IF YOUR EYE BE DARK
John finished his lunch with Patty, and then mingled with the groups in the hall. This was a social meeting where the people there didn’t discuss anything much deeper than gardens and recipes. He was grateful for that. Patty stayed near him the whole time. He enjoyed her company. Maybe he was getting a little too involved with Sharon. Could that be the Devil’s way of distracting him from his calling? He began to wonder if perhaps Patty was just agreeing with him to please him, or were they alike in so many ways that it just seemed that way. At any rate, she made for a very pleasant lunch.
About two o’clock he made his farewells, and went back to the hotel for coffee and a recap of the previous night. He resolved to plan better this evening. He was eating better, and he truly thought that would help his concentration. The little town was beautiful this time of year. Fall was just beginning to kill off the leaves resulting in landscapes erupting in reds and golds. It had rained while he was in services, but all the rain had served to do was to wash the air, and now it was clearing and, very crisp. A perfect Sunday! He rolled his windows down as he drove so he could smell the air. People along the road were raking leaves, children were playing. There were some teenage boys working on a car in one driveway. How could anyone see a day like this and not believe in God?
The town was laid out simply enough. Westend Avenue dominated everything. You were either one side or the other from Westend. All the radio commercials told the locations of businesses either on Westend, or, “just off Westend by the mall,” or the park, or the church, or some other reference point having something to do with Westend.
He drove down Westend and arrived at the hotel about two forty-five. Robert and Pat weren’t there. He supposed they were spending some time together this afternoon. The prospect of spending time with a lady was beginning to interest John more and more. It had been nice to have a companion for lunch. In the second chapter of Genesis God himself said that it was not good for man to be alone! Perhaps that was the main problem here. John needed a “suitable” partner.
He’d always been his own man. His passion had always been the Lord. Until now John had never known real loneliness. But, he missed Sharon! There she was again! Hadn’t he just decided that Patty was more compatible? Why couldn’t he get Sharon off his mind. The differences in the two women were striking. Patty was flawless in appearance. Her hair was perfect, Sharon’s was loosely combed and she was forever pulling it back out of her eyes with her hand. Patty’s pretty blue dress was the perfect complement to her figure. Sharon wore those faded jeans and that tank top all the time, even in church! Patty ate like a bird, wiping her mouth after each bite, while Sharon was forever smacking that gum in his face! Patty agreed with everything he said, and hung on his every word, and Sharon, well Sharon just hung him out to dry! Yet, the attraction was there. It was undeniable. John decided that it might be considerably easier to figure out the Lord than to try and figure out women!
His bed was made when he got to his room. He flopped on it then opened the King James. He was bringing Paul down the Damascus Road last night. Third night tonight, he would stress Paul’s salvation. The fruits of his work would show in the many local churches. Yeah, that’ll do it. Maybe make a little play on the words “Straight Street” from the book of Acts. It would also keep him on safe ground. The object now was to get sinners to repent and come up front. They were on the downhill side of this revival. He had to wind things up neat and clean. He closed the old Bible and leaned back on a pillow. Without thinking, he drew the little plastic Rosary out of his pocket and looked at it.
It looked cheap. It still had the “burr” on the sides of the cross where it had been molded. The little medal Sharon had given him for it was plastic too. “Second class relic,” he thought. How could anyone buy into such notions? Still, he wanted to keep it. It was hers! She’d given it to him. Like a picture, or a souvenir. It served as a reminder of someone he cared for.
And, he did care for her. He cared for her because he realized that she was one woman who believed in what she said, and meant what she said. That was the main contrast in her and Patty. She meant what she said. She wasn’t anyone’s “help- mate,” she was a one hundred percent person.
What did she feel when she prayed the Rosary? John thought about what he felt when he prayed. He had to admit that sometimes he felt like he just wished he had something to say! It amazed him at how sometimes people in his church would pray, and pray, and really, they weren’t saying anything except the right beginning and the proper ending. Everything between the two was filled air. He reached in his briefcase and pulled out his New International Bible. Turning to Matthew, chapter six, he read, “. . . and, when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (NIV)
Yes. Many words, babbling prayers. He must tell Sharon that! Her read on “. . . This then, is how you should pray. Our Father. . . ”
John closed the book. Who was the babbler? Was it the lady who said her little short prayers over and over, or the Baptist deacon who rambled on and on until he simply ran out of breath? He reopened the Bible to Luke, chapter eighteen, and read, “. . . will not God bring justice to his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night?” Paul also reminds us to be always in prayer. No, his objection to the little beads wasn’t the amount of prayer, it was the direction. Mary, while being the mother of Jesus Christ, is still a sinner in need of redemption, just like any other human being who ever lived! That was Baptist theology, and that would not change one inch! He was sure she was a great lady, the best, but she still had to be washed in the blood of the Lamb the same as any other sinner did. And to pray to her!
Even if she could see and hear you, she could do you no good at all. The only person between man and God was Jesus himself! But, still, he could not bring himself to despise the little set of beads. John tucked the little plastic Rosary back into his pocket then took a troubled nap.
Bill the Butcher