“Don’t feel bad about forgetting our names, Christopher. Actually, you never knew them. At least, not our first names. I’m Martha and this is my dearest friend, Lillie.”
Chris offered his hand across the table to shake the hands of each in turn. When he did, he experienced a slightly electric jolt he as he grasped their hands.
“Lillie’s husband died the same year mine did, and she moved in to the old house with me. Of course, it wasn’t as nearly as run down then as you later came to know it. We kept each other company in our mutual grief and eventually figured out that the best way to deal with our losses was to find a way to give. And so, the After-School Bible Club. We held those classes year after year and watched hundreds of young boys and girls come and go up and down those very stairs to meet…” Her voice broke off, overwhelmed by emotion. “To meet God,” added Lillie, smiling quietly through welling tears.
If Chris had not known the sincere conviction of these two women he would’ve thought it ridiculous. Old women and little kids in a dilapidated basement in the poor part of town meeting God?
But he knew it was true. He had met God there. An eight year old encountering the Omnipotent Being next to the furnace boiler. He never would’ve been able to explain it. Or defend it. Or even to make sense of it as an eight year old.
And years later he wasn’t able to do much even beyond that. He had simply taken the beauty and power of the experience and had laid it to rest somewhere in his soul, beyond retrieval.
“John three sixteen,” said Lillie. The four syllables struck a deep chord of memory and recognition. “For God so loved the world… loved you, Christopher… that He gave…”
Involuntarily, Chris’s eyes began to glisten with tears.
“… His only Son…”
Now he slipped from the little chair and onto the cold concrete floor.
“… so that whoever puts their trust in Him…”
And then he bowed his head, just like a little eight-year-old boy.
“…will never die but will have everlasting life.”
The old/young Lillie’s eyes were animated and she said “It worked, Christopher. It worked. You prayed the prayer… ‘I love you God. I agree with you, whatever you say.’”
“I didn’t fully understand what that meant. But it sounded very loving and very wise. And I chose to agree with it. That worked?” asked Chris.
“Yes, it did!”
“Wasn’t there more to it?”
“Unimaginably more. But that was enough.”
“Jesus died on the cross for me.” He heard himself softly saying this, as if it were all one word; as if it were the answer to a well–drilled question.
“That’s right, Christopher,” said Martha, her eyes shining. “And He would’ve died for you if you had been the only boy on earth.”
Under the weight of an overpowering sense of awe, Chris sat back down on the small wooden chair.
“But I was just a kid.”
“You were closer to understanding the truth at that age than at any time later in your life,” said Martha. “It was intuitive. You didn’t need to be argued into – or out of – anything. Of course the big blue sky and warming sunshine was God-made, was made for you because of His love – an echo of what was left from when time began, a time when people were in love with God and He gave everything He had to them.”
Lillie reached over as Martha was speaking and gently placed her hands on top of Chris’s and added, “That’s why you’re here Christopher, why we’re here. You’re on your way Home.”
Let me know your thoughts or questions (see below).