, nervously twisting her hair, and wondering what was going on. After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened, and Diblaim stepped inside beaming, as Hosea stood outside the door.
“Father,” Gomer began as Diblaim closed the door, “whatever he said to you, I can explain.”
“Quiet child!” Diblaim said sternly. “Hosea is outside, and he wants to talk to you, but before you go to him, listen carefully to me! You have a decision to make, and if you make the wrong one, you will not be allowed to remain in my home. I know that you’ve been up to no good, and you have done nothing but bring shame on me since your mother died, and I am tired of it, do you hear?”
“But what did he say, Father?” Gomer asked. “Truly, I can explain!” she pleaded.
“I promised that I would let him tell you why he’s here,” Diblaim stated, “But understand this. You are a shame and a reproach to me, so you better choose wisely, because this is no longer your home. Now get out there and listen to him,” Diblaim said, opening the door and pushing Gomer outside.
In fear and trembling, Gomer looked at Hosea, whose heart broke for her as he saw her pain. Softly, gently, he spoke her name, “Gomer, fear not. I mean you no harm. I’ve spoken to your father, and he’s given me his blessing to ask you to marry me. I know you don’t know me well, and though I’m certainly not a wealthy man, the Lord has provided generously for me, and I promise that I will love you and care for you for the rest of your life.” Walking up to her, Hosea gently lifted her chin and looked into her startled eyes. “Gomer, daughter of Diblaim, will you marry me, Hosea, son of Beeri?”
“You, a prophet of the Most High, want to marry me?” Gomer asked in disbelief. “Haven’t you heard what people say about me? Don’t you know?” she asked turning scarlet and averting her eyes from his passionate gaze, as he continued to cup her chin gently in his hand.
“I have heard, and I love you. Will you marry me, Gomer?” Hosea softly whispered. Gomer forced herself to look intently into Hosea’s eyes, and there it was, love, boldly shining in the depths of his amber eyes. “I promise to love you forever, Gomer, with a love that will never let you go, if you will agree to marry me. Will you have me as your husband?”
Tears began to flow down her cheeks, as Gomer looked back at Hosea and whispered softly, “I will have you…”