Sanctification–the Reformation and Beyond

Faithful Remnant Series

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17

Beth looked down at her brown shoes noticing a leaf had stuck to the dewy dampness of the sole. She also noticed that she was the only one wearing brown at Dr. Simon’s funeral. She didn’t care. She could have worn black or grey, but her defiant mood would not allow it. She could hardly hear the eulogy with her own thoughts replaying over and over a meeting with Dr. Collins the day before.

You must be ready to teach this class by August…You must…You must…

She had remained sitting alone in Dr. Simon’s office long after their meeting had ended frozen with frustration. Fuming and trying to think of any way to escape the demands of her colleague while mindful of his subtle threat of losing tenure. Finally, after feeling somewhat spooked from sitting in a dead man’s office, she left. She would return on Monday and rearrange everything to dust off the spookiness. After all she would have to spend the summer in his office studying his notes, his books, INSTEAD OF GOING TO FRANCE, she screamed to herself.

After the funeral, Beth indulged herself over the weekend with an at home spa treatment. Long overdue and deserved she thought. By Sunday afternoon she had relaxed and began thinking in a more positive manner about her situation. Chiding herself for crankiness—instead she should be grateful for the privilege of being a professor at such a prominent university. And she reminded herself that she was close, very close to tenure status at College.

College, an ancient university, originally founded by Christians, although currently embracing all religions, still uses the original motto as a seal on its letterhead: God is our strength. The university is situated in its original location in College Hill in the heart of historical colonial America, and is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, known for producing Presidents, Scientists and award winning Authors.

Mary Elizabeth Brighton had been called Beth by her parents since she was born. Her father, a medical doctor and her mother, a doctor in research and development for a pharmaceutical company had placed high expectations before Beth—expecting her to excel in everything from potty training to reading, writing, speaking and math. Her mother had taken a one year sabbatical from her career to be at home with Beth and after finding the “perfect” governess, she returned to work.  Beth’s Ginny (real name Jennifer, but called Ginny by Beth) had trained her in all the social graces and educational requirements to prepare her for private school–a Christian school established by a Lutheran church, where her parents were also members. She advanced quickly through the grade levels graduating early, prepared to enter the local university which had already been secured monetarily by her parents. They had made it known to her since middle school that she would attend the university in her own hometown and that nothing less than a doctorate would be an acceptable academic achievement. But she was allowed to choose the field. Beth knew her parents loved her dearly otherwise she would be unable to bear the control they exerted over her life. Her friendships and activities were closely monitored and instead of going on dates alone with a boy like most of her friends, she was allowed to spend time with male friends in group activities.  

When Beth announced that she would pursue a doctorate in education, majoring in history, specializing in medieval history, both parents were disappointed. Not the most lucrative avenue she could have chosen. Her mother tried her best to convince Beth of alternatives pointing out all the advantages to other career paths. But Beth remained steadfast in her choice. Since her teen years she had loved the romantic stories about the Knights and Kings, the heroics of Barbarians and Vikings, the charity of monks and monasteries. She loved to study historical cultures of different people groups, writing research papers and language study. She had studied French language since middle school and then Russian language at the university. During her first year at the university, more than once, and in her hearing, her father had joked with her mother that after language studies, and studies in history and culture, Beth would be a good candidate to work in government intelligence–his sneaky way to persuade a different career path. And both parents had held onto hope that their only beloved child would change her career path once she got basics out of the way. But Beth held onto the bit of rebellion she could finally get away with—her own choice of career.

As it turned out Beth’s parents got what they wanted too. With tenure soon to be accomplished, she expected to be appointed Chair of the history department and then her salary would increase to an amount her parents considered redeemable. Dr. Simon had been Chair of the history department, but he had announced an early retirement when he discovered he had lung cancer. He continued his administration duties through most of the spring semester but passed away at home in hospice care during the last week of finals. Dr. Simon had taught history of the Christian Church and was scheduled to teach a class during the upcoming fall semester, now Beth would have to prepare to step in and teach this class.

Beth had already studied Christian Church history as well as teach classes several years back when she had been an intern. But the subject was not her specialty—she would have to prepare lectures and be prepared to answer questions. And she would miss her usual two week trip abroad—this year it was going to be France. Instead she would spend the summer in Dr. Simon’s office.

Now that the spring semester had ended, Beth decided to change her jogging time to early morning beginning Monday. Starting out at a leisurely pace, she consoled herself with not having to give up jogging for two weeks as she would if traveling and perhaps this year she would be better prepared for the marathon coming up.  She recalled conversations with her parents the day before on Sunday afternoon. Since she had moved away from home, her parents called every Sunday afternoon and her mother refused to communicate with her by text. Said she wanted to “hear my Beth’s voice.” They had been encouraging, saying they were confident in her ability to “step up to the plate” and deliver a “stellar” performance in Dr. Simon’s place, “may he rest in peace.”

She wasn’t so sure.

As planned, on Monday morning, again she stood in Dr. Simon’s office, this time not spooked, but in awe, reverent awe of Dr. Simon’s legacy as a professor. He was known for remembering the details, not just the facts, dates and such, but the significance of events leading to “a higher purpose.” A key phrase he used frequently, as she recalled.

She spent the first day looking through his books and files to find the material needed for study. She cleaned the mini refrigerator and the cabinet beside it, including the coffee pot, not realizing how handy these items would be in the weeks to come.

Sitting back in his cushioned leather chair she noticed a small drawer in the center of the desk. Slowly she pulled it open, feeling as if she was prying into someone’s privacy—seeing what looked like a journal or an organizer and next to it a leather bound Bible with Dr. Simon’s name in gold lettering. Taking hold of the journal she said to herself, just read the first page, then I can close it up and give it to his wife or keep reading…

Chapter Two

Again she hesitated to open the journal, considering personal items such as these should be given to his wife, but then she wondered why they had not already been given to her. So taking a deep breath she opened the journal and began reading.

May All Who Come Behind Me Find Me Faithful–by G.L. Simon

In these last days, not only of my life, but also of the church, it is most precious to discover the abiding, loving fellowship of the Savior. Neither tradition, religion, self-righteousness, idols of wealth, accomplishment or pleasure can surpass the profound peace of having sin forgiven, the joy of a new life hidden in Christ, the love of a Savior who knows everything, yet wants to dwell within…

Tears began to well up in her eyes. An encounter with something her dear colleague had so lovingly written, suddenly unblocked the fountain of feelings she held inside, pouring out tears of mourning. For as long as she could remember, she had placed a hedge around her emotions, guarding them lest they escape and make her vulnerable—vulnerable to what, she did not know.

Hearing a familiar tap on the door she hurriedly replaced the journal in the drawer and opened the door to see, as expected, Dr. Collins with his usual closed-mouth smile waiting in the doorway for an invitation to come in.

Following protocol she invited him in, but left the door open since he was alone. Turning her back to him for a moment she wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes.

“How are things coming along Dr. Brighton? Feeling at home in your new office?”

She whisked herself around to face him surprised that he was already calling this her new office, yet going along with it. With a straight face she raised her chin. “Better than expected. I have found the books and notes needed…and I assure you I will make good use of the coffee pot while I prepare lectures…and I am confident the class will go on as scheduled in August.”

Dr. Collins grinned, again with a closed mouth, but with eyes flashing his approval. “Good!” Then pausing in the doorway before leaving, “Let me know if you need anything.”

Straight-faced she pursed her lips to keep from smiling and nodded affirmatively.

Within a few weeks, although she would never admit it to Dr. Collins, Beth found that she enjoyed working on campus that summer. Before, she had never taken the time to enjoy the beautifully landscaped lawns and the gardens shaded by ancient trees–now most every afternoon she took a break from her studies with a delightful walk around the campus–the atmosphere quiet and peaceful with less faculty and students milling around.

She wrote notes and lectures on her laptop, but practiced delivering her lectures at home to an audience of one, her poodle, Zadie–actually a mutt, part poodle and part cocker spaniel, but looking more like a poodle. Zadie, twelve years old, had been with her since her first year of college, snuggling up to her while she studied and faithfully listening to her speeches, but now she slept most of the time, yet kept one eye open as Beth practiced lectures.

One particular evening after delivering her speech, Zadie barked once then waddled over to curl up with Beth on the couch. Beth gave her a treat, stroked her curly, silvery-black fur until she fell asleep again and then carried her back to the dog bed lest she fall off the couch and hurt her legs. She sighed knowing her old dog may not have many more days left and began to feel lonely at the thought of it. And sorry for herself.

Thirty-three years old, unmarried, no children, and no close friends in College Hill. She had longtime childhood friends from back home, but most, like herself, had moved away. Recently, the closest thing to a date was an invitation to a Saturday evening worship service. The worship service had been refreshing and afterward she had a wonderful time having coffee with Dan and his friends, Amber and Justin. She had been going to a Lutheran church in College Hill, occasionally, but the members there were mostly older and married. And she had been disappointed that Dan had not called her again to invite her to his church or anywhere–however, Amber had invited her to a Bible study for women. Why not, thought Beth. So along with relearning church history for the summer a new venture of Bible study had begun too.

Beth had blushed the first time she had gone to the Bible study with Amber. Blushed at Amber’s comment. “Your Bible is beautiful…white, your name in gold…looks so clean and new.”

Amber had blushed too, biting her lower lip, realizing her comment indicated Beth had not used her Bible much. But it was true. Beth had received the Bible as a gift when twelve years old after completing the confirmation classes at church. And thereafter studied the Bible only when required for classes at her Christian school or for Christian religion classes at the university. Knowing the basics of the Christian faith, therefore she is Christian, she thought.

Soon she learned that “even the demons believe that—and shudder.”1

This new realization caused a great stir of contemplation within Beth’s heart. She had also been studying Dr. Simon’s notes on Martin Luther of the Reformation famous for teaching, “The just shall live by faith.”

She had questions coming to mind in the Bible study class, but the class was not structured for question and answer sessions—it was more like a small worship service on Sunday morning–the same church where she had gone to worship with Dan on Saturday evening months before. The class began with a young woman playing a guitar while singing and leading the small group of twenty women to sing along and then pray. Then an elderly woman, Ms. Ruth, with the aid of a cane walked up to the podium, who at first seemed weak and feeble, yet energized by the Holy Spirit she spoke with great wisdom teaching from the book of James.

One Sunday morning, after the Bible study, instead of going to the larger, mid-morning worship, she and Amber went out for brunch at a deli nearby; and while drinking coffee, Beth humbled herself, took courage and asked Amber the questions on her heart.

“Amber, wondering if you could clear up a few things—questions coming up from our Bible study?”

Amber looked somewhat surprised but eager to help. “Sure! What questions do you have?” Then she retrieved her Bible from the front pocket of her purse for reference.

“Well, I think I understand, but you tell me—and what started my confusion is at the same time we’re studying the book of James, I’m reviewing church history and Martin Luther’s famous saying, “The just shall live by faith.”2

Amber took a sip of coffee and nodded to affirm she was listening. “Ah…I see.”

Beth sighed from exasperation, “Luther is more focused on faith without depending on works…but is James simply adding to faith—faith followed by works?”

Amber smiled–not a condescending smile, but of love for a seeker of spiritual truth. “I understand—sometimes things can seem like a contradiction—this is why we study the whole Bible–Luther’s teaching is a fundamental Christian doctrine taught by Apostle Paul in Romans and Galatians—James…uh…well James complements it.”

Beth digested Amber’s explanation while sipping her coffee then Amber opened her Bible to find the book of James. “Here in James, chapter two, verse 17, he says: In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. And he goes on in verse 18, I will show you my faith by my deeds. And then he demonstrates true faith by Abraham in verse 22: You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”

Amber clarified. “In other words, a person can claim to have faith in Christ, but a person’s actions will prove if they have the love of Christ in their heart.”

Suddenly the blazing light of truth arose as the dawn in Beth’s soul. She had remembered reading Dr. Simon’s notes about Luther’s quest for truth from the scriptures leading him to rebuke the Catholic Church for the practice of selling indulgences.

In Luther’s day, a priest by the name of Tetzel had been selling “indulgences” to the people in his parish, a common practice at that time. People could buy a certificate allowing them to be forgiven a particular sin while continuing to practice the same sin. Based on scriptures, Luther preached “justification by faith alone” to correct the false teaching of indulgences and the practice of penance in the church. Luther’s rebuke, according to scripture, was to carnal Christians who indulge in sin to exploit God’s grace or on the other hand perform self-righteous acts to pay the penalty for sin.2

The excitement of discovery sparkled in Beth’s eyes. “So it seems Luther was correcting a negative practice–tolerating sin or depending on self-punishment to cover sin—while James is saying that righteousness is a result of faith in Christ–our good deeds express, or…or prove that we love Christ.”

Amber quietly clapped. “Yea! You got it.”

Beth and Amber continued chatting over their breakfast and refills of coffee. Beth asked about Justin and Dan. Amber sensed Beth’s interest was actually Dan. Amused and knowing in about fifteen minutes she would possibly have an answer from Dan himself, she decided to talk first about a new secret.

“Justin and I have finally come to an agreement—we’ve been discussing for weeks—months now—a venture we’re both so excited about.”

Beth’s eyes popped wide with anticipation. “Venture? What is it?”

Amber glowing with joy, leaned forward, closer to Beth and announced in a hushed tone. “Justin and I are engaged—planning to get married in October–the exact date we need to coordinate with both our families.”

“Congratulations!” Taking in a breath expressing surprise and then laughing. “I heard ‘venture’ and thought you two were starting a business.”

Amber laughed and explained. “We are starting a new venture—we’ve decided to be foster parents and adopt as many children as we can—at least ten!”

“Wow! Now that is a venture—wow—adopting children—ten children—wow!”

“Justin is working on remodeling a huge old house…”

As planned, Justin and Dan had left the morning church service and arrived at the deli, walking up behind Amber as she was explaining. Justin stood behind Amber and placed his hands on top of her shoulders. “Justin is not the only one remodeling that old house—Dan is helping too.”

Amber looked up at Justin and laughed, patted his hand and motioned for them to sit in the empty chairs at the table. “Dan—Beth was just asking about you.”

Beth blushed. “Oh yes—how are you Dan? And congratulations Justin!” Flustered she explained that Amber had already shared the good news about their engagement.

Dan graciously smoothed over Beth’s embarrassment. “I’ve been kept busy chaperoning these two and it’s true I’ve helped with the house a bit too…And I hear that you and Amber enjoy Ms. Ruth’s Bible study…”

“Yes very much—Ms. Ruth is an excellent teacher—learning many good things—and Amber too—she has kindly answered my questions this morning—thank you Amber.”

Dan and Justin ordered lunch and offered to treat the ladies to more coffee or dessert but both politely declined content to sip ice water and chat.

Chapter Three

After jogging on Monday morning, Beth began another week of work at her “new” office—this time with something to look forward to by the end of the week—another date with Dan. At least, she would call it a date even though it would be to the Saturday evening worship service at church.

Continuing on with the same office routine as the past few weeks, she brewed a pot of coffee, savoring the first cup while reading the next section of Dr. Simon’s journal and scripture from his Bible. Reading his journal helped her to see church history in a different light than ever before—as well as the Bible. Dr. Simon expressed a close, personal relationship with the Savior—and he considered the Bible text, the very word of God, as God speaking personally to him–and the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, dwelling within teaches, guides and comforts.

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2Timothy 3:16-17

Beth began to contemplate the unfathomable greatness of God and the wonder of how he longs to have a personal friendship with each of his children. Something that she had missed in her religion. She had never felt like a “child” of God—the overshadowing protection of God Almighty or the tender loving care of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. She had thought, God is in heaven waiting for people to come to him when they die, but not taking much interest in our personal daily lives on earth. Yet, a new way of thinking about God blossomed as she read about God’s relationship with Adam and Eve, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brothers, Moses, and the people of Israel.

God talked with people, walked with them, provided for them, and by his (omnipotent) all powerful, redeeming love, can make a beautiful tapestry out of life’s tragic threads of sinful folly.

Beth’s heart began to ache for want of knowing God for herself.

Tired of study and writing notes prompted an afternoon walk around the campus. She smiled, greeted and chatted with colleagues as they passed by, noticing that they too seemed to enjoy the casual summer atmosphere.

Dr. Janus smiled, waved and then walked across the lawn to talk with her as they now walked along the sidewalk together. “How’s the new course prep coming along?”

“Oh, well don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been so enlightened by Dr. Simon’s lecture notes.”

Dr. Janus chuckled. “If you would like, I can let you study my lecture notes next summer.”

“Ha, ha.” Beth knew he was joking, making humor out of her missing a trip to France. “I doubt that I’ll have time if I spend a whole month in Europe next summer.”

“Wow, a whole month. Will you be studying at a university?”

“No. It’s a trip my parents are planning and they want me to go along.”

“Ah! Nice! Probably means they’re paying for it too! But I don’t want to get too personal.”

Beth chuckled, stopping at the entrance to the history office. He smiled and waved goodbye saying, “Hey, maybe I’ll see you jogging sometime.”

“Sure! Still working toward the marathon.” She smiled goodbye, walked in the door and up the steps to her office still thinking of Dr. Janus. He lived in her same old neighborhood, an historic district of updated brick cottages with bike paths along the river nearby. She had recently seen him jogging there, but they had been going in opposite directions. An interesting, almost mysterious person, she thought. She guessed his age to be around forty and knew that he had recently divorced. As a colleague she knew he held two doctorates—one in Language Arts and the other in Linguistics. And they had something in common—he had also studied Russian and French. But, as far as she knew, he was not a Christian.

Disciplining herself, she finished notes and another lecture just in time to submit to Dr. Collins for review via email. Then she packed up her laptop to head home feeling good about the work accomplished so far—half of the course prepared. Maybe she would celebrate with Spaghetti and Meatballs (she always shared at least one meatball with Zadie).

To her surprise, Zadie did not come to greet her at the door when arriving home. After, unloading groceries on the table she walked to the living room to see Zadie still lying on her dog bed sleeping. Petting her head startled her awake as if she had been dreaming and then she barked before realizing it was Beth. Slowly, Zadie awakened showing somewhat the normal excitement when seeing Beth come home—licking her hands and trying to dance around, but then she lethargically laid back down on her bed.

Beth spoke in her usual cooing baby talk as she stroked her back. “Zadie—what’s the matter with my sweet Zadie? Maybe we should take you to the vet! Or maybe a meatball would perk you up.” Zadie opened her eyes then closed them again as if she wanted only to sleep.

Beth called the vet and made an appointment, but it would be three days before they could fit her in. She put the groceries away and then tried to get Zadie to drink a little water and go out to the backyard. Maybe fresh air would energize her. Out of habit, Zadie drank a little water then waddled slowly outside, quickly taking care of business and then back inside to lay down again.

Beth sighed. “What are we going to do to make you better Zadie?”

As planned she made Spaghetti and Meatballs served on special plates, a wine glass with grape juice, salad and a basket of warmed bread with garlic butter—placing one meatball on a plate for Zadie. “Come on Zadie! Come celebrate with me?”

Beth smiled encouraged to see Zadie slowly walk to her plate, sniff at the meatball and then nibble away half of it before going back to her dog bed.  Beth walked over and tousled the hair on top of Zadie’s head. “Old girl, you rest now—maybe you will feel better tomorrow.”

Beth finished celebrating alone listening to music by Bach. Later, before going to bed, checking on Zadie, she found her snoring—her cute, low-murmuring, humming sort of snore. Beth smiled as she kissed the top of her head.

Then before going to sleep, Beth started a new habit—reading from the Bible.

Chapter Four

Awakened by a radio alarm set for starting the day, Beth yawned while slipping on house shoes, then stretched up and then down. She had slept well making her feel somewhat groggy, yet aware of the fact that Zadie had not awakened her to go out during the night. Getting herself together, then drinking a glass of water with lemon juice and brewing a cup of coffee, all the while concerned that Zadie had not yet come to greet her in the kitchen as usual.

A bad feeling came over her as she stepped into the living room looking at Zadie lying on her bed. Stooping down to pet her head—Zadie remained quiet—lifeless–Zadie was dead.

Beth wailed. “Oh, my Zadie—wake up—please wake up!”

Crying, Beth wrapped Zadie in her dog blanket, holding her close while she sat on the couch. An hour passed until she finally let go, realizing no amount of crying or warming her in a blanket would bring her back. Zadie was gone. Forever.

Slowly, by rote, going through the morning motions, she managed to get ready for work, but then realized she could not go on. She needed to stop. Take time to mourn. Take care of Zadie’s burial. She sent Dr. Collins an email to explain her absence, since he would be expecting her at his office for a planned staff meeting.

Almost numb to everything else, she went to the backyard and selected a spot for Zadie’s burial. Shoveled out a space. Placed Zadie in a box wrapped with pretty foil paper leftover from Christmas. After placing her in the small grave Beth sang a hymn and read Psalm 104. When she stopped weeping, she covered over Zadie’s grave with a mound of soil and placed on top a bouquet of flowers she had picked from her flower pots. She would make a cross with Zadie’s name on it later. Then she curled up on the couch and cried herself to sleep.

Later that afternoon she changed into pajamas because she just felt like snuggling up in a blanket to read a good book. First checking email, Dr. Collins had replied with kudos on the lectures prepared thus far and condolences, offering to bring her a new puppy from his neighbor’s dog litter.

She thought about the reality of having a new puppy while sitting on the couch, curled up in a cotton blanket, wearing cozy flannel pajamas and sipping a cup of hot tea.  A new puppy is not what I need, she thought. What I need—what I need is—I need you God—I need you Lord Jesus—I need you in my life. Tears came again, but she didn’t hold them back this time. While getting a box of tissues from the cabinet next to her bed, there next to the lamp was her Bible. With a smile of triumph through the tears, she thought, This is the good book I’ll read this afternoon.

Thumbing through the Bible and looking at the various books, not knowing where to start—perhaps Genesis and read through the whole Bible. Then remembering something Dr. Simon had written in his journal—“just ask the good shepherd, a wonderful counselor.”

With a sigh, as if breathing out the old and breathing in the new—a new step forward–she prayed. Lord Jesus, please help me—I’m sorry for shutting you out of my life—I want to know you like Dr. Simon knew you—like the people in the Bible knew you—I want to be your child—your friend—please guide me, teach me from your word.

Beth opened the Bible again and noticed a small star marked with a pen next to John 15. Intrigued, she began reading something Jesus had said to his disciples.

“…As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love…you are my friends if you do what I command…

Tears came again, this time tears of joy. Thank you God. Now I know you are right here with me. Keep me forever.

Beth continued reading the rest of the afternoon and into the evening finding peace and comfort in her newfound friend.

Chapter Five

Returning to work the next morning after giving up jogging to get an earlier start she continued reading Dr. Simon’s journal and lecture notes coming upon notes that seemed to have been written at a later time than the original notes. His tone concerned, almost grief stricken. She wondered if he had written them after discovering he had cancer.

He had written a treatise, almost like a sermon, she thought. He had lamented the many church fathers, from the beginning of the church age through present day, who had started out gloriously, but in the end their fire had fizzled out in either doctrinal error or some reproachful act. It seemed that even the most glorious of church fathers, pillars of the faith, were flawed.

However, he graciously pointed out that flawed saints are not uncommon to mankind. We have only to look further back at Abraham, Jacob, Samson, King David, and so forth. We see the frailty and folly of our most beloved saints and the one who started it all, Adam. All these cause us to look to the perfect Savior, who brought the cure for the curse—Messiah Jesus the Christ.

Dr. Simon also mentioned his own frailty as a Jew, yet now a believer in Messiah Jesus. Before becoming a believer in the Messiah he had harbored secret hatred toward Christians. After all, Christians have persecuted Jews for centuries. But now with spiritual blindness removed he could see clearly prophecies of the Bible fulfilled when Messiah came to earth–providing atonement for sin by his death on the cross and by his resurrection, new life forever. Other prophesies yet to be fulfilled tell of a future time of judgment for all who have rejected the Messiah Jesus. He longed for the day when his people, the Jews, as a nation, would no longer reject their Messiah.

Beth would ponder this “sermon” of Dr. Simon’s for weeks to come, reading it over and over again.

Staying focused on the August goal the remainder of the week, she worked more hours, drank more coffee, and then it seemed the weekend suddenly arrived. Life seemed strange without Zadie meeting her at the door when coming home late in the evening. She missed her. Yet, she felt comforted by the love of God. Beth could hardly wait for Saturday evening, to tell Dan about her discovery, her newfound friendship with Christ. And also, to tell Amber at Bible study on Sunday morning.

Saturday morning seemed just right for getting back into jogging, so rising early to set out in the cool of the morning before the rising summer heat in the afternoon–she began with stretches on the front porch, trying not to notice the lawn needing mowed again—it will have to wait a few days, she thought.

Starting out with a brisk walk leading up to a slow jog and then to a faster pace she envisioned the donuts and coffee she had promised herself if she finished the whole seven miles. Smiling at others along the path, some walking, some jogging, some biking she wondered what goals they had—do they have secret sorrows? Secret sins?

There was a time when she had looked with disdain upon the poor, uneducated and depraved. But today, with joy overflowing, she thought, Everyone needs the Savior!

After finishing the seven miles she raised her arms in victory looking up toward heaven. Thank you God! Slowly walking over to the donut shop just a block away she went to the drive-through window and ordered donuts, coffee and juice. When the waitress proceeded to hand her change, with a sudden inspiration of generosity, Beth said, “Keep the change! Jesus loves you! Have a good day!”

The waitress laughed with surprise. “Thank you! God bless you!”

Beth felt like the joy she had could carry her the rest of the way home, but she walked back over to the park bench she had seen along the jogging path and sat under the cooling shade of the trees. Soon after drinking the juice and eating one donut she could see a jogger approaching from the distance who looked familiar. As he got closer she realized it was Dr. Janus.

Almost startled he stopped in front of her and smiling with delight he asked, “Got any donuts left for me?” 

Beth grinned while handing him the bag of donuts. “Sure! Help yourself!”

He sat down on the other end of the bench and peeked inside the bag. “Did you already have enough for yourself?”

She raised up her cup of coffee. “Cheers! Yes, I’ve had juice and one donut and now sipping coffee. Please have the rest of the donuts, if you want. Sorry I don’t have any more coffee.”

“Well thank you. I have my water bottle with me. Thank you. What a pleasant surprise—I mean—seeing you—and—and the donuts.”

“The donuts are my reward for making it seven miles this morning!”

“Congratulations!”

“Making up for missing jogging most of the week because of extra time at work.”

“Oh, I see…I thought everything was going well there.”

“Well, I should back up and include that on Tuesday morning I found that my beloved doggy died…had to take care of that…so I missed a day from work and jogging the rest of the week until today.”

“Ah, I’m sorry about your dog…pets can be like family.”

“Yes, Zadie had been with me for fifteen years…she was my only “family” here in College Hill…my parents are back home where I grew up.” Beth became somber and quiet thinking of Zadie while Dr. Janus ate donuts.

“What about you, Dr. Janus, do you have any pets, any family here?”

“Oh please call me Ron…no pets and no family. My wife left me and we had no children.”

“Sorry your wife left…maybe she’ll come back.”

“That would be a miracle!”

Ron Janus sounded frustrated to Beth and she wanted to cheer him up. “God can work miracles!”

“Yes, I believe that…I’m a new believer in Christ. That is a miracle…but my wife—she was a Christian—or anyway, she said she was…but then she turned away from God, church…left me to go live with someone else.”

“Hard to understand why someone would turn away from God—but even so, glad you, yourself, have turned toward the love of God.”

Ron stood up taking the water bottle from his belt and taking a sip. “On that upward note, I will let you go enjoy the rest of your day.” He wadded the donut sack into a ball and pretended to be shooting a basketball into a hoop as he lobbed it into the trash can. He smiled and waved goodbye and would have gone on, but then as an afterthought he turned around and chuckled. “Which way are you going?”

Beth laughed. “The same way. But I’ve finished running for the day—I have just a few blocks to walk home.”

“If you don’t mind, I’ll walk with you for a bit until you get closer to home. That way we can talk more and give these donuts a chance to settle before I start running again.”

“Sounds good.” Beth discarded the coffee cup in the trash can and then walked along with Ron. “Oh, by the way, call me Beth…”

Chapter Six

Sitting beside Dan at the Saturday evening worship service, sneaking a glimpse of him singing as he fully focused on worshiping God, she quickly thought of Ron and the differences between the two of them. Not only in appearance, but personality. Ron, being a new believer, was not as spiritually mature as Dan. And understandingly, it takes time to grow. Beth felt like she was somewhere in the middle. Dan seemed to always be joyful, but Ron tended to grumble. And she didn’t know what to think about the sudden attention from both of them. Ron had asked her out to dinner, but she already had plans with Dan. Then he had asked if she would like to go with him to a dinner party that his Language Study Club was having. He humored her by speaking Russian during their walk together before they parted. She imagined having fun speaking French and Russian with the others at the party. But he had not pressed her for an answer, only to let him know later if she wanted to go.

Turning her attention back to singing and then praying with the Pastor and his wife at the podium, the pastor announced a special speaker who would share her testimony—Amber Evans. Beth smiled at Dan thinking this was the surprise he had spoken of earlier. But Dan whispered, “This is not my surprise. I’m just as surprised as you are.” Now Beth was puzzled.

Amber smiled nervously as she walked to the podium. The Pastor’s wife hugged Amber whispering in her ear. “Remember, Christ in you the hope of glory.” Then she and Pastor sat down in the chairs behind to the right.

“Hello everyone. As Pastor said, my name is Amber. Many of you already know me, but not many know of my struggles—trials the Lord has faithfully brought me through. You probably know me as a happy Christian woman engaged to marry Justin. A teacher in primary education at a public school. You know I worked hard to complete my masters while teaching fourth grade. You may remember that I went along on some of the summer mission trips—Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada–oh and Puerto Rico.”

Amber sighed and took a deep breath. “But when I was a first year college student, away from home, living in a dorm, I quickly turned away from God, began partying with friends and dating men I shouldn’t have dated. Soon I found out I was pregnant. I remember when the nurse came into the office with the positive test result. I cried from shame and disappointment. I felt so trapped. The nurse thought she was helping me out by recommending an abortion. She explained how simple, easy and common it is. It was two weeks before finals and I felt overwhelming pressure to be free of the consequences and disruption my sin had caused. So I selfishly had an abortion. Afterward numb to remorse I pressed on to complete the semester and finals. But when I returned home for the summer the weight of guilt came crashing down on me—which I’m thankful for—thankful for the Holy Spirit breaking through to turn me around. After several weeks of grieving and mourning I reached out to a Christian counselor I knew at the church I grew up in. She helped me through the sorrow, the Godly sorrow that led to repentance. I began attending church again, studying the Bible and spending time with Christian friends. Transferred my college credits to my hometown college so that I could live at home while finishing my teaching degree. I am so thankful for a forgiving God, although I struggled to forgive myself and will always regret having the abortion, I know I’ve been forgiven. And I’m thankful for Justin who knows all about this and like Christ he considers me his virgin bride.”

Amber choked back the tears before continuing on. “This is grace. This is Love. If we confess our sins Christ is faithful and just to cleanse from all unrighteousness. This was the hope I clung to that summer after turning away from the selfish sin of aborting my own child. And Christ has been faithful ever since to create in me a new life, for his glory and for his kingdom.”

“Recently, after Justin and I agreed to get married we also decided to start a family by adopting children—many children—at least ten or more. I wondered, am I doing this to make up for my sin? I know there is nothing I can do to make up for my sin. Only faith in Christ can pay the penalty for my sin. Instead, I think that the love of Christ in me has caused me to value life and lay down my life for precious children in need.”

Choking back the tears again. “And now you know the rest of the story about me.”

The audience, noticeably silence for a few seconds, silence of hearts touched by Amber’s story, burst forth with resounding applause.

After Pastor’s sermon, Beth walked with Dan to his car, all the while thinking he had not mentioned where they were going. Puzzled, but not worried, the surprise began to unfold as she could see Justin and Amber waiting for them by Dan’s car. Beth hugged Amber. “Loved your story—had me in tears.”

Justin greeted Dan with a friendly slap on the back. “Hey buddy, did you let Beth know about our dinner plans?

“I told her a surprise is waiting for us after the service—and here you are—but I was surprised to hear you tell your story Amber—Awesome!”

Amber blushed and then laughed. “Thank you. But enough about me. Let’s not keep Beth in suspense.”

Dan raised his hand pointing to Justin authorizing him to go ahead and explain.

“Well Beth, Dan and I have finished the remodel of our house.”

Beth clapped and said, “Yea!”

And we are celebrating by serving you and Amber dinner there tonight.”

“Wow! Never imagined a home cooked meal by two old bachelors!”

Dan had moved into the house with Justin about a year ago to live there while they finished the remodel together and then Dan planned to move elsewhere when Justin and Amber married. They had been friends since they were teenagers—attending the same high school, playing football together, attending the same church and then college. Both became architects with a business degree and started their own business together—building redesign for home or business.

Both Dan and Justin ignored being called old bachelors. “Ladies, pretend this Chevy truck is a limousine and Justin and I are chauffeurs.” Justin and Dan opened the back doors on each side of the double cab truck and ushered the ladies inside.

Amber chuckled as she stepped up into the back cab next to Beth. “Wow! Chauffeurs and chefs! Beth is this not a treat?”

“I am so excited to see the house—love looking at new model homes or newly remodeled houses.”

Beth recalled how she had first met Dan while he was inspecting a project that his company had been hired to complete at College. The Dean’s office had been redesigned to keep up with new communication technology that Dr. Collins wanted to implement and she had gone along with Dr. Collins, and other office staff to see the progress. She had raved about the video conferencing equipment and the new meeting room where Dr. Collins planned to have virtual meetings with guest speakers. Dan enthusiastically gave a demonstration explaining how everything worked. While speaking with Beth one-on-one he had mentioned his church used the same equipment for special meetings initiating a conversation about church, which led to Dan inviting her to a Saturday evening worship service. Amazed at God and his providence–meeting Dan and then Amber and recent events that seemed to go wrong, or at least not according to what she had planned, but had actually turned out better.

“Everyone, I have some good news to share—this past week after a culmination of many things—thank you Dan for inviting me to the worship services—and thank you Amber for inviting me to the Bible study on Sunday mornings—and I thank the Lord Jesus that he revealed himself to me in a personal way this past week. I discovered him to be right with me comforting me in my sorrow. He took my doggy Zadie, but he gave me himself.” Beth’s voice stammered from choking back the tears. “Now I have Jesus, his Spirit living and walking with me–his wise counsel as I read the scriptures, which I’ve also started reading morning and evening.”

Amber patted Beth on the shoulder. “That’s wonderful to hear, but sorry you lost your doggy.”

Dan kept his eyes on the road while driving, but honked the horn three short bursts, “Hallelujah!”

Justin raised his arms toward heaven. “Thank you God for answering our prayers!” Then looking toward Beth, “Dan and Amber and I have been praying for you!”

“Thank you…thank you all.”

After a tour of the house Amber and Beth were seated at a large, oval, oak table in the dining room which Justin had already set with floral placemats, utensils wrapped in cloth napkins and a candle centerpiece. Justin lit the candle while Dan brought iced tea with lemon wedges then pointed toward opened French doors. “Ladies enjoy the view of the garden patio while we prepare your meal.”

Beth looked out at Chinese lanterns lighting the patio abounding with large clay pots of herbs, vegetables, geraniums and ivy–overawed with the simple beauty of the old house she continued to compliment multiple times. “This house is so comfortable yet gorgeous…I think Amber and I should be serving you dinner to celebrate all the hard work you two have done.”     

Amber, although quite content with her future house, was not so overwhelmed since she had seen the original condition of the house and the remodeling work in progress, and she had been consulted when selecting paint, wallpaper, curtains and furniture.  So she quietly accepted Beth’s compliment for her part in the remodel wanting Justin and Dan to get all the honor. Everyone chatted about how the house would soon become a beautiful home filled with love—home to newlyweds and perhaps ten, even twelve children. All rejoiced in God’s mercy and grace, trusting he would complete the good work that he had begun in each one of them.

Beth had a good long talk with her parents on Sunday afternoon. They empathized with her loss of Zadie and they listened attentively to her testimony of her new commitment to follow Christ. Her parents had always been religious and upheld high moral standards, but they had never spoken of a relationship with Christ. They attended church occasionally, especially at Christmas and Easter, yet seldom read the Bible. Beth loved her parents and wanted them to have the peace and comfort she had found so she encouraged her parents to begin regularly reading the Bible.

With just a few more weeks to complete lectures for the course starting in August, Beth pressed on, reading Dr. Simon’s journal and studying his notes, making her own notes and writing and practicing the lectures. She began to see a pattern emerge from Dr. Simon’s notes and his journaling leading to the final lecture that he had labored on most fervently. More and more she felt God calling her to complete this good work that Dr. Simon had started. No longer did she feel teaching Dr. Simon’s course as an intrusion to her plans, instead she felt the overshadowing providence of God working good in her life.

On afternoon breaks while walking around the campus she had run into Ron Janus a few times and had taken time for a friendly chat with him, but since he was divorced she declined to go out with him and told him she was praying that he and his wife would reconcile. He had laughed about that, yet he agreed that all things are possible with God.

Dr. Collins had approved all the lectures for the course except for the final one. Beth begged for more time before submitting the final lecture since she felt it was the most important and reluctantly Dr. Collins agreed. She began teaching the class with all the lectures prepared and approved starting in August up to the Thanksgiving break, continuing to work on the final lecture to be given in December before finals.

She loved the students in the class. Most were first-year College students who sincerely tried to do their best–open minded and gleaning what they could to help them along life’s journey.

As planned, Amber and Justin were married in October. Since Dan was the best man, Beth attended the wedding with Ms. Ruth and some other women from the Bible study group. Seeing Amber and Justin in their beautiful wedding clothes, hearing their vows, and feeling the joy they felt, inspired Beth with longings to be married herself. But Beth had always been sensible, not allowing herself to get carried away with emotions.  

Dan moved to a new house and finding he had more free time he began taking Beth out to dinner after church and calling her and texting her during the week. Then she became nervous when he invited her to Thanksgiving dinner at his parent’s house. This meant she had to explain to her own parents why she wasn’t coming home for Thanksgiving as usual. And she wasn’t sure what to think about her relationship with Dan. She was fond of his friendship and he seemed to enjoy her company as much as she enjoyed his. Yet where was it leading?

Thankful for the mild weather she was able do some jogging in the afternoons several times during the week and on Saturday. A few times she had enjoyed jogging along with Ron Janus. The path along the river hosted beautiful trees with bright autumn leaves announcing another change of season–winter on the way, could be bleak or a time of delight and wonder and then spring with new beginnings. Contemplating the unknown, different paths she could take, she feared a wrong turn, yet learning to rest in the love of Christ, submitting to the truth of the Bible and letting the peace of Christ rule in her heart.

Thanksgiving break arrived and Dr. Collins seemed to have forgotten to ask for a copy of her final lecture. And she decided not to remind him. While working late to catch up on grading quizzes, administrative work and review the final lecture she heard a faint knock at the door. Knowing it was probably not Dr. Collins and wary about who was on the other side, she slowly opened the door peeking over the side surprised to see Dr. Janus.

“Hello Dr. Brighton, may I speak with you a bit?” He had a sorrowful look to his face alerting her concern.

She opened the door offering him the seat in front of her desk. “What is going on? You look troubled.”

Slowly he sat down and bowed his head to hide his tears. “I feel like you’re a friend—I know you’ve prayed for me and my ex-wife—I just wanted to let you know—she—she died yesterday–a car accident—I’m planning to go to the funeral this week—her family—we were close—so I feel like they’re my family too.”

“Oh Ron, I’m so sorry. It’s difficult to lose someone suddenly. I know you hoped she would reconsider…”

“Just last week we talked–it seemed maybe—I thought maybe she would come back—back to good sense—said she was thinking about it…but now it’s too late.”

Ron broke down and cried unashamedly for a few minutes. Beth patted him on the shoulder and handed him a box of tissues then sat back down ready to listen for as long as Ron needed to talk. Then for what seemed like an hour he expressed his grief and then reminisced until he felt better.

“It’s getting late—I’ll let you go—thank you for listening while I babbled on and on.”    

Beth smiled and stood to open the door. “Friends will let you do that!”

He nodded and smiled with his eyes. “Hey have a good thanksgiving with your friend—Dan—don’t be nervous—his parent’s will love you.”

“Thank you. I will hold onto that…I’ll be thinking of you—grieving with you!” She watched as he walked down the hall and down the steps praying for God to watch over him.

The moment Dan’s parents greeted Beth she felt like their long lost daughter coming home. Sam and Dora stood just inside the front door foyer–his dad with one arm hugging Dora around the shoulder while bellowing out a hearty, “Welcome home!” Dora clasped Beth’s hands in her own warm hands. With glowing smiles and hearts full of love, they energized Dan and Beth, weary from a long drive, more than the strongest expresso ever could. Beth had never been made to feel as at home as a guest.

Completely refreshed after a good night’s sleep, Beth enjoyed sitting at the kitchen table with Dora, chatting while they snapped fresh green beans for the casserole. Later after dinner, she and Dan, Dora and Sam played Pictionary at a card table near the fireplace. Sam apologized for boring Beth with baby pictures and family videos and Dan begged his dad to get his guitar so they could sing some hymns.

Sam put him off. “I’m rusty–haven’t practiced enough lately.”

Dan laughed. “You always say that.”

Dora retrieved the guitar, handed it to Sam and chided him for fibbing. Then she sat down at the piano and began playing while Sam pretended to reluctantly strum along too. After Dan recognized the hymn he found it in the hymnbook and he and Beth sang along.

For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies; Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise…♫ 3

On Friday they braved the shopping mall and then stopped for pizza before going to the plaza for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Saturday was a more restful day, watching movies, reading the Bible, eating leftovers, chatting and reminiscing. Sunday morning they attended church before heading back home. Beth felt like she knew Dan better after spending the holiday with his parents–living for a few short days in the same house where he grew up, and then going to the church where he was baptized—he had shared an integral part of his life with her.

On the first day of classes after Thanksgiving break, early morning snowfall had lightly dusted the campus landscape, leaving behind frosted trees sparkling in the sunlight.  Dr. Brighton found the cold, crisp air exhilarating while walking from her car to the office. Just a few more lectures, then finals and the semester would be finished.

Dr. Brighton found the cold, crisp air exhilarating while walking from her car to the office. Just a few more lectures, then finals and the semester would be finished.

Students seemed lethargic—typical after returning from a long holiday weekend—she entertained thoughts of teaching primary school and asking her students to share holiday stories. Back to reality, as she stood before college-age adults, she thought for a moment—why not engage these students—have them tell about their holiday, instead of falling asleep on their desk. Quickly looking at her lecture notes and deciding where she could shorten it she then addressed the class, sharing her own holiday experience.

“Good morning! Seems like everyone must have had a very busy holiday—perhaps more celebrating than sleeping.” She smiled and chuckled expressing a good sense of humor about it. “Although I slept very well during my holiday, I had a delightful visit with my friend’s parents—an old fashioned Thanksgiving dinner—exploring his home town—a community Christmas tree, lighting ceremony—hot apple cider—rejoicing at an historic church—a very memorable holiday. How about any of you—would anyone like to share their holiday experience?”

Hesitant at first, one shy student briefly shared a story, encouraging others to talk about their own holiday too. A total of ten students out of the twenty spoke—most with humorous memories—one with a sad beginning, but a happy ending–sharing stories worked to energize the class and bonding the group.

The following week Dr. Brighton’s class would hear one more lecture with finals scheduled at the end of the week.

Introducing the final lecture she reminded the class of Dr. Simon—mentioning as she had at the beginning of the semester–that the Christian History course lectures had been prepared from his notes and his books—a renowned scholar of Church history, as well as Patriarchal history and history of Early Civilizations.

“For this final lecture I will read to you a lecture that Dr. Simon had prepared and had intended to deliver to his class before he passed away.”

Several students sat forward in their seats, their interest heightened by the surprise of hearing a lecture by the late Dr. Simon.

“In December, 27 AD, Jesus the Christ began his ministry in the Galilee region of Israel preaching, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near…’

“Jesus also preached in his hometown of Nazareth and from there to Jerusalem and after about a year he returned to the Galilee region. One day after teaching a small group of his followers Jesus asked, ‘Who do you say I am?

“Simon, a fishermen who had left everything to follow Jesus, answered, ‘God’s Messiah.

“At that moment Jesus renamed him Peter (which means rock) and declared to build his Church upon Peter’s profession of faith.1

“Faith in Christ alone—atonement for sin by his death and new life by his resurrection—and the presence of the Holy Spirit until redemption is complete.

“In the beginning, the Church like a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, grew to the largest of trees. Persecution only seemed to make the church grow more. As Tertullian, an early church elder once said, “the blood of Christians is seed.”4  

“Early Christians believed the gospel message as preached by word of mouth—the simple message of Salvation as Jesus had taught.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

“Teaching came from Old Testament scriptures available in the synagogues and the apostles’ letters as they were read to various churches. Later the New Testament scriptures became available.

“Our gracious God designed the gospel message–simple—easy to proclaim—unpretentious—so that even a child could believe and be saved.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17.

“Messiah Jesus began his ministry to his own people the Jews explaining to his disciples several times that, ‘the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life.’

“Everything happened as he said it would. When he rose from the dead he appeared to his disciples in Jerusalem and in Galilee and taught them how the scriptures had to be fulfilled. Before he ascended to the right hand of the everlasting Father he commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations.

“Apostle Peter was the first to preach the message of Salvation at the temple in Jerusalem where 3,000 Jews believed and it has been the practice of the Church, beginning with apostle Paul to preach in every community, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles.  

“Immediately, Jews began persecuting new believers throughout Israel and for the next three centuries the leaders of the Roman Empire also persecuted Christians—torturing them, killing them or putting them in prison–until Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity and brought an end to persecution in 313 AD. Again the Church blossomed spreading throughout Europe, England and Slavic nations.

“By the twelfth century the organized church began to suppress the gospel message—forbidding the teaching of the scriptures to the masses, allowing the Pope power to grant “indulgences.” The pope was given authority as vicar of God, who could choose an emperor, with power above all kings, princes and the state—even power to persecute and condemn Christians who stood on the word of God and opposed papal authority.”6

“By the fourteenth century and through the sixteenth century God worked through men like John Wycliffe, John Huss, and Martin Luther to teach the authority of the scriptures and to oppose the errors being taught in the church.  The invention of the printing press provided a great boost to the Reformation of the Church–for the first time the complete Bible in the languages of the European people became available. At the same time schools of education in reading, writing, and math became available for the common people–families could read and study the Bible at home—the cure for falling prey to spiritual error.

“In addition to teaching the Bible God stirred up oppressed peoples to turn away from the authority of the Pope and toward the new Reformation of the Church. By 1648 peace treaties were signed, known as the Peace of Westphalia, bringing an end to persecution of Protestants by the Catholic Church and giving back full authority to the state in civil matters.

“Various ministries have continued on with Bible translation with the goal of translating the scriptures into every tongue for every people group–reserving a faithful remnant through the ages by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

“God has also allowed great progress in technology promoting communication of the gospel by radio, television, and internet. One way or another all the peoples of the earth, Jews and Gentiles, may hear the true gospel message of Salvation and become disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” Romans 11:5

Currently, there is a growing interest and work toward a worldwide church embracing all religions in pursuit of peace and prosperity in our world. Apostle Paul and Peter have warned the true church that in the last days false teachers “will introduce destructive heresies.”

For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1Peter 4:17

“According to the scriptures many believe that before the time of judgment coming to the world, the faithful remnant, those who patiently endure testing and persecution, will be “caught up” together with the dead in Christ to meet the Lord in the air. “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“The time of judgment is also a time when God will work out his plan of redemption for the Jews.

For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never will be equaled again. Matthew 24:21

‘The deliverer will come from Zion.’ Messiah Jesus will come and complete the covenant promises to his Jewish people.

“In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 10:20

“The Church is waiting—creation is waiting—the angels in heaven are waiting—the wonderful day when the Lord, King of Kings, Messiah, Wonderful Counselor, and the Prince of Peace will be with us on earth again—restoring all things–and all nations will worship him in Jerusalem–a praise in all the earth because his Jewish people have finally been redeemed forever.”5

Dr. Brighton held back the tear forming in the corner of her eye as she looked up from reading Dr. Simon’s lecture. Noticing one student with a scowl on his face, chin raised high in defiance then walked out followed by another and then another. She remained quiet as they walked out for she had expected at least one to do so.

To the remaining students she somberly dismissed them. “Thank you for being respectful. Remember finals on Friday and remember the content from this final lecture is not included.”

As the others were leaving, one student smiled as she walked up to the front of the class, her eyes sparkling with joy. “Dr. Brighton, thank you for delivering Dr. Simon’s final lecture. I know it took a lot of courage.” As she began walking out she turned around and added. “You’ll never know how much it means to me!”

Beth walked back to her office barely able to hold back the tears. Quickly she retrieved the copy of her resignation to be ready when Dr. Collins walked into her office. Opening up her laptop she also sent a copy to his email.

After a harsh knock, as expected, she opened the door to an angry Dr. Collins.

“Come in Dr. Collins—I’ve been expecting you.” She handed him a document. “Please accept my resignation.”

Sullenly he snatched it from her. “Then your lecture today was not a mistake. You purposely offended students and other faculty members who hold different beliefs. Do you not realize that College embraces all religions? If your insubordination becomes known—why–why students could withdraw from College—other faculty members could resign.”

Beth remained quiet, maintained composure and looked straight ahead.

Dr. Collins continued fuming waiting for a response. When Beth remained quiet he slapped her resignation on the palm of his hand and clinched his teeth together to keep from yelling. “Please leave at once and take your personal belongings with you. We will get an intern to administer the final exam.” After turning to leave he turned back and added, “Which will not include your final lecture!”

Numbly, Beth packed her books, laptop, pens and notebooks in her bag, headed home and changed into jogging clothes. Bright blue skies and sparkling sunlight had melted the snow off the paths along the river making it safe for a light jog. She wanted to run—run away if possible from all the frustration, pain and rejection she felt–even though in her heart she knew she had done the right thing.

Now I know how you felt Lord Jesus—you spoke the truth—yet your own people rejected you.

As Beth poured out her aching heart to God—peace came—the peace of Christ–an endorphin to her soul.

Slowing from a full run to a comfortable pace, staying on the path empty of others who had not braved the cold as she had–pondering the unknown—so many directions she could go. Lord, I only want what you want. Lead me in the way everlasting.

Beth could see the path ahead divided to the left and to the right–without slowing down and keeping a steadfast pace–she veered over to the right–staying on the path leading to home.

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

This story is a fictionalization. Although, historical events, people and places are used fictitiously, details of the time period have been portrayed as accurately as possible for authenticity. All characters are fictional unless otherwise noted. If an actual historical character is mentioned an endnote with citation will be included.

1.Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ©, NIV© Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. © Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. James 2:18-19; Matthew 4:17; 16:13-19; Luke 9:18-20. Matt 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 24:25-32; 44-53; Peter’s sermon: Acts 2:14-41; Acts 28:17-30. False teachers: 2Timothy 3:1-5; 2Peter 2:1. Rapture: 1Thessalonians 4:13-5:11. God has not forgotten his beloved Jewish people: Romans 9-11; Isaiah 59:20-21; 27:9; Jeremiah 31:33-34. Jewish Remnant: 1Kings 19:18; Isa 1:9; Remnant during the captivity and then return under Ezra; Believers during the Church age; during the Tribulation Rev. 7:3-8; Zech. 12:6-13:9.

2. Philip Schaff. History of the Christian Church. The German Reformation. 1517-1530 AD. Vol. 7: pp. 20-23; 50-88; p. 76; 150-158; 304-305. The Printing Press and the Reformation. pp. 560-566.

3. For the Beauty of the Earth. Lyra Eucharisticia and Folliot Sandford Pierpoint, 1864.

4. . Christian History Institute. christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/tertullian. #104: Tertullian’s Defense.

5. Renald E. Showers. What On Earth Is God Doing? The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. Bellmawr, NJ, 2003. p. 59. “Satan used the church of the Middle Ages as a tool to bring dishonor to God and His kingdom.” pp. 51-52. “Because Israel rejected her Messiah, she doomed herself to centuries of desolation and persecution at the hands of the Gentiles (Mt. 23:37-38; Lk. 19:41-44). This persecution will continue until the nation is willing to change its mind about Jesus Christ (Mt. 23:39). The Conflict—From the Rapture of the Church to Eternity Future. pp. 113-126. Despair Through Move Toward Globalism. pp. 87-111.

6. . David S. Schaff. History of the Christian Church. The Decline of the Papacy and the Avignon Exile. Vol.6. pp. 80-81. John Wycliffe. pp. 302-347. John Huss. pp. 358-388.

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