Chapter Twenty Two (continued)




That night Joyce thanked God for providing them with Cindy and her husband.  Despite the terrifying sequence of events that had brought them here, she felt safe in this new home.


She awoke to the diffuse light and the spectacularly beautiful face, softened now and enrichened with familiarity.  “Hi, honey.  All settled in, I see,” Wisdom said with a kind smile.  “This is just the start of a wonderful adventure for your excitement and Our glory.”


“Oh, I’m so glad to see You, Wisdom.  I’ve missed you so much.  I thought You might have left us for more important tasks.”


“I thought you might have understood by this time that I don’t get spread thin. Much of Me may have other work to accomplish, but there’s enough left over to handle whatever might be happening with you.”


“Tell me, please.  We could have had a decent life at home with Cathy.  Why did you take that away from us?”


“Take what away?  Your comfort?  A meaningless existence?  We haven’t taken.  We’ve given.  We’re giving you the greatest adventure of your life.  But that’s not the reason for the change in lifestyle.  It’s not all about you.  It’s also about Cathy and our purpose for her, something that she couldn’t do at home with you.”


“I’m sorry.  I can’t seem to see the bigger picture in anything You do, can I?”


“You’re doing okay, so don’t get uptight.  Next you’re going to ask why we don’t heal Cathy, or why she was handicapped to begin with.  The answer, Joyce, is that we do heal.  But not always.  Often we have a greater purpose for someone less than perfect that’s more important than making him whole.  Sometimes it’s to bring, through their actions, more souls to an understanding and appreciation of Us.  Other times it’s to develop characters in them and the people with whom they interact that are pleasing to Jesus, their future Husband.  Always it’s to glorify God, which means that out of these interactions between the handicapped and those able to assist them there emerge instances of nobility and selflessness, rare and wonderful qualities that we take particular joy in developing within you.   Look at yourself, Joyce.  Thinking back, would you really like to have passed up the uncomfortable and scary things that have made you what you are today?”


“Oh, no!” Joyce cried.  “I wouldn’t change one thing that You’ve done in my life.”


“There you are, then.  You’ve answered your own question.  Sure, We could have healed Cathy a long time ago.  We could have healed Buddy too.  But then where would you be?  You certainly wouldn’t be closer to Us.  You’d have descended into self-indulgence.  Can you accept that everything, and I mean everything, has a purpose to Us?


“Well, I kind of fell away there, but I do think I’m getting closer to a natural acceptance of that.”


“You are.  Just remember what Paul wrote in Romans 8:


          “’And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.’


“Think on that, Joyce.  It’s Our glory to glorify you.  When you show nobility, We’re beaming like proud parents, and Jesus is like a lovesick teenager.  Most Christians just skip right on by that without seeing the significance.  Actually, it remains a bit of a mystery.  Let me finish that beautiful passage of Paul’s.  I can attest to its marvelous truth:


          “’What shall we then say to these things?  If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?  Shall God that justifieth?  Who is he that condemneth?  Shall Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us?  What shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.’”


Wisdom searched Joyce’s eyes lovingly.  “Burn these magnificent words into your heart, because I’m intending them to be a lesson.  What can you say about the man who said this?”


“Paul?  That he loves Jesus with all his heart and trusts Him beyond his life.”


“Nicely said.  But do you remember Paul when he was a Pharisee?  He hated Christians, and he hated Christ for so thoroughly stirring up the Jewish religious pot.  He participated in the stoning of Stephen.  He was a Christian-killer.  What turned him from that into such a love of God that as a missionary for Jesus he endured suffering, pain and great danger?”


“I – I guess it was You.”


“Yes it was.  With God all things are possible.  Now think back in that context to what you did to Mildred Black.”


“Oh!  Oh, my,” she breathed.  “I am so sorry.”


“I’m afraid that I have to agree with you.  It was not only regrettable, but it demonstrated a lack of faith, besides which it ignored what Jesus said about loving your enemies.  Allow me to refresh your memory from Matthew 5:


          “’Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you.’


“Joyce,” She continued, “It was your job to love Mildred in the face of her rudeness to you and evil designs on Cathy.  You would have ended up on this boat anyway, but now We have to scramble to get Mildred back in the picture.”


As Joyce’s shoulders shook with her sobs, Wisdom responded immediately.  “Oh, My dear, dear girl, come here.”  Wisdom opened her arms and enfolded them around Joyce in a tight embrace.  She lifted Joyce’s chin and gazed lovingly into her eyes.  She planted a sweet kiss on one.  Don’t think We don’t love you any less for that.  Remember also that Paul said nothing can separate you from Our love.  That includes you and your actions.  In fact, you humans do that to Us all the time.  Keeps Us on Our toes, is what it does.  Just remember that sometimes there are better ways than you might dream up on your own.  Scripture points the way.  I’m here, too, for backup.  Doing it the right way will be important in your future, so how about you and Me doing things as a team?”


“Oh, Wisdom, I want that more than anything in the world.”


“I know, my darling.  I’ll be seeing you soon.”  She lay Joyce back down and left the berth as Joyce returned to sleep.


A knock on the door awakened Joyce.  “’Morning, all,” Cindy spoke, peeking inside.  Breakfast will be ready in half an hour.”


“Joyce threw off the covers and sat up.  “Can I help?” she offered.


“How about helping with the cleanup after?  Today is special to us.  The Johnsons are leaving for Baja this morning, and we want to be there to send them off.”  Mike and Karen Johnson were among the few very close friends that Stephen and Cindy had.  Since they were planning on spending the remaining years of their retirement in Mexico, the prospects were slim that they’d ever see each other again.  They were sorry to see them leave but were happy to see them get out of an increasingly over-regulated boating environment in the States, where the threat of confiscation was always present and subject to ever-smaller infractions of regulations.  With Cathy now aboard and the object of active search, the discussions Stephen and Cindy had between each other of following the other couple southward had taken on real substance.


When breakfast was over, Stephen and Cindy went topside and headed over to the Johnsons, leaving the three others behind.  “It would probably be best if you kept a low profile,” Stephen told them.  They fully agreed, and Earl took over the cleanup chores while Joyce helped Cathy with the complicated toilet system.  They were blessed with a boat that had two heads, which eased the impact on their hosts of Cathy’s often lengthy use of the one.


When the Millers returned, the expected desolation of spirit wasn’t there.  Instead, Cindy kept giggling.  “When a dock-bound sailor wants to head out to sea, he has a number of things to think of all at once,” Stephen explained to them.  “The smarter people create a checklist, but most of us don’t.  Our friends just paid the price for omitting that step.  Funny.  Murphy bites us all, even those, like our friends, who are respected for their nautical prowess.


“Get on with it,” Cindy told her husband.  “Just tell them what happened.”


“Well, they very professionally cast off and smoothly backed out as we on the dock gave our final waves.  Then, as Mike turned the boat, it inexplicably slowed and came to a dead stop.  Then it began to return to the dock under the pull of the severely-stressed electrical cable, which they’d forgotten to release.”


“It was kind of funny, all of us there staring at them with grins on our faces as they came back to the dock,” Cindy said.  “They pulled the plug and left again rather quickly.  Their eyes remained focused on things that didn’t include us on the dock.”  She laughed again.


“We have an announcement to make to you guys,” Stephen said.  “Knowing that it wouldn’t be wise for you to hole up here much longer, we made up our minds about something last night.  We talked to Mike and Karen before they left, and told them we’re going to follow them down to Baja as soon as we can get provisioned and shipshape.  We’ll meet them there and spend a little time with them, but then we’ll have to continue on to some place a little more remote.  Any comments?”


 “I do,” Joyce said.  “Are we forcing the issue?  Would you have made that decision if we weren’t here?”


Stephen gave her a kindly smile.  “We eventually would have left with or without you, Joyce.  We can see the handwriting on the wall, just like Mike and Karen did.  All you did was get us off our lazy rear ends and push the schedule up by a few weeks.”


“Thanks,” Joyce breathed, very relieved.






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