Jesus sat quietly at the simple table in the cottage as a storm raged outside. He was waiting for a soul he had watched for some time. The wind began to howl, the branches lashed and the cottage windows with a threatening fury. The sky turned an angry grey and vicious lighting struck the road that lead to the cottage, at the cottage itself. One particularly vicious band of lighting struck the house with a deafening crack. Sparks flew and the smell of singed shingles permeated the air. The lightning seemed to be warning whoever was in the house to stay there. That warning seemed to be coming from the wind and rain that targeted the house. Jesus looked out the window and the fury and raised his hand,
“Away.” He commanded.
With a final whip of ferociousness, the storm moved away from the cottage and began to target a figure struggling down the road. Jesus turned his attention to the pitiful lone figure that stumbled down the road. It was a young woman. She was in her early thirties. Her hair had once been a thick, shining halo of chestnut curls. Now it was matted, pasted to her face and head with rain and a stinking viscous mud that clung like globs of ugly glue. The wind whipped at her clothing, her thin frame bent into the storm. She was pushed by the force of the wind from one side of the road to the other, looking something like a drunk who stumbled from one side of the road to the other.
The road was studded with stinking pits mud and the relentless whipping wind drove her into each vile, stinking pit. She would fight th relentless wind and cry out in anguish and disgust each time she slipped and fell into yet another of those stinking pits. Each time. The sticky mud would pull at her as she would struggle to climb out. The mud clung to her, in spite of the driving rain, its stench making her gag. If she did not get help soon, the storm and the mud would claim her.
Jesus walked into the storm. It parted in front of him as he walked. When he reached her, he held out his and helped her out of the stinking mud. She sank to the ground too weak to move. Jesus removed his cloak and wrapped it around her drenched and trembling body. As she gained strength, he helped her up and led her to the cottage. He sat her near the warmth of the fire and brewed a weak broth to give her some strength. He knew she was an “almost”.
The “almosts” were those who heard the message of salvation and experienced an emotional rush they believed to be salvation. They followed for a time, then the lure of the world drew them away, their faith and prayers withered as dried out husks. These were the ones like the seeds from Jesus’s parable that fell on the rocky ground. They would hear the message with joy, but because they had no root, they would wither, the cares and glitter of the world would pull them away. Jesus knew this “almost” was different.
In life, Aroura was married. the mother of four children, held down a full-time job as a teacher and volunteered for every good cause that came her way. She was frustrated, guilty, and filled with self-doubt. She resented her situation, resented her husband for his patience, and tended to she distracted and short tempered with her children. This was the result of her guilt and self-loathing. All the good deeds she tried to do to atone for past and present sins never seemed to make improved her self-image or her feeling of failure. Instead, her over-commitments to family, job, activities had taken over her life, leaving her distracted and ineffective; filling her with more frustration and guilt.
That day, Aroura’s storm began she returned from work burdened with tests to be graded and recorded. Her children followed, continuing the bickering that had started in the SUV and clamoring at once for her attention. Each needed to tell her about the day at school, show off “A” papers or new artistic masterpieces. She answered them distractedly which increased their frustration and bickering.
Her husband, Tim walked in a few minutes behind her announcing that tonight was the big company dinner and he hoped she had a pretty dress ready. As Tim’s words registered; she shook her head and leaned against the counter, overwhelmed. He began to pick up each of the children, attach the papers they proudly waved in his face to the refrigerator, give each a kiss and send them outside to play, happy that they had been seen and recognized. He turned to talk to Aroura to speak and the phone began to ring. With a frustrated sigh, Aroura answered, what else could go wrong?
“Hello Caroline….. What, tonight? Oh, I couldn’t possibly; I have tests to grade, Tim just came home and said the company dinner is tonight! I don’t have a dress to wear; where am I going to find a babysitter? ……. You will? …. Are you sure? … I can’t tell you how much I appreciate…..Yes, yes, your daughter will be here in thirty minutes. I will order pizza … Thank you, thank you so much.” As she hung the phone up, Tim tried to get her attention.
“Aroura, you’re trying to take on too much, look, you forgot about the office dinner party tonight, forgot about the Women’s Bible Study, our kids are unhappy, fighting. I don’t even know where we stand.”
Aroura answered him distractedly; “Uh-huh.” She resented his attitude even though she knew he was right. She was frustrated that he seemed to handle the kids so easily, that they seemed to go to him more, but again, she knew it was because he showed the patience and made the time. He made it look so easy. She resented him all the more for it.
Tim shook his head and turned toward the coat closet. He did not see the soccer equipment on the floor, stumbled, lost his balance, and fell head first into the closet door, gashing his head open, losing consciousness. She screamed and ran to him. Her oldest. Eleven year old Tim Jr. came in at that moment and in a panic told him to dial 9-1-1. As she held her husband, sobbing and calling his name a neighbor came in to help. She felt herself loosing consciousness and began to experience the storm that was of her own making.
As she sank in that disgusting mud a man appeared, not at all bothered by the storm. When he took her hand and helped her out of that pit she immediately felt safer than she had ever felt. She felt a peace, even a love that she had dreamed of, longed for, but never thought was real. She did not know who he was, but she automatically trusted him. He covered her with his cloak, so odd, who wore a cloak nowadays? But it sheltered her from the storm and seemed to give her strength. Once inside the cottage. The chair and the fire seemed normal. She was safe and gratefully sipped the broth he gave her. Slowly her shivering gave way to warmth and comfort.
Jesus urged her, “Tell me, child.”
Words tumbled out as she confessed her abortion as a teenager, the unplanned pregnancy a year later, her unwanted marriage, and resentment of her husband. She confessed her feelings of inadequacy as a wife, a mother, a teacher. She emptied herself of her shortcoming, her guilt, her perceived inadequacies. Each time, this kind man asked if she repented and each time she responded with a heartfelt “Yes.”
Jesus asked his final question, “Aroura, do you accept me into your heart as your personal savior? Do you renounce sin and Satan?”
Aroura’s eyes were opened. She recognized Jesus. “My Lord and my Savior, please forgive me. I am yours.”
The deep circles around Aroura’s eyes disappeared, her hair returned to its glorious halo of chestnut ringlets, the vile. Stinking mud was gone. Her heart began to warm with a love she had never known and peace wrapped itself around her body and soul. She was filled with her Lord’s peace and filled with his perfect love.
Jesus smiled and draped a white veil of delicate gossamer lace over her head. It looked so delicate she was afraid if she touched it. It would be ruined, Her print dress was replaced with an impossibly white gown, studded with pearls and diamonds. She felt treasured, beautiful, and special. Such was Jesus’s love for her. Jesus helped her to stand.
“You are a beautiful bride. Aroura,” he said, then he handed her a brass oil lamp. “Keep this lamp trimmed and ready, for one day soon I will come.” Jesus said. The storm that had been so threatening and viscous subsided, giving rise to a magnificent sunset.
Aroura found herself back in her house. Tim Jr. held a cool compress to her head.
“Mom, are you alright?” Tim Jr. asked with fear and concern.
“Thank you, Timmy,” she smiled at him. “I am much better.”
During the next few weeks, Aroura made some major changes to her life. All the out-lying groups were dropped. She brought order into her home in cleanliness, organization, and social structuring, and established a new routine for herself that brought God first. She revamped her work schedule so she had more time for her students. She was in church Sunday (to give praise, adoration, thanksgiving) Monday (Ladies Bible Study) Wednesday (Mid-Week Service). Her Christian friend and support base grew. Her husband and children watch, amazed at this new woman who was their mother and wife. The children came over and each accepted Jesus Christ first. She was so proud of each of them. Some months later, Tim literally took the plunge and was an enthusiastic new Christian. By her obedience, Aroura had brought blessings for her entire family.
Winter came and went, the blessings continued as did Tim and Aroura’s growth. As spring came, so did “spring cleaning day.” With a brave sigh, Aroura took on the task and began in her and Tim’s room, The closet was a mess. Unorganized. Over stuffed, it had to be dealt with. It took quite some time, but she was proud of the result. She was about done and she spied something in the back that she had not seen before. It was not easy to get to, but eventually she pulled it out. She unwrapped it and stood in awe. The storm had not been a dream; Jesus had been with her on that dark day months ago. He had been the one to bring her to salvation and had been pouring his blessings over her family ever since. She held the veil Jesus had placed on her head, buried her face in the diaphanous material. A tear crept down her face. “I will keep my lamp trimmed, Lord.”