Devon Dixon’s presence felt calming. Maybe the sight of the flash of his dimples or his angelic smile. Or how his eyes had widened when he recognized her. The warmth of his hands enveloped hers. She had waited for this, since she left her house. The grey clouds hid the heat she desired as soon as she stepped through the door. Jerking away at the blending of coffee beans, Rachel sat. The tantalizing aroma of baked goodies filled the air. She loved coming here to just read. This spot would never be the same to her after today.
Rachel focused on her fingers and queried the intricacies of his flight. Devon responded and dove into details of his job as a pilot too. He sipped the water. Devon witnessed a tsunami of emotions when Rachel lifted her head.
“Why did you call me here?” Rachel ordered, glaring at him.
Sympathy ran in Devon’s bones, her eyelids looked so swollen.
“I… wanted to make amends.” Devon declared.
Rachel shook her head.
“Why did you ask her to kill me? Isn’t abandoning me enough?”
Devon rubbed the circle of his silver Rolex watch.
He stared through the window and stated, “I didn’t wish for your mother to bear the shame. It was my fault, I shouldn’t have…” then sighed.
He met her angry gaze. “My actions were selfish and irresponsible. I am sorry.”
“Why should I believe you?”
Before Devon could answer, the waitress walked up to the curve of the table and singed good morning. Her shoulders dropped after meeting two pairs of not-in-the-mood eyes. She got their orders and stepped off.
“I am trying to be a better man. I have some things to straighten out. This is one of them.” Devon admitted.
The insides of Rachel lit up like wildfire.
“So, I am just a part of some checklist!?” she said.
“No, no, no, not like that.” Devon drew a breath, “I have been praying too-”
“I will not help to sooth your conscience Mr. Dixon, I mean, Father.”
Devon couldn’t think of anything else to say, “I am sorry. I truly am.”
“So, the villain wants to become the hero?” Rachel spat.
Devon shifted in his seat.
“All I am asking is for a chance.” Devon pleaded.
“To do what? Leave again!?” Rachel fired. “This is wasting my time. I have to go.”
She sped through the doors faster than a deer being chased by a lion.
Mark only caught up with her when she was entering a taxi.
“Rachel?” was all he could say.
She didn’t look up, “I will talk to you later. Thanks.”
Adrian found Mark and asked what happened. Mark said he was just as clueless as he.
They both journeyed back to school.
They discussed the events and Adrian clarified that Rachel should be grateful. He had been longing to meet his father, all his life.
Adrian had grown up in a garrison in Kingston. Guns were no strange commodity, and funerals were too many to track. He got saved when he was just about to enter the most dangerous gang in the constituency.
He was in his room one night when God spoke to him. He only kept it in his heart. On a cool Saturday evening, on his way home, a group of Christians handed out invitations to a crusade. He visited the Thursday service and that night he received the holy ghost and got baptized. He never saw an alternative. His mom is a street vendor who hardly had funds to send him to school. Leaving home gave him an escape and football became the way he expressed his turbulent emotions. The gang leader had promised to pay his college tuition if he joined but walking this new path, that was no longer an option. God prepared an opportunity for a sports scholarship for him. That’s how he met Mark. They played on the same team. Mark had noticed that something familiar to him despite his unfriendly countenance. He asked him questions, and they confirmed the connection he felt.
“I hope the situation works out though.” Mark added.
“Then again, some things are thorns in our flesh.” Adrian finished, gazing off in the distance.
The rains began just as Rachel reached her dorm step.
She rushed up, fumbling for her keys. At last, she crashed on her woven carpet.
Her thoughts came rushing in, and she couldn’t keep her warm tears from escaping. The rain masked her screams while every drop dug deeper into her peace.
Her phone vibrated; it was her mom. She silenced it and opted to talk to her later.
She changed and curled up in her bed, scrolling through social media for the next few hours.
She was in the middle of a tik tok video when her mom’s face appeared. She answered, and her mom quizzed her on the meeting today.
She placed her palm on her forehead and told her everything.
“What happened to the word you received from God.” her mom challenged.
She crossed her legs.
“Rachel, there’s a place in you that’s hidden. Anger always walks with a friend.”
She ended the call, cooked dinner and watched a movie until she fell asleep.
Sunday arrived too soon. Rachel grimaced and turned at the sound of her alarm. It went off again and 10 minutes felt like seconds. Dragging herself along, she got dressed in an hour.
When she entered the church, her seat was the near the third column. She kept her head low while the service flew by in a blur. She was gathering her things when a woman with little streaks of silver hair beaming from under her hat approached her. Her expression was serious, but her eyes shone with love. Her frame hung a black dress around her. Not drawing onlookers to her generously proportioned chest.
“God told me to talk to you. He never told me what it was though.” Sis. Williams said.
Rachel struggled to back her tears.
“Can we talk on the veranda?” She said and strolled off. Rachel followed like a child summoned by their parent.
Settled on the hardwood benches, she asked, “What seems to be the problem?”
Gazing at the multi-colored board houses below, Rachel felt oddly at ease with her. She gushed out everything except naming her friend and the specific abuse. Giving a long loud sigh at the end.
Sis. Williams looked up and said, “Jesus, You remain faithful.” Turning to Rachel she said, “I understand exactly how you feel. My father left me when I was 5.”
Rachel’s eyes widened. She sat in awe as the prim Sis. Williams told her about her horrible past. She spoke of hungry nights and abusive days. Her mother had beaten her so bad one day that she had to go to the clinic to dress the wound. Her mother fed the nurses lies, which they believed. Her father had come into her life 10 years ago when she finished school and engaged. He was battling prostate cancer and needed help.
“How did you deal with all of that?” Rachel asked.
She smiled and said, “Grace.”
Rachel leaned back.
“But he doesn’t deserve grace.”
“That’s exactly what grace is.” Sis. Williams said and smiled.
“You can’t rely on yourself to do it though, it is an act of the Spirit. I believe that’s why you are struggling. You are trying to fight with your weapons. Any act or word that should please God that doesn’t flow from him is not of him.”
“I think I understand. Thank you.” Rachel stated.
Sis. Williams hugged her and then prayed. They exchanged numbers before parting.
Rachel passed Mark and Adrian in the hallway. She apologized and thanked them for being there. They didn’t ask the details, and she didn’t say.
The two started towards the cafeteria.
“Mark, I am having a problem.”
The demonstration of the love of God. That’s what I understand it is. The power of God displayed. The truth of God defended. The judgement of God prevented. The sovereignty of God applauded. The wisdom of God rewarded, and the mercy of God lauded. Philip Yancey says it is the last best word of Christianity. It has not been corrupted by evolving language. Grace never lost its grandeur. We just closed our eyes to it. He cited David Seamands, a counselor:
Many years ago I was driven to the conclusion that the two major causes of most emotional problems among Evangelical Christians are these: the failure to understand, receive, and live out God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace to other people… We read, we hear, we believe a good theology of grace. But that’s not that the way we live. The good news of the gospel of grace has not penetrated the level of our emotions.(What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey, Pg. 15)
To give grace, we must first embrace it. Have you experienced the grace of God? How do you know? It’s not to experience freedom from guilt but to live free from sin.
Until God has complete access to our shame room of our hearts, we missed out on an opportunity of freedom. Until he gets to open the volumes of our former and present wrongs, brush his hands over the portrait of our carnal mind, with us confessing to him our evil conditions, there can never be healing. God sees your mess, but do you?
Are we so blinded that we cannot see the callus growing over our hearts? Prostitutes flocked Jesus. Why? Would they throng to you? Do they gather to the church? Why? There is a key ingredient missing from the pot we have cooked up. It is the season of grace. Without it, we taste bland, worthless and are therefore irrelevant to the world.
Do you consider yourself above the offender? Are you 100% certain you would not have acted the same provided the individual’s upbringing, cultures, and present situation? What makes your evils better than theirs? Who is the judge? We give grace because we see ourselves. We recognize our frailty or a terrible need for God to do righteousness.
The Grace-filled Life
For me it is to be like Steven, full of power and grace (Acts 6:8). For my speech to be seasoned with grace (Col. 4:6). To truly deny ungodliness and worldly lust by the power of grace (Titus 2:12). To experience the joy of considering my life as dung so one day I can stand before all men and testify of his bountiful grace (Act 20:24). This is attainable because the Word says it! I will press towards it! Even when I have to press me.
Rachel is in a battle and it’s not the battle you think. She is fighting to be severed from hate and anger. Will she be able to? What problem is Mark referring to? What’s going on with Sarah? All this and more next Friday at 12 pm! Our theme for this year is ‘Celebrating Individuality, Embracing Our Identity.’ To know we are, we first need to know we are not. We are not judges. Remember you are precious.