A Message from the Grave
The Pastor stirred in his sleep, feeling chilled and damp. He turned onto his side and felt wet grass. He opened his eyes. It was dark, and dense fog hung heavily in the still night air. He looked around, squinting to see. There—yes, it was Jonathan. He was sitting on a large rock. But, no—it was a tombstone!
“Have a nice nap, Pastor?”
“C’mon,” said Jonathan, motioning for the Pastor to follow him. “I want to show you something.”
They walked past several graves, then stopped in front of a tombstone that stood taller than all the others. Chiseled from white marble, it was crowned with a simple cross. On its face was the inscription: “Amanda Kathryn Morehouse, 1926-1988” and “Desmond William Morehouse, 1926—.”
“What is the final date that will be added?” asked the Pastor with quivering voice. ‘Tell me, Jonathan, how much time do I have?”
“That’s not for me to know, Pastor. What’s important is not how many tomorrows you will awaken to, but how you live your todays.”
The Pastor wondered how many future days it would take for him to make up for that night—how many more weeks or months or years. And he hoped the angel of death would tarry. The thought prompted him to look at Jonathan. But he dared not inquire.
Jonathan held up a book with a white dust jacket. “Recognize this?”
“‘My Lord, My love, My Life,’” answered the Pastor. “Amanda wrote it—the only book she ever wrote. She had a promising career as an author. I encouraged her to write more, of course, but....”
“Have you read it?”
“Of course, I have. I—well, I read parts of it.”
Jonathan opened the book and thumbed through a few pages. “Maybe you’ll recall this passage.” He found the page and began to read: “‘It has not always been easy for me to love others, even as a Christian. I tried and tried, but still my feelings for certain people remained negative and I could not bring myself to love them.
“‘Then, one day, God spoke to me through the scriptures, namely, Galatians 2:20. He told me I had been crucified with Christ and that my old self no longer lived, but that I was a new creature and Christ lives in me. My self outside of Christ could not love difficult people, but if I allowed Jesus to live His life in me and through me, I could love them. Since He is my life and His holy and righteous nature has been imparted to me, His capacity to love is now my capacity to love.”’
Jonathan closed the book. “You were blessed with a very special wife, Pastor.”
“Look, Jonathan, there are different kinds of love and different ways of expressing it. Some people—like Amanda— show God’s love through their emotions. Others, like myself, show God’s love through faith, obedience, and service.”
Jonathan looked into his eyes and said nothing. It made the Pastor uneasy, as if Jonathan saw into his very soul.
“Listen, Jonathan, maybe I can help you understand. My spirituality is based on scripture, not sentimentalism and emotions. Sure, I could have spent my life making friends and doing things with them. But priorities are priorities, and my ministry to many people has always been more important than a ministry to only a few. Can’t you understand simple arithmetic?”
“Let me finish! Amanda worked one-on-one with people, but I minister to tens of thousands on every television program. She had her calling and I have mine. Neither your insipid arguments nor your esoteric escapades will persuade me to change my mind about anything. You’re wasting your time and mine.”
Jonathan turned away from the Pastor and walked a short distance across the cemetery lawn. He appeared to be in deep meditation. When he turned around, he said to the Pastor, “I’m afraid I’ve done all I can do here. I, uh, checked in, and you’ve been reclassified.”
“‘Checked in’? With who? And what do you mean, ‘reclassified’?”
“I’ve been ordered to return, now,” said Jonathan, raising a glowing finger.
“Wait!” pleaded the Pastor. “You can’t just leave me here!”
But Jonathan ignored him and turned and walked away through the thickening fog. Out of the white void came his voice: “I can tell you this much, Pastor: Tonight you will be visited by another. He will come to you when the clock strikes midnight.”
“No!” cried the Pastor. “Don’t leave me! I can’t take anymore of this!”
But Jonathan did not answer.
The wind blew stronger and howled ferociously. Still, the Pastor heard the faint sounds of Jonathan strumming his guitar and singing:
Continue to Chapter 13 >
His ears could hear,
But deaf was his mind.
His eyes could see,
But his heart was blind.
© Frank Allnutt. All rights reserved.