The Surprise

The Surprise

By S.C. Mathisen

The cold wind whistled through the loose boards on the shack. Two figures inside shivered and wrapped their blankets around them more tightly to fend off the frigid air.

“Is there any more wood to put on the fire?” asked Anna.

“No, I’ll have to go out and round up some more.” Jacob took off his blanket, rolled it up, laid it carefully down away from the fire, and stood up.

“Where will you find wood this late at night?”

Smiling, he turned to his sister and winked, “I have a source you know nothing about. I’ll be back in a little bit.” He grabbed a sweater from a peg on the wall,

“You’re not stealing it, are you? You know what Pop would say.”

Jacob layered the thick sweater over the other’s he already wore. “Don’t you worry about that. I’ll worry about what Pop might say when he gets back. In the meantime, he’s not here, and we need wood.”

“I can’t understand why he’s been gone so long. Sometimes he goes away for a day or maybe two,” Anna said, “but this time, he’s been gone for three days! We are nearly out of food and already out of wood for the fire. “She buried her face in her knees. “I’m beginning to wonder if something happened to him, and he can’t get back to us.”

“Maybe so, but we can’t wait for him to come back. We need to take care of ourselves, and that is what I am going to do right now. I’m going out for some wood.”

Anna looked up and turned her eyes straight at her brother, “Jacob, be very careful out there. The is a really bad storm. I don’t want to lose you too.”

Jacob laughed his bravest laugh and imitated Pop’s voice. “Now don’t you worry your pretty little head, Anna, me girl. I’ll be back in two shakes of a tail.”

Then pulling his hat on hard enough to cover his ears, he went out the door into the stormy night and closed the door hard behind him.

Anna stared at the door for a while, then at the red coals that were the remnants of their fire. She wept and prayed.

Outside, the wind was blowing so hard Jacob had to lean into it to make any headway as he walked. He made his way across the street, turned left, and then down two blocks until he came to a hole in the side of an old brick building so tall, he couldn’t see the top.

Once inside, he had to crawl over lots of rubble to get to the pile of wood he was looking for.

Just as he was filling up his arms with the wood, there came a voice. “And what do you think you’re doin’ with that wood? It don’t belong to you. It belongs to me.”

Jacob turned toward where he thought the voice was coming from. He could see no one.

“No, it doesn’t!” He shouted back. “It doesn’t belong to anyone; it’s just scrap wood, and I’m taking what I need to keep warm.”

Jacob grabbed more wood and then ran with all the speed he could muster back toward the way he had come in. He could hear the footsteps of someone chasing him, so he hurried even more.

He was almost to the hole in the wall that went outside when he tripped, fell, and dropped all the wood he was carrying. He jumped back up and was picking up the wood when he felt something hit his head. He saw lots of bright lights, and then everything went dark.

The fire back at the shack finally went out and was now filling the place with smoke. “I just can’t sit and wait for Jacob to come back. I need to go out and find some wood or something to burn.” Anna said to herself. She folded up her blanket, put on her heavy coat over all of her sweaters, put on her hat, pulled it down hard so it would cover her ears and headed out the door of the little shack, careful to close it hard to keep the wind from blowing it open again.

Anna struggled to make any headway against the wind, but finally, she made it to the street and grabbed onto a lamp post and stood for a minute trying to figure out exactly which way Jacob might have gone. Not knowing he had gone left, she went to the right toward the docks and the waterfront. She and Jacob had gone down there often with their Pop when he worked building and repairing boats. Maybe Jacob had found a stash of scrap wood left over from someone’s boat repairs down there.

Jacob’s eyes opened to light so bright it hurt his eyes and to the worst headache he ever had. He rubbed his head and moaned while he tried to get his eyes accustomed to the light and to focus.

“Well, boy. So you thought you were gonna get away with my wood? Ha! Ha! Ha!” said a raspy voice so loud it hurt Jacob’s ears. “No one gets my wood, boy!”

Jacob’s head was throbbing as he turned in the direction he thought the voice came from. He tried to see who was talking, but his eyes still couldn’t focus.

“No, sir, I didn’t know it was anybody’s wood. My sister and I ran out of wood, and we are so cold.”

“I don’t care if you freeze to death, boy,” the voice thundered, “it’s my wood, and now you’re gonna pay for tryin’ to steal from me!”

Anna stayed close to the side of each building she walked past on her way down to the docks to stay out of the full force of the bone-chilling wind. Each time she felt the full force of the wind, she pulled her coat tighter around her small, thin frame.

When she got to the place where her Pop used to work, she saw a light on in his old workshop. She looked carefully through the window and couldn’t believe her eyes! There was her father, Aloysius, working on what looked like a large cage.

Anna ran around to the door and tried to go in, but it was locked with a big chain and a padlock. She banged on the door and yelled, “Pop! Pop! How do I get in?”

Frustrated, she began to cry. Then a thought popped into her head. She ran back around to the window and knocked as hard as she dared.

Aloysius, startled at the loud sound, turned and looked toward the window. At first, he looked shocked, then surprised, and then very frightened. He started waving at her to go away when a loud voice came from behind her. “Hey, girlie! What do you think you’re doing here?”

Anna turned around to the sound of the voice to see a very tall, brutish looking figure. Thinking quickly, she noticed a piece of wood stacked against the building, grabbed it, held it horizontally, and ran under him and through his legs. The piece of wood knocked his legs out from under him, and when he fell, he hit his head. After that, he lay still and silent.

“Oh, he’s out cold!” she said to herself. “I’ll just grab the keys hooked onto his belt. Maybe one of them will fit the lock on the door.”

Sure enough, one of them did open the lock, and she was soon in her father’s arms. After a quick hug, they ran out the door and back into town to their cold, little shack.

“Anna, why were you there? H-h-how did you find me?”

Anna quickly told how they had run out of wood, and Jacob had gone out looking for more wood, and she had gone out looking for Jacob.

Aloysius looked thoughtful for a moment and then said, “I bet you I know where he went. There is a building up the street a little way that we went to get wood once. I’ll bet he went there. He should have been back by now, though. Unless something happened to him…”

“Oh, Pop! What if he’s hurt? We have to go look for him.”

Smiling at his determined little girl with a mischievous gleam in his eye, he said, “Let’s go! The good Lord will provide a way.”

They didn’t go directly to the building with the hole in the wall. First, they went back to where he had been held captive and retrieved the cage-like thing he had been working on. When they did get to the building, he set the cage up, so it opened up toward the hole in the wall with just enough room around it for them to crawl in.

Then he turned to Anna and said, “Now you stay behind me. This is the den of Screecher and his gang. They are the biggest, hairiest, baddest gang in town. If they have Jacob, we’re gonna have to do some swift maneuvering to get him out of there.”

They crawled in and crept toward the interior of the building. Before long, they could hear voices and see a strong light.

Aloysius leaned over and whispered to Anna, “There’s quite an echo in this building. We’re going to use that to free Jacob.”

“How?” Anna whispered back.

“God is faithful, little girl. Just you wait and see.” Aloysius whispered with a smile.

He stood up and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Heeeey Screecher! You looking for a tender morsel? Come and get me!”

The sound of his voice echoed throughout the old building.

“Who’s that callin’ to me?” answered a loud, gruff voice.

“’Tis your old friend, Aloysius. I come to collect my boy. Oh, and by the way, I got rid of your big cage. Norman!”

“What did you call me? No one calls me Norman. I’ll get you for that. Here I come! Come on, boys!”

“Come and get me, Norman!” Aloysius yelled again at the top of his voice.

There was the sound of feet running over the rubble toward them.

Aloysius grabbed Anna, and they ducked back behind a pile of bricks.

They watched as Screecher and his gang rushed past them, out the hole in the wall and directly into the cage. Aloysius had set it up as a trap for them. They were trapped!

Aloysius and Anna quickly found Jacob and untied him. Then they picked up a load of wood, left of the building another way, stopped to call the police to come and pick up Screecher and his gang, made their way home, and built a roaring fire. They ate a small meal, and each told of their adventures.

Aloysius held his two children and said, “We are very fortunate mice, my little ones. The Lord watched out for us, and now we are all home safe and sound again. That fat cat will never bother us again. The trap he planned to use on us was used to trap him.”

 

 

Two Brothers – Part 2

The day had finally arrived for their Harvest Offering. At the end of the season, the family brought together offerings to the Lord to thank Him for the bounty that He had provided for them. Each member of the family brought the best of what their labors had produced. Adam and Eve both brought their offerings first. Then it was the boy’s turn.

Cain hurriedly brought a basket overflowing with items that he had grown this season. Each one had been selected with care. Adam noticed that, even though the basket was overflowing, the produce was among the ripest, very ripe. Some were almost beyond use. He also noticed that the basket was one size smaller than last year. He was not pleased with what his son had done and decided that he would talk to him about it after the ceremony. His oldest son was quickly done with his portion of their ceremony and backed away from the altar.

Abel’s gift was from the best of his youngest lambs. They were without blemish of any sort. Some of them had already been sacrificially killed to prepare for this offering. He slowly and carefully placed them on the altar, along with the choicest fat. He took his time, making sure that everything was just so. He seemed to be talking to himself as he was working at the altar. When he was done, he bowed his head down low and backed away slowly.

Adam approached the altar slowly. He carried with him a torch and lit the wood that had been carefully arranged on the altar and the offerings were consumed. Almost. After the flames had leaped high into the sky and the smoke curled up toward the heavens, there was one item left on the altar that was left mostly untouched by the flames. It was Cain’s basket.

The rest of the family looked first at the basket and then at Cain in disbelief. Cain stared at the basket. His eyes then dropped to the ground. He then turned and ran toward his fields as fast as he could go. Eve started to go after him, but Adam held her back. “He needs to sort this out for himself, Eve. This is between him and the Lord.” Adam said.

Eve turned to her husband, looked into his eyes, and said, “Adam, what happened? Why was his basket not burned with the rest?” Adam responded, “Sweetheart, did you look at that basket? It’s smaller than last year and the produce was all past the peak of ripeness. He didn’t offer the Lord his best and the Lord rejected his offering. He needs to look into his own heart and be honest with the Lord about his motivations and his heart.”

“But, Adam, did you see his face. I have never seen him look so hurt and rejected before. His pride was severely damaged here. I’m really worried about him.” Eve countered. Adam responded, “I think that maybe his pride may have been the issue. It needs to be taken down some. This will be good for him. It’s a lesson he needs to learn. He’s just doing it the hard way.”

Eve looked at her husband and said, “Adam, I don’t see anything wrong with taking pride in who you are or what you do. I’m going to talk to him. I can bring him around. I always have.” Adam took her gently into his arms and said, “At least wait until he comes home for dinner tonight. He’ll have calmed down by then.” “All right, I’ll wait,” she said and nestled into his embrace. Adam looked around for Abel and saw him walking off in the same direction that his brother had run and thought that maybe a brother-to-brother talk was long overdue. Maybe Abel could reach his brother in a way that he had not been able to lately. He turned toward the house with Eve by his side and, together, they walked home.

Abel knew just where to look. Cain always went to the same place when things were tough and confusing. The two boys had spent a lot of time there together when they were little. It was a rock overlooking the river and shaded by a number of trees. Abel headed out across the fields toward the river in search of his brother.

Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan – Conclusion

Ralphie looked around and, sure enough, they were. And so was everything else in the room. Oogie was trying to swim through the air over toward the bacon but only got himself completely turned around and was about to bump into the wall, nose end first.

“Oogie, my stomach doesn’t feel so good!” complained Raph.

Lucille was now floating over toward Ralphie and Oogie, “Hey, this isn’t so bad once you get the hang of it.”

“Well, maybe not for you, Lucille, but we still haven’t gotten any bacon, and it looks like you’re going to miss out on the cream you wanted too.” said Oogie.

“Don’t be too sure about that Oogie, I have myself aimed right at it and will soon have all I want. You just need to get planted on one of the walls so that you can launch yourself toward what you want and the cream is just about mine.”

Lucille was approaching the cream and opening up her mouth to capture one of the floating globs of cream.

“Yummy!” she purred. “Now to get to the other wall and launch myself back for more.”

Oogie watched closely and then twisted himself around and tried to kick off the wall so that he would be aimed at one of the pieces of floating bacon. But he pushed off too hard and flew right past the piece he wanted. It was just out of his reach.

“Darn, I need to push off a little lighter.” he said to himself as he twisted around to get another shot at the bacon of his dreams.

He was just about to push off when Ralphie sailed by and snatched the piece he wanted.

“Mmm-hmm! Thish ish really good bacon, Oogie!” Ralphie said while chomping the delicious morsel down.

“I take it your stomach is doing better now, Ralph?”

“It sure is! That bacon really hit the spot!” Ralphie said with a chuckle.

“Whee! This is fun!” squealed Lucille as she shot by gobbling up another floating blob of cream.

“It sure is!” said Ralphie as he zoomed by and snatching pieces two and three out of the air.

Oogie took aim at the last piece of bacon and was careful not to push too hard this time. He had his aim just right and was just about to snatch it when the alarm stopped sounding, and the whirling lights retracted back into the ceiling. At the same time, things stopped floating in the air and headed straight for whatever was beneath them. The gravity was back on, and Oogie missed his mark and fell to the floor instead.

The last thing he saw was the bacon dropping alongside him and then…nothing.

When Oogie’s eyes opened again, the kitchen was a complete shambles with stuff scattered everywhere on the floor, table top and counters. His head was pounding, and his stomach was growling.

“Oogie, are you ok?” Ralphie asked.

“I think so, everything is a little blurry,” Oogie replied.

“Well, it’s good to know that a knock on the head just knocks you out and doesn’t kill you. I guess your head’s too hard for that.” Lucille said with a little laugh in her voice.

“I almost had that last piece of bacon too, darn!” moaned Oogie.

“Yeah, you came mighty close.” Lucille snickered.

“Yeah, Oogie, about that last piece…um.” said Ralphie almost under his breath.

“Where is it, Ralphie? You got the other three, where is the last one?”

“Umm … well, you see it was like this—”

“Like what? I saw it falling with me. I almost had it.”

Lucille started walking away and snickered. “I’ll just let you two sort this out. Bye, fellas! Call me the next time you have a big foolproof plan.”

“Ralphie?”

“Oogie, don’t get mad. It wasn’t my fault.”

Oogie stood up and moved close to Ralphie until they were almost nose to nose.

“What wasn’t your fault? Come on, Ralphie, where is that last piece of bacon?”

“It’s just that it landed … right … in … my … mouth. It was an accident!”

“What? How can a piece of bacon just land in your mouth?”

“Well, I sort of landed on top of you with my mouth up and – well – it just dropped right into my mouth. I—just—gobbled it down out of reflex. I’m sorry, Oogie.”

“Of all the bad luck …”

“Oh no, Oogie. This really was your best plan ever!”

Oogie just turned away and muttered to himself. “All my planning, down the drain. Gonna have to think of another plan now… Hmmm, that just might work!”

Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan – Part 2

“Say Oogie, you know what? I’m … I’m … gonna head … outside to look for that lost bone. I think it’s in the hydroponics lab,” said Ralphie heading out the pet door.

“Oh, come on Lucille, I was just explaining it to Ralphie in a way he would understand. You know he wasn’t the brightest pup in the litter.”

“Well, neither were you Oogie. So tell me, what’s in this for me if I decide to help you?”

“Uh, Lucille, I hadn’t really thought about that. What would you like?”

“It did occur to me that, in addition to bacon being on the table at breakfast time, they also put a pitcher of cream for their coffee. I’ll provide a distraction for you if you’ll also get that down for me. Do we have a deal?”

“Well, I don’t know …”

“Oogie, all you have to do is knock over the cream pitcher.”

“Um … um … I don’t know …”

“Oogie, all you have to do is knock over the cream pitcher. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Can Ralphie and I get a taste of the cream too?”

“Oh sure, you can grab some to go with the bacon. It’s a little hard to carry.”

“Oh … yeah … Ok, we’ll do it for you. Here’s the plan, first thing tomorrow morning …”

The next morning, Oogie and Ralphie headed to the kitchen just like they did every morning. But, Lucille was nowhere to be seen.

Ralphie looked at Oogie and said, “What do we do if she doesn’t show?”

“We go back to our first plan and just hope we’re fast enough to get away with it …”

“I hope so because that bacon smells really good and it’s makin’ me extra hungry … but …”

“But what?”

“I keep thinking about that broom over there. I got spots that still hurt.”

“Oh look, Ralphie, there she is. It’s showtime as soon as that bacon hits the table.”

“The bacon is going to hit the table? What if it bounces someplace we can’t get to it? That would be horrible.”

“Huh? What?”

“We’d probably get blamed for it and then get hit with that broom again!”

“No Ralphie, it’s just an expression meaning that the bacon will be put onto the table. It’s not going to bounce anywhere until we knock it off the table.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Now quiet down, I need to keep an eye on Lucille.”

“Oogie …”

“Shh, quiet Ralphie, I’m watching. What? Where’d she go?”

“Ha! Not so foolproof — again!”

“You’re not helping, Ralph!”

“Oogie …”

“Quiet Ralphie, I’m thinking …”

“Oogie …”

Ralphie, I’m …”

“Oogie, I found Lucille.”

“Huh? What? Where?”

“Look up at the ceiling.”

Oogie looked up at the kitchen ceiling and saw Lucille floating gracefully through the air in a sort of spiral pattern. She was clawing the air frantically trying to get right-side up but, she just continued to rotate over and over.

“Oogie, is this what you meant when you said your new foolproof plan was going to be completely different?”

A shrill wavering siren began to blare, and a swirling flashing red light lowered itself from the ceiling.

“That doesn’t sound good, Oogie.”

“It doesn’t look so good either. I think the space station gravity system is broken again.”

“The what? How do you know that?”

“Because we’re floating now too.”

Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan – Part 1

Oogie’s New Foolproof Plan

“Oogie, are you sure this is gonna work? Your last idea landed us in the doghouse for a solid week.”

“Ralphie, we’re dogs, we always sleep in the doghouse.”

“Yeah, but it’s worse when they put you on half rations.”

“Oh Ralphie, forget all that. This is the best plan I had ever had. It is foolproof. It…is…stupendous!”

“No way! Your last plan was foolproof too. I still have bruises from the broom swats.”

“That won’t happen this time. No brooms, no way!”

“Well, all right…but only if you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

“So, how is this plan different? You scare me when you get this excited about one of your plans ‘cause I’m always the one that gets hurt.”

“That won’t happen this time. No way!”

“Ok, you said that already. What is this foolproof plan, Mr. Big Brains?”

“Last time we went after the bacon too soon.”

“Too soon?”

“Yes, too so. We tried to get it from that pan on the stove. We knocked it over, and bacon grease went flying everywhere.”

“Everywhere but our mouths. Most of it landed on the floor.”

“Uh, yeah. So when we did get the bacon, we couldn’t get away with it because of the grease all over the floor too. It was too slippery. We got caught.”

We knocked it over? Let’s get that part straight right now. You knocked it over!”

“Ok, ok, I knocked it over, but you were supposed to grab it and run away with it.”

“Oh yeah, I was just supposed to grab it before it hit the floor. But, it turned out to be impossible with that pan flying straight at me.”

“I suppose my aim could have been a little better.”

“Yeah, and that grease was hot too! I nearly got splattered with it, after I dodged the pan. Then, when I did grab the bacon, I couldn’t get any traction on the floor because of the grease… And then…there was the broom. Ewww! It makes me shiver all over just to think about it.”

“Never mind all that. This time it’s going to be completely different.”

“Ok, maybe. How?”

“I got it all figured out.”

“You do, huh?”

“Yeah, think about it. What happens to the bacon after they cook it?”

“Doh! They eat it!”

“Slow down speedy brain. What happens to it before that?”

“I dunno. They just put it on a plate and eat it. That’s all.”

“That’s right. What happens after they put it on the plate and before they eat it? Think!”

“Hmmm…it sits and cools off while they get the rest of their breakfast ready?”

“Exactly. And we need to get to it while they are distracted with the eggs, toast, juice and coffee.”

“Hey! That’s right! That plan could…wait a minute. How are we going to get it off the plate without being noticed?”

“Heh heh heh! That’s the fun part. We use the cat for a diversion. I’m a genius! That’s what I am, a gen-ee-us!”

“Hold on just a minute, Mister Genius! How are we going to get Lucille to go along with helping us? Her whole mission in life is to make us miserable.”

“That right, and so we play a little trick on her, and she plays right into our plan without even knowing it.”

“Oh, we are huh? And just how will we do that Mr. Genius?”

“Yes, just how were planning on doing that Oogie?” came a feline voice from the kitchen counter above Oogie.

“Huh? Oh hi, Lucille! How is my favorite feline?”

“Don’t even bother trying to be nice to me, Oogie. I know how you feel. I overheard you trying to set me up for the blame on your next bacon caper.”

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.

God Cares for Me – Conclusion

The girls chose to trust Mr. Christopherson and when he led them into the dark and gloomy part of the trail, some of the other kids got scared and nervous. But, Susie and Andrea didn’t because they knew the teacher personally and trusted him to take care of them.

And it did get dark, it got very dark and the breeze began to get cold. The path became wet and the children began to be scared. Then they started hearing the creepy noises. Owls were hooting. Mountain lions were growling. Strange lights were going on in the distance.

The children were beginning to huddle themselves closer together and some of the girls were beginning to cry.

Mr. Christopherson heard all this, stopped the group, gathered all the children together in a little spot where there were some benches.

Mr. Christopherson stood there in the middle of the children with his walking stick.

“All right you guys, I know this place looks and feels really creepy but, remember that I am right here with you all the time and I’ve got this big stick. Nothing can get to you without going through me.”

A sigh of relief went through all the children. Johnny jumped up and went and stood next to Mr. Christopherson and said loudly, “and they’ll have to get through me too!”

The children all laughed.  Mr. Christopherson put his hand on Johnny’s shoulder and said “that’s right! They’ll have to get through Johnny too. Now, let’s get moving.”

So off they went on the path laughing and talking.

Psa 23:5  You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

When they arrived at the campsite, the children were surprised to see a large white tent set up. Inside the tent were  tables set up with lots and lots of food. Johnny saw a large plate of oatmeal raisin cookies and began to run. Then he saw Mrs. Johnson, Susie’s mom and his mom and dad and all the other parents of the kids in the class. Everyone sat down to a large meal with all their friends and families and had a wonderful time.

Psa 23:6  Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

When everyone was done eating, Mr. Christopherson stood up and said, “All of this was arranged as part of our lesson on Psalm 23. I wanted you all to know that Jesus is your good shepherd and cares for you all the time where ever you are. No matter what. If anyone wants to harm you, they have to go through Him. I  set all of this up with your parents. The weird noises in the scary place were set up by some of the dad’s. You were never in any danger whatsoever. You were surrounded at all times by people who love you and care for you. But, God cares for you even more than we do. That is our lesson for the day.