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The Gift (6)

With her hands filled with the dessert dishes she walked from the family room into the kitchen where her husband was already filling the dishwasher. Setting the dishes down on the island behind him, she pulled one of the stools out and sat down.

“Well, I think that went quite well if I do say so myself,” she said as she straightened the flower that sat in the middle of the counter top.

Turning to pick up the dishes she had set on the island her husband put his hands on the counter and smiled.

“Yes it did.” Picking up the dishes he turned and put them in the dishwasher. “He sure didn’t seem to be himself at first but while we were having supper he seemed to relax. I think he even had a good time,” he said as he dried his hands on the towel that lay across his right shoulder.

Janet sat quietly at the island then as her husband put the soap in the dishwasher, shut the door, and started it up. When he turned around she was tracing an imaginary circle on the top of the counter with her index finger, lost in thought. He walked around the island and after he pulled a stool out for himself he gently touched her shoulder.

“Ok, I’ve seen that look before. You’ve got something on your mind, don’t you?”

“Jack, did you see what happened while you were reading the Bible after supper tonight?” she asked after nodding her head yes in answer to his question.

“No,” he said with a questioning look on his face. “But I am sure you will fill me in,” he said with a slight smile.

She turned slightly on her stool so that she faced him.

“He had tears in his eyes Jack. I don’t think anyone noticed it but he had real tears flowing down his cheeks.” She stopped for a moment as if trying to comprehend what she had just said. “I couldn’t believe it…I still can’t believe it. He has always been such a sweet man but as far as I know he wasn’t religious at all.”

“Well,” Jack said as he sat down and pondered what his wife had just revealed to him. “I guess we just don’t know how the Lord works sometimes. You never know, maybe he is beginning to see what he has been missing all these years. Or, maybe it just reminded him of Jenny.”

Janet looked at her husband for a moment and then as a tear formed in the corner of her eye she said, “Oh, how I wish there was something we could do for him. He must be hurting so much.”

“There is, honey,” he said as he took his wife in his arms. “We can pray. In fact,” he said as he squeezed her tighter, “that is the only thing we can do. Pray and leave it in the hands of Father.”

For a few moments they held each other, each lost in their own thoughts. Both knowing the truth of the words Jack had spoken and yet both feeling so inadequate for the task. Janet finally slowly let go and stood up.

“I suppose we had better get the kids tucked in,” she said as she turned back to look at Jack. “And tonight I know exactly what to pray with them about.”

Jack smiled then as he too stood up and followed his wife upstairs. What a blessing she was! Certainly more precious than rubies! As he walked up the stairs he silently gave thanks to God for her…as he had done so many times before.

* * * * *

After arriving home and filling a small glass with juice the old man sat down in his chair, holding in his hands the tattered and worn Bible that his wife had read for so many years. For a long while he simply sat and stared at the black cover, his eyes studying the gold lettering as his finger slowly traced each letter. His mind however was awash in what seemed like a torrent of thoughts and memories. Finally he gently opened it and began searching for the passage that Jack had read after supper. Though he did not know the Bible well, he knew exactly where to find this passage.

There was no way for Jack to have known that the passage he had selected to read after supper were the same words the old man had last read to his wife in the final hours of her earthly sojourn. These were the last words she had asked him to read and though he had at first objected and even argued with her, he had read them after all. He had read them even though he wasn’t sure that she could hear him. He had read them even though he didn’t want to.

The passage he searched for and finally found after a minute or so was Romans 8:24–39. After adjusting his glasses he began to read.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When he had read these words to his wife they had seemed to be just that—words. But as Jack had read them and now as he read them over and over again they seemed to speak to his wounded soul. The word “hope” held a new meaning and though he couldn’t explain it, and though he didn’t even understand it himself, he was sure that there was something there that he had been missing for a long, long time.

With a multitude of questions and as many doubts running through his mind he got ready for bed. As he pulled the covers back in order to crawl into bed he glanced at the Bible that he had placed on the night stand. For a fleeting moment he considered saying a prayer but the confusion in his heart and soul extinguished the thought as quickly as it had arisen. After all, even if there was a God, how could he make up for all the years he had not believed?

The activities of the night had taken their toll on him though and within mere minutes he had drifted off to sleep. Although he had feared that the dreams would return to interrupt his night once again, they remained outside of his consciousness and he slept soundly. At some point, however, before he faded off to sleep he had reached out and lay his hand on the old Bible. His last thought before sleep overtook him was of his dear wife.