The Winter Water Hazard – Conclusion

Johnny then turned and looked all the way around him said with a more determined tone, “Let’s head toward gap in the trees over there. If we can get out of these woods, I’m sure we can get back to the farm house.”

Susie immediately perked up and said, “Ok Johnny, lead on.”

So off they went. Johnny led and Susie followed closely behind him. After a bit, they were walking shoulder to shoulder. Each time one stepped on and snapped a fallen twig or branch they both jumped slightly and moved closer together.

Twenty minutes later at the edge of the forest, the sky had cleared, and they found themselves in very bright sunlight standing on an overhang that looked down over the valley that contained Susie’s grandparent’s farm. They could see the farmhouse and barn in the distance.

“Wow! That sun is bright!” said Johnny, shielding his eyes. “How did we end up all the way over here?”

“I don’t know, but I guess we walked farther than we thought. Look! There’s the old pond down there,” said Susie pointing off to her right and her familiar smile returning to her face.

“Wow! Somehow we managed to walk completely around it and end up all the way up here.”

“How do we get down there? I sure don’t want to go back the way we came.”

Johnny then pointed to the right but lower than Susie had, “It looks like there’s a trail over there that might take us down there. All we have to do is to follow this overhang till we get to it.”

Beaming at Johnny, Susie said, “Well? What are we waiting for?”

“I think we need to thank God for getting us out of the forest.”

“That’s right, Johnnie, we do. Let’s do it now.”

Once again they joined in prayer. “Thank you, Lord, for bringing us out of the forest.  Now help us to get back to the farm safely.” They looked at each other, and both said, “Amen!”

So off they went walking along the edge of the overhang and sometimes hanging onto tree branches to keep their balance.

Just as they approached the trail, they realized that they would have to cross a shallow, but wide and mostly frozen-over creek to get to it.

After looking at the creek, Johnny turned to Susie and said, “Whoa! That looks too wide to jump.”

Susie began craning her neck looking up and downstream to see if there was another spot they could cross. “The underbrush is too thick to try anywhere else. It looks like we have to cross here or go back through the woods.”

Just then Johnny spotted a low branch hanging over the creek. “You know, we might be able to grab that branch and swing across.”

Before Susie could respond, Johnny had jumped up to grab the branch. He got a hold of it and began to swing but couldn’t hold on all the way across. He dropped onto the icy creek bed, and his feet immediately began to slide downstream.

Susie watched in horror as Johnny began to fall and reached out to catch him but only succeeded in grabbing his coat pocket. That grip on Johnny pulled her off balance toward the creek bed, and she fell toward him.

Soon the two of them were sliding down the iced over creek bed like it was a bobsled course. Johnny was feet first with Susie still gripping his pocket going down headfirst.

They careened downhill at getting faster by the minute, all the time bouncing off of the creek sides until they eventually shot out of the creek bed and across the old pond. At that point, they began spinning around like cartwheels.

They eventually came to a stop near the far side of the creek where they sat up and tried to get their bearings. Johnny was just about to speak up when they heard a familiar voice, “If you two are done with your ice dancing, maybe you’d like a ride back to the house.”

They looked up to see Susie’s Grampa Johnny with his horse drawn wagon at the edge of pond chuckling. Susie and Johnny looked at each other and then they began to laugh too.

The Winter Water Hazard – Part 1

The Winter Water Hazard

By: S.C. Mathisen

“Come on Johnny, let’s go! I want to skate on the old pond today. We’re only here in Millville visiting my grandparents for a week.” Susie said trying to encourage her friend Johnny to hurry into his coat, hat, and mittens.

“I am hurrying, Susie,” Johnny said sounding like he was already out of breath.

He had already put on two extra sweaters, long johns and an extra set of wool socks and was bent over trying to reach the laces of his hi-top insulated winter boots and just barely reaching them. Between the extra layers of clothing and the extra layers of Johnny’s round stomach, the laces were almost out of his reach. But he finally did get them and was now finishing up the final knot on his right boot.

“There, I’ve got the boots laced up. All I need to do now is to put on my hat and scarf and coat and get my mittens on. You can never be too careful out in winter weather. Especially here in upper Minnesota! It’s really cold up here!”

“Great, now let’s go. We want to get out there and get back before it gets dark.” Susie said in eager anticipation.

When Johnny was finally ready, they headed for the back door. Johnny detoured slightly to pick up a handful of oatmeal raisin cookies, wrap them carefully in a napkin and put them in one of his over-large coat pockets.

After going out the door and walking across the wide driveway, they passed the barn and followed a path that took them across the cornfields plowed under after the harvest. The sky was a dull, steely gray and the ground was covered with white frost and. They could see each breath they took. They talked excitedly about how much fun it was going to be to skate on a real frozen pond instead of the ice rink they practiced on back home in Crescent City.

After walking across fields for a time, the path led into what looked like a small bunch of trees.

“I think the pond is just on the other side of these trees,” said Susie.

“Wow, it sure is farther than I thought it would be,” said Johnny as he slowed down to look up and around at all the tall trees.

“Come on Johnny, keep up!  It’s starting to snow.”

“I’m coming. I was just noticing how weird it is in here with all these trees covered in snow.”

“Yup, but we should be out of the woods in a couple of minutes if we walk fast.”

“Walk fast, that’s a really good idea. It’s kinda creepy in here. The snow is starting to come down real hard, the sky is getting to be a real dark gray, and it’s getting hard to see.”

Johnny picked up the pace and started walking really fast. He began walking so fast Susie had trouble keeping up with him. The only sound was their feet rapidly crunching in the new fallen snow.

After several minutes of walking, taking different turns to follow what Susie thought was the path, she said with a little quiver in her voice, “Johnny, does it seem like it’s getting darker instead of lighter?”

“Y-y-yes. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice and get scared. Why do you think I’m walking so fast?”

“Maybe we should turn around and go back,” said the quivering voice.

Johnny stopped suddenly and pointed toward his left, “look there’s a clearing over there. Maybe we should go that way.”

“Well, Ok.”

Johnny turned to his friend and said, “I thought you knew your way around on this farm. You should be the one giving directions. Are you lost?”

Susie looked around with a puzzled look on her face, “I thought I knew the way. I just don’t remember the woods taking this long to get through. I might be a little confused.”

“Oh great, you’re lost. And if you’re lost I’m lost too. Can you find your way back out of here?”

Trying to sound braver and more confident than she really felt Susie said: “Sure, we just go back the way we came.”

“Right, we took so many twists and turns on the way here, I lost track of where we came from. I bet you did too!”

“I think I know what we need to do.”

“So do I, we need to pray. God know where we are and He can keep us safe.”

Susie smiled broadly, “That’s right Johnnie. He can and He will!”

Johnny began, “Lord, you know where we are and how to get us out of here. Please show us the way out.”

Susie joined in, “Yes Jesus, please help us to find our way out.”

They both said together “Amen!”

Jairus Daughter – Conclusion

Well, by now I had figured out that this man was Jesus. He bent down and took Papa by his hand, pulling him up to his feet. Jesus looked him right in the eye and said to him, “Take me to her.” Papa stared into Jesus’ eyes for what seemed like a really long time and then he did something else that surprised me. He said in a very reverent tone, “Yes, rabbi.” and then began to quickly lead Jesus back up the street toward our house. I took off running as fast as I could back to the house so that I could tell Mama that Papa was coming home and bringing Jesus with him. Just before I reached the door of our house I heard people wailing and moaning. I had heard those sounds before, when someone had died. I got a real sick feeling in my stomach that something really bad had happened. I ran inside to find Mama and the other women wailing over Naomi. They were lamenting that she was dead. “Oh, NO!” I thought to myself, not after what Papa had just done, risking everything by defying his friends from the synagogue. Jesus is getting here too late.

I just stood there for a minute looking at my sister. She didn’t look dead to me. She couldn’t be dead. She was too young. This couldn’t happen to my sister. I was suddenly overcome with a deep sadness. And then I felt angry that God would allow this to happen. I was very angry. Then I heard a lot of voices outside. Papa must be arriving with Jesus. Mama was going out the door to stop them from coming in. I ran out right behind her to see what was going on. One of the women had sent a message to Papa telling him not to bother bringing Jesus, that it was too late. When I got outside, I could see them talking. Mama and Papa were both standing there with Jesus in the street outside of our home. One of the women kept repeating that Naomi was dead and that they should not come into the house. She said that they needed to begin the preparation of the body for burial and that Jesus would be in the way.

Mama and Papa looked at each other and then they both looked at Jesus as if he was going to tell them what to do. He did. He looked at each of them and then said, “Don’t listen to them and don’t be afraid. Just trust me.” He then moved past them toward the house. People were laughing at him, but he just ignored them. On the way in he told everyone to move away from the house. He called to Mama and Papa and to three of his disciples to follow him. They all went in the house with him. I ran over to the window so that I could see in. When I got there, Jesus was telling the other people that were in the house to leave. No one argued. They just left. Somehow people just obeyed him. Once everyone was outside except Mama, Papa, Jesus and his three disciples, he went to where Naomi laid, leaned over, took her by the hand and said to her, “Get up little girl.” I tell you it was like she had just been lying there waiting for him to show up and say that. She just popped right up as though nothing had ever been wrong with her. She looked at Jesus for a minute, put her hand on top of his hand and smiled at him.

Then she got up and walked right over to Mama and Papa and hugged them. It was amazing! I ran inside and got a hug of my own. I then looked at Jesus. He also looked at me. I felt something warm inside of me when he did that. I knew at that moment, deep in my heart that he had been sent from God. I understood later that He was the Son of God. But, anyway, life was never the same after that for my family.

Before Jesus left, he made sure that Mama got something for Naomi to eat. He wouldn’t stay to eat himself, but we made it a point to take food to him and his disciples every time they passed through our town. We all became followers of Jesus. I still didn’t understand a lot of things but I did understand that God loves us and cares for us more than we can ever imagine. And I will never forget the day that God sent Jesus to our house to prove how much He loves us.

Jairus Daughter – Part 2

Normally that would have been a good thing, but Mama said that something was wrong with the way Naomi was sleeping and that she was really worried. She turned to Papa and looked scared. I had never seen her look that way before in all my life. That scared me and it even scared Papa. I think it was then that he and Mama both began to believe that Naomi was going to die from this. The doctor had not been able to help, none of the ladies in the village had been able to help and now Naomi was sleeping in a very weird way that worried Mama. I started to understand that I might lose my sister. I went over to a corner of the room and sat down. I had never felt so sad before. It was then that one of the other leaders from the synagogue came by to tell Papa that the rabbi called Jesus was going to be arriving down at the lakefront in a boat with all of his disciples real soon and that they should go down to make sure that he did not lead any of the members of their synagogue astray with His crazy teachings.

Mama looked at Papa again. This time she was not scared. She simply said to him, “Jairus, you need to go and talk to Jesus and ask him to come and see Naomi. Maybe He can heal her. I am afraid that she is going to die.”

Papa was stunned. He could not believe what he was hearing. After all, he had just told Mama last night that they should all steer clear of this man named Jesus. Papa especially could not believe that he was hearing it from his own wife with the men from the synagogue standing right there. He was stunned speechless. I have never seen Papa unable to talk before. But, he stood there for a full minute moving his mouth but nothing was coming out.

He walked over to the bench by the window and sat down for the longest time, staring out. There was a crowd of people beginning to gather as word had quickly spread about Naomi’s sickness. There were also a few other men from the synagogue outside talking about going down to confront Jesus. And of course there was Mama inside staring at Papa, waiting for him to make a decision. She finally uttered just two desperate words, “Jairus, please!”

Papa turned from the window, stood up and looked tenderly at Mama. He then said to his friends, “You will have to excuse me. I have a very important errand to do for my daughter.” He then hurried out the door and headed down the street toward the lake. Mama turned her attention toward Naomi again. She kept wiping her forehead with a wet cloth, occasionally squeezing a few drops of water onto her lips.

Papa’s friends from the synagogue made their excuses and headed out the door. Outside, they met up with some of the other men from the synagogue that were in the crowd that was forming. They talked excitedly for just a moment or so and then they all headed down the street toward the lake, picking up their robes so that they could walk faster.

Since no one was paying any attention to me, I took off after Papa to see where he was headed and what he was going to do. I could run a lot faster than any of them could walk, so I caught up with Papa just about the time he got to the lake front. He looked around for a minute and then noticed the crowd that was gathering down on the shore where a boat had just come in.

Papa walked directly over to the crowd of people and pushed his way toward the man at the center of all the attention. I was right behind him when he suddenly stopped in his tracks, coming face to face with the most unusual man I had ever seen. I then saw something that I had never seen before in my life. Papa got fully down on the ground. He was laying face down right in the dirt and was almost shouting so that the man could hear him really well. Papa was pleading with the man to heal his little daughter. “She is about to die,” he said in desperation. “Please come and place your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” I had never heard Papa talk that way before. I was amazed.

Jairus Daughter – Part 1

Jairus’ Daughter

Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

My name is Amos. You don’t know me. I’m just a boy and not very important, I guess. But, I have a really good story to tell if you’d like to hear it. It’s not about me though. It’s really about my sister. Her name is Naomi. But, you probably don’t really know her either, at least not by name. I understand that most people only really know that she is my Papa’s daughter. You might know my Papa though. My Papa’s name is Jairus. This is about the day that my Papa met the Master. You know who He is. The Master is Jesus.

Well, it all started in a kind of silly way. You see Naomi and I were both still a little hungry one night. There was just a little bit of fish left over from a picnic that we had gone on the day before. Mama had said to throw it away because it was summer and food spoiled quicker in the heat, but Naomi and I had hidden some for a snack later. I had eaten mine the evening before, but she had saved hers until last night. She ate it just before going to bed and there was no problem at the time. That night we went to bed just like usual. But, Papa and Mama were talking about something really important so I kind of stayed awake to listen. They were talking about a rabbi named Jesus. I had heard about him from some of the other boys. They told me that this Jesus was healing sick people like leper’s and blind people. The blind people were getting to see, just like you and me. And some people were even saying that he was the Messiah that we Jews had waited such a long time for.

Well, anyway, Mama and Papa were almost arguing about this rabbi Jesus. Mama was telling Papa about all the wonderful things people were saying about Him. But Papa said that he had heard at the synagogue that Jesus was stirring up the people to rebel against the Romans and against the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem. Papa was sure that there was going to be some trouble with this rabbi and that we should stay away from Jesus and not go see Him if He came to our town. Mama argued that she wanted to know more, that this man might be a prophet or even the Messiah and she wanted to make up her own mind. Papa said that if this man named Jesus were a prophet, he would be recognized by the leaders in the synagogue or by the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem. But they were all sure He was some sort of troublemaker like those zealots that keep trying to stir up rebellion against Rome. Papa said he was going to stay away from Jesus and he made it clear that Mama and us children were to do the same.

That was pretty much all they said. Then they went to bed and we all had a peaceful sleep until about two hours before dawn. Naomi started moaning and groaning something awful. And she was holding her stomach saying that it was hurting really bad. Mama got up first to see what was wrong and to get her some water mixed with a little wine. That would usually help out an upset stomach, but Naomi just started throwing up all over the place. Mama then called for me and Papa to get up and help out. I had to get a big bowl with water in it and some rags to help clean up the mess. Mama asked Papa if they should send for the doctor and he said to wait a little bit to see if Naomi would settle down.

Two hours later the sun was coming up, we were all still very tired and Naomi was still moaning and groaning. Only now she was going at it with all she had. I am sure that they could hear her halfway across the village. Papa then decided that it was time to go and get the doctor. When Doctor Gomer got there, he mumbled a lot and gave her some of his medicine to take, but she just threw that up too. Some of the other ladies in the village came to see what they could do and each one of them seemed to have a favorite remedy to give someone with stomach pain. I think that Mama tried them all and Naomi threw them all up. Finally, about four hours after the sun came up it was high in the sky and warming the air pretty good, Naomi fell asleep.

Eber and the Tower – Part 7

The king made his entrance onto a balcony overseeing the courtyard, horns blaring. The guards commanded everyone to be quiet under threat of death. The king began to speak.

“Citizens of the great kingdom of Babel, thank you for meeting with me here today. It has come to my attention that the farmers of the valley do not want to sell me their crops of hay. No, I am told that they prefer to make their hay a gift to their king. Isn’t that generous?”

There was confusion and a great commotion amongst the farmers at this announcement.

“And indeed, they even wish to offer their sons as laborers for this mighty work of their king.”

Now the commotion grew louder as the farmers protested at the top of their lungs.

“I wish to thank you for your generosity and to promise you that if you should change your minds about this gift, I will have to make an example of one of your sons, to encourage you to continue your generosity until we have completed this tower that will reach up to the heavens.

As you can see, the tower is going to be completed soon because of your help. It will demonstrate the greatness of your king and his kingdom and new gods that I choose for us to worship.”

The commotion raised by the farmers continued to grow even louder in protest to what they were hearing.

“I can see that there are those among you who are not in complete agreement with my wishes, and are perhaps clinging to those old superstitions about the God of Noah. I am greater than any God of Noah; I am Nimrod, the most powerful warrior of all time. I will now show you that I mean what I say. Guards, take the boy that was selected to serve as a sacrifice to my will.”

The guards grabbed Joktan and pulled him to the center of the courtyard. He was surrounded by guards with spears pointed at him. Now instead of being filled with confidence, Joktan was suddenly filled with fear as he stared at the guards and their weapons.

The king resumed his speech.

“This tower and this city are a tribute to me, your king. You all owe me everything you have because I am the king. This tower is a tribute to me and what I can do. I will show you what happens to the sons of those that choose their mythical god over their service to me. Guards, exebla ga zornin!”

Suddenly no one could understand the king’s words any longer. When the guards asked each other what the king said, they couldn’t understand each other either.

The same thing was happening all over town and up on the tower. The workers couldn’t understand the foremen or each other, and they began to go back down to the ground where everyone was shouting at the tops of their lungs. Slowly small groups of those that could understand each other began to form and move off in one direction or another.

The same thing happened in the courtyard. The king continued to shout at the top of his lungs, but with so many other people doing the same he could not be heard. The sons and the fathers broke free from the confused guards.

Eber and Adah found Peleg. They were relieved they could still understand each other in their normal language. Together they looked until they found Joktan and sadly found that they could no longer understand him or he them. After a number of fruitless attempts to talk with him, Joktan grew angry and ran away.

When Eber and Peleg got home, they discovered that they same thing had happened there. Families were scattered all over the land as they tried to find groups of people they could communicate with. They found Joktan with a group of people that understood him, and he eventually migrated away from Babel with them, never to see his family again.

God was faithful and saved those who trusted in him. The others were scattered around the world as He had originally commanded. When you believe and obey, God is faithful, just you wait and see.

Eber and the Tower – Part 6

Back at the home of Eber, there was a single knock at the door before it burst open in a sea of splinters and a dozen or more soldiers rushed in and began capturing all of the farmers at the meeting.

The commander of the guards approached Eber and said, “Be especially careful with this one. The king is particularly anxious to see him in the morning.” Turning to the rest of his troops the commander shouted, “All right get these rebels out to the wagons for their trip to prison and don’t be gentle about it!”

Adah and the other wives tried to get to their husbands only to be shoved away by the soldiers. Eber shouted to his wife, “Pray Adah, pray…the Lord will hear and protect us.”

Adah could only cry and slumped to the ground outside their home as she watched helplessly. The wagons, surrounded by torch-bearing soldiers, were driven back to the city. She felt as though she had not only lost her husband this night but both of her sons as well.

Several friends got her up and helped her inside. After a few moments of weeping, Adah sat up straight in her chair, dried her tears and said, “All right ladies, it’s our turn. We must intercede for our men and children before the Lord, and keep at it until they return to us.”

With that she slipped out of her chair, down to the floor on her knees and began to pray, the others doing the same. “Lord of heaven and earth, creator of all that is, God of Adam, Noah and Enoch, hear our humble prayers…”

# # #

The next morning in the royal chambers King Nimrod dressed in his finest royal robes and spoke tersely to the commander of his royal guard.

“Do you have them all assembled for me to address?”

Bowing low to the king, his commander replied, “Yes Your Majesty, all of the farmers are present including that troublemaker Eber.”

“What about the sons of those rebellious farmers? Are they present as well for me to make examples of?”

“Yes, your majesty, including the two sons of Eber.”

“One of them tried to cooperate with us did he not?”

“Yes your majesty, but it did not work. His father still continued to form a rebellion against your demands.”

“Well then, he didn’t try hard enough, did he? We shall make an example of him first.”

“As you command, sire.”

# # #

“Eber, where is the Lord now that we need Him?” one of the neighboring farmers asked him as they stood assembled in the courtyard awaiting the arrival of the king. “Now, not only am I at risk of losing my life, my son has been captured as well. Does the Lord not hear our cries or feel our pain?”

Eber stood silent for a moment whispering yet another plea to the Lord in his deeply troubled heart.

“Good friend, He hears our cries and feels our pain. But we must hold true and believe. We are standing in obedience to Him against King Nimrod whose only desire is to defy the living God. Great Grandfather Noah had a saying, ‘God is faithful, just you wait and see.’ I suggest that you be patient my friend. Wait and see what the Lord will do.”

# # #

As they stood in the courtyard opposite their fathers waiting for the appearance of the king, Peleg whispered to his brother, “Joktan, what is going on with you? Why won’t you talk to me? Tell me what you were doing with those guards last night? They didn’t have you tied up. You were sitting playing a game with them at the table. It didn’t look like you were their prisoner.”

Joktan stood silently refusing to answer his brother.

“Joktan! Talk to me! We risked our lives to rescue you!”

Joktan finally whipped around to face his older brother, “Well, it sounds like you have it figured out, don’t you? I was working with them to get Pop to see the light. You weren’t supposed to rescue me. Pop was supposed to see the light and sell the hay to the king. Everything would have been fine, but no you had to play the hero and try to free me.”

“But supporting the tower is wrong! Joktan, Pop says that the Lord wants people to scatter around the whole earth, not stay in one place. King Nimrod wants to build this tower as a tribute to himself and as an affront to the Lord. He thinks that he is more powerful than the Lord. That’s prideful and wrong!”

“Says who? Pop? He’s just basing that on some old stories about Great Great Grampa Noah that were passed down. Those things aren’t true. They’re just stories that people tell. I don’t believe ‘em. I believe in the king. He’s the one with the power to help us or to hurt us. I am on his side, and he’s gonna thank me for that before this is all over. You’ll see.”

“Joktan, I don’t believe what I am hearing you say. Are you rejecting everything you’ve been taught?”

“Yes, now be quiet, here comes the king. You’ll see how right I was to side with him. You’ll see.”