Georgia Davenport McCain
Published by Ron McCain at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 Ron McCain
Shakespir Edition License Notes
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Originally printed 1985 by Old Paths Tract Society, Inc., Shoals, Indiana, 47581
Cover Art by Janice Simmons
Lovingly dedicated to little Laura Abigail McCain.
Also to a friend, Eileen Sanders, who has been a wonderful help and encouragement to me in my writings.
Donnie read the letter hastily, then again more slowly. With an unsteady hand he pulled the last cigarette from the pack in his shirt pocket and tossed the empty package in the direction of the wastebasket. His attention still on the letter, he stuck the cigarette in the corner of his mouth and felt around on the end table for his lighter, but it was not there. He stood to his feet and emptied his pants pockets. A quarter, two nickels, six pennies, a key chain with his car keys, and a small knife-but no cigarette lighter. He patted his empty shirt pocket. Thoroughly exasperated, he began his routine search through the apartment for the much-used lighter. Finding it on the kitchen cabinet near the toaster, he lit his cigarette and returned to his chair in the living room.
After taking a few puffs he leaned back, satisfied now, and knocked the ashes off the cigarette into the ashtray nearby. He picked up the letter again, a frown creasing his forehead. It was from his old friend Ralph.
Dear Donnie and Sharon,
Trust this finds you both okay and enjoying life. Judy, Chad, and I are fine. The Lord has blessed us with good health and many other rich blessings. We’re grateful for His goodness to us.
I tried to get a call through to you, but was told your telephone was disconnected. I had a hard time getting your address, but finally found it in a little address book in your mom’s purse. I suppose you will be wondering what right I had to look in her purse. Well, ordinarily I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, but getting on to the point, your mom is in the hospital. She was on her way to work, and a big truck ran that stop sign at Chester and Orchid Street and hit her broadsided. She was pinned in her car for about an hour before they could get her out.
Sorry to have to break the news like this, but she’s in a fix. Both of her legs are broken, plus some ribs. She also has a mild concussion and numerous cuts and bruises. The doctor said she would be all right, but it would be a long, drawn-out ordeal before she would be completely well again. The man who hit her had insurance, so, thankfully, her bills will be paid. You know how your mom hates bills!
She is rational part of the time, but they keep her pretty heavily sedated. When I asked her about contacting you, she said not to bother you because she was going to be all right. But I talked to Brother Morgan and he thought you should be contacted. So I tried to call but, as I told you, I ran into difficulties there. Mrs. Flowers suggested I look in. your mom’s purse for your address, and that’s where we found it.
I wish you could come for a few days at least. It would really lift your mom’s spirits, I know. Judy and I and others of the church folks are taking turns sitting with her, but of course that’s not quite like having your own family.
I didn’t know what to do about letting Connie know. With her being so far away in New Guinea, I thought it might be best not to notify her. It would really tear her up if she knew. You can do what you think best about that. But I felt I had to let you know. I still consider you one of my best friends, though I hardly ever see you or hear from you anymore.
Well, I must close, but I can’t sign off without letting you know we’re still praying for you. I hope you won’t be angry with me for saying so, but the pleasures of this world will never quench the thirst of your soul. Why don’t you give God a chance? Just remember, when you come to the end of yourself, you can turn to Jesus and He will take you in. He waits with outstretched arms.
Donnie folded the disturbing letter and stuck it in the envelope, then he headed for the refrigerator for a bottle of beer, thinking, I’m so jittery! He popped off the lid and took a drink. Maybe this will calm my nerves.
He paced back and forth from the kitchen to the living room, his mind in a turmoil.
Poor Mom … Poor Mom! I should go to her, I know, but how can I? With her several hundred miles away and me without money to buy even the first tank of gas for the car. No gas. No money. No job. No NOTHING!
What can I do? What can I do? Where can I turn for help? his heart cried out.
A small still voice answered, Why don’t you give God a chance? Just remember, when you come to the end of yourself, you can turn to Jesus and He will take you in.
That letter! he thought in disgust. Those were the very words Ralph wrote in that letter. What could Jesus do for me—wretched, miserable, lonely, dejected man that I am? Could He get me back my job and my wife and my little angel girl? Would He pay my overdue apartment rent? My utilities?
I don’t need some imaginary help, or help in the sweet bye-and-bye. I need help now. Now! when I’m left with nothing to live for.
When you come to the end of yourself…. Donnie shook his head as if to shake out the unwanted thoughts. He took out his wallet and counted his money.
“I’ll run down to the service station and call Mom from the pay phone there,” he decided. “I still have enough money to do that.”
He picked up his car keys from the table where he had thrown .. them earlier and went out the door, locking it behind him. He backed the car out of the driveway and headed for Woodson’s, a service station about three miles down the road.
“Can you let me have some change for this five?” he asked the attendant. “I want to make a long-distance call. My mother was in a wreck and I want to see how she is.”
“Sure,” the attendant answered, counting out the change. “Bad wreck, was it?”
“Pretty bad, I guess. They say she has both legs broken and some broken ribs.”
“Too bad! I’m sorry to hear that. Oh, excuse me. I see I have a customer.” The man hurried out the door.
Left alone, Donnie picked up the receiver and dialed the operator, giving her instructions for his call.
Donnie could hear her talking to an information operator. Then he heard a ring and a voice on the other end answering, “Terryville General Hospital.”
“I have a person-to-person call for Elaine Slocum.” In a few seconds Donnie heard the answer, “Room 422.
Shall I ring?”
Once again Donnie felt all jittery inside. How seriously was his dear mom hurt? he wondered. Had Ralph really leveled with him?
“Hello,” someone said, but Donnie knew the voice on the other end of the line was not his mother’s.
“This is long distance. I have a call for Elaine Slocum,” the operator said patiently.
“Who’s calling, please?”
“One moment, I’ll see if she’s able to talk …. Mrs. Slocum, Mrs. Slocum, wake up. Donnie’s calling. Can you talk to Donnie, Mrs. Slocum? Wake up! Here let me get a cold rag and wash your face. Now, can you talk to Donnie?”
The operator asked, “Will you talk to the party who answered if Mrs. Slocum can’t talk?”
“Deposit three dollars and twenty-five cents for three minutes, please.”
Donnie dropped twelve quarters, two dimes, and a nickel into the slots.
Donnie barely heard the operator’s crisp acknowledgment; his ears were straining to hear what was going on at the other end of the line.
The sound of her weak voice brought a lump into Donnie’s throat and tears into his eyes. Trying to compose himself he asked huskily, “Mom, how are you? I just heard about your accident a few minutes ago.”
“I’m going to be all right, son. It’ll just take time …. How are you, Donnie? And how’s Sharon and the baby?”
Donnie couldn’t tell her the truth right then, even if he had wanted to, so he just said, “We’re all okay, Mom. I’ve only got three minutes, so tell me what you can about yourself. “
“I have some ribs broken, and a few other things.”
“Like two broken legs?”
“I guess Ralph must have told you all about it—” Her voice broke off. She sounded awfully tired.
“Okay, Mom. I won’t hold you. I’ll try to come see you real soon.”
“Don’t worry, Donnie. I love you and am praying—” Again her voice trailed off.
Someone on the other end spoke into the phone. “She’s gone back to sleep. She’s heavily sedated. This is Mrs. Flowers, Donnie. I’m sitting with your mom today.”
“Thanks for what you’re doing, Mrs. Flowers. Take good care of my mom,” he said, his voice catching. “I must go now. My time is up.”
“Bye, Donnie. We’re praying for you. God has been so-o good too-”
“Bye now.” He hung up the phone, murmuring faintly, “Miz Praise-the-Lord! She hasn’t changed one bit. Still singing God’s praises.”
But how could such a good God treat my mom the way He’s doing? Donnie thought rebelliously as he slowly walked back to his car. I’ve never been able to understand some things about God, how He can mistreat His own. As for me, I’m sure I deserve all I get, but with Mom, it’s different. She deserves the very best.
Donnie started the car. The gas gauge registered empty. He pulled over to the self-service pump and put $2.00 worth of gas in his car, paid, and headed back to his lonely apartment, trying to figure out what he could do.
Where do I go from here? Only three dollars, plus a little change left. I’ve looked everywhere for work. Nothing shows up. My landlady is on my back for the rent and utilities-threatening to cut them off if I don’t pay. Where can I turn? Dad? No, I can’t ask him. I sponged off him too much while I was in college. Now that I’m married I’ve got to stand on my own two feet. I’ll have to come up with something.
Having covered the short distance to the apartment, Donnie pulled into the driveway, got out of the car and went inside. Oh, how quiet it was! Why had Sharon been so stubborn and idealistic? Why had she left him like that? Oh, he knew he’d done her wrong, but didn’t he have some rights? She never had time for him, so he had found someone who did. Now he sorely wished he hadn’t. How he missed dear little Christy! He could almost hear her exclaiming, “Da-da,” as she reached out those plump little arms toward him.
“Aw, Rats!” he said aloud. “How much can a guy take? This is driving me nuts.”
He paced back and forth like a caged animal. Once more the small still voice spoke to his heart. When you come to the end of yourself, you can turn to Jesus and He will take you in.
Donnie reached for the letter from Ralph and tore it to shreds. “Now, stop bugging me,” he yelled at the offending letter. “Ralph can have all the religion he wants, but it’s not for me. 1 can make it without religion. Life must be awfully boring for those people who spend their time going to stuffy little churches and trying to live to please an Unseen Being. 1 prefer my kind of life to theirs any day.”
After this outburst, Donnie was better able to forget Ralph’s words and concentrate more fully on his miserable state of affairs.
“I guess about all 1 can do at this point is pack my clothes and skip out and go to Mom,” he concluded at last. He glanced around the apartment. Without Sharon’s and Christy’s things it looked bare. There wouldn’t be much to pack.
He picked up a pen and found some note paper and wrote:
Dear Mrs. Durant,
I received word today that my mother was in a wreck and I must go to her. Sorry to skip out without paying the rent, but as you know, I lost my job and I have nothing to pay with. Some day I hope to pay you. I’m not a cheat, but circumstances are against me. Thanks for your kindness to us.
What would he do for gas? Well, there were ways, when a man was desperate enough, and a plan began to formulate in Donnie’s mind. He hurriedly packed his belongings and loaded them in his car. He pulled open each drawer and searched the closets to be sure he hadn’t forgotten anything. Oh, yes. There was his revolver hidden at the back of the top shelf of the closet. He would probably need that—and soon. He unplugged the refrigerator, looking longingly within, but there was nothing he could take along to eat. Opening the cupboard door, he spied a box of crackers. There! That would keep his stomach from gnawing.
When Donnie picked up the cracker box he saw behind it two jars of baby food, Christy’s favorite—applesauce. Tears stung his eyes. He could visualize her now—his little Apple Dumpling, as he called her. How she would smack her lips when Sharon fed her applesauce .
Donnie closed the cupboard door, leaving behind the simpie reminder of his beloved baby, and walked briskly out the back way without locking the door this time. Mrs. Durant would be checking soon, so no need to lock her out.
Speeding down the highway a short time later, Donnie wrestled with his terrifying thoughts. He had enough gas to go about fifty or seventy-five miles, and then—something had to be done. That “something” caused him to break out in a cold sweat. His clammy hands gripped the steering wheel while he argued with himself that he had no alternative. Life had dealt him a hard.blow, so he just had to do whatever was necessary. He would get even with the fate that had befallen him.
He glanced at the odometer as another mile rolled up. He had come thirty-five miles. His gas gauge was registering near empty. He knew he would have to do something soon.
Presently, he saw a neon sign ahead advertising the price of gas. He slowed down. A shudder of fear went through him. “A first time for everything,” he told himself resolutely. He put his hand on the seat beside him. Yes, it was still there. His fingers closed around the cold metal.
Don’t do it, an inner voice warned.
“As if I had any other choice!” Donnie muttered.
The place had a little grocery store with gas pumps in front. Donnie parked to one side, where he had a view of the interior of the store. A young woman was filling up her tank. She finished and went inside to pay, then came out and drove away. Donnie saw no one but an elderly lady standing behind the cash register. It appeared to be a privately owned business, probably run by an elderly couple, he decided. Once again a cold chill ran down his spine. He almost changed his mind, then he hardened himself. Instead of driving off as the inner voice bade him do, he tied a bandana over his nose and mouth and hurriedly went inside. Sticking his revolver in the elderly lady’s face, he demanded in a hoarse voice, “Give me seventy-five dollars as fast as you can.” It eased his conscience some not to ask for all she had.
The poor woman turned pale and began to fumble in the register, glancing hopefully over her shoulder as she did so.
“Hurry, woman, before I shoot.”
She pulled out a handful of bills and handed them over. He grabbed them and turned on his heels to flee. But at the door he stopped and looked back, conscience-stricken.
“I’m sorry, Grandma,” he said. “I don’t like having to do this to you. It’s just that I’m down on my luck. I’ll repay you some day.”
Then he turned and fled out the door, jumped in his car and sped away as fast as he dared. He turned onto a side road and down a back street, imagining all the while that sirens and flashing lights were right behind him. Finally, he saw another service station ahead. He drove in and quickly filled up his tank, paid for it and hurried on. After he was far enough away to feel somewhat safe, he returned to the main highway and headed for home.
Why worry? he tried to shrug it off to himself. I’m not a thief and God knows I’m not. I had no choice. One can’t be honest in my circumstances. He attempted to laugh. If the old lady had only known that I didn’t even have a bullet in the gun, she wouldn’t have been so freehanded. Wonder how much she gave me.
With one hand on the wheel, he reached for the remaining bills, which he had thrown on the seat, and counted them.
“Whew!” he exclaimed. “One hundred and seventeen dollars, besides the fifteen for the fill-up. She really must have been scared.”
Once again he tried to laugh, but the memory of the old lady’s pale face, her eyes open wide in unbelief, and her trembling hand reaching in the cash register checked his laughter and smote his conscience.
Oh, I’ll go back and pay the old lady one of these days, he soothed his troubled conscience. Connie says I’ll have to make restitutions for all my dishonest deeds if I ever get to heaven. Well, I hope I go to heaven. I certainly don’t want to go to hell; if everything I hear about it is true. But … Aw Rats! I need something to drink.
Before long he stopped to buy a cold beer, along with a couple of packs of cigarettes. And why not? He had plenty of money.
Seven hours later he pulled up into the parking lot of the Terryville General Hospital. Looking at his watch, he saw it was 1:00 a.m.
“Too late to disturb Mom, now,” he decided. “Guess I’ll run on home and see if I can get in and try to get a good night’s sleep.”
As Donnie pulled into the driveway in front of the little white frame house, memories flooded his mind. Instead of getting out of the car immediately, he lit up a cigarette and sat quietly reminiscing.
He had been home only a few times since going back to college after his automobile accident five years before. How different things had been back then! At that time, his heart had become tender toward the things of God. His long convalescence with his mom’s care had brought that about. Her holy influence and prayers had been almost too much to resist. He had even attended church a few times with her.
Ralph, too, had had his part in influencing Donnie toward taking God’s way. Donnie had seen how Ralph’s life was changed, and it had started him thinking seriously about spiritual matters. In fact, he had even gone to the altar once, but he failed to really go through with God. He had a burning desire for education, and he knew what to expect when he went back to the college he had attended. He wasn’t willing to be a “speckled bird.” Even though his injury in the wreck had hindered him for two semesters, and his former friends would be in higher grades, yet he knew he would soon be involved with the same type of associates he had had before, and he wasn’t willing to take a stand and be different.
What it amounted to was that Donnie did not want to give up all his worldly pleasures and be like Ralph and his mom and his twin sister, Connie. He had to admit they were happier than they had ever been before, They seemed thrilled enough with their new life. But Donnie felt he was entirely different. He just could never settle down to attending church for entertainment. Too many other interesting things beckoned him.
When he left to go back to college, he had promised his mom that he would never take up the habit of smoking again. And of course, he had never intended to put the bottle to his lips again. Drinking had been the cause of the wreck that had left him with a slight limp. He felt he had been lucky that time, though Connie said it wasn’t luck but prayer that caused God to extend mercy to him. So he truly never intended to drink again, not even a beer. He thought he was through with the stuff. But when he got back to college with the smoking and drinking crowd, he soon found out just how weak he really was when it came to resisting evil.
As Donnie looked back over the years since leaving home, it seemed as if nothing had gone right for him. He thought he was really happy when he and Sharon dropped out of school and got married, but as he looked back on it now, he realized marriage had been an escape from his failures in school. Oh, he had loved Sharon—still did. They had met shortly after he had gone back to school and had been inseparable ever since—until now, that is. They were happy, in a way. Sharon was a sweet girl and they had good times together, but she had taken up smoking and drinking in college, just as Donnie had. After they both drank a few beers together, they usually ended up in an argument, and Donnie had even slapped her around on several occasions when he had had too much to drink. Afterwards he was always sorry and would take her in his arms and apologize and promise to never, never do it again. But his promises seldom held for long. So their marriage had been rather stormy from the beginning.
After Sharon discovered she was expecting a child, she heeded her doctor’s advice and quit smoking. Then before little Christy was born, Sharon quit drinking beer, too, declaring she didn’t want her baby ever to see its mother with a beer can in her hand.
Donnie wondered if his mother’s prayers had anything to do with this change in Sharon. Before they ever visited Donnie’s home, Sharon had been warned about Mrs. Slocum’s peculiarities, her faithful church attendance and her disdain for worldly habits and amusements, yet it was hard to conceal some things. Of course, they would not have dared drink a beer while they were there, but smoking was different; the odor of it on their breath and clothes could not be mistaken, and Mrs. Slocum had let them know that she was greatly disturbed over their bad habits.
Sharon had confided in Donnie how ill at ease she was in his home with the family devotions, the table blessings, and his mom’s witnessing. So when they had vacation times, more often they spent them with Sharon’s parents whose “broad-mindedness” put the two young people at ease. They told themselves it was because Sharon’s parents lived closer to the college town in which they had settled.
Yet in the few times they had been to Donnie’s home, Sharon had learned to respect Mrs. Slocum, and she admired her clean living. It especially set Sharon to thinking when Mrs. Slocum told her she had once been bound by sinful habits until God had changed her life.
For a while after little Christy was born, ten months ago, things had changed for the better in Donnie’s and Sharon’s home. Christy became the center of their attention and brought them happiness beyond their greatest expectations. Donnie even shyly suggested they start attending church. He did not want his daughter reared like a heathen, he told Sharon.
But in spite of all their good intentions, the new pressures of life began to wear on them. Christy’s night colic left both Donnie and Sharon exhausted from lack of sleep. Sharon became irritable. She missed getting out in the working world. The household routine became dull and Christy’s demands on her life seemed unfair. Donnie found himself in financial problems, with Sharon not working. Always there was some new difficulty to face.
Donnie began drinking more than ever, only now he was going to the bar to drink in order to get away from the pressures at home. There he could forget every thing—almost—with the laughing girls. But then guilt set in. He began blaming Sharon for his failure as a husband and father, saying she had pushed him out of her life, that she no longer had time for him. All her time was consumed in taking care of Christy. Sharon laid the blame on Donnie for not helping her more at home so she would have more time for him.
On several occasions Donnie was too tired and sleepy to get up when the alarm went off in the morning. Sharon began to nag. Donnie missed whole days of work. Some days he just went in late. Eventually he was warned that he could expect to be dismissed if this continued. He did better for a couple of weeks, and then he began to get careless again. He was called in to the office. Donnie tried to explain away his negligence, saying the baby kept him from sleeping at night.
“Almost every man in this factory has children,” he was told, “and they all manage to get to work on time. You were warned. Your job is terminated as of today.”
Donnie felt he couldn’t go home and face Sharon, so he went to the bar instead. He arrived home several hours later, very drunk. He didn’t remember falling to sleep on the couch, but he found himself there when he awoke at midnight. By that time, he had sobered up some and was able to undress and go to bed.
The next morning, he reluctantly confessed to Sharon that he had lost his job. Of course this caused more tension in the home. Not only were he and Sharon together too much with too little to do, but also there was more to argue about because of the lack of money for their needs.
Donnie went out every night, against Sharon’s entreaties. A pretty blonde at the bar sympathized with him and helped him to forget his troubles.
But his troubles became even greater when Sharon found lipstick on his shirt. She accosted him with it, and since there was no way to lie out of it, he told her the truth. But instead of admitting he was in the wrong and begging forgiveness, Donnie blamed Sharon for driving him to it. This had been “the straw that broke the camel’s back” with Sharon. She immediately called her dad for money, then packed hers and Christy’s things and left.
That cured Donnie of his philandering, but though he called Sharon several times to try to tell her so, she informed him in no uncertain terms that she had had enough, and that she and Christy were both happier with her parents.
So, Donnie reasoned now, looking up at the little frame house sitting in the darkness, What more could I do?
He had been trying to put them out of his mind, trying to forget that either of them had ever existed. But, of course, that was easier said than done. He knew now that, in spite of all their problems, he did not want to forget his little sandy-haired wife. He remembered how her greenish-brown eyes used to twinkle with mischief. Oh, how he wished he had her here with him right now! It took all the will power he possessed to keep from calling her every day and promising her everything imaginable to get her back. And what wouldn’t he give to be able to clasp little Christy in his arms once again, to cover her face and hair with kisses!
He groaned aloud. “Oh-h-h, my darlings! How my heart aches for you! But I guess I’ve messed things up for us forever.”
Finally, Donnie got out of the car. He stretched his stiff limbs and yawned, still putting off entering the house alone. Glancing at his watch, he noticed it was 2:15. No wonder he was so tired and sleepy! He had come a long way, and then had sat for over an hour just thinking.
He walked onto the porch and tried the door. As to be expected, it was locked. Going back down the steps, he stooped down and reached underneath the house, feeling around on a little ledge until he found the key in its hiding place. As far back as he could remember, his mother had kept an extra key in their secret hiding place, “in case someone ever got locked out accidentally.” Well, tonight he was locked out, not accidentally, but locked out, nevertheless.
Returning to his car, he got out his suitcase, locked the car, and went back up the steps and unlocked the door. He reached for the switch and stood blinking as his eyes became accustomed to the light. Looking around the room, he saw that nothing had changed since his last visit, except for a piano in the corner of the living room where at one time a TV had stood. Donnie recalled that his mom had written about taking piano lessons. It had amazed him. He had always thought piano lessons were for little girls. But he had come to the conclusion that he need not be surprised at anything his mom did since she had gotten religion. She was definitely a changed person.
Going down the familiar hall, Donnie went into the room that had always been his and flipped on the light. He quickly noted the changes there: a new bedspread and new curtains. And a new picture on the wall! A picture of Christ knocking at a door.
I’m sure this is to remind me, when I come home from time to time, that Christ is knocking at my heart’s door, Donnie thought, his face grim.
Dismissing religion from his mind, he glanced toward the bed and discovered another new item. This one a tiny motto sitting on the night stand that said:
Only one life, ‘Twill soon be past
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
How will I be able to stay here with religion everywhere? he asked himself.
He hurriedly undressed, flipped the light switch, and jumped into bed. With a deep sigh, he settled down between the snowy sheets, expecting the blessedness of sleep to soon overtake him, but not so. His tired muscles, mind, and body refused to relax.
As he lay there tossing and turning, he heard a car door slam out front and saw a light flash in his window. Then he heard a loud rap at the door. In an instant, he was out of bed and reaching for his pants. Who could be pounding on the door at this hour in the morning? he wondered. Without waiting to put on his shirt and shoes, he hurried to the door. When he turned on the porch light, he saw a policeman. His first thought was of his mother. Oh, what if something had happened to her! Why hadn’t he gone on in, even though it was late?
Trembling noticeably, Donnie turned the knob and opened the door. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“That’s what I want to know,” the policeman answered, his voice gruff. “We received a call that a burglar had broken in here. I understand that the lady who lives here is in the hospital.” Then softening, he added, “But you don’t look like a burglar. Who are you?”
“I’m Mrs. Slocum’s son. Donnie Slocum,” he answered. “I’m from out of town and just arrived a little while ago.”
“Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Slocum.” The policeman looked embarrassed. “May I see some identification? You understand we have to be cautious.”
“I’ll get my driver’s license,” Donnie grunted in a not-too-pleasant tone.
He returned to his room for his wallet and showed the officer his identification.
“Thanks, Mr. Slocum, and accept my apologies. We’re in the line of duty.”
“That’s okay, mister, but if you get any more calls tonight, please ignore them. I’m dead tired.”
“All right. We know now, sir. Trust you get a good rest.”
“So do I,” Donnie murmured fervently to himself as he put the night latch on the door and returned to bed.
The sun was shining through the bedroom window when Donnie awoke. He checked the time. Could it be 10:30 already?
“My! I really slept after I finally got to sleep,” he chuckled to himself.
Slipping out of bed, he headed for the bathroom, planning to get a good hot shower before doing anything else. He turned on the shower and allowed plenty of time for the hot water to get through the pipe before he jumped in. But—
“Oh-h!” he sucked in his breath. “The hot water heater must have gone out.” The water was icy cold.
Shaking and shivering, Donnie made his shower brief, then quickly dried off and got dressed. On going to check the hot water tank, he found it had been purposely turned off. By Ralph, he surmised, remembering his mom often said that Ralph had been like a second son to her. No doubt he would be the one to take care of her affairs.
“Why didn’t 1 think about that before now?” Donnie berated himself. “I should have known Mom wouldn’t want gas burning to heat with no one here.”
He searched for a match and soon had the heater going full blast. There! No more cold baths. Now to see if I can find something to eat. I’m about starved.
But in the kitchen he found the refrigerator defrosted and unplugged. Huh! No use looking in there. He turned to the cupboards. After a diligent search, he came up with two small cans of Vienna sausage and a can of peaches. He soon had the cans emptied into bowls and was eating heartily—that is, as heartily as his meager fare would allow.
As a matter of course, he washed the dishes he had messed up, just as he had been taught from childhood. Then he unloaded the car.
This reminded him that time was getting away from him. Already it was past noon, and here he had been near his dear mom all these hours and still hadn’t got to see her.
Thinking to please her, Donnie took special care with his grooming, then set out for the hospital. As he drove along he wondered in what condition he would find his mom. He hoped she wasn’t hurt too badly or in very much pain. But he remembered how he had suffered. And that set him thinking about the wreck he was in.
He and Ralph had skipped afternoon classes at college that day and eagerly started for home. But instead of heading straight for Terryville, Donnie had stopped on the outskirts of town for a drink. He merely intended to get one beer, and Ralph wouldn’t have taken anything if Donnie had not insisted. Just as they were finishing their drinks, several of their school chums came in, and they decided to have a drink with them. One of their friends bought a bottle of liquor and together they downed it. By then, they were having a hilarious time, completely forgetting their desire to get home early.
When at last they did start out again, Donnie’s wild driving soon sobered Ralph up a bit. He pleaded with Donnie to let him drive, since he hadn’t had as much to drink, and finally Donnie turned the steering wheel over to him. It wasn’t long before Donnie was sound asleep.
Ralph drove well for a while, but then his mind became foggy and his driving unreliable. Once he crossed the yellow line and almost collided with an oncoming vehicle. This really shook him up and awakened Donnie. Again, things went smoothly for some time. Then when they were about twenty-five miles from home, Ralph dozed off, veered, and lost control of the vehicle. It skidded about thirty feet, turned all the way around in the middle of the highway, then went into a ditch and struck a telephone pole. The next thing Donnie remembered was opening his eyes in the hospital, with Connie and Mom by his bedside. He would never forget the awful suffering he had endured for weeks following the wreck.
No wonder he had made a vow never to touch another drop of liquor! He had been sincere at the time, too, but once he was well again and away from the holy influence of home, it hadn’t seemed worth it to stand up against the crowd.
Trying to clear his mind of memories of those bygone days, Donnie turned into the hospital parking lot, parked his car and started toward the entrance of the hospital. Automatically he reached for a cigarette, but decided against it for his mother’s sake. He took the pack of cigarettes and shoved them into his pants pocket where they would not be noticed.
Stepping up to the information desk, he asked, “Can you tell me what room Elaine Slocum is in, please?”
The receptionist spun the special register around to the S’s and told him, “Room 422.”
Donnie said, “Thanks,” and went on, wondering where he had heard that before. Oh, yes. Over the phone. How stupid of him!
Still that did not satisfy him. As he walked toward the elevator, the receptionist’s words kept going over and over in his head.
Room 422. Room 422. Then he remembered. Room 422 was “his” room. The one he was in after the wreck. What a coincidence! Being in that room had almost turned his life around once before.
Donnie pushed the elevator button and waited with sober expression for the door to open. As he entered the elevator, another gentleman and two ladies got on. Donnie pushed the button for fourth flour and asked the others,
“Two,” the man said.
Donnie pushed number two and braced himself for the slight jolt as the elevator began to move upward. At the second floor, the other three passengers got off. The elevator stopped again at the third floor, and a man got on.
“Going down?” the man asked.
“No, going up.”
“1 hope to go up, too,” chuckled the man. “Up to heaven someday. But right now 1 wants to go down to first floor.”
Donnie forced himself to give the semblance of a smile, knowing it was expected of him, but the man’s little joke didn’t amuse him. Had everybody gone off the deep end over religion? he wondered.
Then the elevator stopped at fourth floor and Donnie exited, checked the arrows for the right direction to 422, and headed down the hall to Mrs. Slocum’s room. He paused outside the door for a few seconds, drew a deep breath and knocked lightly. A lady came to the door and whispered, “Did you want to see Mrs. Slocum?”
“Yes,” Donnie answered. “I’m her son, Donnie.”
“Oh, yes,” the lady’s face brightened. “I’m Mrs. Melton, I go to church where your mother does. We ladies have been taking turns sitting with her.”
“Could I see her, please?”
“Sure. Come in. She’s resting right now, but you come right on in. She’ll be delighted to see you.”
Donnie entered apprehensively. The sight that met his eyes really shook him up. His mom was swathed in bandages and casts. Only her right arm was free. Her left arm had a needle stuck in it, with an intravenous bottle hanging over the bed.
Donnie quietly approached her bed. “Mom,” he addressed her, gently taking her left hand in his. “This is Donnie, your prodigal son.” The words didn’t come out as light and cheerful as Donnie had intended. He reached down and kissed his mother on the forehead.
She stirred a little and her eyelids flickered.
“She’s heavily sedated,” Mrs. Melton said, seeming apologetic. “She talks to us every now and then, though. Maybe if you’d call her name again, she’d awaken.”
“How are you, Mom?” Donnie tried again. “This is your only son. Remember me? Wake up, old Sleepy Head, and talk to me. I’ve come a long way to see you.”
This time she opened her eyes and smiled. “Donnie, my boy,” she whispered. Reaching out with her free arm, she pulled him down to her and wound her arm about his neck and kissed his cheek. “I’m so glad to see you.”
Donnie was too choked with emotion to trust himself to speak. He merely patted her gently.
“Here, have a seat,” Mrs. Melton offered, placing a chair conveniently for him.
Donnie dropped onto the chair, still holding his mom’s hand. She asked about Sharon and Christy, but before Donnie could think up an evasive answer, she had dozed off again.
“Her legs hurt her so badly. That’s why they keep her doped up,” Mrs. Melton explained.
“I understand. I was in about the same condition once,” Donnie answered.
“Yes, I know. We prayed and prayed for you, son.”
Donnie gave her a half-smile and hoped she wouldn’t start talking religion. He just wanted to be left alone. He wasn’t in the mood to talk to a stranger, especially a church-going stranger. Mrs. Melton seemed to sense his mood and picked up the book she had laid down when she answered his knock, and commenced reading.
The afternoon passed slowly. Finally Donnie turned to Mrs. Melton. “If for any reason you need to go, feel free,” he said. “I intend to stay with Mom the rest of the day and tonight. After all, I owe her a debt which I can never fully pay.”
He was thinking of the time his mother had spent in the hospital with him after his own wreck, and the tender, loving care he had received from her for months while he recuperated at home.
Mrs. Melton smiled gratefully. “Why, thanks, Donnie. That’s sweet of you. As a matter of fact, I have several things that need attending to, so if you think you can make it alone, I’ll run now.”
“I’m sure everything will be fine, ma’am.”
“All right, then. If you should need assistance you can always push the button. And be sure to keep an eye on that glucose bottle. If it gets real low, let the nurses know.” She picked up her purse to leave, then added, “Here, I’ll just leave my telephone number in case anything should come up and you would happen to need me.” She searched in her purse for a slip of paper and quickly wrote off the number.
“I appreciate your kindness to my mom, Mrs. Melton,” Donnie told her as he arose to shake hands with her.
“Well, she deserves everything one can do for her. She’s a wonderful saint of God. All the church people just love her and admire her spunk. We count it a privilege to help her while she’s in need. She’s done her share of helping others.”
With another smile and a little wave Mrs. Melton went out the door.
Donnie felt relieved. He much preferred being alone. Those church people were all alike. The way they were always smiling, and their willingness to assist with whatever need arose. Even their mannerisms in general. There was that peculiar expression of their faith which one could always feel when in their presence. There was just something about them that made Donnie very uncomfortable. He could tolerate his mom’s religion because she was his mom. And he could always give her a certain hard look that would silence her. Or else he could just walk out of the room if he didn’t want to listen to her. But with all the other meek old ladies, he had to act like a gentleman, and it wasn’t always the easiest thing to do.
Mrs. Slocum stirred. Donnie was on his feet by her side at once.
“Do you want something, Mom?”
She opened her eyes wide and stared at him in disbelief.
“Donnie,” she whispered hoarsely. “When did you get here? Did Ralph send you word? 1 didn’t want anyone to bother you.”
Donnie realized then that, though she had talked to him when he first came in, she really had not comprehended that he was there.
“1 got in last night, Mom, but it was late and 1 didn’t want to disturb you. How are you feeling?”
“Not too good, son. 1 have lots of pain, but the shots help.”
“Do you need another shot now, Mom? 1 can call the nurse.”
“Let’s wait a little while longer,” she said. “1 hate to bother them. They are so busy.”
Donnie straightened her top sheet, then reached over and kissed her soft cheek. This made tears come into her eyes. He picked up her little white hand and held it between his two strong ones. Such emotion swept over him that it took all his self-control to keep from breaking down completely. He could see the pain written on her face as her hand gripped his. Neither spoke for a few minutes. Words were not needed; love flowed from one heart to the other.
Donnie understood perfectly what his mom was going through. He knew what it was to be in a hospital, banged up and suffering. And just recently he had come to understand another suffering his mom had endured through life. He now knew what it was to have a companion walk out on you, leaving you to face life alone. The realization completely unnerved him. He gently released the hand he was holding and walked over to the window to try to get control of himself. Tears coursed down his cheeks. Why was life so cruel?
Hearing a low moan, Donnie quickly wiped his eyes and turned back to his mother.
“I’m calling for a shot,” he said, his voice firm. “There’s no use suffering when it’s not necessary.”
Before Mrs. Slocum could protest, he pushed the button, and soon the needed medication was administered.
Before Mrs. Slocum dozed off again, she said, “Donnie, there’s a letter from Connie in the drawer of that little stand. You’re welcome to read it if you like.”
“I’d enjoy reading a letter from my twin sis, Mom,” he assured her. “I’ve been wondering how she’s getting along with all those poor people in New Guinea.”
“She loves it, Donnie. Feels she’s right in the center of God’s will, though she does get awfully homesick at times.”
Tears filled Mrs. Slocum’s eyes. “My dear little Connie,” she said tenderly. “How I would love to see her!”
Donnie patted his mom’s shoulder awkwardly. Words failed him. He missed Connie, too. And to think it would be several more years before she’d come home on furlough! He couldn’t understand it. Why would Connie willingly choose to leave her home, her family, her friends, and even her country to be a missionary to people she knew nothing about? What was in it for her? Certainly not money. He had heard Connie speak of praying in the money for transportation to New Guinea. He didn’t understand exactly what was meant by “praying in” money, but he felt sure it wasn’t the easiest thing to do, and if they had to pray in money for transportation, he reasoned, then they probably had to pray in money for other things they needed. So he knew she hadn’t gone to New Guinea for money. And he knew Connie well enough to know it wasn’t for honor or prestige. So why was she throwing away her life in New Guinea? Probably to please that guy she married. Donnie had seen him only a few times, but when he had, that was all Larry could talk about—his call to New Guinea. Well and good if that’s what he wants out of life, but why did he have to go and take my only sister so far from home?
Donnie shrugged. Takes all kinds to make up a world, I guess.
He noticed that his mom had dropped off to sleep again, so he eased open the drawer and reached for Connie’s letter. Pulling it out of the envelope, he quietly unfolded it and read:
My dear, dear, Mom,
How I miss you! My mind has been going back over so many home scenes today. I guess I’ll have to admit I’ve got a touch of homesickness, but I’m sure it will soon pass, so don’t let it fret you. By the time you get this letter, I’ll be on top again.
Larry has been gone for three days now, and I suppose that’s one reason I feel so lonely. With his carpentry ability, they need him in so many places. Right now he’s helping to build a little mission home for a new couple on the field. I hope they’ll not feel disappointed over such humble quarters. It’s not much like most American homes.
There is so much adjusting when one is new on the field. In fact, I’m still adjusting. Sometimes I catch my mind going back to our little apartment range at home. Do you remember, Mom, how I detested cleaning that stove? Oh, how I grumbled, but you kept right after me until it was spotless. You should see my range now. Ha! We have a little firebox set up outside to be used for baking bread. I’ve tried several times but haven’t been too successful yet. We did manage to eat the last I baked, so I’m learning. Also, I have a little kerosene stove, but with oil so expensive, I have to use it sparingly. I’m always scared about half to death when I light it, for if I don’t watch it closely, it blazes up and nearly sets the house afire.
But all in all, we’re thriving well on my cooking. Most of our bread is fried, since I haven’t learned to bake well yet. We eat lots of sweet potatoes, which is one of the main foods here. What meat we eat is usually canned, and our milk is powdered. Eggs are scarce, but sometimes they are flown in, along with frozen meats, cottage cheese, etc. But these commodities are rare, believe me. How we do feast when we can get them, though! We have some fruits and vegetables also. In spite of everything, Larry has gained some weight, so I guess the food here agrees with him.
Did you think about the date of this letter? We have been here one year today. As a whole, we love it. We have been so keenly aware of God’s presence. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, we feel we are right in the center of God’s will. I love the natives and am slowly learning to talk with them. The main form of communication here is Pidgin English, and I’m picking it up gradually. Larry is doing better than I am. You should hear us practice talking to each other in Pidgin. We laugh more than we talk. It’s hilarious.
Larry is such a dear. I’m so glad I found God’s will for a husband. He’s the perfect husband, as far as I’m concerned. He’s so considerate and helpful. Our love for each other continues to grow. I’ll be so glad when he comes back home to me. This is the hardest part of missionary life—separation from your companion. But it takes that, too, to be able to carry on. I have a native lady with me until Larry returns. I suppose it is safer not to stay alone, though as yet I’ve had no reason at all to be afraid. Everyone around here has been wonderful.
Mom, I could write on and on, but with postage so high, I must close for now. I really love you and trust all is well with you. I pray for you and for Donnie and his family every day. Dear Donnie! Do you hear from him? Sometimes, since I’ve been here, the most awful burden settles down on me for him. I wish he would mind God.
Bye for now, Mom. I cherish every letter I get from you. Do pray much for us and the work here. God is working, but we long to see a greater manifestation of His wonderful power.
With all our love,
Connie and Larry
Donnie slowly placed the letter back in its envelope and put it inside the drawer. He understood his mother’s tears even better now. He, too, felt a wistful longing for Connie.
“Who would have ever thought, when we used to tease and fight, that we would one day be so far apart,” he mused, “and that I would have such an intense desire to see her?”
He walked over to the window and gazed into the street below, but there was a faraway look in his eyes. “My dear little sis!” he whispered. “How I miss you!” Oh that life could be as simple as it was when we were kids!
The next morning Mrs. Slocum was more alert upon awakening and seemed much better. After the aide had bathed her and changed the bed, she and Donnie were left alone.
“How is Sharon—and Christy, son? If you told me, it didn’t register. This medication keeps me from thinking clearly.”
“They’re fine, Mom.”
“Are they staying by themselves while you’re here?”
“No, Sharon took Christy and went to her folks’ for a short visit.” He wished that were the whole truth. He felt he could not afford to upset his mom with the details until she was better.
“How about your job, Donnie? How did you get time off from work?”
“I didn’t have any problem, Mom.” This time he was truthful in word, at least. Promising himself that he would t:ell her the truth when the time was right, Donnie endeavored to change the subject. “I enjoyed Connie’s letter, Mom. She seems happy and contented in spite of homesickness.”
“Yes, she does, doesn’t she? But that’s not surprising. She and Larry have felt sure of their call to New Guinea from the beginning, and being in God’s divine will makes anyone contented. By the way, I have a stack of Connie’s letters in the top drawer of the chest in my bedroom. Feel free to read them while you’re home.”
“Well … I just might do that,” Donnie answered.
So several nights later when Mrs. Slocum had improved enough to be left alone and Donnie was unable to sleep, he got out the stack of letters and propped himself comfortably in bed. Taking off the rubber band, he opened the top letter and began to read:
My first letter to you from the lovely land of New Guinea! Larry and I feel great to be here, in the center of God’s precious will. The trip over by ship was fine, except that both of us got seasick. And at one time the weather was so stormy we wondered if we would ever see New Guinea. (It’s good to have your life committed at times like that.) But in the midst of seasickness, bad weather, and other annoyances, we knew we were obeying God’s clear call, and we felt surely He would protect us and get us safely to our destination.
After the ship docked, we stayed in a two-story hotel for the night. The remainder of our trip was made by plane, the last leg of our journey being made by the Missionary Aviation Fellowship. A jeep met us at the airstrip and in spite of a pelting downpour, we arrived safely at the mission station some hours later.
For the present, we are staying with Dan and Julia Taylor, another missionary couple. Our little dwelling will be ready soon. It is a two-room thatch roofed cottage. Maybe, that doesn’t sound like much, but at least we’ll have some privacy. I’ll tell you more about it later.
My first reaction to the natives here is diffcult to put into words. Everyone wanted to shake hands with Larry and me. They are so friendly, but their bodies are so-o-o bare. For one reared in America, it’s a little hard to get used to. I wish we had a wardrobe large enough to dole out clothes to everybody. But I’m sure that will come later. As they are converted, and the good people in America send clothes, we’ll teach our people to dress pleasing to God. Bless their hearts! They not only need clothes, but they need medical care. Many have sores that are infected and repulsive, and their sweaty bodies give out an odor that causes my sensitive “smeller” to revolt.
But these are precious souls, and my heart cries out for their salvation. I do long to be an instrument in God’s hand to help turn them from darkness to the marvelous light of the gospel.
We can’t communicate with them because we don’t know the language yet, but they know we’re here to help them. They give us those wide, friendly smiles, and that compensates for the other things. We smile back at them, and you should see how they try to please us!
I could go on and on. There’s so much to tell. I’ll try to write every week if at all possible, but don’t worry if I miss a week. There is so much to be done. I’ll try not to get too busy to write.
Pray for us, Mom. I know you do. We pray for you and Donnie and his wife every day. I love you so very, very much and miss you terribly at times, but it’s great to be a missionary for Jesus.
Your loving daughter,
Donnie returned the first letter to its envelope and laid aside, his mind still puzzling over the incomprehensibleness of it all. It was worse than he had thought. Why would Connie throw away her life on uncivilized heathen with running sores and smelly bodies? This was too much for him to understand. His unregenerated heart was blinded to God’s great love for the precious souls of other lands. Only a heart filled with God’s Spirit—as was Connie’s—would count it a privilege to renounce ease and pleasure to answer a divine call to work among heathen of another land.
Donnie opened the next letter on the stack and, amidst many conflicting thoughts, read on.
Good morning! While I rest a bit, I want to get some correspondence done. Naturally my first letter goes to my own dear mom, whom I love so much and miss more than you’ll ever know.
We moved into our little cottage yesterday. You should see it. I’m wondering how you would ever keep this one spotless. Wish you were here to try.
I’ll try to describe it for you. I have pegs hung around on my kitchen wall. These hold my dish pans. (Never will I let water run over the sinks in my kitchen. Ha!) Also on the pegs I have a black skillet and two boilers. These are my cooking utensils, given to me by the Taylors. They’re all blacked up on the bottom, as there’s no possible way to keep them shiny, with our stoves as they are here. They just won’t cooperate, but wrap up our skillets and boilers in smutty flames. But anyway, I keep the inside clean and that’s that’s important. Even Jesus stressed that, didn’t He?
My kitchen cabinets are two wooden boxes with shelves built in and a curtain in front. These hold what plates, cups, glasses, and bowls we have. I guess I should be thankful there aren’t too many, since that means there aren’t too many dishes to wash, either. Oh, how I used to hate to wash dishes when I was home! Do you remember, Mom? I’ll consider it a privilege when I come home to visit. I’ll give you a rest.
At present we have no refrigerator, but we’ve been promised a small one later. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that the uncooperative stove burns oil. That’s why everything gets so smutty. I’m so scared of it! I got Larry to light it the one time it was lit. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for Sister Taylor, but of course she’s had several years’ experience.
Our bed is home-built, with no springs. I’ll have to admit it isn’t the most comfortable bed I’ve slept on, but I’m sure we’ll get used to it and maybe even like it. I have always heard a hard bed is good for one’s back, so we should have good strong backs to carry heavy loads for Jesus.
It’s so wonderful to be a Christian, to feel secure in God’s love and keeping. I’m so glad He ever saved and sanctified me and called me to New Guinea. I feel we will be able to glean some precious souls for Him here. The burden is growing heavier for these dear people as we live among them. Keep praying, Mom, that we will adjust and be able to win souls for Jesus.
I had an awful burden for Donnie, Sunday. Trust he’s O.K. I feel God is doing His best to get to his heart. I surely miss my twin brother. He means a lot to me. He looked just great at my wedding. His little wife is sweet. She’d make a wonderful Christian, I expect. When you hear from them, tell them I love them and my prayers are with them.
Larry just came in, so I need to prepare something for us to eat. Oh, for a loaf of bread! Ha. Mom, I’m not complaining. I love it here, and God is so very real. Praise His dear name!
Larry and Connie
What a sister! In spite of all the inconveniences, she seemed truly happy. And in spite of all she had to contend with, she still had time to think of him. Dear Connie! Though he couldn’t understand her choice of her life’s work, yet he had to admit she was far better off than he was. She and Larry loved each other and were happy together. His life was one messed-up ordeal.
He glanced over the letter again. His eyes fell on the part about the wedding. He had married two summers before Connie and Larry were married. They had wanted to get their schooling behind them first and had waited until after Connie’s graduation. Shortly after their marriage, they left for New Guinea. Donnie wondered how Connie could possibly adjust as well as she was doing, with everything so different there, but he supposed that God helped her.
Weddings! Donnie turned to look at the pictures he had set up on the dresser. Connie had made a pretty bride, all right. She looked so happy standing there beside her tall husband.
But the happiness doesn’t always last, Donnie thought bitterly. He looked at his and Sharon’s picture. Her petiteness made him look taller than his rather average height. Her pretty sandy hair wasn’t completely concealed beneath the white veil. Sharon. Never would he forget how beautiful she had looked as she walked down the aisle on her father’s arm. Her smile was especially for him and made those bewitching greenish-brown eyes sparkle like diamonds. How he had loved her then! And as he searched his heart now, he knew that, despite all their differences, he still loved her and wanted her back. But she and Christy were happy without him. He brought them only sorrow and heartaches.
He held his head pressed tightly in his hands, willing himself not to give way to his emotions, but the tears escaped between his fingers and trickled down his cheeks. Never had he felt any sadder, lonelier, or more rejected.
Why not give God a chance? Let Him change your life and make you a good father and husband?
Donnie started. It was almost as if someone had spoken audibly to him.
“It’s Mom’s and Connie’s prayers,” he concluded. “They close me in every once in a while. But look what they get from God. There’s Mom bruised and broken in the hospital and Connie so far away from those she loves. I’m about as well off without—”
He couldn’t seem to finish the sentence. He knew it wasn’t so. His Mom and Connie had a peace and happiness that he could not comprehend.
“Well, maybe someday—” he told himself.
Someday may be too late. It was that same small still voice again.
Hastily, Donnie gathered up the pages of Connie’s letter. He shoved the letter into the envelope and picked another from about half way down the stack. Although it was late, he didn’t feel one bit sleepy. Unfolding the letter, he read:
We enjoyed your letter and were so glad to get a picture of little Christy. She’s so sweet! She may have Donnie’s blue eyes and brown hair, but I believe she looks more like Sharon. I’m sure she is a joy to them. I would love to see her, but that does not mean that I’m not satisfied with things as they are.
I can’t get over how satisfying it is to be here in New Guinea. I love it. God has given me such a love for these dear people! I can’t explain it. It’s God loving them through me. I guess I should have included Larry in that, too. He feels the same way I do. We still can’t communicate with the people very well, but I’m sure they feel the love we have for them. Oh, I do praise God for calling us to this needy field of labor.
I’m helping out some in the clinic here. The training I received the two years I worked in the hospital while I was in college sure comes in handy. There’s so much sickness and disease among these people. It’s heart-rending. We treat them the best we can and pray with them. I’m sure a lot of the time the prayer does more good than the medicine.
One poor man was brought in with malaria. He looked more dead than alive. We gave him some medicine and prayed earnestly for his healing. Somehow I just felt God was going to undertake. And, praise His name, He did. The man is much improved, and I believe he will be well again in due time. The nurse here, Miss Jordan, talked to him about Jesus and how it was Jesus that had helped us, through the medicine and prayer, to help him. He was very attentive. Do pray for Lako that he’ll give his heart to Jesus.
I could relate many sad incidents of people who come to the clinic. A baby was brought in, badly burned. She was about Christy’s age. Thinking of our little Christy helped me to be even more compassionate toward the little darling and her parents. She would whimper so pitifully. They had taken her to the witch doctor before bringing her to us. By the time they got her to the clinic, she was so near death we couldn’t help her. The poor little thing passed away and Larry and I went to visit the grief-stricken parents. Their broken-earted wails made cold chills run down my spine. I thought, “They loved their little darling just as much as Donnie and Sharon love their little Christy.”
Donnie felt a chill go down his spine. No, no! They’re just heathen. They can’t love their baby as much as I love Christy. It would kill me if Christy would die.
He reached for a cigarette. His conscience smote him as he took a draw. It was the first time he had smoked in his mother’s house since coming home. But he was so jittery. He had to do something to calm his nerves.
Christy! What if she would have an accident! Suppose she would get badly burned or get run over by a car, or get real sick. Sharon wouldn’t even know how to contact me!
Looking at his watch, Donnie saw that it was nearly midnight—too late to call. But even now Christy could have a raging fever, he thought. Sharon should know where he was. He got out of bed, went to the phone and picked up the receiver. But then realized that it would frighten the whole family to get a call so late at night. And they would never understand his concern, especially if there was nothing wrong.
Donnie hung up the phone and paced back and forth. An indescribable horror gripped his heart. Had something happened to Christy? What if she would die? What if God took little Christy away from them? No, no, no! God wouldn’t do that. God wasn’t that cruel. But … what did God owe him? He had rejected Him for years. He had spurned His love and mercy and shook off the prayers that had gone up for him. God might take Christy to punish him . . . Maybe she would burn to death, like the little baby in New Guinea. Donnie became frantic. What could he do? Where could he turn?
When you come to the end of yourself, you can turn to Jesus and He will take you in.
That letter from Ralph! Will I never get away from it?
Ralph! Maybe that was the answer. Donnie picked up the telephone directory and looked up Ralph’s number. As he picked up the phone, he heard the clock strike twelve midnight. He couldn’t bother Ralph at this time of the night, for he had to go to work early.
Dropping the telephone, he began once more to pace the floor. His mind was tortured with vivid scenes of Christy in trouble. He smoked one cigarette after another. Seeing Connie’s letter on the floor where he had dropped it, he picked it up to finish it.
I trust all is well with you. I’m thankful for the kindness of the church people. I would never have left you, Mom, except that God ordained it. You have encouraged me to mind God every step of the way, and I appreciate that. Surely He has a special reward laid up for you. I pray for you daily. Also, for Donnie. I believe God is hearing us in behalf of Donnie. He’s probably miserable. But whatever it takes, I want to see him saved. I’m praying for God to get to him, at any cost . God may have to do something drastic to get his attention. My dear twin brother! How I love him and want to see him make it to heaven.
Donnie did not read the rest. He folded the letter and put it in the envelope. Putting the rubber band back around the stack of letters, he went to his mother’s room and placed them in the drawer where he had found them. Some day he would read the others, but he had read enough for now. Connie’s words, “God may have to do something drastic to get his attention,” were added torment to his already overloaded brain.
Suddenly, Donnie felt panicky. The walls of the house seemed to be closing in on him. He got dressed and went out. It was pitch dark. He felt scared. Why? he didn’t know. He had never been afraid of the dark before. Reaching his car, he unlocked the door and got in, backed out of the driveway and started for the expressway. Where he was going, he knew not, but he felt he had to get away from the awful pressure within.
He drove for an hour. All the while, the awful battle raged within. He felt torn to pieces. What was happening to him? Were his nerves cracking up? Was he losing his mind?
He glanced at his gas gauge. If he turned around now, he would probably have enough gas to get home. There were no service stations open at this time of the night. He had to be sensible. He didn’t feel like being stranded in the wee hours of the morning. He took the next exit and headed back toward Terryville. For the third time, he felt for his cigarettes, and, for the third time, remembered he had left them at home. He rolled the window down and stuck his head out in the fresh air. His mind felt as if it would explode. He had to get relief, but how?
When you come to the end of yourself . . .
“I’m already to the end of myself,” he cried out. “If I don’t get help soon, I’ll crack up.”
The night was nearly over when Donnie pulled into the driveway and entered the house once more. He felt thoroughly exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally. He looked at the clock.
I’m supposed to be at the hospital at six o’clock in the morning. Two hours to sleep! How will I ever make it?
He undressed and took a hot shower, then swallowed two aspirins for his throbbing headache and got back into bed. He then remembered he had not pulled out the alarm. He snapped on the light to see if the clock was set for five, and pulled out the alarm.
Once again he lay back on his pillow, but sleep did not come to blot out his troubled thoughts. The tears started slowly at first, then he began to sob great shaking sobs as he gave vent to his mixed-up feelings. After a while, he felt quieted and, at last, fell asleep.
Donnie spent most of his time at the hospital with his mother. His presence was a great comfort to her, and there were many helpful little things he could do. One day as he sat quietly by her bedside, he noticed how much she had improved during the ten days he had been there. He was pleased not only for her sake, but for himself, also. He hoped he could soon have a heart-to-heart talk with her.
Mrs. Slocum broke the silence. “Donnie, as you can see, I’m doing nicely now. You’ll never know what a morale-booster your coming has been, but I realize you can’t stay forever. I’m moving to the Pine Sapling Rest Horne next week, so you can feel free to return to your wife and baby any time now.”
Donnie gulped, “You say you’re moving to the rest home? Are you kidding?”
“No, Donnie, I’m serious. The liability insurance covers the cost of the rest home, and I can get proper care there until I’m able to walk again and resume my normal duties. “
“Why, that’s absurd, Mom. I can’t let you go to the rest home.”
Mrs. Slocum smiled and reached over and patted his hand.
“Then what do you propose to do, son? Take me back for your dear little wife to take care of while you’re working? You know how impossible that would be.”
“I’ll stay here and take care of you, myself. I owe it to you. You took care of me when I had my wreck.”
“Donnie, I appreciate your consideration,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes, “but this is different. I had Connie to help take care of you, and Ralph helped us tremendously. I wouldn’t think of letting you take care of me alone. Besides, you have a family to see after and a job to hold.”
“But Mom—but Mom—” Donnie swallowed and dropped his head. Should he tell her the truth now? Would she be strong enough to stand the shock?
Mrs. Slocum was speaking again. “Donnie, I have prayed much about my situation and feel I have the leadership of the Spirit. Dear Sister Flowers offered to let me move in with her, and others from the church have offered assistance. Ralph even offered to come over every evening after work and help out. But with these casts on my legs I’ll be terribly helpless. I feel like the rest home is the best place for me now. It’s not as if I’d have to pay for everything, myself. All my bills will be paid. The insurance will take care of me until I’m completely well.”
“But, Mom,” Donnie protested. “It doesn’t seem right for you to have to go to the nursing home. I could—”
“No, Donnie,” Mrs. Slocum said firmly. “I have made up my mind, and I feel that God has helped me to come to this decision.”
Donnie noticed the tears glistening in her eyes. Perhaps it had been a hard decision; nevertheless, she seemed fully committed to it. Dear Mom! How he hated to add any more burdens to her already heavy load. Well, he wouldn’t, he decided. He’d just continue on with his deception for now.
“Mom, I’ve decided to give up my job and stay here awhile,” he lied. “I’ll look for work here, then after I get a job, Sharon and Christy can come here to live. They’re enjoying their little vacation with her parents. The only thing is that the grandparents are spoiling little Christy too much. But as for me being here, Sharon is very understanding, especially since Connie is so far away.”
“But, Donnie, you have such a good job,” his mother remonstrated. “You know how hard it is to find good jobs these days.”
“I’ll find something, Mom. ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ Anyway, Ralph says they may soon have an opening where he works. He thinks he can use his influence to help me get on.”
This led Mrs. Slocum to ask, “Have you had a chance to visit with Ralph much? He sure thinks lots of you.”
“He’s been over to the house a couple of times, and I’ve talked to him some here at the hospital,” Donnie answered.
“Ralph’s a great guy,” Mrs. Slocum commented. “A genuine Christian gentleman.”
“Uh-huh,” Donnie grunted.
They lapsed into silence again, and before long Mrs. Slocum had dozed off. Left to his own thoughts, Donnie leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. So! Ralph’s a great guy. And what am I? A no-good-for-nothing bum, I suppose, if anybody is comparing. Donnie remembered his embarrassment when Ralph had come to the house to visit.
“Ralph, you’ve been a good friend for years,” he said, “and I don’t want to deliberately offend you. But if you knew all my circumstances you wouldn’t be so critical of me. You have a good wife to come home to at night, and you have Chad. You have a little house you’re paying for. You have a good job and spending money in your pocket. You have your health, and you don’t have to walk around with a limp. You don’t have to walk the floor at night wondering what’s going to happen to you next, wondering what your wife’s doing, wondering if your baby is sick or in need.. Sure. you can go around looking down your nose at me. I could, too, if I were in your shoes. You—”
“Hey, wait just a minute, Donnie. I’m truly sorry for all your trouble. I had no idea things were so bad with you. And, honestly, I didn’t come here to criticize you.
Giving Donnie a helpless look, Ralph changed the subject. “Do I understand you’re without a job, Donnie?”
“Yes, they fired me just because I missed a couple days and was a little late a few times.”
“Are you interested in working where I work?”
“I’d take anything I can get. I’m desperate.”
“I heard there’s going to be an opening soon in the hardware department of the store. It probably won’t pay much to start out with, but if you’re interested, go down and put in your application, and I’ll see if I can put in a word for you.”
“I’d appreciate that, Ralph.”
“There’s only one catch,” Ralph said, his eyes twinkling as he smiled at Donnie.
“And what is the catch?” Donnie asked warily.
“That you’ll go to church with me.”
Donnie jumped to his feet. “Then forget it, Ralph. I don’t intend to go to church.”
Ralph’s smile faded. “I’ll help you, regardless, Donnie. I’ve always considered you my best friend-that is, as far as earthly friends are concerned. My very best friend is Jesus. He is the reason I have a home, a good family, and a job. No telling where I’d be if it had not been for my dear friend, Jesus.”
Donnie was visibly agitated. He knew he had to do something to get rid of Ralph before he broke down entirely. He headed for the kitchen, saying, “Let’s have a drink, Ralph.”
Ralph followed, little expecting the type of drink Donnie intended to offer him.
Donnie popped the lid off a beer bottle and held it out. “Here, have a drink.” Never would he forget the hurt look on Ralph’s face.
“Donnie,” Ralph began hesitantly. “I know you’re already mad at me, but I feel I must say what I’m about to say.”
“Say on.” Donnie shrugged indifferently and began guzzling down his beer.
Ralph placed his arm about Donnie’s shoulders as he spoke. “You’ve got one of the best moms in the world, Donnie. It would break her heart to find beer in her refrigerator.”
“Don’t worry, chum. She’ll never find it,” Donnie had answered.
He knew Ralph was really shaken as he bade him goodnight, but it served him right, Donnie thought. No one invited him over to tend to my business.
Shaking his head as if that would rid it of unpleasant memories, Donnie opened his eyes and looked at his mom. She was sleeping peacefully. He walked softly out of the room and down to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee.
“Ralph will probably reconsider his offer in helping me get a job now,” he told himself as he sipped the bitter black coffee. “I wonder what I ought to do. My unemployment checks will help for a while. I guess I should send Sharon some money, but she’s acted so snippy toward me lately—I think I’ll just let her suffer.”
And Christy, too? ‘the voice of conscience chided him.
“Her grandparents won’t let her suffer,” he answered his accusing conscience.
He finished his coffee, smiled at the pretty cashier as he paid his bill, then headed slowly for the elevator.
Mrs. Slocum was awake when he got back to her room.
“Have you talked to Sharon lately?” she asked, her voice full of concern.
“Yes.” He wasn’t lying this time. He had called her to tell her where he was and to leave his phone number in case of an emergency.
“I won’t be needing your phone number, Donnie,” she had replied. “As far as Christy and I are concerned, you can go back to your little lipstick cutie. We’re through.”
“But, Sharon—” He wanted to try to reason with her.
“Good-bye, Donnie,” she had said flatly and hung up, leaving Donnie feeling like a whipped puppy.
His mom was speaking again, interrupting his unhappy thoughts.
“I had a peculiar burden settle down on me awhile ago, Donnie. It seems to have something to do with Sharon. Perhaps you and Sharon. Is something wrong, son? Are you hiding something from me?”
Donnie knew he couldn’t keep it from his mom any longer. Besides, he needed someone to talk to. He decided it was time to come clean.
“Sharon left me, Mom. She says she’s through.”
The shocked look on his mother’s face made him drop his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Mom. We just couldn’t seem to get along.”
“But Sharon has many good qualities, Donnie. And you have to think of Christy. Besides, the Bible says that a marriage contract is unto death.”
Donnie was provoked that the Bible and religion had to be brought into every conversation. Heartlessly, he blurted out, “Looks like you’re not obeying the Bible, Mom. Have you forgotten you’re divorced?”
Mrs. Slocum’s wounded look revealed the pain his sarcastic comment had inflicted.
“I’ve had many regrets, son,” she answered humbly. “If I had gotten saved before your dad left me, maybe God would have given me wisdom to know how to hold our marriage together. I’m sure I was partly to blame for our split-up. I’m sure I wasn’t the ideal wife at that point. So I’ll admit I had my faults, but your dad had another lover, so I was helpless to turn things around without help from God.” She looked at Donnie, longing for understanding.
After a little silence, she went on. “Son, I never have told you twins how dearly I loved your dad. It broke my heart and tore my life to shreds when he rejected me for another. I allowed that love to turn to bitterness after I lost him. That’s why I never wanted him around or wanted you to visit him. I ask your forgiveness for that, for he was your dad, regardless of what he did to me. I wish there were some way I could make up to you and Connie for the failures in my life, in rearing you. I can only ask your forgiveness. It has been a hard row to hoe, alone and without God. But my dear Lord has taken that deep-seated bitterness out of my heart. I’m so thankful that He did, for it was like a cancer eating away at my very being.”
A volunteer came into the room, offering magazines to read. When she had gone, Mrs. Slocum said, “Hand me my Bible, please, Donnie.”
Very reluctantly, he obliged.
As Mrs. Slocum looked in the concordance, she explained her purpose. “The marriage vows are very sacred, Donnie. I want to show you what the. Bible says about it.” Seeing his sullen look, she added, “I hope you won’t be angry with me. I’m trying to save you from lifelong heartache and regret.”
Donnie barely nodded.
“Here in the nineteenth chapter of Matthew, in verses five and six, Jesus says that a husband and wife are one flesh and ‘what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’ And here in Luke 16:18 He said, ‘Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.’ Then 1 Corinhians 6:9-10 tells us that adulterers, the same as thieves and drunkards, cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Mrs. Slocum closed the Bible. Her hand moved reverently and lovingly over the soft black cover as she said, “So, according to this old book, Donnie, only death should separate you and Sharon.”
“Why preach at me? I didn’t leave her, she left me,” Donnie lashed out angrily. “I guess it would serve her right if I did marry someone else.”
“But, Donnie, you’ll have to. give an account to God some day. And in Romans 7:2-3 the Word tells us that the woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, and if while her husband is living she marries another man she shall be called an adulteress. Only if her husband dies is she free from that law. Of course that goes both ways, for the man as well as the woman. If Sharon is bound to you, that makes you bound to her. Oh, Donnie,” Mrs. Slocum implored, tears coursing down her cheeks, “doesn’t that shake you up and give you a desire to do everything in your power to try to save your marriage?”
Donnie’s face clearly showed his irritation. He did not want the Bible condemning his marital affairs.
At the same time, he really didn’t want to make things any harder for his mom. He knew her life had been rough.
“I’m sorry I hurt you, Mom,” he apologized. “You’re the best mom in the whole world and you have been both a father and a mother to Connie and me. Noone knows any better than we do what you’ve been through.” He reached over and hugged her. “I’m glad you’ve found happiness at last. I wish I could find it somewhere.”
“You can find it, son – in Jesus, just like I did. Oh, Donnie, why don’t you give Him a chance? He can help you save your home. He can workmiracles for you.”
“Here comes your lunch, Mom.” Donnie was glad for the interruption. He rolled up the head of the bed and took the tray from the side, placing it where his mother could get to it.
Mrs. Slocum bowed her head and asked the blessing, then began to slowly pick at the food.
“Oh, yes, I almost forgot to tell you,” she looked up at Donnie as she spoke. “Ralph called and said for you to come down this afternoon and put in your application.”
“Then he’s not mad?” Donnie could have bitten off his tongue the minute the words were out.
Mrs. Slocum looked at him in surprise. “Of course not. Why did you think he would be mad?”
“Oh-uh-well-we had a few words over religion. He was trying to make me promise I would go to church with him. I get sick of people cramming religion down my throat all the time. I’m about ready to pack my bags and leave.”
Mrs. Slocum kept picking at the food, a sad look on her face. After a few minutes she said, “Donnie, if you can eat any of this, I wish you would. It’s paid for and no use wasting it. I can’t eat it.”
“I don’t want it either,” he said.
He removed the tray at her request, rolled her bed back down, and picked up the newspaper. Seating himself across the room, he hid behind the paper and pretended to read, but the printed lines ran together and nothing he read made sense. He was tired, sleepy, and disgusted. Disgusted more with himself than anyone else. What a mess he had made of things! He wished he had never been born. What did life hold for him? Nothing, absolutely nothing. He dropped the paper, and rested his head on the back of the chair. In a little while he dropped off to sleep and began to dream.
Christy was walking toward him with her little chubby arms outstretched. “Da-da,” she was saying. Then she stopped, and her arms dropped to her side. A scowl appeared on her face and she put her tiny hands on her lips. “No, no, not my da-da. I have a new da-da.” He awoke with a start. Even his dreams added to the torture of his mind, Did this dream have any significance? he wondered. Did Sharon have a boy friend? No, he wouldn’t believe it. She still belonged to him, and it was . . . it was . . . “until death do us part.”
He folded the paper and stood up. His mother was lying very still. A twinge of shame pricked Donnie’s heart as he noticed that a cloud of sadness covered her usually cheery face.
“Mom?” He spoke softly.
“I’m going downtown awhile. I want to put in my application for the job Ralph mentioned.”
“Go ahead, son. I’ll be fine. Take your time and get you a bite to eat while you’re out. You’re looking thin.”
“I love you, Mom,” he whispered.
Tears came into her eyes as she answered, “I love you too, son. Be careful, now.”
Donnie had been home for over a month, and the summer was nearly gone. Mrs. Slocum was temporarily settled in the nursing home, and Donnie was working with Ralph. Life had begun to look brighter for Donnie, except that he still missed Sharon and Christy terribly. Shortly after his talk with his mother, Donnie had made a special effort to be reconciled with Sharon. But Sharon was adamant.
“I’ve told you, Donnie, we’re through,” she had declared emphatically. “I’ll never be able to trust you again.”
“But, Sharon, I miss you and Christy like crazy,” he had pleaded. “I’m sorry for what I did. I had had too much to drink. I’ll never, never be untrue to you again. I promise.”
“Nothing can ever be the same,” she said, her voice hard. “I’m not interested.”
“It could be, if you’d give me a chance. I still love you, Sharon. I wish I could take you in my arms right now and kiss all your stubbornness away. Won’t you try me one more time?”
Had he heard her catch her breath when he said that? Had his words got through to her?
Her voice had mellowed when she answered, “I wish I knew you meant it, Donnie, but I don’t want to take a chance. Little Christy has adjusted, and I don’t want to uproot her again. I’ve got my mind made up that you and I can never make a go. So please don’t keep calling. My answer will be the same.”
“Do you really mean what you’re saying?” Donnie asked fearfully.
“I really do. My mind is definitely made up.”
“Then goodbye, my dearest darling. I’ll love you always. Cover my baby with kisses for me.”
“That’s it,” he had declared with an aching heart as he hung up the phone. “That’s my last call. I’ve done all I know to do.”
That had been two weeks ago, and Donnie was still trying to forget as he drove to the nursing home for his regular Sunday afternoon visit. When he arrived, he found his mother up in a wheelchair and in a cheerful mood.
“Son, I think I’m beginning to see at least one reason God allowed my wreck,” she told him excitedly.
“I have had some of the most wonderful opportunities to witness for my Lord,” she went on, paying scant attention to the skeptical tone of his voice. “And the activity director here is allowing me to hold Bible studies every morning at nine o’clock. We’re having good turnouts, and everyone is very attentive. I am thrilled beyond words. I hardly have time to think of my aching legs, I get so engrossed in God’s Word as I prepare my lessons. Then when I have spare time, I go around to the rooms of the shut-ins and read the Bible to them and pray for them. Most everyone is receptive. I guess the Bible is about all the comfort that some have.”
“How do you get around, Mom?” Donnie was curious to know.
“I’m learning to roll these wheels by hand and chauffeur myself. But sometimes my roommate rolls me about. She is such a sweet little thing. Her mind is not so bright as some of the others’, but she’s such a nice person and so willing to do anything she’s asked. I would have a time without her. She gets me a drink of water or hands me my glasses, my Bible, or whatever I need.”
“Where is she now?”
“I don’t know. She leaves the room for long periods of time every so often. I like being alone sometimes, so I haven’t asked about what she does, for fear she’ll think I don’t want her to go.”
“Is that her?” Donnie asked in a low voice as the door opened.
Mrs. Slocum nodded. Smiling at the lady, she said, “Lilly, this is my son, Donnie. You have heard me talk about him. Donnie, this is my roommate, Lilly.”
“Nice meeting you,” Donnie acknowledged the introduction in a friendly tone.
“Hi!” she said, grinning at him. “You sure do have a good mamma.”
“I can agree with that,” he answered.
“I push her wherever she wants to go.”
“That’s nice of you.” The friendliness had gone out of Donnie’s voice.
“I get her water for her, too.” It was quite evident that Lilly was proud of the chores she did for her roommate. She waited expectantly for proper praise.
Donnie obliged with, “She told me how good you are to her.”
Lilly stood looking at Donnie, wide-eyed and smiling broadly. Donnie turned away, wishing she would leave the room again. He had come to visit his mom, not Lilly.
“Yep, yore mamma’s sure a good woman. I hand her her Bible and she reads it to me sometimes. I can’t read, so I like to hear her read from the Bible. She read to me about Jesus making that blind man see. We have a blind man here in the home. His name is Jess Nugent. I wish Jesus lived on earth now. Maybe He could make Jess see. I know he would be powerful happy if he could see again.”
Thoroughly exasperated by this time, Donnie leaned over and whispered to his mother, “Can we go somewhere to visit, where we can have some privacy?”
Mrs. Slocum smiled at Lilly. “Lilly, we’re going to move to the back porch awhile. You stay here and get a good nap while we’re gone.”
“I don’t need a nap. I’ll push you to the back porch.” She took hold of the chair handles and smiled broadly at Donnie, as if to say, “See how well I help your mamma.”
Donnie stared at her coldly. “I’ll roll her myself. You stay here.”
Mrs. Slocum patted Lilly’s hand and spoke to her kindly. “I’ll see you after a while, Lilly. Thanks for offering to assist me. Now you take a good nap. Okay?”
“How do you stand that woman gabbing all the time?” Donnie asked as he pushed his mother along. “She would drive me nuts.”
“Lilly is really a sweet person when you get to know her Donnie.”
“I hope I never get to know her,” he stated flatly. Several times, on their way to the back porch, Donnie was stopped by patients exclaiming over Mrs. Slocum’s Bible studies. He was convinced that her labors for her Master were very much appreciated.
When they reached the porch, Donnie took a letter from his shirt pocket and handed it to his mom.
“Here, I almost forgot to give you this. It’s from Connie.”
“You haven’t opened it?”
“It’s addressed to you.”
“You know you’re welcome to read all the mail I get from Connie,” Mrs. Slocum assured him.
Eagerly, she tore off the top of the envelope and read aloud:
I’ve missed two weeks hearing from you. I trust all is well at home. I’ve had a peculiar feeling of late that something is wrong. Mom, you aren’t keeping something from me, are you? Are you well? Is Donnie’s family all right? If something is wrong, please let me know so I can help pray.
Mrs. Slocum brushed tears from her eyes. Donnie, too, had a peculiar sensation sweep over him. It was strange that Connie, so many miles away, could still sense their trouble. She could always seem to sense when he had problems. Perhaps it was because she was his twin. Mrs. Slocum had just written her the past week about the wreck. She had not wanted to upset her earlier. But somehow Connie had known things weren’t right at home.
Mrs. Slocum continued reading,
We had an exciting visit yesterday. Our visitor was a converted witch doctor. He openly discussed with us about his witchcraft. He said he had lied and deceived the people who had come to him, but one day he came under the influence of the gospel and became sick of his lies and wicked life. He confessed his sins at an altar of prayer and peace came into his heart. He told us about a practice the people have of worshiping the bones of ancestors. When relatives die, they bury them and allow enough time for the flesh to decay, then they dig up the bones and put them in spirit houses. They then kill pigs and offer the spirit of pigs to the spirit of their loved ones. They fear the spirits will kill them if they don’t keep up this practice. When they are converted, they tear down their spirit houses and bury the bones. Oh, praise the Lord! I trust God will help us to get bones buried all over New Guinea.
Pray, pray, pray, Mom. We are praying for a real sin-killing, bone-burying revival. God is moving. Larry preached a wonderful down-to-earth message yesterday. The Lord really helped him, and several came forward for prayer. They are pitifully ignorant of Bible truths. But, thank God, the true light is penetrating the darkness. Hearts are hungry. Where once we saw hopelessness and despair, we now see hope springing up. Oh, for a real Holy Ghost revival. God can do in a moment of time what we can’t do in a lifetime.
I love it here, Mom. I can’t explain it, but it’s home to me. Home away from home. It’s God’s call. Oh, how I struggled against this call, Mom, because I didn’t want to leave you. But I’m so glad I said yes that night at the Missionary Convention, and surrendered my will to God’s will.
I can still see that dear brother as. he presented the needs of New Guinea. He didn’t touch the fringe of the needs here, though he poured out his heart under the anointing of God. The need so far exceeds what he presented. It can’t be rightly presented. One must be here to realize the great need. Oh, for workers to New Guinea! Mom, have you thought of coming over for a year or so?”
“Hey, wait a minute,” Donnie interrupted. “You’re not going, Mom. Don’t let Connie put that idea in your head. I need you as bad as Connie and those black people need you.”
Mrs. Slocum chuckled. “Connie’s only kidding, son. She knows I can’t go.”
But Connie wasn’t kidding, as Mrs. Slocum was soon made to realize as she continued reading:
Mom, if you will seriously consider coming, God will help us pray in your fare. It will be several years before I can come home on furlough, and you could come over and visit and work for God here for several months or a year. Oh, I get so excited thinking about it. Donnie has a home of his own and you’re all alone, so why not consider this venture? I’ll be praying for God to lead you.
Bye for now. I have to write so small on these aerograms and still can’t say much.
I love you, Mom, and am praying for you and Donnie and his family. If you hear from him, say hello for me.
Your missionary daughter,
“Mom,” Donnie cried out, “forget what Connie suggested. You’re not going to New Guinea.”
“I’ve never even given it a thought, son. Connie’s just lonely to see me. I’ll just have to pray more for her, that God will comfort and help her.”
Dismissing the idea, Mrs. Slocum folded the letter and tucked it in her pocket. “How’s your job?” she asked.
“It’s okay. I don’t like it as well as I did my other job, and the pay is a lot less, but it’s better than nothing.”
“Have you sent Sharon any money lately?” Mrs. Slocum spoke with trepidation, knowing she was bringing up a forbidden subject.
“She hasn’t asked for any,” Donnie answered sharply.
“But it’s your duty to support your wife and baby, whether she asks for it or not. What would we have done if your father had not supported us?”
“Her parents are well able to take care of them. She chose them over me, so let them support her.”
“Have you talked to her lately, son?”
“Not since the time she read me off.”
Mrs. Slocum cleared her throat, then began hesitantly, “Donnie … I’ve been praying desperately for God to reunite your home.”
Donnie stood up and looked into his mother’s face. “Mom, you’re just wasting your time praying for Sharon and me. She told me very emphatically that we’re through.”
“But prayer changes things, Donnie. Don’t you still love her?”
Donnie wanted to say no. He wanted to say he hated her and never wanted to see her again. Instead, tears came into his eyes and he answered, “My heart aches day and night for Sharon and Christy, Mom. But I’ve done all I know to get her back, and she refuses. So it’s settled. All I can do is try to push them out of my mind and forget they ever existed.”
With tears streaming down her face, Mrs. Slocum caught Donnie’s hand in hers and said, “I know you don’t want me to say this, son, but if you’d only give your heart to God, I believe things would work out for you. So much prayer is going up for you … Donnie, why don’t you mind God?”
“Mom, I wish you’d quit bugging me about religion. It’s fine for those who want it; but as for me, I happen to be satisfied the way I am. I’m sick to death of hearing about religion all the time. If it’s not you, it’s Ralph, or Connie’s letters, or the preacher rapping on my door. I’m absolutely fed up. I don’t know if I will ever get right, so please leave me alone.” His face was flushed and his voice trembling as he finished. Mrs. Slocum sat silent.
“Do you want me to roll you back to your room?” he asked her. “I’m going. Never mind … here comes your preacher. He can roll you back when he’s through visiting. Good-bye. “
Before Mrs. Slocum could collect herself enough to answer, he was gone.
Down the hall, Brother Morgan extended his hand to shake hands with Donnie as they passed, but Donnie brushed by as if he hadn’t seen him and walked briskly on. Kind voices greeted him as he passed patients in the hall, but he acted as if he were deaf and kept going. He saw Lilly and she began following him, scolding him because he hadn’t brought back her roommate. Fearing she would follow him to his car if he didn’t tell her something, he called back impatiently, “She’s got company. They’ll roll her back later.”
Pushing the front door open with an angry shove, he went out, relieved to be away from all of them. Once in his car, he turned his radio dial until he found some rock-and-roll music, turned it up loud, and started down the highway.
“Where to now?” he asked himself. “Oh, I know. I’ll just drive over to see Dad. It may be a couple hours’ drive, but what else is there to do?”
It had been over a year since he’d seen his dad. The last time was at Connie’s wedding. Mr. Slocum had given him and Sharon an invitation to come and visit him then. He seemed to be impressed with Sharon, and she, in return, liked him. But they had never got around to going. Donnie had called when Christy was born. Mr. Slocum was delighted about being a grandfather, and he had sent them a good-sized check to buy his first grandbaby “the best layette in the country.”
Donnie knew his dad would never have let them be in want, had he known about him losing his job. But in those months after the wreck, when he had been making some new resolves, Donnie had purposed to stand on his own two feet and never sponge off his dad again.
As the miles sped by, Donnie had time to get himself under control, and he began to think of how awful he had acted at the rest home. I know Mom means well. She’s such a dear and wouldn’t hurt a flea, but I just wasn’t in the mood for her preaching.
If he could have heard the fervent prayers that went up for him after he left, he would have known why his anger had subsided and why his heart was softened toward his mom.
Brother and Sister Morgan had approached Mrs. Slocum hesitantly after being ignored by her son. Looking smitten, and with tears falling unchecked, Mrs. Slocum had extended her hand and said, “Let’s pray for Donnie right now, Brother Morgan. He’s in Satan’s net, but God is going to deliver my boy. I’m believing Him to do it. I believe He’s going to pluck Donnie out of the net.”
“Sister, there’s a Bible verse similar to what you just said, in the book of Psalms. Here, let me see if I can find it. Maybe we can claim it as a promise for Donnie’s salvation. “
He opened his Bible to the concordance in the back. “Yes, here it is. Psalm 25:15. ‘Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.’ The rest of this is fitting, too. Let me just read the remaining verses, sixteen through twenty-two.”
When he had finished reading, he went on to say, “David was in a dreadful situation. His feet were in the net, fast and entangled. He could not free himself out of his difficulties, but he turned to the right source for help. Donnie is running from the only One who can free him from Satan’s net. I’m sure it would be pleasing to God for us to band together and pray for God to pluck him out of the net. Let us pray now. Sister Slocum, you lead in prayer.”
“Our wonderful and kind heavenly Father, our great High Priest, Thou who art touched with the feeling of our infirmities, we come to Thee right now in behalf of my prodigal son. Oh, Lord, I cannot reach him, but Thou dost have all power in heaven and in earth. Touch my boy’s heart right now, wherever he is. Dear God, pluck him out of the net which Satan has gotten him into. Save his home, Lord. At any cost, get to him and Sharon. Bring them back together for Thy name’s sake. Oh, Lord, touch Connie and Larry right now. Give them a real Holy Ghost revival in New Guinea. Oh, God, be with all of us. Anoint us for service for Thee. In Thy name we pray. Amen.”
But Donnie had no idea a prayer meeting was being held in his behalf. As he reached for a cigarette, his eyes lighted on the gas guage. I’d better stop at the next service station. I need another pack of cigarettes, too. I could surely use a nice cold beer.
Thinking thus, he took the next exit and pulled into a service station, choosing a self-serve pump. After pumping the gas, he went inside to pay for his purchase and buy some cigarettes. An elderly man was tending the cash register. He stared at Donnie with a peculiar look.
“Do I know you?” he asked.
“I’ve never seen you before,” Donnie informed him. Then a sudden terrifying thought seized him. What if this is the husband of that woman I robbed?
He turned pale and his hands trembled as he paid for the gas. He decided he would get cigarettes elsewhere. He wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.
“Are you sick?” the man asked with concern. “You look so pale and you: lips are sorta blue. Sit down over there in that chair, and I’ll get you something to drink.”
Donnie thought, He’s trying to detain me so he can call the police. To the man he said, “No, I’m fine,” and he hurriedly left the station.
Shaking violently and his mind so petrified with fear that he could not think rationally he pulled out onto the highway again, expecting any moment to hear sirens screaming and to see red lights flashing as the police started after him in hot pursuit. His guilty conscience kept him looking in the rear view mirror every few seconds. His speedometer climbed upward: forty-five, fifty-five, sixty-five, seventy-five …. Donnie was unaware of how fast he was going. His one thought was to get as far away as fast as he could from that man behind the cash register.
Glancing in the rear view mirror again a little later, he saw exactly what he had been expecting: a flashing red light. There was no mistaking it. Terrified, he stepped on the gas. It was then he noticed he was going eighty miles an hour. He let up on the gas pedal and leveled off at sixty-two. The siren screamed, and Donnie slowed down further and pulled off on the side of the road. In the few moments it took him to stop, he visualized himself behind bars, serving a long sentence. He saw his mom’s stricken face when they told her that her son was a robber. He could hear Sharon saying, “I knew you were bad, but I didn’t know you’d stoop to this.” He saw little Christy growing up as a convict’s daughter. He visualized Connie grieving herself half to death because of the awful stigma he had brought on his Christian family. And Dad! What would he think?
Donnie just sat there, too weak to get out of the car. He rolled down his window and stared at a policeman in disbelief. This couldn’t be happening to him and felt like confessing everything in order to clear his guilty conscience. Maybe if I would explain what made me do it, the officer would be understanding. If they would only give me a chance, I uonld make restitution. I would pay the old lady even double if they would give me a little time. His heart felt like lead.
After what seemed like ages, the policeman spoke. “You were exceeding the speed limit a little, weren’t you?”
“Y-yes, sir. I didn’t realize how fast I was going. I let off on the gas as soon as I realized.”
“Yes, I noticed you slowed down from eighty to sixty-two. I’m sure you are aware of what the speed limit is.”
“Let me see your driver’s license.”
With hands trembling so much that he could hardly manage his billfold, Donnie pulled out his driver’s license and handed it to the policeman.
“Is this your current address?”
“No, sir. I’m presently living with my mother in Terryville. Route 1, Box 81 B.”
The officer wrote out a ticket and handed it to Donnie.
“You’re to appear at the Terryville courthouse September 15, eight days from now, at 9:00 a.m. You will pay the fine then, plus the court costs. They will return your driver’s license when you pay your fine. In the meantime, this permit will serve as a driver’s license.”
Donnie stared at him blankly. Was that all? Was he going to let him go? Or was he taking just one thing at a time? Hadn’t the old man notified him about the robbery? Donnie’s face mirrored his anxiety.
The officer smiled. “Sorry I scared you half to death. This must be the first ticket you have ever gotten.”
“The very first one,” Donnie acknowledged, still wondering if the officer was going to arrest him and haul him off to jail.
The officer started to go, then he turned back with a caution. “Slow it down, Mr. Slocum, and don’t forget your September fifteenth appointment.” He turned again and got in his car and drove away.
Donnie sat there a long time before he turned the key in the ignition and slowly returned to the highway. He felt drained. I don’t think I’ll go to see Dad today, after all. What I need is to go home and take about a half dozen aspirin, and go to bed.
With this thought, he took the next exit and headed back toward Terryville, being very careful to keep his eyes on the speedometer.
It wasn’t until the next day, when he felt calm and collected once more, that he thought, How silly of me! The station I robbed was too far away for there to have been any connection. What makes me go half crazy at times?
The ringing alarm awoke Donnie. He shut it off and quickly jumped out of bed. It was Saturday, and he had the weekend off. He had made up his mind he was going to see his baby. Sharon couldn’t deprive him of that right. If she didn’t want to see him, that was her privilege, but he was determined he would see Christy. He had thought about her almost constantly for a week, and he was always dreaming about her at night. It had been over two months since he had seen her, and he didn’t expect to have another chance to get away any time soon. His mom would be coming home before long and would be dependent upon him.
Forty-five minutes after the alarm went off, he was on his way. Allowing three hours to make the 150-mile trip, he figured he should be there by 10:00 a.m.
He whistled and hummed with the songs on the radio as he drove along. His thoughts raced ahead. Perhaps, Sharon would be glad to see him. Maybe they could get their problems straightened out. He could not believe Sharon did not love him anymore. She had always seemed crazy about him, and he just could not believe that love had died so quickly. Perhaps she and Christy would come back with him. They could stay at his mom’s until she got completely well, then they would get them a little house or apartment somewhere. He could almost feel Christy’s silky hair against his cheek as he envisioned her cuddled up to him. He wondered if she would still know him, and if she would be glad to see him. He wondered if she was walking yet and how many words she had learned, and if she had any new teeth. His mind was completely absorbed with thoughts of his baby and his wife. He smiled to himself. His mom had been praying that they would get back together. Perhaps, today, God would answer her prayers.
The beautiful hues of autumn were everywhere. All shades, of orange, yellow, red, and brown blended in perfect harmony. Beyond, the vast expanse of deep blue sky, dotted with fleecy, white clouds, served as a magnificent backdrop. The tranquil morning with its lovely scenery, along with the anticipation of seeing Christy—and maybe Sharon—had a soothing effect on Donnie. His hopes were high. Surely a new day was about to dawn for him. With a serenity he had not felt for weeks, he approached Sharon’s parents’ home.
But as he turned into the narrow road that led up a hill and around a curve and on to their house, his heart began to beat wildly. A multitude of thoughts plagued him. What was ahead for him? Maybe he should have called first. Perhaps her parents would be hostile toward him-no telling what Sharon might have told them. Suppose her dad tried to run him off, maybe even hit him. What should he do? Would it be right to sock an older man, especially his father-in-law?
He stopped his car and got out. There was no sign of life anywhere. He had imagined Sharon and Christy sitting in the lawn chair in the yard and Sharon inviting him to join them. But his imaginations, thus far, had been vain.
Breathing heavily, he walked up the sidewalk and knocked on the door. He heard footsteps, then the knob turning on the inside. He held his breath …. Mrs. Miller, Sharon’s mother, opened the door and peered cautiously outside. Her mouth gaped open in surprise.
“Good morning, Mrs. Miller. I know this is a surprise to you. I guess I should have called. I’ve been wanting to see my baby.” His words tumbled over one another in his haste to let her know why he had come, before she could shut the door in his face.
When she didn’t say anything, he asked, “May I come in and see Christy?”
Mrs. Miller opened the door wider. “Come on in,” she invited. “But I’m sorry to have to tell you that Sharon and Christy aren’t here. You really should have called before making such a long trip.”
“May I ask where they are?”
“Sandy is here for a visit, and the two girls have gone out for the day. I think they were going to do some shopping and then just ride around sight-seeing for a while. You know how sisters are when they get together.”
“Do you have any idea what time they’ll be back?” Donnie asked anxiously.
“No, not really. I’m quite sure they’ll be gone most of the day though, because they told me not to fix lunch for them.”
Donnie’s shoulders drooped and a sad look appeared on his countenance as he wondered what he should do now. Mrs. Miller stood quietly observing his reaction. Suddenly, her stony expression changed to a look of sympathy.
“Sit down, son, ah-uh-Donnie,” she offered graciously. “I’ll fix you a cup of coffee.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Miller. Where is your husband?”
“He’s working. He gets off at five.”
Donnie slumped in the nearest chair while Mrs. Miller went out to the kitchen. He was so disappointed that, had he given vent to his feelings, he would have cried like a baby. Nothing ever worked out for him. Oh, why hadn’t he called first? What was the next course to take? He felt he just couldn’t go back without seeing Christy. But he couldn’t sit around all day with Mrs. Miller. So what was he to do?
“What do you use in your coffee, Donnie?” Mrs. Miller called.
“Nothing. 1 like it black-and bitter.”
Mrs. Miller was soon back with the coffee. As Donnie drank it, he asked, “How is Christy? Does she walk yet?”
“She’s been walking for about a month. The little doll is into everything. She really keeps us hopping.” Mrs. Miller’s face glowed as she talked. Donnie could tell that Christy was well-loved by her grandmother.
“Can she talk?” he asked.
“She can say a few words: Maw-maw, Paw-paw, bye-bye … Mommy.”
When she did not mention that Christy ever said “Dada,” a dagger seemed to pierce Donnie’s heart. He was getting too close to tears for comfort. Finishing his coffee, he rose to his feet and with his voice choked with emotion, said, “I guess I’ll go now. 1 think I’ll drive around town awhile. Maybe go to the Mall. Maybe I’11 run into them, but if I miss them, tell them I came.” No longer able to check his tears, he added, “Take care of my baby for me, and tell her 1 love her with all of my heart.”
With ashen face, Mrs. Miller promised, “I will.”
His steps lagging, Donnie left the house to which he had come with such high hopes. He started the car and drove away slowly, watching in the rear view mirror, as if half expecting Sharon to come running after him. When the house disappeared behind him, he sighed deeply and murmured, “What now?” Taking a cigarette out of his pocket, he lit it with an unsteady hand and smoked until there was only a short stub left.
Twenty minutes later he parked at the Mall and went inside. He trudged from one store to another, eagerly scanning every face. At each sound of a childish voice or crying baby, his head would turn instantly in that direction. For an hour and a half, Donnie walked and searched. Finally, he gave up in despair. Maybe he’d call Mrs. Miller to see if they had shown up yet, he decided. But first he would get a hamburger. He had not eaten all day.
He drove to the nearest fast-food restaurant and went in to put in his order. It was then he saw them. His darling Christy was sitting in a highchair by a booth. He recognized her immediately. Forgetting his order, he started toward her with fast-beating heart, but he stopped short. There in the booth, with her back toward him, was Sharon, and a man! Donnie clutched at his heart in unbelief. He felt as if he would faint. What was he to do now? His first thought was to snatch little Christy and flee, but he knew that would never do. For a full minute he stood as though transfixed, trying to regain his composure. Then breathing heavily, he walked toward the booth. Sharon did not see him until he spoke.
“Hello, Sharon,” he said, trying to remain calm, though he was boiling inside.
Her hand flew to her mouth as she gasped, “Donnie—What are you doing here?”
“I came to see my baby.” He reached over to take Christy out of the highchair.
Sharon’s companion slid out of the booth and stood up. “Who is this jerk?” he asked.
Donnie let go of Christy and turned to face his rival.
This jerk is your girl friend’s husband.” Donnie’s voice was charged with emotion.
“I say so, “ Donnie emphasized, seizing the front of the man’s shirt with his left hand and hitting him in the mouth with his right fist.
With blood spurting, the stranger regained his footing and took a swing at Donnie. Sharon screamed. Her face had turned deathly pale. Donnie was hit in the jaw, but another hard punch from him knocked his antagonist over a table. The salt, pepper, and sugar shakers slid to the floor and broke into hundreds of tiny pieces. A strong hand caught Donnie’s collar from behind, but Donnie was so furious at this point that he swung around and knocked the intruder down. This gave his opponent a vantage point. As Donnie turned back, the first fellow punched him in the left eye.
The police arrived and placed the two men under arrest for disturbing the peace. As Donnie was being led away in handcuffs, he shot a quick glance at Sharon. He could read nothing but horror in her expression. But one thing he knew beyond any shadow of a doubt, he was still in love with his wife and would not have felt a qualm of conscience had he broken her boy friend’s neck.
A few hours later Donnie was on his way home. He was to be arraigned in court two weeks later, on a Friday, but now he was free on bond, which he paid with money he had intended to give to Sharon. She doesn’t deserve any money from me. Let her boy friend pay her bills, he thought.
Donnie’s left eye was black, and swollen shut. His jaw was swollen and felt as if it were broken. He was angry enough to explode. Mile after mile, he muttered and spluttered as he drove down the highway. I should have grabbed Christy and fled. But they would have had the law on me before I could have gotten out of town. Even if I had made it home with her, who would take care of her? He certainly would not have wanted to see that precious jewel neglected. She did look fat and healthy, he had to admit. Evidently, she was well taken care of.
Next, Donnie’s thoughts turned to Sharon and her boy friend. Humph! I would have thought she would have had sense enough to have chosen someone better than that, the tall lanky-looking, long-haired monstrosity! Looked like something the dogs drug in. Where did she ever find him? The jerk! Calling me a jerk! Wish I had got in a few more punches before the policeman stopped me. I hope his ribs got broken when I knocked him up against that table. He looked like he was hurting pretty bad. I hope the ugly scoundrel is hurting as bad as I am. I hope he won’t be able to go back to work for a while—if he even has a job. Didn’t look like the type to work. If he has a job, I hope he loses it. I hope he has to go to the hospital. I hope it costs him a plenty. Anybody so no-good that he would steal another man’s wife deserves all that and more, too.
And Mrs. Miller. She lied to me! I hope her conscience hurts her plenty for her lies. I hope she’s sorry when she finds out what happened. I’ll know never to believe anything she says again.
On and on, mile after mile, Donnie’s thoughts ran on. Angry thoughts, bitter thoughts, jealous thoughts, thoughts of revenge. I’ll get even with Sharon if it’s the last thing I do. Nobody is going to put anything over on Donnie Slocum.
When he drove into the driveway at his mother’s house several hours later, he was totally exhausted and in terrific pain. He entered the house and went straight to the medicine cabinet. Taking the aspirin bottle down, he emptied three tablets into his hand, replaced the cap, and put the bottle back into the cabinet. Now for a glass of water. After swallowing the aspirin tablets, he wrapped ice cubes in a towel and held them against his swollen jaw to relieve the almost unbearable pain. Occasionally he shifted the towel to his aching forehead. He kept wondering if his jaw was broken. He knew he would have to see a doctor if it was not better by Monday.
He felt famished. He had not eaten a bite all day. Still holding the makeshift ice bag to his face, he went into the kitchen and made himself a sandwich. But upon opening his mouth for the first bite, he winced. Finding it was torture to chew, he put the sandwich back in the refrigerator and drank a glass of milk instead. He crawled into bed and soon dozed off, but hunger and pain, plus troubled thoughts, kept him waking every little bit. In the wee hours of the morning, he got out of bed and swallowed some more aspirin. At last, the blessedness of sleep overtook him.
Sunday morning found Donnie’s headache gone, but his jaw still hurt terribly, and he still could not chew. He drank some coffee and orange juice, but that did not satisfy his hunger. Searching through the cupboards for something he could eat, he found a box of cream of wheat. He fixed some of that and thinned it down so he could practically drink it, and that helped to ease the gnawing in his stomach.
After looking at himself in the mirror, Donnie decided not to visit his mom that day. Instead, he would call her and tell her he was going to spend the day with a friend. He knew that, though she looked forward to his Sunday visits, she would want him to put his own pleasure first. He told his conscience that it was better to lie than to upset her with his black eye and swollen face. So making up a name for his imaginary friend, he picked up the phone and called his mother.
Once that was done, satisfying his conscience as far as his mom was concerned, Donnie went down to the corner drugstore and purchased a paper and a couple of magazines. He had always enjoyed reading. Since he could do nothing else, he decided he might as well spend the day reading and watching television.
The morning passed quickly, but in the afternoon it was different. The time began to drag. Tired of reading, Donnie switched on the TV and sat sipping coffee and smoking while he watched. Soon, that too, became boring. He turned off the TV and looked around for something else to do. It was only three o’clock. Maybe he could go for a ride. Anything seemed better than being cooped up in the house all day. So, reaching into the closet for his jacket and picking up his keys, he put his thoughts into action.
He drove along slowly, going nowhere in particular, just idling away the time. Passing a little church, he glanced at it in his rear view mirror. It was the little church that his mom and Ralph attended. It was there Connie had found the thing that had revolutionized her life. Without knowing why he did it, Donnie stepped on the brake and backed up. There was no one in sight. He pulled into the parking lot and turned off the ignition and the radio. As he sat there quietly in his car, an indescribable feeling settled down upon him. For no apparent reason, he felt like crying. He dropped his swollen and bruised face onto his arms on the steering wheel and began sobbing brokenly. The memory of his past sins paraded before him: the lies he had told, the robbery, his unfaithfulness to Sharon, his smoking, drinking, stealing, cheating, deceitfulness, stubbornness, the broken vows, his broken home. He felt wretched and miserable. Was there any hope for him? he wondered. It seemed that life, as it was now, held nothing in store. He had lost the ones dearest to his heart. He had nothing left to live for. For a full hour, Donnie sat in his car in front of the church, taking inventory of his life and shedding bitter tears.
God dealt with Donnie’s heart in a mighty way that afternoon. Prayers had been going up night and day for him. And yet … he refused to repent. He refused to let go and let God have His way. He had a will of his own, and that will refused to yield. There were things he wasn’t willing to give up for Jesus’ sake. Most of all, he did not want to give up his freedom to do as he pleased. He did not want to spend all his time being good and going to church. Neither did he want to run the risk of being “called,” as Connie had been, to go to some far-off place and work among strangers. All in all, he wanted to live his life just as he pleased, with no interference from a Higher Power.
Oh, he did not intend to be lost, but today he had counted the cost, and he deemed the price was greater than he was willing to pay. Little did he realize that the devil’s price is much greater than what God requires of man. And the devil’s reward is an eternity in hell, compared to God’s reward of eternal bliss in heaven.
With a heart like lead, Donnie turned the key in the ignition and went on his way. Once again, he had rejected the wooings of the Spirit of God. Had he been familiar with the Scripture, “My spirit shall not always strive with man,” his heart would have felt even heavier yet. He was conscious enough of the dealings of God to wonder if God would ever deal with him again. Would his mom’s and Connie’s prayers go forever unanswered? Was he doomed for a devil’s hell? He didn’t want to think of it. He would put it out of his mind as he always had. He knew the best way to do this was by drinking until his mind was befuddled. He had a six-pack in the refrigerator at home. He turned his car around and headed in that direction.
It didn’t take long, once he reached home, to finish off all the beer in the refrigerator. Thataccomplished the desired effect. Forgotten were the momentous decisions of the day.
Monday morning Donnie felt awful. Nevertheless, he dressed for work. He dreaded facing his fellow employees with his bruised jaw and black eye. He made up his mind that he was not going to tell anyone how he got it. It was nobody’s business. They would think what they would. He could care less what anybody thought.
As he had supposed, Donnie took quite a bit of ribbing at work, but his secret remained locked in his breast. Those who knew him best were aware of his vile temper, so it was evident to them that he had met up with someone whose temper matched his.
At the arraignment, Donnie pleaded guilty and was fined and released. He caught a glimpse of Sharon as he was leaving the courtroom. He slowed his steps and looked in her direction. Their eyes met momentarily. He was not sure what he read there—whether the look on her face was one of love or of pity. He walked on past where she was sitting and left the courthouse. He got in his car but did not start the motor immediately. Perhaps Sharon would follow him, he thought. Perhaps they could still be reconciled.
He sat for ten minutes and then drove off, disgusted with himself for hoping again. He was convinced in his mind that God would never answer his mom’s prayer concerning him and Sharon. They were through. From here on out, he would conduct himself like a single man. He would suppress the love he had for her. He would drive it from his heart if it killed him. He would not spend the rest of his life grieving over someone who had rejected him for the sort of trash Sharon was going around with. That day he settled it in his heart that he had made his last effort to be reconciled with Sharon.
When Donnie came home from work a few weeks later, Mrs. Slocum met him at the door, using a walker.
Visibly shaken, Donnie blurted out, “Mom, why didn’t you tell me you were coming home?”
With a grieved look and voice ehoked with emotion, she answered, “I wanted to surprise you, son. The rest home personnel brought me home in their van. I talked all the way about how pleasantly surprised you would be, with a good, hot meal awaiting you this evening. They cautioned me about overdoing, but I was so eager to do something nice for you. They even took me by the grocery store. But I. … “ She could not finish, but wept openly as she looked beseechingly at Donnie.
“I’m sorry, Mom. Truly I am. I intended to clean house before you got home.” He hung his head in shame.
“Oh, Donnie, how could you? How could you?” She was crying brokenly. “The activity director and the social worker saw the beer cans sitting on the coffee table and the cigarette butts in the saucers. My Christian influence at the home will be completely ruined.”
She paused to wipe her eyes. Donnie stood speechless and looking thoroughly chastened.
“I’ve never known you to clutter up the house like this. What’s happened to you, son? Oh, my heart is broken, crushed beyond measure. I never dreamed this was going on. Oh, I knew you smoked, but you’ve never smoked in my house since God saved me. And I felt sure I smelled liquor on your breath at times, but I never would have believed you would have taken advantage of me like this. Oh-h-h …. “ She swayed as if she would fall.
Donnie caught her and half-walked, half-carried her to a chair.
“Here, Mom, sit down,” he spoke tenderly. “You’re not able to stand so long. I’m sorry about the clutter. I’ve just grown careless staying by myself so long.”
Mrs. Slocum dropped her head in her hands and sobbed -the most heart-rending sobs that Donnie had ever heard. He knelt down in front of her and, with tears in his own eyes, pleaded, "Please, Mom, don't cry like that. I'm terribly sorry. Can't you find it in your heart to forgive me?" Then, searching for some way to regain his mother's good will, he added tentatively, "As Jesus forgave you?"
Mrs. Slocum reached over and patted his head. Making a great effort to get her voice under control, she said, “Yes, son. I forgive you … as Jesus forgave me. He will give me grace to bear up under this.”
Donnie arose, looking like a whipped child. He disposed of the beer cans and cigarette butts. His mom watched without a word. Donnie could see her dabbing at her eyes now and then. When his cleaning job was completed, he once again knelt in front of her and, with a contrite voice, said, “Mom, I promise you I’ll never smoke another cigarette or drink another drop of beer or liquor in your house. I never, never want to see you as hurt as I’ve seen you today.”
His mom stroked his hair as she used to do when he was a little boy. “Son,” she said, “I appreciate your promise to me, but if you would make a vow to God to leave these things alone, you would see me as happy as you have seen me grieved.”
Donnie got up and busied himself with getting the supper on. He could not make that vow. His heart had been so cold since the Sunday afternoon he had willingly rejected God … why give up the few pleasures he had left, when God seemed a million miles away?
The next day Donnie was off work, and he bent over backward to please his mother. He mopped, waxed, ran the vacuum sweeper, dusted, washed dishes and clothes, and cleaned the yard. He had one goal in mind: to bring back the gleam of happiness to his mother’s sad eyes.
The telephone rang. It was for Mrs. Slocum.
“Yes,” she spoke into the mouthpiece. Then she was quiet for a while as the caller talked. Donnie noticed tears gathering in her eyes as she exclaimed, “Oh, thank you, thank you, Mrs. Petrus, for calling. It sure takes a load off my mind. I prayed nearly all night for God to undo the damage that was done. I do want my influence to count for Christ.”
She hung up the phone and Donnie waited for her to tell him about the call. When she remained silent, he asked, “Who was your caller? My curiosity is aroused.”
“Mrs. Petrus, from the rest home. She’s the activity director. She noticed how upset I was, yesterday when they brought me home, over the beer cans and the other things in my living room that certainly didn’t glorify God. I tried to explain, then, that I had not left it that way and that I had nothing to do with it. But I stuttered and stammered so, because of embarrassment, that it seemed I was guilty. Anyway, she assured me on the phone that she knew it was no fault of mine. She said the patients were asking for me, and she wondered if I could come back soon and hold regular services. She said she had gotten lots of help herself and had confidence in me.” Mrs. Slocum blushed modestly as she went on. “I’m telling you the rest of what she said, not to promote self, but to glorify God for what He has done in my life. She said I was different from anyone she had ever seen. In her words, I was bubbling over with my religion.” Wiping her eyes, she exclaimed, “Oh, praise the Lord! I’m so relieved. The devil tried to torment me with thoughts of my ruined influence. He told me it would be spread all over the home, but Mrs. Petrus said they would not repeat the matter to anyone.”
Mrs. Slocum burst into tears, but this time Donnie could take it, because they were tears of relief and happiness. But how he wished he had not put his mom through such an ordeal. If only … he had not been so careless and had cleaned up his mess when she had first started talking of coming home. But he had not expected it to be so soon.
Things were quite different around the house since Mrs. Slocum was back home. Some things were exceptionally nice, such as the hot meal in the evening when Donnie came home from work. Also, his clothes looked much neater with a woman there to inspect them, soak out the stains, and press out the wrinkles. It amazed him how much his mom could do, even though she had to use a walker to get around.
The one thing that made Donnie uncomfortable was her devotion to God. He could hear her sometimes at night groaning, crying, and praying. And, no mistaking it, he could hear his name being called in prayer. She had attempted to draw him into her religious activities through family devotions, but he let her know in no uncertain terms that he wanted no part of it. Why should he sit and listen to the Bible being read every day? 1t was like a foreign language to him. If she wanted to read the good Book and pray every day, he had no objections. All he wanted was to be left alone.
After Mrs. Slocum was well and strong enough to be left by herself at night, Donnie went out more and more. He did not report to her his whereabouts. He figured that it would upset her greatly if she knew. It had upset Ralph no end.
One day as Donnie was eating his lunch at Noley’s Diner, across from where he worked, Ralph came in, ordered a plate lunch, and joined him.
“How are you, Ralph?” Donnie greeted him. “Haven’t seen you around much lately.”
“We’ve been working hard, trying to get a big shipment out. But 1 think we’re catching up. How’s things going with you?”
“Could be worse. 1 met a fine gal where I’m working, and I’ve been dating her several nights a week. It’s really helped me to get out of the dumps and start living again.”
Ralph’s face clouded. “Are you speaking of Lisa Whitfield?”
“Yes, that’s her name. Do you know her?”
“Quite well. Does she know you’re married?”
“I don’t know if she does or not, but it doesn’t really matter, because 1 won’t be married long,” he answered flippantly.
Ralph’s face changed colors and took on a grave expression. “Donnie, do you realize how serious it is to break the marriage vows?”
“I know what Mom read me from the Bible, if that’s what you mean.” He took a cigarette out of the pack in his pocket and put it between his lips.
“That’s what I mean,” Ralph said. “You can get your life so tangled up, you’ll regret it forever.”
Donnie looked at his friend, defiance written on his face. “Ralph, I hear enough preaching at home without you unloading on me, too.”
“I don’t want to see you hurt, Donnie,” Ralph said. “Nor do I want to see Lisa and her parents hurt.”
“Do you know her parents?” Donnie asked, surprised.
“Yes, Brother and Sister Whitfield attend our church.”
“Do you mean that? Her parents are church-going people like Mom? Why, I would never have guessed it. She has never mentioned one word about church. And she certainly doesn’t dress and look like-like-”
“She’s not a Christian, Donnie. Though Lisa is a sweet girl, she is very proud and worldly. It would break her parents’ hearts to know she was dating a married man.”
“Well, she seems to be old enough to make her own decisions. She’s twenty-three and has her own apartment.”
“I’m sure she makes her own decisions,” Ralph answered, “but have you mentioned the fact that you are a married man? In all fairness to her, I think she should be told.”
“I haven’t seen the need to spill the beans, Ralph. We’re not serious. She’s just someone to have fun with.”
“But it could get serious, Donnie. Were you serious with Sharon on your first few dates?” he asked soberly.
Donnie’s grin faded and his face took on a contemplative expression. “I think I loved Sharon the first time I saw her. I still love her, Ralph, but I can’t have her, so I don’t intend to grieve my life away. I’m going to get all I can from life. Going out with Lisa helps me to forget Sharon. When I leave her at night, I can go home and sleep. No more tossing and turning half the night, yearning for Sharon and Christy.”
Ralph finished his lunch and stood to his feet to leave. “Donnie, all I can say is, I’m praying for you. The church people are praying for you. Your mom and sister pray for you. I can’t see why you’re not the most miserable man alive.”
“Miserable? Are you kidding? I’m having a great time. I’m happier than I’ve been in months. Don’t worry about me.” Donnie congratulated himself that he was a good actor. No use letting Ralph know how miserable I really am. Better to put on a front and make him think I’m enjoying life. Don’t want to encourage him in his praying. Thinking thus, Donnie smiled brightly, almost convincingly.
Ralph patted him on the back as he turned to go. Looking back over his shoulder, he said, “Donnie, I really think you ought to tell Lisa what we talked about.”
“We’ll see,” Donnie answered as he snuffed out his cigarette and stood up to go back to work also.
Mrs. Slocum handed Donnie a letter when he got home that afternoon. It was a long white envelope. Donnie glanced at the left-hand corner and saw it was from “Brown and Berry, Attorneys at Law.” Tearing it open, he discovered that Sharon was suing for divorce.
Donnie turned pale and slumped down in the nearest chair. In spite of all his declarations of what he would and would not do, he had never faced what it would be like if it really went that far.
“What’s wrong, son?” Mrs. Slocum asked kindly. Already, she suspected what the envelope held.
“It’s from Sharon’s lawyer. She wants a divorce,” he stated bluntly.
“Oh, no. I can’t believe it will go through. After the way I’ve prayed and fasted. I just can’t believe God is going to let you two get a divorce.”
“Here, Mom. Read it for yourself.”
With trembling hands, she took the letter from Donnie and read it.
“But, why, Donnie? Have you done your best to patch things up?”
“But maybe if you made an effort to see her and tried to convince her of your love for her …. “
“I went to see her, Mom.”
“When? I never have known you to go see her.”
“One Saturday while you were in the nursing home.”
“What happened? What did she say? Donnie, you’ve never told me you went to see Sharon. Why?”
“I didn’t think it was worthwhile, Mom.”
“Why, Donnie! You know I’m concerned about you and Sharon. Did you make any headway with her?”
“None at all, Mom. None at all.”
“Did she seem glad to see you? Oh Donnie, there are ways that one can tell.”
“Yes, Mom, there are definite ways that one can tell. Would you think it was pretty clear evidence that she didn’t care, if I told you she was out with another man?”
“Oh, no. I can’t believe that.”
“Whether you believe it or not, Mom, it’s so.”
“But Sharon just doesn’t seem like that type.”
“Whether she’s the type or not is beside the point. She was with another man.”
“Perhaps it was some of her kinfolk.” Mrs. Slocum’s voice sounded desperate.
“Most likely if it had been her kinfolk, he wouldn’t have clobbered me.”
“Clobbered you? Oh, was that the reason your face was so bruised?”
“Well, Donnie, it looks like we’re defeated. It looks like my prayers have been in vain. It looks like the devil will have his way in spite of all we can do. But I’m not giving up. You’re not divorced yet, so I will continue praying as long as there’s a ray of hope. I still believe that God is more powerful than the enemy, that He is still able to undo what the devil has done.”
“You had better pray hard, Mom, for I have no intention of contesting the divorce. She told me we were through, so as far as I’m concerned, our marriage is over. I’ll just have to go on from here. I can’t give up and die because Sharon has pushed me out of her life. There are other fish in the sea.”
“Don’t start in on me, Mom. I’m not going to live alone the rest of my life because I can’t have Sharon.” Waxing bolder, he declared, “In fact, I’ve met a very nice young lady at work, and you might as well know now as later, I’ve been dating her.”
Mrs. Slocum’s shoulders drooped. Donnie saw in her eyes a certain look of despair that he hated to see. But she’ll get over it, he told himself. He had caused her heartache and grief many times before, and she was always able to overcome. She wouldn’t go down under this, either, he knew. Probably, she would pray her way through. He wouldn’t be surprised if he heard her praying all night again.
Donnie arose from his chair, gave his mother a gentle peck on the cheek, and left without supper.
The months rolled by. Winter and spring had passed since Donnie had come home to be with his mother. Now another summer was drawing to a close. Donnie had found it impossible to keep on living with his mother because of their many conflicting ideas. Once she was able to be on her own, he had moved into a little three-room apartment. But he often ate over at his mother’s, usually several times a week.
His divorce had become final a few weeks ago. He no longer grieved over Sharon. In fact, he gave her very little thought, for he was now very much in love with another, and she with him. Donnie had asked Lisa to marry him, and she had made him very happy by accepting his proposal. They had discussed his marital state, and Lisa agreed with him that God surely didn’t intend for him to live alone the rest of his life. After all, he had done what he could to get Sharon back, and she had refused all his overtures. She must have been determined to push him out of her life entirely, or she would not have filed for divorce. So both Lisa and Donnie felt he was justified in marrying again. Of course, her parents and Donnie’s mom felt differently and had tried to dissuade them, but they had their minds made up. The wedding was to take place in two weeks at a wedding parlor, and was to be performed by a justice of the peace.
Donnie and Lisa both had vacation time coming and had planned a wonderful honeymoon trip to Florida.
“I can hardly wait, Lisa,” Donnie told her as they sat together on the couch in her apartment. “Just think, we can soon stop paying rent on one of our apartments.”
“I like mine best, Don. How about you?” Lisa smiled at him, her dark-brown eyes shining.
“It’s fine, Lisa. I want anything you want. We’re going to be the world’s happiest couple. Never an argument or a fuss. Any disagreement we have, we’ll work it out together. We’re going to stay in love forever.”
With a happy smile that revealed deep dimples, Lisa answered, “That won’t be hard, Don, to be in love with you forever. You’re the greatest guy I’ve ever known. Sharon was crazy to let you go, but I’m so glad she did. Aren’t you?”
Donnie’s face clouded. “I never want you to mention her name again. She’s just a part of my past and has nothing at all to do with the present. 1 want to forget she ever existed. Do you understand, Lisa?” His voice had taken on a sharp edge.
Lisa looked bewildered. Donnie realized how roughly he had spoken, but he did not apologize. He wanted her to know that he meant business.
She pulled her hand away from his and drew away from him. “You don’t have to raise your voice at me,” she said. “I certainly won’t ever mention her name again, if that’s the way you want it. You sure are touchy about her.”
“Touchy or not, 1 want her left out of our conversation.” His voice left no doubt in her mind about the matter.
They sat there for several minutes, neither of them speaking. Finally, Donnie turned to her, saying, “If we’re not going to talk, I’d just as well be going. Mom will talk to me. She gets lonely.”
“If that’s what you want to do, Donnie, go home to your mom. 1 certainly won’t keep you from your mother’s apron strings.”
Donnie got up, slammed the door as he went out, and drove off, spinning his wheels. He had no desire to go to his mom’s, so he drove out to Jake’s Tavern and drank a couple of beers. Later he went to his apartment.
His phone was ringing as he walked in the door. He picked up the receiver.
“Hi, Don.” It was Lisa.
“Are you mad at me?” Honey dripped from her voice.
“Should I be?”
“I don’t think so. I’m going to be your wife in two weeks, so you shouldn’t be mad at me. You should love me.”
Donnie’s beers were beginning to make him feel expansive, so, for over an hour, he talked to Lisa on the phone. They were lovers again, their little quarrel forgotten.
The next two weeks passed slowly for Donnie. He felt anxious about getting the wedding ceremony behind him. He had a strange dread, which he could not explain – a fear that something would happen and the wedding would never take place. His mom had let him know that she would pray to the very last minute that God would intervene and get glory to Himself. And he feared his mom’s prayers. She had a way of getting what she wanted from God. But as the day drew nearer and nothing dreadful happened, he began to feel easier.
At last, there was only one day left before the wedding, and everything was going fine. Donnie laughed at himself and his fears. God had not answered his mother’s prayer about the divorce, and it was becoming quite evident that her prayers could not stop his marriage to Lisa either. Had he known that Lisa’s parents, along with the pastor and his wife, were meeting at Mrs. Slocum’s that night for an all-night prayer meeting in their behalf, he would not have laughed.
After work, Donnie and Lisa met outside for a few minutes as they were in the habit of doing every day.
“Come over as soon as you can,” Lisa invited. “I’ll fix you a cheeseburger and some fries.”
“Just as soon as I can shower and get dressed, I’ll be there,” he said. Then smiling at her, he asked, “Are you glad we’ll soon be together all the time, Lisa?”
“I can hardly wait, Don. I love you so very much!”
“The feeling is mutual, darling. See you in a little while.”
No more work for nine days, happy thought! They were to be married at 3:30 the next afternoon, which was Saturday.
Donnie hummed as he showered. Strangely enough, he was humming a religious song. Soon he broke out into singing one of his mother’s favorites, “Have thine own way, Lord, Have thine own way.” When he realized what he was singing, he chuckled. I am excited! And why shouldn’t I be? I will soon be married to the greatest and most beautiful girl in the whole world. “
That’s what you thought when you married Sharon, something reminded him.
“Forget Sharon!” he cried out. “She’s dead and buried, as far as I am concerned. I’m in love with Lisa.”
He hurriedly got dressed and headed for Lisa’s apartment .
After they ate their hamburgers and fries, Donnie helped clean up in the kitchen.
“Is this going to be a regular habit, Don?” Lisa asked playfully.
“Always, my sweet. Anything to lighten the load of the one I love.” He reached over and plucked her hand from the sudsy water and pressed it to his lips. “Have I told you lately how much I love you, my darling?”
She rested her head against his shoulder. “I love you too, Don. So very, very much. I’m the happiest girl in all the world tonight.”
A few hours later, as they sat watching TV, Lisa turned to Donnie with a peculiar look on her face. “Mind if I turn off the TV?” she asked. ‘
“You mean now? Before the program ends?”
“I’d like to turn it off right now,” she said.
“Then go ahead, baby. Anything to please you. That’s what I’ll be doing the rest of my life, pleasing you, darling.”
She walked across the room and snapped off the TV. Then, instead of sitting back down beside him, she sat on a chair opposite him, that same disturbing expression on her face. Donnie began to wonder what was wrong.
“I want to talk to you, Don. I mean, really talk to you,” she said, her voice low and intense.
Donnie tried to sound cheerful as he answered, “Go ahead, sweetheart. Let’s hear what my pretty wife-to-be has to say.”
“I want to talk to you about religion.”
“Religion!” Donnie exploded. “Have you gone nuts?”
“No, Donnie. It’s just that we’ve never discussed religion before, and I think we should before we marry.”
“Well, let’s start discussing, for at this time tomorrow night we’ll be married. Oh, Lisa, darling, doesn’t it thrill you? Just think, you’ll be Lisa Slocum by this time tomorrow!” He was trying to turn her from her serious frame of mind, but she was not to be detoured.
“Donnie, I’ve been wondering, just exactly what do you believe?”
“Oh, I believe I’m marrying the world’s sweetest girl. I believe I’ll love her forever. I believe …. “
“Donnie, be serious. You know I’m referring to your religious beliefs. What do you believe as far as religion is concerned?”
Donnie wanted to say that religion had caused him more trouble than he could speak of, but he decided against that. “Well, uh–I don’t know. Uh—What do you believe, Lisa?”
“I believe there’s a heaven and a hell. Do you, Donnie?”
Since when had she started calling him “Donnie”?
Donnie wondered. It irritated him terribly. His voice was stern as he answered her question.
“Why certainly, Lisa. I guess nearly everybody believes in a heaven and a hell.”
“What do you think a person has to do to get to heaven, Donnie?”
“Uh—uh—I guess they have to get saved. That’s what Mom and Connie say.”
“Forget about your mom and your sister. What do you think you would have to do to get to heaven?”
“Why are you firing all these questions at me, Lisa? I’m not the least bit interested in getting to heaven tonight. And tomorrow after 3:30 I’ll be in heaven. I’ll be married to the greatest and sweetest—”
“Donnie, stop it. I’m being serious. Do you believe in hell?”
“Lisa, I don’t want to discuss heaven and hell tonight. I want to hold you in my arms and talk about our wedding tomorrow”.
“But, Donnie, what if we’d die tonight? What if we don’t make it to our wedding day? We would go to hell together. We would have to watch each other suffer the agonies of hell throughout eternity. And Brother Morgan says we wouldn’t love each other there. He says that nobody will love anybody there—that there’s no love at all in hell.”
“Nonsense, Lisa. I’ve heard enough of this. What’s wrong with you? You’re spoiling our last night together before our wedding. Let’s get on another subject, or I’m going home.”
“I can’t. I can’t think of anything but that, Donnie. I feel like I’m going to die tonight and drop off into hell.” She looked terrified.
Donnie jumped to his feet and rushed over to her and tried to take her in his arms.
“No, no!” she screamed. “Don’t touch me.”
“Lisa, Lisa, what’s wrong? I’ve never seen you act like this.”
She started sobbing hysterically. “I want to be left alone. I want to pray. I want to call my parents to come pray for me. Will you please leave, Donnie?”
When he made no move to go, she became frantic. “I mean now, Donnie. Please go now! I’ve got to be alone.”
“But I can’t leave you like this, Lisa. Try to get ahold of yourself. You’re just excited because of the wedding, and you’re over-reacting. Let me get you something to calm your nerves.”
“Donnie, you’re wrong,” she said between sobs. “I’m not over-reacting. There’ll be no wedding. I can’t go through with it.”
“You’re crazy, Lisa. You’ve got to be crazy. Your mind has snapped.”
He jerked her to her feet and shook her. “You can’t call the wedding off now. Our plans are all made. We’ve already scheduled our vacation together.”
But Lisa was impervious to all his reasoning. “Just go, Donnie. Please don’t stay another minute.”
She went over and opened the door. Donnie walked to the door, his face dismal. He stopped and looked at her for a moment. He knew in his heart that this was final, that his mom’s prayers had been answered.
“Good-bye, Lisa. Be seeing you around,” he said, and was gone.
Donnie drove around for hours, his mind tortured by life’s disappointments and heartaches. Just when he thought he had found happiness at last, it fled from him like a bird on wings. Morbidly, he thought I wish I could die and end it all. But would death end it all? Lisa was so sure, tonight, of an eternity hereafter. Lisa, who had always seemed as hard as nails when it came to religion. What had happened to her? He wondered if she had contacted her parents yet. As for his mom, he did not care if he ever saw her again. Oh how he hated her and her prayers tonight. I’ll never be able to find happiness, with her always praying my happiness away. I’d like to tell her what I think of her prayers. I’d like to go wake her up right now and just tell her. The more he thought about it, the more determined he was to really do it. He headed his car in that direction, driving furiously. It was 1:00 a.m., but what difference did that make? The more he could hurt her, the better. Then maybe she would see how she had hurt him.
Fifteen minutes later he pulled up in his mother’s driveway. But something was wrong! The lights were on, and there were extra cars sitting in the driveway—Brother Morgan’s and Lisa’s parents’ car. Had something happened to his mom? Or Lisa? Donnie jumped out of the car, flew up the steps, and jerked the front door open. The sight that met his eyes took away his breath. All five people were on their knees pleading with God. They looked up when the door burst open, and their prayers turned to praises.
The warmth of the holy atmosphere suddenly melted Donnie’s cold and hard heart. His anger vanished. An agony of remorse settled down upon him. He hardly knew how he got on his knees, but the next thing he realized, he was praying and confessing and begging God for mercy.
“Oh, God, can You have mercy on me as wicked as I am? You know how I’ve lied and cheated and rebelled against You. Oh, Lord, You know about me robbing that poor old lady. If You’ll only forgive me, I’ll make it right. I’ll go right away, Lord. And I’ll pay the rent and utilities I owe Mrs. Durant. Oh, God, please have mercy on me. Don’t let me drop off into hell. I’m the worst sinner in the world. I’ve spurned Your love so long. Can You … oh, will You forgive me? I’m sorry for all my wickedness. Lord, You know how I cheated on Sharon and lied to her. You know the times I slapped her around, and yet I placed the blame on her for our split. Oh, God, You know I’m the one who’s to blame. Have mercy on me, Lord.” On and on, Donnie prayed in agony of spirit, and the others kept holding on in prayer for him.
Remembering how he had wronged his mother, Donnie glanced at her. Her lips were moving silently, her hands were lifted to heaven, and her face radiated a light that made her look like an angel. Donnie jumped to his feet and threw his arms around her.
“Forgive me, Mom, for all I’ve put you through. I hated you tonight for your prayers. I was coming over to tell you off. I’m sorry, Mom. Will you forgive me?”
“Yes, son, a thousand times do I forgive.” Her face was radiant, her voice vibrant.
Donnie then turned to the preacher. “Brother Morgan, I’ve ridiculed you and your church and your people. I’ve called you a bunch of fanatics and crackpots. Will you forgive me?”
Brother Morgan smiled and hugged Donnie. “Of course I forgive you.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Whitfield,” Donnie said, turning to them, “I hated you because you didn’t want your daughter marrying me. Will you forgive me?”
“Gladly, Don. We hold nothing against you,” Mr. Whitfield said.
Again Donnie went to prayer, and in a little while he prayed through, finding forgiveness for his sins. In place of bitterness, he found joy, in place of hatred and anger, he found love and peace. Uncertainty turned to hope. He looked up, with tears streaming down his cheeks, and said, “My sins are forgiven. I’m one of you now.”
Oh, what rejoicing took place! Mrs. Slocum was completely overcome. She sat on the floor with hands stretched toward heaven, saying, “Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord. You plucked him out of the devil’s net. Oh, thank You, Lord.”
“She hasn’t eaten a bite in three days,” Brother Morgan told Donnie. “She was determined the devil was not going to get her boy.”
Donnie sobbed like a child. “Oh, Mom,” he said, taking her in his arms, “if it hadn’t been for your prayers I would have been lost forever.”
After some of the excitement had died down, Mrs. Whitfield asked Donnie, “Have you seen Lisa?” Her voice was full of concern.
“Yes, I had supper with her, but I left there a long time ago because she was all upset. She acted half crazy.” Seeing the frightened look on Mrs. Whitfield’s face, he hastened to add, “She said she felt like she was going to die tonight and drop off into hell. She called off the wedding.”
“Oh, blessed conviction!” her mother cried. “Oh, the faithfulness of God!” Looking at Mrs. Slocum, she asked, “May I use your phone?”
With trembling hands, she dialed Lisa’s number.
“Hello,” she said. “Lisa? Lisa, calm down! We’re at Slocum’s. What? You got saved? Well, hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Slow down a bit, I can’t understand you.”
Mrs. Whitfield stood listening for a long time. The tears ran unashamedly down her cheeks, and every once in a while she would say, “Praise the Lord!”
When she hung up, she told the eager listeners, “Lisa tried to call us after Donnie left, and when we didn’t answer, she thought the rapture had taken place. She called Brother Morgan and he didn’t answer either, so that clinched it for her. She wanted to call Mrs. Slocum but was afraid Donnie had come here and would answer, and she wasn’t in a frame of mind to talk to him. So she said she fell on her knees and cried and prayed until she knew her sins were forgiven. Then she said she thought, ‘What will happen to me now? Jesus has come and raptured the saints. If I make it to heaven, I’ll have to go through the Great Tribulation with the mark of the beast in the world.’ She walked the floor until finally she thought of Ralph, so she called him. At first, all she could do was cry when she heard his voice. When she was able to tell him what had happened, Ralph assured her that Jesus had not come, because he knew he was saved and sanctified and ready to go up in the rapture. After that, she rang our phone every five minutes. She was nearly beside herself when I called.” Mrs. Whitfield paused, then added, “Well, praise the Lord. This has been a wonderful night.” And almost in the same breath she asked her husband, “Are you ready to go, Daddy? I’m tired and sleepy.”
Everyone joined in a good hearty laugh. It was time to laugh, for “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
Donnie put to good advantage the vacation time he had planned to spend on a wedding trip with Lisa. He knew he would have to make a number of restitutions, and some would involve a long trip back to the college town in which he had lived. So he determined to use the time that now lay idle on his hands in getting his back life straightened up. Also he had decided to move back in with his mother.
“Mom, my rent’s due,” he had told her. “I’ve alreadytold my landlady I’d be moving. If it’s all right, I’d like to move back in with you.”
With a wide smile, she had answered. “I think that’s a fantastic idea, Son. Simply wonderful! What sweet fellowship we can have together!”
So Donnie spent the day that was to have been his wedding day moving his belongings back home. His heart felt heavy when he allowed himself to think of what was to have been, yet there was also a feeling of relief. He knew that, regardless of how much it hurt now, everything had worked out for his good and for God’s glory.
After the day’s work was done and the evening meal was finished, Donnie and his mom sat in the living room visiting.
“Mom,” he said, “I’ve found a peace that I never knew existed. I understand now why Connie endured our ridicule and sarcasm. She had found something worth holding on to.”
Mrs. Slocum smiled. “Yes, Donnie. Won’t she be thrilled beyond words when she hears about your conversion?”
“Mom, she may already know.”
Mrs. Slocum puzzled over his sober statement. “There’s no way she can know,” she concluded aloud. “You have been saved less than twenty-four hours.”
“But, Mom, you know how Connie could always read me like a book. I guess it’s because she’s my twin. She could always sorta feel when I was in trouble. Don’t you think she can feel when my load of sin has been lifted? When I’ve been set free through the power of Christ?”
“You just may be right, son,” Mrs. Slocum acknowledged. “You just may be right.” .
Donnie then brought up something that had been troubling him. “Mom, I know that God intervened and blocked our wedding, and in my heart I have given Lisa up, but that doesn’t change everything all at once. What I’m trying to say is, you can’t just turn off your feelings, and I really did love Lisa, and I’m sure she felt the same way about me. It’s not going to be easy, working with her every day. I wonder how much will power I will have to resist this feeling I have for her. She is a super girl.”
“We’ll just band together and pray, Donnie. God can make a way for you. Haven’t we just witnessed a mighty miracle? Anything less would be as nothing for God to work out.”
“I know you’re right, Mom. But Lisa and I have been so close. We’re so used to seeing each other and waving, or going out of our way to go by where the other is working. Oh, there were just lots of little things that might mean nothing to anyone else, but they were our ways of reminding each other of our love. Suppose I’d forget, or in a weak moment I’d do or say the wrong thing. Oh, Mom, I don’t want to make it any harder on her than it already is. Think what she must be going through. She bought so many nice things for the apartment, besides the wedding shower her friends gave her. And then there’s her wedding dress ….Poor girl! My heart aches for her.”
Mrs. Slocum placed her hand comfortingly on Donnie’s arm. “Remember, Lisa is a Christian now, as well as you, and God always makes the difference. Let’s just take it one day at a time and trust God. You will be off work for a week, so it will be that long before you have to face this problem, and, by then, you and God can build up lots of resistance. “
But Donnie had not yet exhausted his supply of problems. “I’m expecting to see Lisa at church tomorrow,” he began.
“Oh, Donnie, I hadn’t thought.” His Mom jumped up and gave him a big hug. “It will be so great to have you go to church with me.”
“I can’t wait for that, Mom, but—How am I to act? As if we’d never met? Or if I’m friendly to her, what will people think?”
“Donnie, God will help you as you face each problem. I’ll be praying for you, and I’m sure others will be, too. Just try to be as natural as you can, and leave the rest in God’s hands.”
Donnie hesitated for some time, then reluctantly broached another unhappy subject. “Mom, I haven’t been altogether truthful with you about Sharon. I tried to put all the blame on her, but, actually, I have been mostly to blame. Our situation was somewhat like yours and Dad’s. You know that saying, ‘A chip off the old block.’ After little Christy was born, though I loved our new baby dearly, yet she demanded so much of Sharon’s time and energy that I was resentful. Sharon and I hardly ever had any time to ourselves, and when we did, she was always so tired from staying awake at night with Christy and taking care of her during the day, plus all the other chores, that I got sick and tired of it. I started going out at night to get even with her, though it really wasn’t her fault. I’m ashamed to tell you this, Mom, but I was unfaithful to Sharon.”
“Son, you don’t have to tell me these things. This was between you and Sharon and God.”
“I know, but I felt I had to come clean with you, Mom, after leading you to believe it was Sharon’s fault. It was when she found out about it that she left me. She never trusted me after that. That’s why she wouldn’t come back to me. I’m sorry I lied to you and put all the blame on Sharon. Oh, she was a little nagger at times, and she had her share of faults, but perhaps she had her reasons too. As a whole, she was much better than I was.” Looking into his mom’s face, he said, “Forgive me, Mom, for being deceitful. “
“Son, you know you’re forgiven,” Mrs. Slocum said softly, “but your mother is no fool. I knew there was more to it than appeared on the surface. You see, I know my son quite well, having reared him. I felt sure you weren’t telling as much of Donnie’s faults and failures as you were of Sharon’s. She just didn’t seem to be the type that would walk off and leave you without a real good reason. Besides, she loved you so dearly. I knew something had to happen to shake that love.”
Both were silent for a while, and then Donnie spoke his thoughts. “I know this is a peculiar time to say what I’m going to say—on what was to have been my wedding night to another—but I’m wondering if Sharon really knew that I had changed, if she would consider giving me another chance. I’ve pushed the thought of her out of my mind and smothered the love I had for her for so long that it seems almost dead, but perhaps it could be rekindled. When I think of living alone the rest of my life, it scares me. I wonder if I would have the grace to do it.”
Mrs. Slocum seemed to be weighing the matter carefully before she spoke. “Son,” she answered at last, “God is merciful, but you willingly spurned His mercy for years and committed acts that you knew were against His Word. He has forgiven you and blotted out your sins, but the Word says, ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.’ Being forgiven cannot save you from reaping the results of your earlier deeds. But this consolation I can give you, if God requires a thing of you, He will also provide the grace to fulfill that requirement.”
“Then you don’t think there would be a chance of getting Sharon back?”
“1 have no idea about that, Son. I was just considering the thought that perhaps she is married to another by now. Remember, you told me she had a boy friend.”
Donnie jumped to his feet and began pacing the floor. He had not thought of that possibility at all. Somehow, he just felt that Sharon would never love another, regardless of what he did. Even though he had seen her with another man, he just knew she couldn’t care for him. But what if he was mistaken? After all, he had fallen in love with another. There was a time when he had thought that an impossibility, too.
“But, Mom,” he turned to face her. “Your prayers! Don’t you believe that God would have kept her from marrying, just as He has me?”
“That remains to be seen, Son. True, I have prayed day and night about this situation. I know Connie has, too. And I’ve asked others to pray. Perhaps, you’re right. Perhaps, God has been working another miracle at the same time He has been working on you.”
“Oh, Mom, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Sharon has been led to the Lord, too?”
Mrs. Slocum smiled at the optimism and resilience of youth. “Yes, it would,” she responded, but there was sadness in her voice. “Don’t get your hopes too high, son. Even if she were saved and you got back together, there would be many difficult adjustments. 1 don’t think it could come about very quickly. Your involvement with Lisa, over this past year, only complicates things for you with Sharon, even should she be free. God, alone, is able to handle your situation. It would be God’s divine power and mercy if your home is ever restored on a solid foundation. I don’t want to discourage you, son, but sin has a payday, and sometimes we have to pay in this life. Let’s just band together and pray, and then you move as you feel led of the Spirit, and I’m confident God will lead in this all-important matter.”
Long after retiring, Donnie lay awake in the stillness of the night trying to corral his emotions. He had a peace and rest in his soul that was beyond his comprehension, and yet his mind was in a turmoil. He missed Lisa. This was to have been their wedding night. His aching heart and empty arms longed for her, and yet he knew this longing would have to be crucified.
And then there was Sharon. He tried to recapture the fond memories of her that had been so long buried, but always Lisa came between them, and it was only Lisa he could remember. What was ahead for him, he wondered. Would he have to walk life’s long road alone? No, he would not be alone. He would walk hand in hand with Jesus.
Sunday morning found Donnie up almost as early as Mrs. Slocum. He usually slept in on Sundays, excusing himself by saying, “I have to catch up on my rest sometime.” But not today. He helped his mom get breakfast, after which he washed dishes while she made preparations for lunch.
At half past nine, they were dressed and on their way to church.
“You don’t know how this thrills me, Donnie, to have you going to church with me,” Mrs. Slocum commented. “I know now how Connie felt to have me go to church with her.”
“I’m thrilled, too, Mom. If only I didn’t have that thing bothering me.”
Mrs. Slocum looked at him, compassion in her eyes. “About Lisa, you mean?” she asked.
“Yes. I wonder how I will react when I see her again. I couldn’t get her out of my mind last night.”
“Let’s pray right now for God to help,” his mom suggested as she reverently bowed her head .
“Dear Jesus, look down on us right now and extend help in time of need,” she prayed earnestly. “You see this new babe in Christ and how he yearns to obey Thee In every detail of his life. Give him a touch just now and extend to him extra grace today, to be able to resist temptation and to be victorious over sin, the flesh, and the devil, for Thy name’s sake. We beseech Thee for wisdom and strength. Bless the service today. Give Thy holy anointing to our pastor. Crown this day with Thy presence and with victory. In Thy name we pray. Amen.”
Donnie and Mrs. Slocum sat in the fourth pew from the front to the left. Just as they were seated, Lisa came in with her parents and sat in the second pew to the right.
Never had Donnie seen her more beautiful. Her face fairly glowed from the inner light she had so very recently obtained. Her beautiful dark hair caught the morning sunlight and literally shone. He had never seen the lovely blue dress she wore. He had always liked her in her jeans and pretty tops, but there was no comparison between those and the beautiful dress she wore today. His heart beat so wildly that he wondered if those near him could hear it too.
Donnie forced himself to keep his eyes on the Song Leader, but still his thoughts strayed. He realized then that it was not going to be an easy matter to forget Lisa. Was she enduring the same conflicts, he wondered. Once more he glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. Her head was held high, and she stared straight ahead, a fixed determination on her countenance. Donnie admired her more at that moment than he ever had. I’ll make it as easy for her as I can, if I have to quit my job and move away, he thought. He bowed his head and prayed silently, “Oh, God, if you ever helped a fellow, help me now.”
Soon Donnie became absorbed in the service. The atmosphere seemed charged with excitement. News of the new converts had spread, and there was an expectancy of an outpouring from God.
After the Sunday School hour was over and the song service had begun, God began to bless. Donnie’s heart pounded as if it would burst, and tears streamed down his cheeks, while God’s blessings engulfed his soul. Only momentarily did he notice Lisa again, and that was when he saw her rise to her feet with her hands raised toward heaven, in adoration to God.
There were shouts of victory and praise all over the congregation. The Holy Ghost had come. People stood to their feet, one after another, giving thanks to God.
Mrs. Slocum stood to testify, her face shining like the face of an angel. When she was able to compose herself enough to speak, she said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord this morning. I’m rejoicing with all my heart in His love, faithfulness, and mercy. He hath done exceedingly above all that I can ask or think. He’s a wonderful Savior, a glorious Redeemer. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure, and His power has no boundaries known unto men. Oh, praise the Lord! I can hardly contain the joy that’s flooding my soul. I know how the father of the prodigal son felt when his son came home. I can say with him, ‘This my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found!’ My son was dead in trespasses and sins and lost unto God, but he has been resurrected to newness of life. He’s alive again, thank God. The Good Shepherd sought until He found him. Praise His name forever. I feel like the Father in heaven has killed the fatted calf and we’re feasting at His table this morning. Glory, glory, glory.” She was lost in adoration to God.
When Mrs. Slocum sat down, Donnie felt the Spirit prompting him to testify, and he rose to his feet, his frame shaking with emotion as he gave his first testimony as a new babe in Christ. “I’m so glad I came home Friday night, not only to my mom’s house, where they were praying for me, but I’m glad I came home to my heavenly Father’s house. It’s wonderful to be a Christian.” Hearty “amens” were heard throughout the congregation as he continued. “I wish my twin sister could be here this morning to see the results of her minding the Lord.” Then a sudden thought struck him. He looked over the congregation until he spotted Mrs. Flowers, with her face bathed in tears. “Mrs. Flowers,” he said, “I want to thank you for your faithfulness in helping to bring salvation to our house. God bless you for your untiring efforts.” Looking down at his mother beside him, Donnie continued, “I feared Mom’s prayers like a rattlesnake. I felt them day and night. I’m so thankful she didn’t give up on me. I want to thank all of you for every prayer you’ve prayed for me. I mean to be true to God from here on out.”
After many other victorious testimonies and more praises to God, the service was dismissed and the saints of God went to their respective homes, much encouraged in God and His Willingness to answer prayer.
Monday morning, Donnie was up early, preparing to drive the many miles necessary in order to make his restitutions. Thankfully, he had a wallet full of money. It was the money he had saved for his honeymoon. He would probably need all of it before he got back home the next day.
Mrs. Slocum bade him good-bye with a promise from God’ s Word: Psalm 91: 1 0-11. “There shall no evil befall thee …. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”
Donnie had borrowed his mom’s cassette tape recorder and some tapes she had recommended. He listened to the tapes as he drove along. How different from the wild rock-and-roll music he was accustomed to listening to while driving! The gospel music lifted his spirits, and he felt the presence of God right there with him. He sang along, the best he could, with the singers. Reaching over, he turned the volume up slightly. A young baritone was singing a song he had never heard before. He kept rewinding the tape so he could catch all the words. It was a beautiful song, and the words were blessed to his heart. Tears filled his eyes as he listened:
Sometimes, when my faith would falter
And no sunlight I can see,
I just lift mine eyes to Jesus
And I whisper, “Pilot me.”
“Fear thou not, for I’ll be with thee;
I will still thy Pilot be.
Never mind the tossing billows;
Take My hand and trust in Me.” .
When temptations ‘round me gather
And I almost lose my way,
Somehow, in the raging tempest,
I can hear my Saviour say,
“Fear thou not, for I’ll be with thee;
I will still thy Pilot be.
Never mind the tossing billows;
Take My hand and trust in Me.”
“Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to hear this beautiful song,” Donnie prayed aloud. “I don’t know what lies ahead today or next week or next year, but I suppose I’ll be tempted and tried and tested, maybe severely. Just help me to remember that You are at the helm of my little ship and as I trust in You, You will guide me safely to the other shore.”
At noon Donnie stopped at a roadside park, about half-way to his destination, and ate the lunch his mom had packed for him. After taking a little walk to stretch his legs, he was on his way again. He knew he would not be able to make it back home that night, so he planned to get a motel room and finish up his business the next day. Oh, how he dreaded facing some of the people he had cheated, especially one of the men he had worked with. This man had been a true friend, but Donnie had taken one of his good car tools once, and purposely failed to return it. How he wished he could honestly say he had forgotten all about returning the tool, but he knew in his heart, he deliberately stole it.
Donnie was not sure how many tools, bolts, and nuts he had stolen from the factory where he worked. He had not considered himself a thief at the time. He had soothed his conscience by convincing himself he was underpaid and the factory owed him whatever he could make off with. But under the searching eye of the Holy Ghost, he knew he was a thief and had to make that right also.
Late in the afternoon, Donnie noticed that a storm was brewing. The skies grew black with thick clouds, and the wind whipped the tree tops back and forth. Leaves and other debris were swept across the highway in front of him. Thunder rolled, and jagged lightning streaked across the sky. Great drops of rain began to splatter on the windshield. Donnie stepped on the gas. The storm was ready to break loose in all its fury. Maybe if he speeded up some, he could make it to the little station he had robbed. Surely it could not be much farther. He kept watching for the sign. Would he recognize it? he wondered. His heart began to beat more rapidly. His hands gripped the steering wheel. Would they call the police and have him arrested, when he confessed what he had done? The rain began to fall in torrents and made driving difficult. Every so often, the wheels hit big puddles of water, which threatened to wreck the car. Donnie felt uneasy and began to wonder if he would be able to make it safely to his destination.
Fear thou not, for I’ll be with thee, echoed in his mind. He took courage. Surely God wouldn’t allow him to come this far in the line of duty, and then let him perish in a storm. He kept on the alert for the neon sign.
There it was! Just ahead. There was no mistaking it. He slowed down and crossed over to a side road that ran in front of the station. He stopped out front and sat awhile, waiting for the rain to slack up. He took out his wallet and counted out the money he owed the lady. One hundred and seventeen dollars, plus the fifteen I used for gas … makes a total of one hundred and thirty-two dollars. Guess I should allow something for interest. I’ll just even it out to a hundred and fifty. With this thought, he added the extra eighteen to what he had already counted, and stuck his wallet back in his pocket. The rain was still pouring down unrelentingly. Thinking it could rain all night, Donnie decided to make a dash for the door.
When he got inside the building and had dried his face with a handkerchief, he realized he was trembling. One thought haunted him: What if they put me in jail? Again he seemed to hear the words, Fear thou not, for I’ll be with thee.
He thanked God silently for His assurance and approached the cashier.
“May I help you?” the cashier asked. He was a young man, hardly more than a boy.
“I-I’m looking for an elderly lady who worked here about thirteen or fourteen months ago.”
“I don’t know her name. She was a sweet, innocent-looking little woman, with beautiful grey hair.”
Tears filled the young man’s eyes. “You must be speaking of my grandmother, the only mother I’ve known. She’s in the Shady Rest Nursing Home, here in Casper Loop. She’s dying with cancer.”
“Oh-h, I’m so sorry to hear that,” Donnie answered, his own eyes smarting as he thought of the grief he had caused the dear old lady. “I need to see her, personally,” he explained to the young man. “Is there a chance I could see her if I went to the nursing home?”
“Yes, you can see her. She’ll be delighted to have company. Grandad had a heart attack and passed away about two months ago. That left just me and my brother to keep things going, so we don’t get a chance to visit her as often as we’d like.”
Impatient to get on with the task before him, Donnie asked, “Which direction do I take?”
The young man walked to the door with him and pointed through the downpour toward a street to the left of the station. “Take that street, go five blocks, turn left on Elm, go three more blocks, then turn right, and you’ll see the nursing home. Gran’s name is Emily. Emily Fontenot. And she’s in Room 4-B. Will you tell her ‘hi’ for me?”
“I’ll be glad to.”
“Okay, then, tell her there’s a guy by the name of Jason who loves her and thinks of her often.”
Donnie shook hands with the young man as he told him, “I’m a new Christian. I will remember you folk in my prayers.”
“Thanks,” the young man said, his voice choking. “I wish you’d pray especially for Gran. I don’t know how my kid brother and I will make it without her. She’s all the mother we have. It was really a blow, losing Grandad so suddenly. “
Donnie’s heart was touched by the young man’s plight. Longing to help him, he placed a hand on his shoulder and asked, “Are you a Christian?”
The young man dropped his eyes from Donnie’s earnest gaze. “I don’t have time to go to church. We keep this place open seven days a week, and we only have one other employee, besides my brother and me.”
Donnie didn’t know what else to say or do, so, after a few moments of silence, he bade the boy good-bye and made a dash for his car. He was soaked, but he knew he would not be able to rest until he had talked to Mrs. Fontenot and made things right with her. After that, he would find a motel and rest for the night. He could finish the remainder of his business the next day.
It was still raining when Donnie pulled up in front of the nursing home. As he sat shivering and watching the rain pelting down, he prayed, “Oh, God, help me to know what to do and say at times like this. My heart is breaking for these people, but I feel so helpless to know how to reach them. Help me to say the right thing to Mrs. Fontenot. Help her not to get upset at me when I confess. Oh, God, I need You, and I believe You are going to go with me. Amen.”
After a few more minutes, Donnie decided to go on in. No telling when the rain would stop, and he was already wet, so he might as well get it over with, he thought. Hurriedly, he got out of his car and made a run for the door of the nursing home. As he pulled it open, he discovered he was facing the information desk.
“Which way do I go to get to 4-B?” he asked.
“To your left, fourth door down.”
“Thanks,” he said, and with some trepidation, made his way down the hall to Mrs. Fontenot’s room and knocked.
“Come in,” someone called.
Upon entering, Donnie nodded politely to the lady sitting in a rocking chair nearest the door. On beyond her, an elderly lady lay in bed. Donnie recognized her immediately. His heart began to pound as he approached the bed.
“Mrs. Fontenot,” he addressed her. He could not help noticing the light that appeared in her eyes when he spoke her name. It was evident that her visitors were few and far between.
Donnie caught her thin hand in his and said, “Mrs. Fontenot, my name is Donnie Slocum. You don’t remember me, do you?”
“No, son, I can’t recall that name. And I can barely see, so I can’t see your face. Sometimes I recognize voices, but I don’t seem to recognize yours.”
Donnie breathed a sigh of relief when he discovered he was not recognized. That would give him time to choose the right words. But he found it difficult to go on with the reason for his visit, with the other lady staring at him. So he evaded his mission temporarily.
“Mrs. Fontenot, I’m a young Christian. I met your grandson Jason at the service station, and he wanted me to pray for you.”
Tears filled her eyes. “My dear boys! I don’t know what will become of them when I’m gone.”
“Maybe God will heal you,” Donnie ventured.
“Not likely, son. I’m being eaten alive with cancer. You know there’s no cure for that.”
“May I pray with you?”
“I’d be much obliged for your prayers, son. I need all I can get.”
So Donnie bowed his head and prayed as simply as a child. He asked God to be with Mrs. Fontenot and her grandsons, to help them in every way they needed, whether it was physically, spiritually, or financially. He asked God to give Mrs. Fontenot a healing touch if it could be His divine will, to relieve her of her sufferings, to be with the boys and give them strength for their difficulties. He asked God to save them if they weren’t Christians.
When he finished praying, Donnie noticed that Mrs. Fontenot’s roommate was gone. He felt God had intervened in his behalf.
He was still holding Mrs. Fontenot’s hand as he cleared his throat and began, “Mrs. Fontenot, do you recall a man coming into your store last year and robbing you?”
“Do I remember? I’ll never forget that ordeal,” she exclaimed. “It like to have scared me half to death. I had to quit working at the station after that, because I was a nervous wreck. Being already sick, that nearly finished me off.”
Donnie kept feeling smaller and smaller as she continued:
“That robbery really set us back. We were just poor folk trying to make an honest living, but that man that robbed me didn’t care about that. He was probably high on drugs and needed money to buy more dope.” Peering at Donnie with intense interest, she asked, “Do you know anything about that robbery? We turned it over to the police, but nothing ever came of it.”
“Mrs. Fontenot …. “ Donnie hesitated, then he cleared his throat nervously and began to confess. “Mrs. Fontenot, I’m awfully sorry to tell you that I am the man who robbed you and—”
She threw up her hands in protest. “Oh, no, son! You’ll never make me believe that. Anybody that prays like you do wouldn’t steal a flea off a dog’s back.”
“But I wasn’t a Christian then, Mrs. Fontenot. I was a wicked, low-down, no-good sinner. But Jesus saved me last week, and I have hunted you up so I can pay your money back with interest. Here’s one hundred and fifty dollars.”
“Oh, I can’t believe this.” She looked bewildered. “Are you sure you’re not fooling me?”
“No, I’m not fooling you. I’m the one who took your money. Do you remember me calling you ‘Grandma’ and saying I would pay you back some day?”
“Yes … I remember that.”
“Well, I knew if I ever got to heaven I would have to straighten up my back life, as much as was possible. And I also knew I had a praying mother and a praying sister. I felt that some day their prayers would catch up with me. Well, they did last Saturday morning, and God saved my soul. After that, I couldn’t rest until I paid this debt.” Giving her hand a gentle pat, he added, “How glad I am that I found you!”
Mrs. Fontenot was crying. “You’ll never know what this means to me,” she told him. “You see, our Jeffy is graduating from high school. He has really been struggling to pay for the extras he needs, but there never seems to be enough money to go around. It will give me such pleasure to be able to pay for his graduation announcements and his cap and gown. Also, I can buy him a small graduation gift. It will probably be my last gift to him.”
She pulled Donnie down to her and kissed his cheek. “You’ve made my day, sonny. May God bless you forever.”
“You must be a Christian, Mrs. Fontenot,” Donnie suggested.
“Well, I’ve been praying more than I ever have in my life, since I’ve been sick. Yes, I think I’m a Christian.”
“You can know beyond any shadow of a doubt, Mrs. Fontenot. “
“Yes, God said if we’d confess our sins, He’d forgive us and clean us up. I can’t remember just how it goes, in the Bible, but that’s what it means. Have you confessed your sins to Jesus?”
“No-o …. “
“Would you like to pray now and confess to Him and ask Him to save you?”
“I believe I would.”
So once again Donnie bowed his head in prayer, asking God to help Mrs. Fontenot to confess and believe. Then he encouraged her to pray aloud. The Holy Spirit lingered near as they prayed together. When they had finished praying, Donnie asked her, “Do you feel that God has forgiven you?”
“I believe He has,” she said in wonder. “I really do. I feel all calm and peaceful inside.”
They talked for some time after that. When Donnie remembered to deliver the message from Jason, Mrs. Fontenot began telling him all about “her boys.” Finally Donnie rose to go.
“I’ll be praying for you every day, Mrs. Fontenot,” he said. “You pray too, and read your Bible, and God will help you.”
“I can’t see to read, son.”
“Well, you just pray, and maybe one of your grandsons or your roommate will read the Bible to you. God will not fail you. There’s a song that says, ‘Fear thou not, for I am with thee …. Take My hand and trust in Me.’ So if you hold to God’s hand, He will see you through.”
“I’ll surely trust Him, Son,” she said humbly. “I hope you can come to see me often. Do you live close by?”
“No, I live nearly four hundred miles from here.”
“Oh, dear! I thought maybe you could come and read the Bible to me.”
“I wish I could, but since I can’t, I’ll try to locate a preacher in this town and have him come. Maybe God will help me find someone.”
“I sure would be much obliged if you could locate a preacher to come and visit me. It would really be an encouragement. I get so few visits.”
When Donnie left, a little later, his heart felt light and happy. Surely God had been with him here. He had more confidence, now, that God would go the rest of the way with him. His wet clothes no longer felt cold, for he was basking in the warmth of the love and faithfulness of God.
Nevertheless, now that the rain was over, he decided to find a room and get cleaned up before he ate supper. He found a motel a few blocks away and checked in. After taking a hot shower, he was tempted to go to bed and forget supper, but his empty stomach protested at that. So, thinking he’d get a hamburger and hurry back, Donnie went in search of a quick-serve hamburger place. After passing several restaurants, hunger won out over weariness, and Donnie chose a place where he could get a regular meal.
An hour later, feeling much better after a steak dinner, topped off with apple pie for dessert, Donnie went back to the motel for a good night’s rest. He read his Bible and prayed, then stretched out in the bed and was soon fast asleep.
He awoke early the next morning, much refreshed and eager to get on the road and complete his mission. He decided to go to his former landlady’s first. She lived beside the little apartment he and Sharon had once rented.
Donnie wasn’t prepared for the awful sadness that engulfed him as the little apartment came into view. Now that he was a Christian, he saw everything from a different perspective. The shame and regret seemed too much to bear. Oh, if he could only go back and live those days over and live them with Jesus in his heart! Oh; Sharon! he cried silently. I wish I could have been a Christian husband to you. I wish I had never given you reason to distrust me.
Memories flooded his mind. Where was Sharon now, he wondered. And his darling little Christy? She would be about two now. How he longed to see her, to hear her call him Daddy.
After parking in front of Mrs. Durant’s, Donnie went up to the door and knocked.
“Well!” she exclaimed, upon opening the door. “What are you doing here? I guess you know you owe me some rent and utility money.”
“That’s why I came, Mrs. Durant. I want to pay you what I owe you.”
“You do? Well, of all things! Come in and have a seat.” She opened the door wider in invitation.
Donnie took the nearest chair and went on to state his business. “I don’t know exactly what I owe you, because I was behind on my utilities too, but I thought you could give me some idea.”
“I know exactly. I wrote it down, since you mentioned on the note you left that you might come back and pay me some day. Frankly, I never did expect you, but I wrote it down, just in case. Let me go hunt up the bill.”
She went into another room and fetched a tin box and started rummaging through it, mumbling to herself as she did. After a few minutes her mumbling turned into a triumphant, “Uh-huhl Here it is. Rent $200.00, utilities $75.82. A total of two hundred, seventy-five dollars and eighty-two cents.” She handed him the bill.
Donnie got out his wallet and counted out the money. “Here’s an extra ten for the trouble I’ve put you to, Mrs. Durant.”
“Well—thanks, Donnie. My, I really appreciate this.” Her face lit up. “I can buy me a new washer now. My old one is on the blink half the time.”
Donnie started to get up to go, but Mrs. Durant kept talking.
“How did your mother ever get? You said she was in a wreck.”
“She’s fine now, and happy as a lark. You see, her only son gave his heart to God last week.”
“Her only son? You mean you?”
“I mean me,” Donnie laughed. “That’s why I came to pay my bill. I can’t be a Christian and cheat people out of money.”
“No, you can’t, you sure can’t,” she agreed.
Donnie could think of nothing more to say, so he started to rise again. This seemed to be Mrs. Durant’s cue for another question.
“How’s Sharon, and Christy? My, I sure missed that little doll after you folk left. I found her little pacifier, and I actually cried because it reminded me of her. I reckon she’s really growing and don’t have no use for the pacifier no more.”
Donnie dropped his head. “I’m ashamed to tell you, but Sharon and I are divorced. I haven’t seen her and Christy in over a year.”
“What a shame! What a shame!” She shook her head, perplexed at the ways of young people.
“I agree with you, Mrs. Durant. It is a shame. If I had my life to live over, things would be different.”
“I bet it would,” she said.
As Donnie drove away from Mrs. Durant’s, he counted his money. He had only one hundred and ten dollars left. He felt sure that would not be enough to cover the cost of his other restitutions, but at least he would acknowledge them and promise to pay later.
How he dreaded to face his friend Bert Meyers. If only he didn’t have to acknowledge that he had been a thief. But he could not back out now. He wanted to clear up everything he owed while he was here. He had already taken care of his restitutions in Terryville, and he wanted to go home free of his past.
He drove up in front of Bert’s house, thinking of ways he could get out of facing him. Maybe Bert would be working and he could just leave a note. He wondered if God would let him get by that easy. But when he knocked, Bert opened the door.
“Why, Donnie Slocum, you old rascal.” He pumped his hand in welcome. “How in the world are you? My, it’s great to see you. Come in, come in.”
Donnie entered the living room, his heart racing with fear and dread.
“Sit down, old man. Hey, Carol, come see who’s here.”
Bert’s wife entered the room and greeted Donnie cordially. Having her there made it all the harder for him to state his purpose for coming.
“Don’t say anything now,” the devil whispered. “You can write him later.”
But Donnie recognized the tempter and was not to be defeated. “Bert,” he addressed his friend, “I really didn’t come for a social visit. 1 came on business.”
“Business?” Bert questioned. “What kind of business?”
“I have a confession to make. You see, God saved me a few days ago, and He showed me that I had some things to straighten up.”
Seeing the puzzled looks on their faces, he hurried on, lest he lose his courage entirely. “When I lived here, I was visiting you once, and 1 saw a car wrench in your garage that 1 was needing. I took it-uh-I stole it, and I want to acknowledge my wrong and pay for it.”
Both Bert and Carol looked absolutely astonished. Before they could reply, Donnie took out his wallet and was taking out some bills.
“I have no idea what a wrench like that costs,” he said, looking at Bert. “I’m sure you can tell me.”
Bert slapped him on the back. “You don’t owe me a dime, boy. I would have given you the wrench if you had asked.”
“That’s what hurts, Bert. You were such wonderful friends. I don’t know why I stooped so low, but I can’t rest until you let me pay you.”
“You’ll never rest then, Donnie, because I’m not taking a dime. Put that money back in your pocket and let’s enjoy your visit. Carol, bring on those cookies you baked yesterday, and something to drink.”
“But, but, I—”
“Not another word, Donnie. Use that money on Sharon and Christy!”
There it was again! Donnie flushed as he repeated his story once more. “Bert, Sharon and I are divorced.”
“You don’t mean it! You must be nuts, boy. That Sharon was a wonderful little lady.”
“I know, Bert. But I was full of the devil, and she got enough of my foolishness and left me.”
Bert laughed, but Donnie did not find it a laughing matter.
“God has transformed my life now,” he went on to explain. “I’m mighty thankful to Him for what He has done for me. I just wish I had gotten right with the Lord before my life got so messed up.”
The smile died on Bert’s face, and he appeared ready to change the subject.
Quickly, before he lost his chance, Donnie asked, “Have you ever thought of starting to church and changing your way, Bert?”
“Not hardly. We kinda enjoy life as it is.”
“That’s how I used to talk, but I didn’t realize what I was missing.”
Carol came in with coffee and cookies, and the conversation drifted to other topics. Soon Donnie rose to go.
“Sorry to have to run like this, but I’ve got to go see my former boss while I’m here, then I have an eight-hour drive back home.”
“My, I hate to see you rush off. When will you be coming back?”
“That I don’t know, Bert. You’d better let me pay you for the wrench.”
“Well, thanks, Bert and good-bye. My prayers will be with you.”
“I guess all of us can use prayer. Good-bye, Donnie. Come back when you can, and good luck in your new life.”
Donnie drove away relieved that he had only one more restitution to make. And that, too, turned out to be easier than he had expected. At Donnie’s insistence, his former boss took fifty dollars.
“I know I owe the company at least seventy-five dollars more,” Donnie confessed, “but I’ll have to mail it to you. I’ve got just enough left to get home.”
“Don’t mail another cent,” his boss protested. “You probably had a right to what you took.”
“No, sir, I had no right to other people’s tools and bolts, and I’d like to pay the rest of what I owe.”
“Give it to your church, Donnie, if it bothers your conscience. Your church deserves it for turning out such an honest young man.”
Donnie walked out the door feeling as if a heavy load had been lifted off his shoulders. It was great to get his restitutions behind him.
As he headed back toward home, Donnie recalled his promise to try to locate a preacher for dear old Mrs. Fontenot. He would stop as he went back through Casper Loop, and see what he could do. Maybe he could find someone listed in the phone directory. But how was he to know what preacher to ask?
“Please help me, Lord, and lead me. I hardly know where to begin,” he prayed earnestly.
Just as he was nearing Casper Loop, his car started missing. He pulled off the highway and raised the hood. Soon another car pulled off behind him and stopped also.
“Need some help?” a cheery voice called.
“I’m not sure yet,” Donnie replied. “I’m having some trouble, all right. Nothing serious, I hope. I’ve got a long way to go.”
The two men traced the trouble to a loose spark plug wire and soon had it fixed. Donnie slammed down the hood and went looking for the old clean-up rag he carried in the trunk. As he wiped his hands, he said, “Thank you very kindly, sir. Not too many people go out of their way to help others anymore.”
“My job is to help others,” the man replied. “I’m Jim Chaney, pastor of the church of Casper Loop, right up the road from here.”
Donnie’s face brightened. “Then maybe you’re the answer to my prayer,” he said, going on to explain about his promise to Mrs. Fontenot, also telling why he had visited her.
“I’ll be glad to call on her,” Reverend Chaney assured him. “Apparently my steps were ordered of God again today. I have found that to be true many times in my life.”
“I’ve certainly learned a lot about God, the last few days since I’ve been saved,” Donnie said.
They leaned up against Donnie’s car and talked for nearly an hour, sharing experiences. What wonderful, sweet fellowship they had together!
Donnie finally broke away reluctantly. “I must get going, as much as I hate to leave good company. Oh, yes, I nearly forgot to mention that Mrs. Fontenot can’t see to read. Maybe some of your members would take it upon themselves to visit her once in a while and read and pray with her, in addition to your visits.”
“Perhaps some will want to do that. We also have cassette tapes of the Bible for cases such as this. We’ll see that she hears the Word.”
“I’m sure she’ll appreciate whatever you can do for her. The tapes sound like a great idea.”
They exchanged addresses and phone numbers, assuring each other they would keep in touch. Then they shook hands and parted. Donnie still had a long, tiring trip ahead, but his heart was light and his conscience free. The trip had been well worthwhile. Never again would he have to be troubled about those misdeeds he had made right today. Besides, he had helped someone spiritually. He rejoiced as he drove along. The feeling he had was beyond description. Turning on the cassette player again, he caught the last line of the song that had been such a blessing to him, “Take My hand and trust in Me.”
“Amen,” Donnie said softly.
Donnie decided to go visit his dad before his vacation was over, but first, he had volunteered to help his mother with the house cleaning. So the next few days, he spent doing the many tasks she had lined up for him. But Donnie didn’t mind. He knew the harder he worked, the less time he would have to think of what might have been. He washed windows on the outside while Mrs. Slocum washed inside. Together they hung paper in two rooms. Then while Donnie painted woodwork, his mother washed and ironed curtains. And while Donnie sanded and revarnished the living room floor, Mrs. Slocum was busy cleaning the kitchen cabinets and putting in new bug-proof paper. After airing the mattresses and cleaning the floors meticulously, they trimmed the hedges, raked the yard, and prepared the flowers for the winter ahead.
“You wouldn’t think there would be so much to do at one little place,” Donnie commented as they worked. “You haven’t changed one bit, Mom. If Connie was here you would have her going full steam too, just like old times.”
Mrs. Slocum straightened her back long enough to have a good hearty laugh.
“Work’s good for you, Son. It helps to develop good, strong muscles.”
“Yes, Mom, I’ve heard that all my life. I should have the strongest muscles of anyone around. I’ve certainly had to exercise them enough. You’ve had me working like a Trojan ever since I was a toddler in diapers.”
Again his mom threw back her head and laughed merrily. “But aren’t you pleased at how nice everything looks?” She looked around admiringly. “We won’t need to do most of this again for a long time.”
“But you’ll find plenty more to do, Mom. You’re one who never runs out of work for all who will volunteer, or whoever you can dupe into it.”
By Friday noon they were both ready for a rest.
Wearily, Donnie pushed his chair back from the table as his mother started gathering up the dishes. “What are we doing this afternoon, Mom?” he asked.
“You can take the afternoon off, Son. As soon as I get these dishes done, I’m going to make you a treat – a scrumptious lemon pie.”
“Um-m-m, that sounds like a winner.” Donnie started toward the door. “I guess I’d better go quick, before that scrutinizing eye of yours finds something else for me to do,” he said teasingly.
“Thanks so much for your help, Donnie. I could never have made it without you. You’re a hard worker.”
“Yep, I know, Mom. You’re bragging on me to get me to keep helping you. I know your tricks.”
That set them both laughing again. It was good to have fellowship between them once more.
Donnie left the house at eight Saturday morning, starting on his way to see his dad. He had felt strongly that he should go, and Mrs. Slocum had encouraged him.
“You should go see your dad every once in a while, Donnie. I’m sure he yearns to see his children at times. Besides, maybe you can help him spiritually.”
Donnie was amazed at his mom’s change of attitude. As he drove along, he thought of the times she had done all in her power to keep him and Connie from going to visit their dad. And he remembered how she had treated him as if he were not welcome the few times he had come to see them. Mr. Slocum had always been an object of contention between Mrs. Slocum and the twins, so it was refreshing to be encouraged by his mom to visit his dad. What a difference salvation had made in her life!
Chilled by the morning air, Donnie reached over and turned the heater on. He tried the radio but, after turning all across the dial and finding nothing worth listening to, he switched it off. What a difference salvation has made in me, too, he thought. Wish I’d thought to bring Mom’s recorder. I would like to hear that “Pilot” song again.
Donnie began to sing as he drove along, filling in with humming in the places where he couldn’t remember the words. Then he began to think of all God had done for him in just one week’s time. He still felt good about the way the Lord had helped him make his restitutions, and how this had given him opportunities for witnessing.
He thought of Lisa and how the Lord had been helping him to conquer his feeling for her. He knew the battle wasn’t over yet, but he didn’t regret what he had given up to go with God. The joy and peace he had found far surpassed any earthly joy.
Then he patted his empty shirt pocket. For six days, now, he had not smoked once. Oh, he had been tempted – tempted severely. But God had helped him to resist the temptation. Donnie knew he could trust Him to keep on helping him until the craving was entirely gone. His heart welled up in praise to God, and glory flooded his soul.
Where had the time gone? Donnie wondered as he pulled up at his dad’s. The grounds were more beautiful and spacious than he had remembered, and the house more imposing. Suddenly, he felt uneasy. Would his dad be in the mood for a visit from him today, he worried. Maybe he should have called first. But it was too late to think of that now.
Gathering his courage, he walked up to the house and rang the doorbell. After a few moments the maid opened the door.
“Well, good mornin’, Mr. Donnie. How good to see you! Come in, come in.” She welcomed him with a big smile.
Donnie entered, taking in the appearance of the living room at a glance. Everything was spotlessly clean and orderly. Expensive furniture was tastefully arranged, contrasting sharply in Donnie’s mind with his mom’s humble furnishings. The colorful sofa and chairs blended beautifully with the plush carpet on which he stood. A large scenic picture hung over the sofa.
“Where’s Dad,” he asked, his eyes still on the lovely picture.
“He’s in his room. He’s not feelin’ well today,” she answered soberly. “Seems like ever since Miz Slocum passed, he’s been goin’ downhill.”
Donnie was shocked. “Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t aware that his wife had died.”
“You mean Mr. Slocum didn’t telephone you about it?” Her big expressive eyes revealed her amazement.
“No, he didn’t call.”
“I can’t believe it. Your own step-mother died and was buried, and you didn’t even know it. I jus’ cain’t understand it.”
“When did she pass away?” Donnie asked.
“Jus’ two weeks ago today. Real sudden like, it was.” With concern written on his face, Donnie asked, “What happened?”
“Heart attack, Mr. Donnie. It happened so fast, it took our breath away. She seemed too young to die. But you know, the young ones is passin’, jus’ like the old hands. We jus’ better be ready when our number is called. He might summons us anytime.”
“That’s right, Amanda. Are you ready if your number is called?”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Donnie, I shore am.”
“May I see my dad?” .
“I’ll go knock and see if he’ll be disturbed.”
Donnie waited quietly, his eyes roving around his surroundings, comparing again. How different from his mom’s little living room with its varnished floors and cheap furniture. But one day his mom would exchange her humble cottage for a beautiful mansion in heaven. As for his dad, his earthly mansion was all he would ever have, unless he got right with God.
Amanda reappeared, her face beaming. “He says he sure will see you, Mr. Donnie. You should have seen his face light up like a full moon when I told him ‘bout you bein’ here. He threw his legs right off that bed and set up. Follow me, Mr. Donnie.”
She led the way down a long hall and pushed open a door that was already slightly ajar, leaving Donnie to go on in alone.
Donnie entered, extending his hand eagerly for the usual handshake. His dad gripped his hand and held on longer than usual, while a hint of moisture came into his eyes. Donnie could not help noticing how the hand that held his trembled, and how the pale face that looked up into his quivered with emotion. His dad looked older. Even his hair seemed much greyer than when he had last seen him.
“How are you, Dad?” Donnie asked in greeting.
“I’m okay, son. Just thought I’d lie down awhile. I try to rest as much as I can when I’m not working. Besides, there isn’t much to do here at home now. It gets awfully lonely—” He choked up and could go no further.
“Amanda told me about your wife, Dad. I was terribly sorry to hear what you had been through. Why didn’t you let us know?”
“I didn’t see the need, son. I felt sure you wouldn’t come. You hardly knew Eloise.”
No, Donnie thought. She never gave us a chance to know her. The few times we came to see Dad, she always kept in the background. Aloud he said, “I guess we weren’t very well acquainted with her, but, Dad, I would have come to be with you.”
“How could you have come, son? You live so far away and have a job to hold and the responsibility of a wife and baby. I just didn’t see the need of disturbing you.”
Donnie dropped his head. “Dad, I’m divorced from Sharon. I’m back home with Mom.”
“Oh-h.” He let out a low moan.
“I know how it must make you feel,” Donnie told his father. “I’m sorry to add to your burdens. I have many regrets about my past.”
“Don’t we all, son!” Mr. Slocum said, his tone implying that it was a fact, not a question. “It’s better to try to forget some things. Here, take the weight off your feet.” He arranged two comfortable chairs conveniently.
“Dad,” Donnie said as he was seated. “I’d like to talk about it a little, if you don’t mind.”
Mr. Slocum nodded.
“I won’t go into detail, but I’ve lived a sinful life,” Donnie began. “It was because of the way I lived that I lost Sharon and my precious baby girl. I don’t suppose I’ll ever be able to forget that.” He took out his handkerchief and wiped tears from his eyes. Mr. Slocum sat staring straight ahead.
“I can never go back and live those days right,” Donnie went on, “but by God’s help, I can live the rest of my life right. A week ago today, I forsook my wicked ways and turned to Jesus. He forgave all my sins and made a new person out of me. I’ve been straightening up my past, making restitutions and apologies. I feel I owe you an apology, too. I haven’t been the kind of son you could be proud of. I squandered a big portion of the money you sent me while I was in college, using it on liquor and cigarettes and cards. For this, I ask your forgiveness. Also, I want you to forgive me for asking for money for a car. I should have worked and earned the money instead of leeching off of you. You’ve never turned me down, Dad. You’ve always been generous and gracious. I took advantage of your generosity. Will you forgive me for being such a no-good son? I’ll try to make up for my failures from here on out.”
Not trusting his voice, Mr. Slocum merely nodded. It was evident he was greatly moved upon. Father and son sat for several minutes in silence. When Mr. Slocum finally spoke, it was with a great effort to retain his composure.
“I don’t think you owe me any apologies, Donnie. I am the one who needs to apologize.” Tears came into his eyes in spite of all his efforts. “I guess I’ve been a pretty rotten father,” he finished lamely. ‘
Again there was silence. It was an emotional moment. Impulsively, Donnie reached over and embraced his dad.
“Let’s forgive each other, Dad,” he said, “and go on from here. Okay?”
Donnie and Mr. Slocum spent the remainder of the day trying to make up for the years of companionship they had missed. Donnie shared details of his life from the time he was very small, and he discovered things about his father that he had never known before.
Once when Connie was mentioned, Mr. Slocum said, “I get regular letters from her. She’s really taken up with her religion. “
“Yes, she is. It was her transformed life that won Mom to God, you know. Then their holy lives and their prayers are what won me to God.”
“I wonder what it will take to win me,” Mr. Slocum laughed.
Donnie knew he meant it for a joke, but he answered as if his dad had spoken seriously.
“If you’ll repent of your sins and ask God’s forgiveness, He’ll save you, Dad. He has never yet turned away a sincere heart.”
“I’ll remember that when I decide to get right,” Mr. Slocum said, but his manner was nonchalant. Changing the subject, he asked, “You wouldn’t be interested in moving here and working for me, would you? You can name your own salary, once you’re trained. I’m quite confident you’d make several times what you’re making now, even while in training. After all, Son, this business will be yours when I’m gone.”
Donnie was astounded. What should he do? What should he say? He thought of his small pay check each week, and then visualized the enormous amount he could make with his dad. He would be a fool to turn down such an offer, he reasoned.
Then he thought of his mom and the little church with its praying people back home. Which was most important? Would he be able to keep his experience without the help and encouragement of other Christians?
“Is there a church around here?” he asked simply.
Mr. Slocum threw back his head and laughed. “What a question to ask when offered such a proposition as I have just offered you. Son, I want to make you the vice-president of my firm. I want to line your pockets with money. That was the main reason I pushed you to get a college education. I confess I lost heart when I found out you were drinking. But now that you’ve straightened up, I could use you. How much college did you get, a couple of years or so?” When Donnie nodded, he continued, “You can take night classes while you’re in training. How about it?”
Donnie sat as one dazed. He could not answer. He felt as if a bombshell had hit him, and he was trying to get his bearings.
“Oh, yes, about the church,” Mr. Slocum said, as if suddenly remembering. “We’ll build one if that’s what you want. We’ll ship a preacher in here from somewhere – unless you want to do the preaching.” He looked searchingly at Donnie. Something he saw in Donnie’s countenance caused him to add, “I’ll do anything to get you to join my firm.” In his excitement, his words tumbled over one another.
“Dad,” Donnie finally answered, “I can’t make such an important decision without time to pray about it. I appreciate your generous offer from the depths of my heart, but since I’ve turned my life over to God, I must have His leadership. “
Mr. Slocum drew in his breath and sat back in his chair. “Donnie,” he blurted out, “all I have to say is that you’re a fool.”
His words stung, but Donnie knew in his heart that he was right not to give his dad a quick answer.
The conversation became strained after that and, since it was getting late, Donnie rose to go.
“I’ve enjoyed my visit very much, Dad,” he said, expressing his sincere feeling.
“I’m glad you could come, son. It’s too bad you didn’t like my offer.”
Placing his hand on his father’s shoulder, Donnie tried to explain. “Don’t think I’m unappreciative of your offer. I think it’s great, and I will consider it and pray about it, but I just don’t feel right about giving you a quick answer.”
“You’re not afraid to trust me, are you Donnie?” his dad asked sullenly.
“No, Dad, it’s not that. I know I can trust you. You’ve proven yourself to me. I know you’re trustworthy. It’s just that I want to know God’s will in the matter. Maybe, this is His will. Maybe it’s an open door for me. But, Dad,” he looked at him imploringly, “I just want to make sure. Will you try to understand?”
“I’ll try, son. It’s been good having,you. This would have been a long and lonely day without you. Come back soon.”
“I will, Dad. I promise.”
As Donnie drove back home, he had plenty to think about. After their happy day together, he felt closer to his dad than he ever had before. He knew that his dad’s offer was a chance of a lifetime if he wanted to make money. Perhaps, this was the answer to his problem about going back to work where he would be seeing Lisa every day. Could this be the leading of the Lord? After all, there was nothing evil about money, he’d just have to use it right.
You ought to jump at your dad’s proposition, the devil whispered in his mind. Just think of all the money you could put into the work of the Lord! You know that little church could use extra money. And there’s Reverend Morgan. Surely he needs a raise, or he wouldn’t be driving that old car. And you know how Connie could use money in New Guinea, to help build clinics and schools and provide food, clothing, and medicines for the poor heathen there. Then there’s your mom. She’s never had much in this life. You could give her the many things she deserves, and even pay her way to go see Connie. Just think of all you could do if you had money to do with. You should turn your car around right now and go back and tell him you’ll accept his offer. Do it now. Do it now.
The pressure of the enemy of his soul nearly had Donnie’s head spinning. The enemy kept on whispering suggestions of good things Donnie could do with money until he almost overpowered the young Christian.
“Oh, God,” Donnie began to pray earnestly. “I don’t want to be led astray. Please don’t let the devil trick me into doing the wrong thing. I’m just a new babe in Christ, so will You please help me to make the right decision and help Dad to be understanding whatever way it goes.”
After praying, Donnie felt at peace and determined not to let the love of money ensnare him. He resolved to pray until he knew God’s will.
A letter awaited Donnie upon his return home. Wondering, he tore it open and read:
Dear Brother Donnie,
Greetings in the name of our precious risen Saviour and coming King! Trust this finds you well and enjoying God’s blessings.
I really enjoyed our fellowship together by the side of the road. I related your wonderful testimony to my church Sunday. It brought tears to the eyes of many and helped to encourage other parents to hold on for their wayward children. One lady confided to me after service that she was on the verge of despair for her son, but that she received a new touch from God due to the testimony of your wonderful conversion. She said she intended to buckle on the armor a little tighter and to fast and pray and believe God a little more. Praise the Lord, Brother Donnie! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if her son was brought into the fold due to your testimony?
I knew you would be interested in hearing about Mrs. Fontenot. We went to see her the next day, and she seems sincere in wanting God’s way. I read the Bible and talked to her, as well as praying for her. She said she felt something tickling her heart. Of course, she doesn’t know the Canaan language yet, but I’m encouraged with her testimony. I left a cassette player and the Bible tapes that I told you about. She seemed real thrilled. She asked me to visit her boys and try to get them to close up their business on Sunday and come to church. Pray for this endeavor. You may have some sheaves to lay at the Master’s feet because of your obedience in making restitutions and witnessing.
God bless you, Brother. Wish you could come up and spend a weekend with us. I’m praying about your marital problems. Maybe God, in His foresight, saw that you were going to repent and kept your wife from remarrying. Why don’t you go .see her or call her? I believe God has His hand on you. He needs you in His harvest field.
Write me sometimes, or come see us. Keep encouraged. Jesus is soon coming, so stay close to him. Pray much and read your Bible daily. Jesus will see you through.
Your brother in Christ,
When he had finished reading that letter, his mom handed him one from Connie. He took it eagerly, hoping it was in response to his letter about his conversion. But he was soon reminded that mail didn’t travel that fast from the remote station in New Guinea where Connie worked. Slowly and thoughtfully he read her letter:
Dear Mom and Donnie,
Trust this finds both of you well. My prayers go up constantly for you, as well as for our needs here.
I’m glad you let me know about Donnie and Lisa. I don’t want you to keep things from me, dearest Mom. I was so sad when you finally told me about your wreck and your confinement in the nursing home. All that time, had I known it, I could have been praying especially for your healing and encouragement. Please don’t ever, ever keep things from me again. I know you didn’t want to worry me, but I knew something was wrong when I missed several weeks hearing from you. God gives me extra grace, to get me through my trials, so I’m trusting you to level with me from now on. O.K?
About Donnie and Lisa, I guess their wedding date is set. Donnie, if it’s not too late when you get this letter, please, please reconsider. The devil would like nothing better than to get you in his snare and tangle up your life so that nothing but a mighty miracle could ever get it straightened out again. Larry and I are banding together with Mom, praying and fasting for you. Please don’t get mad at us. I love you so very much and want to see you get to heaven at any cost.
We started, last week, meeting together every morning at five to pray for a Holy Ghost revival. We’re seeing a few mercy drops fall but, oh, for real revival! We want to see an awakening among these precious natives. They’re getting in, a few at a time, and we’re thankful for every single one, but we’re praying for a landslide. I believe God is going to give it.
“Mom, I hate to tell you this, but after admonishing you not to keep anything from me, I don’t want to keep anything from you. I’ve been feeling pretty low lately. Physically, that is. It might be a touch of malaria. Pray for me. Don’t worry, because it’s probably nothing serious, but I’m just not up to par.
Mom and Donnie, I love you both so very, very much. Write me soon and keep me abreast of the news from home. I’m so anxious over my dear brother, especially. Why don’t you give God a chance in your life, Donnie? You’ll never be sorry.
With much love,
Larry and Connie
“I hope there’s nothing seriously wrong with her,” Mrs. Slocum said soberly when she saw Donnie had finished the letter.
“Me, too. But when she gets my letter about my conversion, I’m sure it will cure all her ills.”
“It will about bless her half to death,” Mrs. Slocum agreed, her face breaking into a happy smile.
Sunday morning after service, Lisa met Donnie outside the church. “Don,” she began hesitantly, “I haven’t had a chance to talk to you since we parted. First, I want to apologize for the way I acted on our last date. I was beside myself. The feeling that came over me while we were sitting there watching TV terrified me. I really felt like I would be in hell before morning. Of course I realize now, that it was because of the prayer meeting that was going on at your mom’s.”
Donnie nodded. “That and all the other prayers that had gone up before for you and me.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “I don’t know how I could have hardened myself against all those prayers for so long. I’m glad God’s blessed Spirit was faithful to me. I’m glad you minded God, too.” She lifted moist eyes and smiled faintly.
"I'm glad, too, Lisa. It's been a wonderful week in spite of --" He cut short his sentence. No use letting her know how much he missed her.
After an awkward moment, Lisa said, “Another thing I wanted to tell you is that I resigned my job.” She bit her lip and blinked back the tears.
Donnie knew she was thinking of all the wonderful times they’d had together. Now the time had come when they couldn’t continue being together so much, working on the same job, so Lisa had given up her job in order to make it easier for both of them.
“But you shouldn’t have,” he protested. “I was thinking of looking for another job myself.”
“It’s all right.” She smiled bravely. “I’m going into nurses’ training. Who knows, someday, I may be a missionary like your twin sister.”
Donnie blinked back his own tears as he answered. “You’re a great girl, Lisa. I’m sorry I have caused you to suffer. I trust God will bring the right guy into your life and you’ll find the happiness you deserve.”
“Right now, that’s the least of my worries,” she told him. “I just want to lose myself in my studies and live a holy life for Jesus. Thanks for the good wishes anyway. I wish the best for you too, Don. God knows how to solve all your problems and make your life happy. Just keep on minding Him in everything.”
“Thanks for your encouragement, Lisa.”
Fleetingly, he looked in her eyes and read the love she had given up for Jesus’ sake. He knew it had not been easy. He wondered if his love for her was as plainly seen. Until now, he had thought he had his emotions under control.
Huskily, he said, “I’ll be seeing you around, Lisa. Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you. God is going to see us through, and after all the heartache and tears, we’ll be able to look back and say, ‘It’s been worth it all to follow Jesus all the way.’ “
He turned and walked away with a heavy, yet committed, heart.
At noon, Donnie did not feel like eating lunch but excused himself and went to his room to pray. Getting on his knees, he cried his heart out to God.
“Lord, you see my aching heart. You know my weakness. I thought I was willing to give up Lisa, until I read the love in her eyes again today. Oh, help me now, Lord. Help both of us. Oh, God, don’t let us weaken in our resolve to do what is right, but strengthen us in our weak areas and give us grace to endure the pain of separation. Help me to overcome my longing for her. Help me not to brood. I want to be a happy Christian. I want to radiate joy to others.”
As he continued praying, he heard his mother lifting him up in prayer also, and he was strengthened. A calm settled down upon his spirit and, feeling exhausted, he lay across the bed and soon fell asleep.
Some time later he awoke with a start. He checked the time to see if he should be getting ready to go to church. Seeing the afternoon was hardly half over, he joined his mother in the living room, where she sat reading the Sunday school papers.
“Mom,” he approached her, “I have heard you and Connie speak often of sanctification. Also, Brother Morgan has mentioned it in his messages. But I don’t understand it at all. I notice you seem to feel it’s very important. I wonder if you can explain to me exactly what is meant by sanctification and why you feel it’s so necessary. I’ve had such a wonderful change in my life that I wonder how I could contain anything more. But I do remember how, after Connie told us she was sanctified, she was able to control her terrible temper. I know she had to find something real, to be able to control a temper like hers, because my dear twin sister had the world’s worst temper.”
"It's a wonderful experience, Donnie. One you'll find you can't get along without, the further you get along in your Christian life. But -" Mrs. Slocum pursed her lips in perplexity. "It's hard to know how to go about explaining it to you."
"That's all right, Mom. I can -"
“I’ll tell you what, Donnie,” she said, her face brightening, “I have a little Bible study that I’ve used in my young people’s class and also at the nursing home services. I’ll get the references and you can look up the Scriptures in the Bible as I give them to you. That way, they’ll make more of an impression on your mind. You can use my Bible with the thumb index, and it won’t be hard.”
She disappeared and was soon back with a little black notebook and her Bible. She handed Donnie the Bible and sat down in a chair near him.
Turning the pages in her little book, she said, “I keep the notes and Scripture references in here, that I use in my little sermonettes. I never know when I’ll need them again. First, let’s turn to Proverbs 28:13. This is a Scripture on repentance. One can’t be sanctified until the sins they have committed have been forgiven.”
Donnie turned to the Scripture in Proverbs and read, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
“Now, Donnie, read Ephesians 2:8.”
Donnie looked through the index until he came to Ephesians. Finding the chapter and verse, he read, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”
“You see, when we have truly repented, with a godly sorrow for our sins, our faith takes hold and we are saved. Now read Romans 8:16.”
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
When Donnie had finished reading, Mrs. Slocum explained, “The Spirit is the One who lets us know when we are born into God’s kingdom. He witnesses to our regeneration. This is a wonderful and glorious experience, when we are forgiven of all our old ugly sins. Why, even the angels in heaven rejoice. You can read about it in Luke 15:10.”
“There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth,” Donnie read. Looking up at his mom, he said, “I didn’t know that. Just think, while we were rejoicing down here, the other Saturday night, they were rejoicing up in heaven, too, weren’t they?”
“Yes, and isn’t it wonderful to think they’ve had three hallelujah jubilees over members of our family! It makes you feel like pressing on, to know angels are pulling for you.”
Mrs. Slocum glanced at her notes. “Let’s see. After one is genuinely saved, he begins to walk in newness of life. He makes restitution to those he has wronged, as you have been doing. Of course, the new Christian begins reading his Bible. He prays, and he attends church. As Christians, we testify because we are admonished to, in the Word. Read Revelation 12: 11. “
“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony,” Donnie read, a puzzled frown on his face. “Who did they overcome, Mom?” he asked.
“That refers to Satan. We overcome Satan by our testimony. Sometimes we may not feel at all like testifying, but we do it anyway, and as we do, Satan is defeated and we are victorious. As long as we obey God and walk in all of the light we have, Jesus keeps us with victory over sin. Now read 1 John 1:7.”
After some trouble in distinguishing between the different Johns in the Bible, Donnie found the place and read, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
“That brings us up to the Scriptures concerning the work of sanctification, which you asked about, Donnie. I wanted to get it clear in your mind that one must have a real born-again experience before He can be sanctified wholly. If there are any doubts at all in your justified experience, they must be taken care of before God will sanctify you.”
“I have no doubts, and I know my sins are under the blood,” Donnie said thoughtfully. “I know I’m a new creature in Christ Jesus, so I suppose I’m a candidate for sanctification. “
“Right, Donnie. You know as well as I do that there’s such a radical change in one’s life when he is first converted, and such peace overwhelms him, that it’s hard to realize there’s more for him. But before long you’ll begin to sense evil tendencies in your heart that are contrary to the nature of Christ. You’ll wonder what’s wrong and will be sorely grieved when some things happen, such as when an unruly temper gets loose and spoils your Christian testimony. This is caused from the old adamic nature, with which we were born. It’s called ‘carnality’ or ‘the root of sin’ or ‘a depraved nature.’ Also the Bible calls it ‘the old man’ and the ‘flesh’ or ‘the carnal mind.’ Read Romans 8:6-8, Donnie.”
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
“You see, Son, the carnal mind is an enemy of God. It is not subject to Him. It cannot be tamed or controlled. You might suppress it for a while, but as we recognize this evil monster in our breast, we must cry to God for deliverance if we are to retain a victorious walk with God. We cannot keep something in our heart that will not be subjected to God, for that is a work of Satan. We know that God and Satan, both at one time, cannot control our heart. One must go. Since we’re serving God, we want Satan to go, along with all the carnal traits, such as pride, jealousy, envy, covetousness, selfishness, bitterness, stubbornness, malice, lust, touchiness, grudging, stinginess, peevishness, or any other thing the Holy Spirit reveals. This eradication of the carnal nature and infilling of the Holy Spirit is the work of grace called ‘sanctification.’ Now we are ready for 1 Thessalonians 4:3.”
Donnie read, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.”
"You see from that Scripture, son, that it is God's divine will for one to be sanctified. Not only is it His will, but He commands it. He says in 1 Peter 1:16, 'Be ye holy; for I am holy.' Also, in Ephesians 4:22-24, we are admonished to get rid of carnality. Here,"-- she reached for the Bible- "let me read it this way: ' ... put off ... the old man, which is corrupt ... put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.' The 'old man' refers to the carnal nature. God wants the old man
crucified and a new man or a new nature to reign in our heart in righteousness and true holiness. We cannot accept or reject this wonderful work of righteousness as we please. Since God commands it, we must obey and walk in the light of sanctification as God reveals our need. Otherwise, we will not be able to live a victorious life over the world, the flesh, and the devil”
“But how can 1 get rid of something I am not responsible for?” Donnie asked simply. “I mean, if I had nothing to do with it’s being there, how can I do anything about it now?”
“That’s a good question, Donnie. And there is a way. Jesus paid the supreme price on the cross. He didn’t provide a halfway salvation; His death on the cross was to do a complete work in our heart. So, as God shows us our need and we feel the stirrings of carnality, we must come to Jesus the second time, confessing the carnal traits as revealed by God and pray for their removal. God will do the work when we get sick enough of being up and down, in and out, and always battling to keep sin from conquering over us. When our heart becomes really hungry for the fullness of God, we’ll be willing to seek for all He has for us. It is only then that we can exercise faith for deliverance.”
“But 1 don’t want to be up and down,” Don objected. “I want to start out right.”
Mrs. Slocum smiled. “I hope you can, Donnie. It wasn’t that way for me, though. I remember when I sought God fot this experience, I had a constant within, trying to keep victory over carnality, It cropped up here and there and would leave me feeling defeated. As you know, I had a fiery temper, just like Connie’s, and it caused me to have a sharp tongue. Several times it got the best of me at work, and my Christian influence was killed. I would apologize but, even as I was apologizing, I knew I’d do the same thing again if I didn’t get help from God. So I would go home and plead for God’s forgiveness and help.
“Also, I was full of old devilish pride. It made me so ashamed to dress like a lady, with my skirts below my knees when everyone else’s were shorter. Oh, I dressed modestly all right, but I felt so embarrassed about it. When I’d catch people looking me over, I wanted to hide behind my desk all day.”
Donnie laughed aloud. “I can’t imagine you being ashamed to look like you do, Mom. I wouldn’t want you any other way.”
“Pride worked on me in more ways than one. Another way it worked was that I just loved to be bragged on and thought well of. I liked attention and would work my fingers to the bone, so to speak, in order to be lifted up and praised. It’s not sinful to appreciate kind remarks, but I thrived on flattery. I would lie awake at night, rolling over in my mind all the compliments I received. When God revealed my pride, He made me to hate it and I cried to Him to take it out of my heart.
“I knew there was a better way, because I had seen it in Connie’s life. Thank God for the day I fell at the Master’s feet, confessing all my carnality to Him and yielding my all into His keeping. I died to all my chosen plans and ambitions and came under complete submission to all God had for me. Thank God, He accepted my sacrifice. He ridded me of carnality, cleansed my heart, and filled me with His blessed Spirit. Praise God! It holds good right now. His Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am sanctified wholly.”
“Amen!” Donnie spoke with awe. “I believe it, Mom. You make me hungry for this wonderful experience.”
“It’s for you, Son. He can speak to you as He did to me, ‘Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you.’ That’s from John 15:3 and 4.”
“When Jesus comes to abide in your heart, He brings with Him the fruits and graces of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, contentment, longsuffering, faith, temperance, humility, tenderness, kindness, rest, gentleness, goodness, purity, liberality, patience and others.
“His Spirit within gives us concern for others, sympathy and understanding, spiritual discernment, submission to all of God’s will, victory over sin and self, holy boldness, and holy zeal.
“His Spirit helps to illuminate the Scriptures. That which is hid from the wise and prudent is revealed unto babes in Christ.”
“The Spirit teaches us reverence and respect for holy things. When He comes into our heart, He leads us into all truth. There’s no way to get entangled in a false doctrine when the Spirit abides within, for He witnesses to truth. Praise God, the price has been paid that we might enjoy this wonderful sanctified experience. “ Handing Donnie the Bible, Mrs. Slocum said, “Read Matthew 5:6, Donnie.”
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Donnie looked up from reading with tears in his eyes. “This promise is for me, Mom. My heart hungers for this wonderful experience.”
“Praise God, Donnie! The Lord will meet your need any time you come to Him in earnest, whether it’s now or later.”
Glancing at the clock, he said, “It will have to be later, if we’re going to church. We’ll have to leave in twenty minutes, but I promise, Mom, my heart is open and, by God’s grace, I will have this wonderful experience of entire sanctification. I’ve seen it work in your life and in Connie’s, and I’m determined to have it, too.”
On his way to his room to get ready for church, Donnie stopped and looked back’at his mother.“Thanks, Mom, for an enjoyable afternoon. You are a good teacher. I understand now, what before was confusion to me. Through your explanation, God has enlightened my mind. I feel sure it won’t be long before I’ll be enjoying this wonderful experience, as well as you.”
His mom’s radiant smile reflected in his own face as he hurriedly dressed for church.
Another year rolled by, a year of blessings for Donnie, even though he had spent many lonely hours. But because he had been sanctified wholly early in his Christian walk, he was enabled by the Spirit to triumph in spite of all his many trials.
For the past few weeks, God had been dealing with Donnie in a new way.
“I feel God wants me to preach,” he confided to his pastor one day as they sat in Brother Morgan’s study.
Brother Morgan was silent for a few moments, weighing the matter carefully. Then he said, “Donnie, it’s not going to be easy for you to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in your circumstances. I know you’ve done everything in your power to make reconciliation with your wife, and God sees and understands. He knows the whole situation. Still it’s going to be rough sledding. As for pastoring, you know as well as I do that every pastor needs a companion. A wife is a great asset to a minister and in certain situations, a real necessity, for there are some places a minister cannot go without his wife. Trying to be a preacher of the gospel without having a companion makes a difficult situation. Perhaps you could go into evangelistic work.”
Donnie sat silent, his face downcast.
Placing a hand on Donnie’s shoulder, Brother Morgan said, “I’m sorry to have discouraged you, Donnie. I want you to know I’ll do all I can to help you.”
“Perhaps I was mistaken. Maybe God isn’t calling me,” Donnie said, His voice troubled. “But I’ve prayed a lot about it. I wouldn’t have said anything if I hadn’t felt pretty sure.”
Brother Morgan patted Donnie’s shoulder. “God knows His business, Donnie, and if He is calling you to preach, He will make a way.” As an afterthought, he asked, “you haven’t heard anything from Sharon, have you?”
“No, Brother Morgan.”
Donnie had tried to call Sharon not long after he got saved, but her parents’ phone was disconnected. He had gone to the house, only to find that the family had moved. He wrote, hoping the letter would be forwarded, but it was returned marked, “Moved, no forwarding address.”
“You know I’ve tried every way to contact her,” Donnie told his pastor. “All I know to do now is to pray. Mom and I have agreed to hold on in prayer that God will help us find her, whether she is married or not. Even though it may be too late for a reconciliation with Sharon, I feel my responsibility for Christy. I don’t want my little daughter to grow up with no knowledge of God. Mom and I are fasting together every Wednesday, and we are believing God to answer prayer.”
“Just keep holding on. It looks like that’s what it’s going to take.” Brother Morgan encouraged him. “And I don’t think you should give up praying for your little family to be reunited. God is able. I want you to know I admired the way you handled the situation with Lisa. I know it wasn’t easy for either of you, but I believe God will reward you for your obedience to His Word.”
“I suppose that was one of the most difficult things I have ever gone through, unless, of course, it was losing my wife and baby, but I have no regrets.”
“Had you heard that Lisa is engaged to Steve Wilder?” Brother Morgan questioned.
“Yes, and I’m glad that I can truthfully say I’m delighted to know she has found happiness with another. She and Steve make a fine couple.”
As soon as Donnie left Brother Morgan’s study, the devil began hounding him, telling him he was altogether unfit to be a minister of the gospel. Donnie felt discouraged and began to have second thoughts about his call. Maybe he had been mistaken after all. He thought of discussing it with his mother but changed his mind; She would probably discourage him further, he thought. He wished he had never written his friend, Jim Chaney, a couple of weeks back. He was probably against it, too.
For several days he fought an awful spiritual battle against the powers of darkness. Time and again, Satan whispered suggestions to cause him to despair. In a weak moment, he decided to reconsider his dad’s job offer, which he had previously rejected.
So the following Saturday morning he headed out to see his dad.
Mr. Slocum was surprised to see him. Donnie decided to get right to the point, but as soon as he mentioned his purpose for coming, his dad’s face clouded.
“I’m sorry, son. I’ve already hired a man, and he’s been in training for several months now. But if you’re sure you’ve got your mind made up, maybe we can work out something.”
But Donnie’s mind was in a turmoil. He wasn’t at all sure he had it made up. So he talked to Mr. Slocum at length about the work.
“You understand, Donnie, business is business,” Mr. Slocum had explained while they were conversing. “There are times when you have to use a crooked pencil and tell a few white lies to swing a deal. You seem to have become a pretty honest lad lately, and I feel I need to let you know what will be expected of you. We can’t lose money by being too honest, you know. I hope you understand. I’m not a crook, Donnie, but in big businesses, that’s the way things work.”
“That settles it then, Dad. I’ll never work for you if I have to be a liar and a cheat.”
Mr. Slocum’s face turned crimson. “I don’t consider myself a liar and a cheat. Are you calling me that?”
“I’m simply telling you, Dad, that I will not do one thing crooked. I’ve had to make too many crooked paths straight, to fall into that trap again. Since Jesus saved.me, He has kept me straight, so I guess it’s good you hired another man. I wouldn’t fit in your business.”
Donnie felt that a burden had been lifted off him as he headed for home. Ever since his dad had made him the offer of being vice-president of his firm, it had tempted him from time to time, when things got rough or his finances got low. But today he had settled it forever. Never again would he be tempted to work for his dad.
Mrs. Slocum was all excited when Donnie got home.
“Connie’s coming home,” she announced as she met him at the door.
“What?” Donnie couldn’t believe it. “Why? Her term isn’t up yet.”
“I received a telegram from Larry today. It’s due to sickness. I don’t know the details. The last letter I got from her she was having problems, severe stomach cramps and fatigue. I trust it’s nothing real serious. Larry added, ‘Don’t worry,’ on the telegram. But how can I help worrying? I know how she loves the work there and how hard it will be for her to leave. She must be awfully sick. Perhaps she has some bad disease.”
“Let’s not surmise too much, Mom. I’m sure if she was critical, Larry would have told us. Maybe she just needs a rest. Let’s pray for God to touch her and give them traveling mercies. I’m sorry she’s coming home because of sickness, but I can hardly wait to see my twin sister. What a great time of fellowship we will have together!”
“Oh, in my excitement over Connie’s coming I almost forgot to give you this letter. It’s from your friend, Brother Jim Chaney, but he has a different address.”
Wondering about the change of address, Donnie opened it and read:
Dear Brother Donnie,
Sorry I haven’t answered sooner, but much has happened since receiving your letter. As you see by my address, we have moved. I left behind some of God’s choicest saints at Casper Loop, but God has definitely led in our new venture for Him.
We’re pastoring a much smaller church here at Jennings. It’s strange how God led us here. When we received this call, I had no intentions at all of leaving Casper Loop. In fact, I, thought I was there to stay. Ha! I hardly thought it worthwhile to even pray about this call. I just took my pen in hand to let them know I wasn’t available, but God checked me. So I brought it to God in earnest prayer. As I prayed, I felt impressed that God wanted me to accept the call. I couldn’t understand it (and still don’t), as I was so happy and satisfied where I was. I just loved the work and people there. The Lord was blessing and souls were being saved, but finally I prayed through and knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that God wanted me to make a move. I resigned the church at Casper Loop, against the entreaties of the people there. Thank God, they were able to get a good pastor that I feel will take up right where I left off.
So here we are. This is a very small work, only five families, but God is working among us and helping us.
Now for my real reason for writing. I’ve been feeling impressed, ever since I got here, that you ought to come and help us for a while. Maybe hold us a revival. I know this will come as a shock to you and probably will give you cold feet, but with much prayer and fasting, God would help. Brother Donnie, don’t take this letter lightly. I feel so strongly that I have the mind of God. I know you’re working, but perhaps you can get a short leave of absence. You can stay at the parsonage, and we can feed you. Perhaps, the church can pay you a little. I know this isn’t a very enticing offer, but you can trust God to supply. He never has failed us in all the years we’ve served Him. We’re getting just a small salary here, about a third of what we got at Casper Loop, but we’re not starving. God is taking care of us.
Brother Don, do lots of praying about this. Don’t turn me down. I feel so strongly this is of God. I’m praying for God to show you His will in this matter. I have confidence in you. Not many young men would give up everything, as you have, to follow Jesus. I admire you and I know God has a plan for your life. It may look dark now, but I’m sure there’s a rainbow in the clouds somewhere.
Brother Donnie, you say that you feel God wants you to preach. Well, you have to start somewhere. Why not here? I’ll be expecting you to answer in the affirmative.
Before I close, I want to tell you that dear Mrs. Fontenot passed away. I believe she made it to heaven. I preached her funeral and God really gave me freedom to preach to the sinners. How her two grandsons wept! It nearly broke my heart. They have been closing their business on Sundays and attending church. Keep praying for them.
Anxiously awaiting to hear from you, I remain,
Your brother in Christ,
Handing the letter to his mom, Donnie asked, “What do you think of this?”
She read it and slowly handed it back to him.
“What do you think?” Donnie repeated his question. “I hardly know what to think. Why haven’t you told me you felt God wanted you to preach?”
“I had reasons, Mom.”
“Son, if God has called you to preach, He’ll make a way. Maybe this is God’s open door for you.”
“But there’s my job. What will we do for money to pay bills?”
“I can go back to work, if necessary. I think my old legs will take it now. I still have a little of the insurance money I was paid because of the accident. God will make a way. Don’t worry about the financial end of it. Just mind God.”
“But Connie is coming.”
“Donnie, you won’t be gone forever. Why not do as Brother Chaney suggested and see if you can get a short leave of absence?”
“I’ll pray about it, Mom, and you help me pray. I’ve never preached a sermon in my life. How can I hold a revival?”
“If God has opened this door for you, He will help you preach, son.”
Two days before Donnie was to leave for Jennings, Connie called. She was back in the States and ould be home in a few days.
“What’s wrong with you, Connie?” Mrs. Slocum asked anxiously.
“I have hepatitis, Mom. I’m over the contagious part, but the doctor told me it would be several months before I regain my strength. I didn’t want to be a burden on the field, so we took an early furlough. I’ll stay with you and recuperate while Larry is out in deputation work.” Her voice broke. “Oh, Mom;” she sobbed, “I can’t tell you how anxious I am to see you and my saved and sanctified twin brother.”
“Your saved and sanctified twin brother feels called to preach and is leaving tomorrow to hold a revival.”
“Oh, Mom!” Connie could hardly talk for crying. “That’s amazing! I feel chills running down my spine. Praise God forever! It’s worth everything to serve Jesus. How long will he be gone?”
“About two weeks. He took his vacation time so he could hold his job. He says he feels definitely clear God wants him to go, though he’s scared out of his wits about preaching. “
“Well, praise God! I must hang up, Mom. See you real, real soon.”
“Take care, Connie. I can’t wait to see you.”
It was a twelve-hour drive to Jennings from Terryville. Donnie left early on Saturday morning so he could be there for Sunday. The revival would not start until the following Sunday, but he wanted to have plenty of time to fast and pray and study. Brother Chaney had also suggested he do some calling with him.
Donnie marveled, as he drove along, at the mystery of it all. He couldn’t understand why God would open a door for someone as inexperienced as he, and yet he had felt perfectly clear this was God’s will, as had Brother Chaney. Even though he felt nervous and backward, yet he sensed God’s divine presence leading him on. He prayed that God would bless his ministry and help someone to yield to God while he was there. Just one soul would be worth the trip.
It was 9:00 p.m. when he arrived in Jennings. He stopped at a phone booth and dialed Brother Chaney’s number to get directions to the parsonage. In a few minutes he pulled into the driveway. The door flew open and Brother Chaney came running out and gave Donnie a bear hug.
“So glad to see you, Brother Donnie. So very glad to see you. This is the Lord’s doings and it is marvelous in my eyes.”
With light hearts, they unloaded Donnie’s luggage and went in.
“Honey, this is Brother Donnie Slocum. Brother Donnie, meet my wife, Gaile.”
“Glad to meet you, Sister Chaney,” Donnie extended his hand to shake hands.
“Same to you, Brother Donnie. I have heard an awful lot about you. Why, you’re even younger looking than I had you pictured! Sit down and make yourself right at home.”
“This is Ruth and Jacob,” Brother Chaney introduced his three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son.
“I see, right now, I’m going to have an enjoyable visit,” Donnie commented. “Come see me, Ruth. I like little boys and girls.”
Ruth went to her father and peered over at Donnie, but Jacob came over and climbed on Donnie’s knee.
“Good boy, Jacob,” Donnie commended him. “I expect we’re going to be the best of buddies before I leave.”
Ruth, seeing Jacob’s boldness, walked slowly over and stood by Donnie’s other knee. He put his arm about her. He felt no strangeness at being in the Chaney home.
“Are you going to preach for me tomorrow?” Brother Chaney asked.
“Oh, no! We had that clearly settled when I talked to you on the phone. I’ll preach next Sunday, Lord willing. I feel you’re in for a great let-down. I’ve never preached in my life.”
“You’ve got to start somewhere, Brother Donnie, and this is a good place. If we had a big crowd, like at Casper Loop, you might have a right to be scared to death, but with about twenty people in the audience, you should do fine.”
After a delicious meal of stew meat, with potatoes, carrots and English peas, and apple pie for dessert, Donnie visited awhile with his host and hostess. But being very weary from his long trip, he was glad when Brother Chaney suggested that it was bedtime.
After devotions, he was shown to a tiny room, meagerly furnished with a single bed, a small dresser with a mirror, and a small clothes closet. He unpacked his suitcase and prepared for bed. He crawled between the sheets and, in no time at all, was fast asleep.
There were twenty-four in attendance at Sunday school the next morning: five small children, including Ruth and Jacob; four juniors; three teen-agers; and the remainder, grown-ups.
When Sunday school was over, the little ones returned to the auditorium and sat on the front bench. Two ladies sat, one on each end, closing them in. Donnie was asked to lead the singing, so he sat on the platform. His attention was drawn to the cute little girl with curly, dark-brown hair who was proving a handful for the ladies. She would slide off the bench and start to run around the church, but one of the women would grab her and put her back on the bench. She would hit at them and cry aloud. Donnie wondered how anyone would be able to enjoy the service, with all the distraction.
Once the song service started, she sat still and tried to sing along with the others. Donnie looked down at her and smiled. She smiled back. There was something about that smile that haunted him. A cold chill chased down his spine. He almost forgot the next lines. Where had he seen that smile before? He could hardly keep his eyes off the child. She was shabbily dressed, but clean. Who could she be? He smiled at her again, but this time she stuck out her tongue at him.
The ornery little thing! he thought. Probably she’s a spoiled brat.
After the service, Donnie made it his business to speak to the little dark-haired doll. He caught her hand in his and asked, “What’s your name, cutie?”
She jerked her hand away and answered, “I ain’t tellin.”
“Oh, come on, honey, tell Brother Slocum your name,” one of the ladies prompted. “Tell him your name is Christy.”
Christy! Christy … Donnie pulled his thoughts back to the present. “That’s a beautiful name,” he assured her in an unsteady voice. He wanted to say, “I have a little girl named Christy,” but thought better of it.
The little girl smiled up into Donnie’s face and said, “Christy Slocum. My name is Christy Slocum.”
Donnie gasped. He stood for several seconds in shocked silence. He felt light-headed, almost dizzy.
“Christy Slocum,” he repeated her name slowly. “Can it be? I mean – is it really? Is your name really Christy Slocum?”
“Uh-huh,” she said, nodding her dark curls vigorously.
Donnie looked at the roguish little face. That smile no wonder it affected him so! Squatting down beside her, he put his arm around her tiny waist and asked. “What’s your mom’s name?”
“Mommy,” she giggled. “Mommy Sharon.”
Breathlessly, he asked one more question. “What’s your daddy’s name?”
“My daddy’s dead.” She giggled again, as if playing a game. “My dolly’s name is Jane, my cat’s name is Fluff.”
Donnie yearned with all his being to gather the little ornery child in his arms and smother her with tears and kisses, but he knew he must restrain himself. He kissed her lightly on the cheek.
“Are you coming back tonight?” He felt he couldn’t let her out of his sight.
“No,” the lady answered for her. “Her mother picks her up at 3:15. I’m Mrs. Rice, her baby sitter.”
“Where do they live?” Donnie tried to appear nonchalant. “Maybe we can get her mother to come to the revival … and her daddy.” He held his breath in suspense. Would there be a “daddy” in Christy’s home?
“Christy’s daddy is dead,” Mrs. Rice said. “She lives with her mother at 211 First Street. I wish you success in getting her to come to church. I’ve tried over and over, but I’ve never been able to get her to come.”
“When is she off work?”
“Thursdays and Fridays, but she’s off early every evening. She works at Judy’s Cafe. She really needs God. Pray for her, Reverend Slocum. Isn’t it strange that her name is Slocum, too? Sharon Slocum.”
Donnie shook hands with the people near him and then walked slowly back to the parsonage. He dropped onto a chair and sat as one in a daze. At last, he had found his little Christy and Sharon, but where did he go from here? It had been over two years since he had seen Sharon. Would she be a total stranger to him? Had she married again and her husband died? Or had she told Christy that he, Donnie, was dead?
Donnie was still trying to sort out his thoughts when the Chaneys came in.
“Don’t set a plate for me, Sister Chaney,” he told his hostess. “I’m not hungry.”
“Are you sick, Brother Donnie?” she asked him. “You’re as pale as a ghost.”
Brother Chaney, too, was concerned. “May I get you some water or something?” he asked.
“I’ll be all right, Brother Chaney. It’s just that—Well, I just got the shock of my life.”
“You know the little girl who sat on the front pew—Christy?”
Brother Chaney smiled. “Yes, she’s quite a live-wire. What did she do to upset you like this? Please don’t pay any attention to her, Brother Donnie. She’s from an unsaved home. Sister Rice says her mother smokes and drinks, so what can you expect from the precious little darling?”
Donnie looked at Brother Chaney. “Christy is my daughter. Her mother was once my wife.”
Brother Chaney’s mouth dropped open in shock. “You’re kidding me!”
“No, I’m as sure of what I’m telling you as I am that my name is Donnie Slocum.”
“Well, come to think of it, Christy’s name is Slocum, but I never once thought of connecting her with you.”
Suddenly Brother Chaney’s face broke into a broad smile. “Praise the Lord, Brother Donnie! Didn’t you tell me that you and your mom had banded together in prayer that God would help you find your wife and child? Can’t you see now why God had you to come here? And why He had me to come here? It’s all fitting together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Praise God, Brother! This is the answer to all those prayers we’ve been praying for your home to be restored. This is a miracle of miracles!” He was so elated he could not comprehend Donnie’s despondency.
“But, Brother Chaney, even though I’ve found her, and even if she’d take me back, what kind of wife would I have if she smokes and drinks? I couldn’t be a minister of the gospel with a wife like that.”
“Didn’t you smoke and drink, Brother Donnie? God transformed your life, didn’t He? He can transform Sharon too. We’ll pray and fast until God moves. Call your mom and tell her the news, and ask her to join us in prayer. God has brought you this far in answer to prayer, and we’re going to believe Him for complete victory. Praise God! I feel something tumbling over in my soul!”
But Donnie still wasn’t convinced. “What if there’s another husband to cope with? Sharon had a boy friend when I last saw her. She may just be telling Christy and others that her husband is dead.”
“Brother Donnie, her name is Slocum. That should tell you something. Let’s start praying and believing God.”
With new hope, Donnie stood to his feet and picked up the phone to call his mom.
Donnie decided to wait on God for a few days, with fasting and prayer, before going to see Sharon. Brother and Sister Chaney and Mrs. Slocum were also praying that God would give him help and wisdom.
Thursday morning, Donnie was up early. In fact, he had slept very little the last few days. He went over to the church and again waited before God in prayer as he had done every day since Sunday. But today he felt assured that this was the time to go see Sharon.
He had already located where she lived, so he drove right to her place, parked his car, and walked toward the little white house. A white picket fence surrounded the house, and in the yard he saw Christy, barefoot and in a pair of shorts, playing in a sandbox.
“Good morning, Christy,” he called cheerfully, even though his stomach felt tied in knots.
She left her play and ran merrily toward him. Her hair had not been combed, and her face had signs of her breakfast on it.
“Hi,” she smiled. Then giggling, she said, “My name is Christy Slocum.”
“Yes, I know.” He tried to pick her up in his arms, but she pulled back from him and turned and ran toward the house.
“Mommy … a man.”
Then he saw her! She stood in the door, clad in a pair of shorts and a halter, with a cigarette in her hand. She looked years older than when he had last seen her. But no mistaking, it was Sharon.
“Hello, Sharon,” was all he could say.
“So you found us,” she answered.
“What do you want?” Her voice was hard and cold.
“I’d like to talk to you.”
“About what?” The stern look on her face gave Donnie no encouragement.
“About lots and lots of things,” he said, meaning it to sound light, but it came out all wrong. Instead of lightness, his voice carried a hint of the years of loneliness and regret he had spent since their parting.
With an answering sadness, Sharon said, “Come in.” She pushed the screen door open, admitting him into the living room.
As he entered, Donnie took in the scene before him. The room was littered and the furniture needed dusting. It was so unlike his mom’s spotless living room. The TV was on, and a scantily dressed girl was acting out a love scene with her partner.
Sharon walked over and turned off the TV as she said, “Sit down.” She put out her cigarette and picked up a couple of beer cans and took them out of the room. When she returned, she had put on a blouse. She sat down in a chair opposite Donnie.
Christy walked over to Donnie and leaned on his knee. He picked her up and held her, sand and all.
“Well, Christy, the very idea!” Sharon scolded sharply. “Get off the man’s lap.”
“No.” Christy snuggled closer, to Donnie’s delight.
“I’ve never seen her act like that toward a stranger. She acts like she knows you.” Sharon told him, almost accusingly.
“I met her at church.”
“At church? What do you mean? When and where have you seen Christy at church?”
“I saw her Sunday, at the little church on Parkview. She was with Mrs. Rice.”
“How did you happen to be there?”
“I’m staying with the pastor and his family for a couple weeks. He’s a close friend of mine.”
There was a period of silence. Donnie was at a loss to know what to say. The very thing he had feared had come to pass: Sharon was like a stranger to him.
Help me Lord, he prayed desperately.
“Sharon,” he finally began. “A lot of water has run under the bridge since I saw you last.”
“Yes, I know. I heard you got married.”
“No, I never got married.”
“You didn’t? But it came very straight to me. You married a girl by the name of Lisa Whitfield.”
“We were engaged, but we broke up the night before the wedding.”
“Well, of all things! What happened?”
Donnie could not mistake a look of relief in Sharon’s eyes.
“Do you remember how my mom prays, Sharon? Well, she felt it was wrong, according to the Bible, for me to marry again while I had a living wife, so she prayed and God kept me from marrying the girl.”
Again there was silence. Christy got down and left the room. In a few moments she was back with her doll.
“My doll’s name is Jane,” she giggled.
“That’s a nice name, Christy.” Donnie took the doll and stroked its hair.
She left again and came back with the cat.
“My cat’s name is Fluff,” she said.
“He’s a pretty cat,” Donnie commented .
“Come, Christy,” Sharon said. “Let me wash that nasty face.”
“No, no!” Christy told her.
Sharon left and came back with a wash cloth and a hair brush.
“No, no!” Christy hit at her.
Sharon swatted her on the seat and washed her face. Then holding her between her legs, she brushed her hair.
“Let go, let go!” yelled Christy.
“I will, little lady, when I get through. There now, that looks better.”
Christy climbed on Donnie’s knee again. Donnie laid his head against her hair. Love for little Christy overwhelmed him and tears came into his eyes. With a choking voice he said, “Sharon, you don’t know how terribly I’ve missed this little girl.”
Sharon didn’t answer, but Donnie saw the tears swell in her eyes. She blinked them back.
Donnie felt the atmosphere was clearing.
“Sharon,” he began again. “I’m a changed man from what I was when you left me.”
“You do look different, Donnie.”
“You see, my mom and my sister, as well as others, prayed for me until I gave my heart to God. I quit my old ways and am living wholeheartedly for the Lord. That’s why I’m here. We’re starting a revival, Sunday, at the church where I saw Christy, and I’m supposed to do the preaching.”
“You’re preaching, Donnie? I can’t believe it.”
“It would be hard for you to believe, after the way I lived when I was married to you. I want to ask your forgiveness, Sharon, for all I put you through. It was all my fault that we broke up. You were a good wife and were true to me. I was unfaithful to you. That, along with my drinking was enough to make you pick up Christy and walk out on me. I’m truly sorry, Sharon. Will you forgive me?” Tears streaked his cheeks.
Sharon was battling hard to get control of her emotions, but this time she was unable to blink back the tears. Soon they were falling like rain. The hard lines in her face softened, and Donnie got a glimpse of the Sharon he once loved so dearly.
“Do you forgive me, Sharon?” he asked again. “I’m truly sorry for all the heartache I’ve caused you.”
She was sobbing now. “You weren’t all the blame, Donnie. I had my faults.”
Donnie’s voice was tender as he said again, “But do you forgive me, Sharon?” .
“Yes, Donnie. Oh, yes, I forgive you. You’re so different! I wish I could change like you have.”
“You can, Sharon. God can change you in a moment of time if you’ll only let Him.”
Sobbing brokenly, she answered, "I've tried to change, Donnie, but instead I've just got worse and worse. You know I had stopped smoking and drinking before we separated, but now I'm hooked again. I had to move out of the house with Mom and Dad because they got sick of my drinking. They live here in town, but I don't see them much. Dad was transferred here on his job. We got along fine for a while, but after I thought you were married --" She put her head in her hands and cried convulsively. "Oh, Donnie, you don't know what I've been through."
Donnie tried to be calm. “Who told you I was getting married? Why didn’t they tell you when I didn’t?”
“I subscribed to the daily news from your home town. That way, I thought I could find out if you ever married. I saw your marriage license in the paper.”
"Oh, I didn't realize --" What could he say?
After a while he asked, “Sharon, will you come to our revival starting Sunday?”
“Donnie, I’d really like to, but I don’t have a decent dress to wear. We barely exist on what I make at the cafe.”
Donnie reached for his wallet and took out a couple of bills. “I want to buy you a dress. Get one for Christy too. That’s the least I can do.”
“Oh, no, Donnie. I can’t take your money.”
“Look, Sharon, Christy is my child. I can buy her a dress if I want to. And you’re my – well – you were my wife. I owe this to you. I should have been sending you support money all this time. Please take it and buy you an outfit and come to church Sunday. It would make me so happy.”
“I have to work Sunday.”
“Will you come Sunday night?”
“I’ll be there.” She smiled through her tears.
Donnie preached Sunday morning. His first message was akin to most first messages, not so good. He faltered, stuttered, fumbled with words, misquoted Scriptures, forgot part of’ his message, and ran dry thirty minutes before it was time to dismiss. He was utterly discouraged as he walked back to the parsonage.
“I’m willing, as you can see,” he told Brother Chaney, “but I’m just not capable. I need experience.”
“How are you going to get experience if you don’t preach?” Brother Chaney tried to encourage him. “Everybody has to start somewhere, Brother Donnie.”
“But not in a revival,” Donnie said flatly. “I just can’t do it.”
“If you’ll go ahead and preach tonight, I’ll help you out next week,” Brother Chaney promised him. “These people are gracious and understanding. We’ll make it fine.”
Donnie went to the study and prayed all afternoon.
“Lord,” he prayed, “You know I’m willing, but I just can’t preach. Will you take over somehow? Bring Sharon out to the service and get to her someway, in spite of my poor preaching.”
He had called his mom with a report of his visit to Sharon’s. Connie and Larry were there, and they had all promised to hold on in prayer for God to work another miracle.
Sharon came. Her sandy-colored hair was freshly shampooed and lay shining against her shoulders. Her new outfit, a two-piece dress in light green, brought out the lights in her eyes and made her eyes appear to sparkle as she smiled at Donnie, who was standing at the front door of the church when she came in with Christy. Or was it happiness that made her eyes sparkle? Donnie’s heart missed a beat. Was this the same person he had visited Thursday?
“Sharon,” he spoke her name, and wondered what made his voice go husky on him. He cleared his throat. “I’m so glad you came. You look beau—uh—you look so nice.”
“Thank you, Donnie. You look like a preacher, yourself.” The greens and browns in her eyes twinkled, reminding him of her mischievous streak.
She and Christy sat about halfway toward the front of the church. Donnie kept glancing in her direction. Tonight, the worn look was gone, and she looked more like the Sharon he had married. Memories flooded his soul. Would he be able to preach?
He lifted his heart to his never-failing source of help. Lord, I need You tonight. I’m depending on your help.
During the song service, the Holy Spirit settled down as Donnie led the congregation in singing:
There is a stream that flows from Calvary,
A crimson tide so deep and wide.
It washes whiter than the purest snow;
It cleanseth me, I know.
Hallelujah! ‘tis His blood that cleanseth me,
‘Tis His grace that makes me free,
And, my brother, ‘tis for thee.
Oh, hallelujah! ‘tis salvation full and free;
And it cleanseth, yes, it cleanseth me.
No other fountain can for sin atone
But Jesus’ blood, O precious flood!
And whosoever will may plunge therein,
And be made free from sin.
Donnie’s heart seemed to be doing flip-flops, he felt so happy in the Lord. The Spirit was blessing others, and tears were flowing. Donnie glanced at Sharon. She, too, was wiping tears from her eyes. He recognized that God was dealing with her heart.
Stopping the singing, Donnie said, “It’s not preaching we need tonight. We just need to mind God. Is there someone here who wants to plunge into this fountain we’re singing about? Is there someone who wants to be made free from sin? Do you want to be washed whiter than snow? Are you tired of being bound with the chains of sin? Jesus can free you if you will come and kneel here at the altar and confess your sins to Him and ask His forgiveness. Come on, don’t let the devil defeat you. Jesus is here. The fountain is open for whosoever will come. Don’t leave here tonight all burdened down with sin. There’s a better way. I’m so glad I found that way. I was so wicked and vile, and bound with the devil’s chains, but Jesus set me free.
“My dear mom used to intercede for me, saying, ‘Lord, pluck him out of the net.’ Thank God, He answered my mom’s prayers and plucked me out of Satan’s net. There are some here tonight who need to be plucked out of his net. Won’t you come while we sing an invitation song?
“Let’s stand and turn to page 403, ‘Oh, Why Not Tonight?’ “
Oh, do not let the Word depart,
And close thine eyes against the light!
Poor sinner, harden not your heart.
Be saved, oh, tonight!
Feeling the Spirit’s prompting, Donnie left the platform and walked back to Sharon.
“Sharon, the Lord is dealing with you. Won’t you give your heart to Him?” he pleaded.
“I don’t know what to do, Donnie, but I do want what you’ve got.”
“Come, Sharon, and kneel at the altar and ask Jesus to come into your heart. Let Him save you.”
She stepped out into the aisle and walked the few feet to the altar. Christy started to follow, but Mrs. Rice picked her up and took her to the nursery. Two other penitents came and knelt beside Sharon as the congregation sang the other stanzas of the song.
Donnie knelt in front of Sharon.
“Talk to Jesus like you do to me, Sharon,” he instructed her. “Tell Him how tired you are of the way you’ve been living. Confess your sins and ask forgiveness.”
Sharon wept and prayed and confessed to God until she prayed through, and the precious Son of God blotted out all her sins. She looked up at Donnie with a glowing smile and said simply, “He saved me.”
It took all the restraint Donnie could muster, to keep from clasping her in his arms. He put his head down on the altar and wept like a baby. Brother Chaney slapped him on the back and shouted the praises of God.
Mrs. Rice came hurrying down the aisle and threw her arms around Sharon, exclaiming, “My prayers have been answered. Praise God!” They wept on each other’s shoulders.
As Sharon was leaving that night, Donnie asked, “May I come over after you get off from work tomorrow?”
“Please do,” she said happily.
When he drove up to her house the next day, she had not yet arrived. He waited, knowing she would be there soon, since it was after three. Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw her driving up. She had a big smile on her face. He got out and hurried back to her car to hold the door for her.
“Sorry to be late,” she apologized. “It was hard to get away from Mrs. Rice. She is tickled pink that I got saved.”
“I am, too, Sharon. Do I look pink?”
They both laughed as Sharon helped Christy from the car.
“I want to go to Donnie,” Christy held out her arms toward him.
Donnie grabbed her up. “Young lady, don’t call me Donnie. I’m your Daddy.” Then realizing what he had done, he blushed. Had he said the wrong thing? He looked shyly at Sharon. She was smiling.
“My daddy’s dead,” Christy sang out.
Sharon’s smile faded. “I’m sorry I’ve taught her that, Donnie. Will you forgive me?”
“It’s all right,” he answered with a grin. “I was dead in trespasses and sins, but I’ve been resurrected to newness of life.”
Turning to Christy, Sharon said, “I’m sorry that I told you your daddy was dead, Christy. I fibbed and I’m sorry. This is your daddy, honey.”
“My name is Daddy,” Donnie said, trying to play Christy’s game.
“Daddy, Daddy.” Christy threw her arms around his neck. “Daddy, Daddy,” she repeated.
“It’s almost as if she actually knows,” Sharon marvelled, looking at Donnie. “Come on inside.” She held the door open for him.
Christy wriggled to get down, and went to find her toys.
Sharon sat on the couch and Donnie sat beside her, taking her hand possessively in his. When she did not pull back, he decided to tell her what was on his heart.
“Sharon, I know you have every reason in the world not to listen to what I have to say to you today, but I hope you’ll try to believe me – because of Jesus and what He has done for both of us. I love you. The only reason I ever considered marriage to another was because I thought you were lost to me. I want you back more than I’ve ever wanted any earthly thing. I need you, darling.”
Looking into her eyes and reading her love for him gave him boldness to go on. “When you walked into church last night, a feeling swept over me that I can’t describe. Then when you went to the altar and were saved, that feeling deepened. And as I look into your eyes right now, I can’t help believing the feeling is mutual. Sharon, will you take me back?”
She smiled. "Donnie, I --"
“Before you answer, Sharon, I want to remind you that God has called me to preach, and that being a preacher’s wife will be much different from what our married relationship was before. I’m not sure what all will be involved, but I have a feeling I may have to go to Bible College to prepare for the ministry, as I’m finding out I need lots of help. If so, this will mean a big sacrifice on your part. You and Christy will be alone much of the time while I attend classes, study and hold a job for our support. Once I finish, our life style will still be much different than before. Our lives will be spent in serving others as we serve God. Before, we lived only to please ourselves. But God’s call is clear, Sharon. Are you willing to be a preacher’s wife?”
With tears in her eyes and a glow on her face, she answered, “Oh, Donnie, I love you so much I’ll go to the ends of the earth with you, if necessary. I’ve never quit loving you, and I never will. I knew I still loved you the moment I saw you again. I’ve missed you more than you’ll ever know.”
Donnie felt a strong impulse to take her in his arms and kiss her as he had so many times in the past. After all, in God’s sight, she was still his wife. But little Christy appeared at that moment with a book.
“Look, Daddy, a big dog.” She pointed to a picture in the book. “The dog goes woof-woof,” she exclaimed gleefully.
Donnie smiled as he took his little daughter on his knee and kissed her on the cheek. With one arm around Christy and the other around Sharon, he asked, “Sharon, will you marry me right away?”
“Yes, Donnie, my darling. I’ve always been married to you in my heart.”
After hearing of Donnie’s plans, Brother Chaney agreed to finish the revival for him. Both of them felt God had accomplished His purpose in Donnie’s being there. Now, he needed to get home as soon as possible so they could be married before his vacation time was over.
Sharon quit her job the next morning, and she and Donnie went together to break the news to her parents. They were relieved and happy that Sharon and Donnie had resolved their differences and that Christy was to have a good home.
“Mom,” Sharon had said to her mother, “ I’m sorry for all the heartache I’ve caused you. At last I’m on the right track. The Lord saved me, and Donnie and I are going to make a Christian home for Christy. You and Dad should go to church and get saved. It’s wonderful.”
After tending to all the necessary business and packing, Donnie, Sharon, and Christy started out for Terryville. During the first part of the day, Christy claimed most of their attention with her questions and her chatter. But eventually she fell asleep in the back seat, leaving Donnie and Sharon to catch up on the happenings of each other’s lives since they had separated.
“I still feel like I should pinch myself every once in a while, to see if I’m dreaming,” Sharon laughed. “I just can’t believe it’s possible to be so happy.”
“I mean to do my part to keep you happy, dear. I’ve been warned that we’ll have a lot of adjustments to make, and that it won’t be all sunshine and roses, but we’ll have Jesus to help us this time.”
“The drinking caused most of our fights, and we won’t have that now,” Sharon added. “Oh, I’m so glad you found me!”
“No gladder than I am. I think my greatest regret, since I found Christ, has been that I couldn’t do anything to make restitution to you for the past. I know the past can’t be changed, but I’m glad I’ll have the privilege of making your future a happy one. I was so afraid I’d never have the chance to make it up to you by being a Christian husband.”
“Donnie,” Sharon said softly, “I believe, if it’s possible, I love you more than I ever have.”
Donnie chuckled and pulled her closer to him. “You know, Sharon, that’s exactly the way I feel about you. And I believe it is possible. There’s something about salvation that makes our love stronger and more secure. Aren’t we glad that it was Jesus who brought us together again? It was a miracle of miracles.”
“It really was, Donnie. I had completely given up on ever seeing you again, after Dad was transferred and we moved.”
“Then, why didn’t you let me know where you and Christy were, Sharon?” There was a mixture of pathos and chiding in his voice.
“Because one part of me never wanted to see you again, Donnie. You had crushed me, and I was much too proud to forgive you. I thought it was easier to suffer than to forgive.”
“I thought you hated me, Sharon. You wouldn’t give me an inkling of an idea that you cared.”
“If you could have seen me after you would call me and try to make up, you would have known how I cared. I would grieve for days, but my stubborn heart wouldn’t yield.”
“I thought you wanted to marry another guy when you sued for divorce. Perhaps, that guy I saw you with the day I came to visit, although I couldn’t see why.”
“Are you kidding? That would have been the last guy I would have married. I only dated him twice. I was awfully lonely, and I thought dating would help. But after he hit you that day, I wanted nothing more to do with him.”
“Why did you want a divorce then, Sharon?”
“To get revenge. I wanted to hurt you as much as I had been hurt.”
“Didn’t you realize you were freeing me so I could marry someone else if it came handy? Oh, Sharon, what a narrow escape we had! What if I had gone ahead and married?”
“The part of me that was trying to hurt you didn’t care if you did get married and move completely out of my life. The other part of me was completely crushed when I saw your marriage license in the paper. I thought I would grieve myself to death. I didn’t care if I ever ate again. I lost a lot of weight, and that’s when I went back to drinking.” She looked at him piteously. “Oh, Donnie, I know you don’t understand, but it was like being two different persons. Sometimes I reveled in the feeling that I was torturing you by keeping Christy from you and being unforgiving. Then at other times I would have an intense desire to call you and ask you to come get Christy and me. It’s a wonder I didn’t lose my mind completely.”
“Why didn’t you call when those feelings came over you?”
“I thought I would rather suffer than to give in. I guess I was just too stubborn.”
“Jesus has a cure for that too, Sharon.”
“What do you mean?”
Donnie took this opportunity to explain to her about sanctification. Sharon listened with an open heart.
“I don’t understand all you’re saying, Donnie, but 1 do want my life completely yielded to Jesus. 1 want to be like you. It was your good, clean appearance and your humbleness when you apologized and told me about what God had done for you that broke down my stubborn resistance and pride and helped me to forgive you and then find Christ in my own life.”
“It wasn’t me, Sharon. It was the blessed Holy Spirit working, in answer to prayer. Volumes and volumes of prayer have ascended to God day and night for months and months. We were praying for what seemed an utter impossibility. I’m sure I would have fainted in prayer if it hadn’t been for the prayers and encouragement of others. After I lost track of you, I felt that all hope was gone. But one night in family devotions, Mom showed me a promise God had given her that day, concerning your whereabouts. She handed me her Bible and said, ‘Here, read Jeremiah 32:27.’ I read it until I memorized it. It says, ‘Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?’ I took new courage from that wonderful promise. It helped me to believe that someway, somehow God was going to let me find you. Well, He did, and I ’11 never quit praising Him for it.”
Sharon was crying. “Donnie, I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you, for the heartache I’ve caused you. How could 1 have been so cruel?”
“We were both cruel, Sharon, darling. Both of us were mean, hateful, sinful, wretched, and miserable. But that’s behind us. We’ve been plucked out of the net, our sins are all under the blood, our home will soon be restored. Just think of it, Sharon. From here on out, we can walk hand in hand toward our heavenly goal, with little Christy beside us.”
“Daddy, I want to sit ‘side you.” Christy pushed her tousled head between them as she hoisted herself over the back of the seat.
Sharon scooted over to make room for her, and Donnie grabbed Christy, hugging her up to him affectionately. “Your grandma and Aunt Connie are going to like you, you little troublemaker,” he said.
What a tearful reunion took place when they reached home at last. Everyone was laughing, crying, and praising God at the same time.
“It’s great to see you, Sis,” Donnie said to his twin. She was thin and required lots of rest, but she was bubbling over with joy and happiness because of what God had done for her twin brother.
“I had to get sick so I could come home to see my saved and sanctified brother,” she laughed. “I couldn’t wait any longer.”
“I’m sorry you’re sick, Sis, but I’m glad you’re here to share our joy,” he said, reaching for Sharon’s hand. “I’d hate to think of you over there not knowing how wonderfully God has answered prayer, until the mail comes two weeks later.”
Tears came into Connie’s eyes. “I’m so happy to be here, Donnie. I have often yearned to be with you and Mom, that we might fellowship together. I’m so happy God answered our prayers for Sharon. I’m just thrilled beyond words. It was truly a mighty miracle. I’m glad God allowed Larry and me to be here to enjoy this wonderful blessing with you and Sharon and Mom. I have only one regret. We had prayed for weeks for revival and God had begun to graciously pour out His Spirit in our area, as well as other areas, just before we left. An awakening was taking place. It was hard to leave, but I’m sure God knows best.”
Sharon and Donnie were reunited on Thursday night in Mrs. Slocum’s living room, with Brother Morgan officiating. Only family members and close friends were present.
Mr. Slocum had seemed extremely pleased about the reconciliation when Donnie had called to invite him to the ceremony. Donnie was happy to see he had come. Mr. Slocum assured Connie that she was half the reason for his coming. Also, little Christy received her share of attention from “Grandpa.”
Before leaving, Mr. Slocum handed Donnie an envelope. “Here’s a little gift for you and Sharon,” he said.
The “little gift” was a check for a thousand dollars. Though Donnie hated the idea of taking money from his dad, it had come at an opportune time and seemed like an answer to prayer. So breathing a “thank you” to his loving heavenly Father for His watch-care over them, he went in search of Sharon.
He found her putting Christy to bed. “Sharon, look at this! Now we’ll be able to rent a place and be on our own. There will be enough for modest clothes for you and Christy, and a wedding trip, besides. How about it?”
“Do you think your Mom would keep Christy while we’re away?”
Mrs. Slocum graciously consented to keep her little granddaughter so that Donnie and Sharon could have a few days to themselves.
“Thanks, Mom. We really appreciate your willingness to keep our little livewire.” Then, placing his arm around her shoulders, he added, “Most of all I appreciate your prayers and faith. What a mess my life would have been if it hadn’t been for your perseverance in prayer. Thank you, Mom.”
Walking over to the couch, where Connie sat within the circle of Larry’s arm, Donnie took Connie’s hand in both of his. “I expect to have lots of long talks with you while you’re home, Connie. I want to hear all about your wonderful experiences in New Guinea. And I want to get better acquainted with my brother-in-law.” He smiled at Larry. “But right now, I just want to say thanks, Sis, for bringing salvation to our home.”
Tears flooded Connie’s eyes. “It’s been a wonderful privilege, Donnie. My greatest reward is the fact that you and Mom are enjoying salvation with me.”
As Donnie and Sharon drove off a little later, Sharon snuggled up closer to her husband and sighed deeply.
“Why the big sigh?” Donnie asked. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, nothing’s wrong. It’s just that I’m back where I belong and everything is so right. The sigh was relief – because our separation is all over – my lonely and aching heart has been satisfied at last – my conscience is no longer torturing me – my many sins have been forgiven and my bad habits have been given up with God’s help. To sum it all up, I’ve found true peace and happiness at last. Oh, Donnie, why shouldn’t I sigh a big sigh of relief?”
“Praise the Lord, Sharon!” Donnie exclaimed as he felt something bubbling up within. “Your words are sweet music to my ears. God has done exceeding above all that we could ask or think. What a glorious future we have ahead of us. And just think – this is only the beginning.”
He glanced at her as she gazed at him with adoration. “My dearest darling,” his voice was husky, “I love you so very, very much.”
“I love you, too, my dearest, more than my words can express,” she answered softly. “I intend to spend the rest of my life making up to you and to God the years that have been wasted – the years that were spent in the devil’s net.”
She closed her eyes and leaned toward him. He slowed the car and gladly gave her the kiss she was expecting.
About The Author
Mrs. McCain died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident at age 87 on December 9, 2013. She maintained her Christian commitment and ministry, as well as her writing skills, until the time of her unfortunate death.
At the time of her death, many of her books were out of print. To preserve the books and allow many new readers to enjoy, the books are being converted to e-books by her family. To increase relevancy and impact to a more contemporary and international audience, minor edits to the original text have been made to some of the books.
The following article was published in the Cenla Focus in October 2012 prior to Mrs. McCain’s death, and provides a synopsis of Mrs. McCain’s life as an author. It was authored by Holly Jo Linzay
Georgia McCain, an author of 10 published books, recalls the day she felt the Lord Jesus lead her to start writing. “I was standing in the kitchen, and God asked me, ‘What is that in your hand?” McCain remembers, and answered, “‘Only a pen, Lord.’ Then He asked me if I would use the pen for his honor and glory, and I said, ‘Yes, Lord, as you direct me, I will write for the glory and honor of God.”
That very night, her first short novel unfolded completely from beginning to end. “The Lord gave me the name of the book and just opened up the story for me from the first page to the last,” notes McCain about her first book, Through Troubled Waters, which was published more than 40 years ago. Her first book is a work of fiction interwoven with Biblical truths. McCain has sold thousands of copies, and has received letters from people all over the world expressing how the book touched their hearts. “I never dreamed about writing a book, let alone getting one published,’ McCain notes.
As a child, McCain wrote poems and made up short stories. In the ninth grade, as her teacher was passing out Christmas gifts to the class, she called McCain to the front of the classroom. She told the class that Georgia had a gift for all her classmates. Stunned, McCain realized her teacher had made copies of a story she had written and shared it with the class. From time to time, she would write another short story. Later, she was asked by a preacher to write a story that would continue and develop in a religious paper. ‘I told him that I couldn’t just sit down and write a story. God had to give me the thoughts: McCain recalls, remembering it was later that night that she heard God question her about writing. When her son, Danny, came home from college, he read her story, Through Troubled Waters, and encouraged McCain to get it published. “Everything I write, I want it to honor God,’ McCain says with conviction.
The 84-year-old author is a woman of prayer, and has lived a life in pursuit of holiness. Growing up as one of 14 children In the rural community of Rigolette, McCain graduated from Tioga High School. At 19 years old, she met and started dating a young man named Carl McCain. He worked as a lineman for South Central Bell and she was working as a telephone operator. After a whirlwind courtship, the two were married on July 1, 1946.
The young couple made their home in Rigolette and raised their seven children—Ronald, Danny, Kenny, Randy, Barry, Donna and Jackie. The family attended Tioga Wesleyan Methodist Church, where Georgia and Carl served in every ministry they could. They have 19 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. The two were married for 62 years before Carl passed away. Her home is a testament to a close-knit family with photographs vying for space on shelves stocked full with mementoes from the grandchildren. A legacy of love is showcased with framed drawings from the kids alongside epic poems written by McCain about her family.
In between her serving at her church and raising seven children, McCain found time to write more books. Her second book, Trials and Triumphs, is non-fiction and retates many of her personal experiences, including the loss of her four-month-old grandson, Nathaniel, to meningitis. Her third book, a fictional novel, Shattered Shackles, deals with alcoholism and its affect on a family. “My daddy was an alcoholic, who would say he was tapering off when he was trying to quit. Later, he did sober up,” McCain says, adding that her real-life experience probably played a role in the book.
Another of her books, God’s Little Lambs, is a compilation of stories written for children that can be read as bedtime stories or for family devotions. At one time, McCain says she felt impressed to write a novel about some twins. In Straight Paths, the story of fiery-tempered “Connie Slocum” unwinds as she struggles with heartaches, persecution, separation and loneliness. In the book’s sequel, Plucked Out ofthe Net, Connie’s twin brother, “Donnie Slocum,” is featured in a story of redemption.
Three of McCain’s books have dealt with prayer and answers to “prevailing” prayer. “It is absolutely amazing that God has spoken to me over and over, and keeps giving me books to write. He has faithfully led me all the way,” notes McCain. In all, she has written 10 books, and family and friends are after her to write a book of poems. She has written long poems with clever rhymes marking nearly every milestone in her and her family’s life.
It does not take long to get caught up reading one of McCain’s books, and believing the incredible stories of faith in the non-fiction books. Written In such honest prose, her words flow from her heart and from a life seeking after holiness. If her books inspire and encourage or cause someone to “seek the Lord,” then McCain says the books have served their purpose. “God deserves all the glory for anything accomplished through the writing or reading of these books,” she emphasizes.
A woman of faith, McCain has taught Sunday School and Bible studies in just about every ministry at her church. In addition, for the last 34 years, she has taught three different Bible study groups at three different nursing homes. McCain has been honored and received numerous awards for her volunteer service from Ball Senior Citizens Center and various nursing homes. In 2001, she was named the Volunteer of the Year of Tioga Manor and named “Most Faithful” volunteer at two other nursing homes.
When her husband Carl served for a number of years on the Rapides Parish Police Jury, McCain supported him by participating in a variety of ways in the community. Known as a great cook by her family and friends, her daughter, Donna, presented her with a cookbook of the family recipes on her 50th wedding anniversary. Besides serving the Lord, McCain says her most important role in life has been as a wife and mother. She said all her children are “successful and love the Lord,” and that they never gave her a “lick of trouble” beceuse she kept them in church and a “switch on their behinds”, if needed. Her son, Danny, who is a missionary in Nigeria, even calls her every day.
McCain says she is “blessed beyond measure by the Lord” with family and friends. Some have called her a “prayer warrior,” in seeking God’s will in her life. One piece of advice she freely gives out to all who will listen is the same encouragement she offers in her last book, Walking with God for Over 50 Years, “Sometimes when we can’t seem to pray our way through, we can often times praise our way through to God. Try it.”
Books by Georgia McCain
Trials and Triumphs
In Straight Paths
Plucked Out of the Net
Through Troubled Waters
Remarkable Incidents & Answers to Prayers
Amazing Answers to Prevailing Prayers
God’s Little Lambs
Walking With God for Over 50 Years
Celebration of Life, Family, and Faith – Collection of Poems, Tributes, and Stories
In addition, many of her family recipes are provided in the following book, compiled by her daughter, Donna McCain Wilson, on the occasion of her 60^th^ wedding anniversary:
Still Cooking After Sixty Years
Plans are to make all available via ebooks. Stay tuned.
Letters from Readers of Georgia McCain Books
The following are excerpts from some of the many letters I have received from my readers from different parts of the country from as far away as Alaska. Also, God has seen fit to place my books in several foreign countries, namely Haiti, the Bahamas, Republic of South Africa, New Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana, Taiwan, England, and South America. I have been encouraged time and again upon receiving letters from people relating how God used one of my books to help them spiritually. Some have been saved, some sanctified, some edified, strengthened, and encouraged. Again, I say, “all glory to Jesus!” He, it is that gives me a nudge when it’s time to write another book. And though I’m a very busy person in the work of the Lord, plus all my other duties as a housewife, when I feel God leading, I let many things go undone and busy myself with my writing, which I enjoy as God helps. I’ve often thought that if only one person would walk up to me in Heaven and say “It was your book that helped me to turn to Jesus and helped to enlighten my way to Heaven,” it would be worth all the time and effort put forth in writing them. One soul is worth everything.
I have a son who is a missionary to Africa. A few years back, he visited a man in jail named Olusegun Obasanjo, and gave him one of my books entitled, Amazing Answers to Prevailing Prayer. Later Mr. Obasanjo got saved, straightened out his life, and ran for president of Nigeria and was elected. Whether or not my book had anything at all to do with Mr. Obasanjo’s salvation, I know not, but later after he became president, my son visited him, and he told my son that his mother’s book was very inspirational. Later, the president wrote a book entitled Women of Virtue: Stories of Outstanding Women in the Bible, and my son brought me a copy on one of his trips home. So one never knows how far their works for Christ will reach when we put it in God’s hands and take our hands off. It will take eternity to tell any good my writing for God’s Glory alone has accomplished.
Trust you enjoy the following letters from my readers:
I have just become a Christian and your books have helped me so much. I have four and am wondering if you have written anymore. I really like In Straight Paths and Through Troubled Waters. Will you pray for me? I need more help spiritually.
Your six books arrived for the Stephen D. Herron Memorial Library, and we feel honored to place them in the memorial room. I trust that the people who use the room for study and prayer will profit greatly from reading them. You have always been a great blessing to each of us.
I cried most of the time while reading your book Shattered Shackles because many happenings had been a reality in my life. I’ve had lots of heartaches.
I am a young person who likes to read but am quite selective in what I read. So many of these so-called Christian novels are so aimless and mushy, it’s disgusting, but I would recommend your books to anyone. The explanation of holiness is very good.
I am so happy to know we have dedicated writers such as you who are willing to do the hard work of hammering out a good clean book for people to read. May God bless you as you use your talent for Him. We may never write best sellers but as long as we keep His smile upon our work, it is a best seller. Keep up the good work. (From another writer)
A note to say thanks for the books. Couldn’t put them down. Now that’s what I call talent. They were really enlightening. Thanks a million.
I read your book, which was a great inspiration to me. I never dreamed anyone could even imagine or dream up so much adversity and heartache as I have been through. Your book lifted my spirits in a very dark and lonely period of my life.
I’ve read two of your books in two days, as I couldn’t lay them down after I started. I will pass them around and I’m sure others will enjoy them, too.
I was happy when I came across your book entitled Through Troubled Waters. I read part of it, but the owner took it away before I finished it. My troubles are so great that at times I feel it may be I have sinned. I do not know what to do. The portion of your book I read inspired me greatly. Could you send me a copy and any other that will help me solve my problems. (This came from Ghana, West Africa, and I sent him a copy)
I just finished reading your book, Trials and Triumphs. and felt real impressed to write and tell you how much it encouraged me. I have been asking the Lord to give me more faith and this book helped me so much. Thank you so much for writing it,
A dear sister gave me two of your books, and I really enjoyed both of them. I feel they have helped me spiritually. I really crave good reading that will draw me closer to God.
Just finished your book, In Straight Paths, and it was such an inspiration to me. I was encouraged and excited when I finished reading it. I received your book at church as a Mother’s Day gift for being the youngest mother. It’s a real life book where I really feel like I can see me at times. It is indeed wonderful and makes me feel that God will help me, as I need it. Pray for me! God bless you.
Your book answers a need out in the public for explaining what real heart holiness is. There is much confusion at this point.
Have read your book, Through Troubled Waters, over and over. Very good.
I believe your book, Through Troubled Waters, is the best book I’ve ever read and the most spiritual for religious fiction. Keep writing books as they help many people.
Thank God for the old-fashioned way of salvation and holiness and for people like you who can write beautiful stories that holds high its banner. May God richly bless you.
Thanks so very much for your books. I read In Straight Paths once again and am now reading the sequel, Plucked out of the Net. I enjoy them so much. Praise God for blessing you with this gift! I pray it will always glorify Him.
I am writing to you in regards to your books I purchased in Findley, Ohio. I gave one to a lady who wasn’t saved. I later sent the other book, Shattered Shackles, to her. She has read them, and they have been a help to her. She has gotten saved and doing her best to walk in the light.
Hope you will write more books. I really appreciate how the Lord has helped you to entwine the gospel in your stories.
Enclosed is a money order for your book, Plucked out of the Net. Sure appreciate your writings. So good and stay close to holiness emphasis. So much today that is called Christian fiction isn’t Christian at all. May the Lord bless you is our prayer.
I’m happy to have the opportunity to receive another book of yours. They have all been excellent and wife and I have read and reread them during the long winter evenings.
I’ve enjoyed your books much and have shared them with others. In fact, they are all out now. I would like to order your latest one. We need more good Christian books for our young people. Also, us older ones enjoy them.
A friend of mine loaned me two of your books. I enjoyed them so much that I would like to send them to my brother who is in jail in North Carolina. One of the books reminds me of him.
I am so happy to have your books where interested and hungry souls can get them. I’m sure your writings are blessing many. The book Through Troubled Waters has been mentioned several times at church illustrating truths of the message given.
I thought you might like to hear of one incident where a young man was kept home from church because of illness in his family. Someone had loaned him your book, Through Troubled Waters, and he read it. The next week he testified how God had mightily dealt with his heart. The church prayed for him until he felt a clear witness.
I’m writing to see if you have written another book. I just read one and think it is wonderful. It has been a real blessing to me. I praise God for people like you that can write such a book, especially the teaching on holiness. If you have written another book, let me know.
The book, Through Troubled Waters, has been such a help to me in many ways. I wish I had what the nurse in the story had. I would gladly give all I had. She is so pure and good. Would that this old world had more like her. Wish I could talk to someone like the nurse but I’m afraid it’s too late. I’m not young anymore. I’m 37 and 1/2. (Thank God, there’s help for anyone who truly wants God in their life. I contacted the lady and did my best to help her. Author.)
Your book came yesterday. I read the inside information but haven’t read the contents yet, but will and also, will let others read it. Your talent came from your sixth grade teacher. ha (He was my sixth grade teacher.) I’m sending a contribution to help with your good work. Keep in touch!
God sure did inspire you as you wrote the book, Through Troubled Waters. Everything that you tucked away here and there as you wrote was amazing. How anyone could think of so much to fit into a story!! I was very much pleased with the way God helped you to use the Scriptures to teach sanctification. There are many who will read it in your book that never would study along that line any other way. I feel that this was the main reason God helped you to get this needful book out. I feel that souls will make it to Heaven because of it—souls that you would never have come into contact with, otherwise.
It usually takes me a week or ten days before I finish a book but finished yours in three evenings. The clear guidance into sanctification is the best I’ve ever read and helped me a lot. The story is so true to life. It holds you completely in suspense all the time. Thank you very much for the book.
We never dreamed we would get to see the author of that wonderful book, Through Troubled Waters. I have wanted to get a copy to send to a real good friend in South America and now I have it. So your good book will perhaps go around the globe.
My family and I have really enjoyed your first four books.
Your book, Shattered Shackles, is so touching. After reading some in your book this morning, I was so moved on by the Spirit to pray for those that are so shackled by drink or drugs. God can surely move on their heart to bring them to Christ.
I am fifteen years old and am writing to compliment you on your book, Through Troubled Waters. I am reading it the second time. I’m going to write a book report on it for school. I’m sure your book has helped many people.
I think you are brave to address the divorce and remarriage issue in your book, Plucked out of the Net. Our young people need that. Lots of people are getting awfully lenient about it. My husband and daughter read the book and really liked it. I think we all agree that it is the best yet. The message is real good.
We wanted to thank you for the privilege of reading your lovely little book. Our youngest daughter in California has just read hers and found it very profitable reading. We did, too. Of course, unless you truly loved the Saviour, you couldn’t have done such a book.
I praise the Lord for giving you such a beautiful gift of writing and for your willingness to share it.
I sat right down and read your book and I truly enjoyed it. We all have our problems and I am no exception. Your book came to me at a time when I was depressed and so unhappy. I received a real blessing from it. You have a wonderful talent in telling of God’s love through stories of life as we live it every day. Thanks!
I would like to tell the world what God and your book has done for me. Praise the Lord! It made me stop and realize there is a God and He truly loves me, regardless of the sins I had committed and the wrong I had done. God was calling me for one of His children. Before I read the book, I had so much hatred and bitterness in my heart. At times I even hated myself. Just as I put the book down, I had a strong urge to fall on my knees and ask the Lord to forgive my sins and to take the hatred and bitterness out of my heart. Praise the Lord! He immediately answered my prayer.
Believe the Lord has ordained the writing of this book for his people who are in troubled waters.
Enjoyed your book thoroughly. I want five more copies.
We all have our problems and I am no exception. Your book came to me at a time when I was so depressed and so unhappy. I received a real blessing from it.
Surprised and happy to receive your book. The Lord certainly used you in writing it. It is interesting, emotional and evangelistic, very well written, and I’m sure it is a blessing to all who read it. I am interested in ordering some more copies. .
We agreed to use your book for a part of our yearly youth Reading Course. Each year we recommend four or five books for the spiritual edification of our youth and sell them as a package to each youth society. I am heartily recommending it to our youth for two reasons, one is the danger of not obtaining holiness of heart and the other is the need of more personal workers on a one-to-one basis. The book is well written and I’m sure will continue to bless many lives.
Finished reading your fine book. It has an evangelistic message that is up to date and practical. Its message is desperately needed by thousands today.
The story is so true to life. It holds you in suspense all the time. I really enjoyed reading it. The clear guidance into sanctification is the best I’ve ever read and helped me a lot. My copy will be passed on to others as the Lord guides, and pray with me that many will be brought to a better understanding and to the blessing of sanctification.
I read your beautiful book and was truly blessed by it.
Magnificent! It really inspired my mind as well as my heart.Thank you! I will pass this wonderful book on, for truly it’s a soul winner.
If possible, we sure could use more books in this place.
A wonderful message for both young and old. Sure it will be a blessing to many people.
My grandmother taught me you could live above sin in this life. Your book has enlightened me in this matter
Have read your book and found it very enlightening.
May God continue to bless you. (This letter is from the Louisiana State Prison at Angola. I sent more books.)
May God bless those who have taken time to write to me over the years concerning my books. I deeply appreciate it. There are more, but we will sign off for this time. (Author)
Donnie Slocum, twin to Connie in the book, "In Straight Paths", finds himself entangled in Satan's net when he fails to heed his sister's pleadings to take the way of righteousness. He never meant to get so far away from God. At one time he had almost yielded. "I really want to change," he told Connie. Then he went back to college and his former companions. One thing led to another, and before long he is faced with seemingly insurmountable problems. Drink and carelessness rob him of his job, his lovely wife. Sharon, and his precious baby daughter, Christy. In desperation Donnie stages a holdup at a service station in order to get money to return to his hometown and his mother. There he is constantly reminded of God's claims upon his life, and his mother's prayers thwart his every attempt to find any measure of happiness in the ways of sin and disobedience to God's commands. Connie's letters telling of happiness working in primitive New Guinea with her husband, Larry, merely add to Donnie's frustration and misery. Always, she keeps reminding him of her prayers for him. Just when it appears that Donnie is at last successful in his attempt to resist it all--the prayers, the letters, the pleadings of Christian friends, and the inner voice--then God reaches down and plucks him out of the net and sets his feet on the straight path. Donnie finds that not only does God have grace to keep a man in every situation, but He can also solve every problem.