One cold, rainy Saturday night in Selma, Alabama, Angie Williams felt the cold seep through the window of the bedroom she shared with her husband, Charles. She shivered and climbed out of bed to close the window. Charles, who was usually a very sound sleeper, only woke up when Angie was temporarily getting out of bed to go to the restroom or get a glass of water, which wasn't often. He made a little bit of a snoring sound and woke up. "Angie, where are you going?" he asked.
"Oh, honey, I felt some of the coldness come in, so I was going to shut the window all the way. Sorry I disturbed you. I didn't want you to be cold," she replied.
Charles sat up and patted the space on the bed next to him. "Nonsense, my dear. My burning heart will keep me warm. Don't bother closing the window. Come here," he said with a grin.
Angie joined her husband in bed again, and Charles's arms were soon covering her like a blanket. He kissed her temple and whispered, "If you're cold, you just stay close to me. My arms will shelter you from the cold."
"Your arms sure do shelter me," Angie agreed as she snuggled against him. Then she turned around and kissed his lips. "I love you so much," she sighed.
"I love you just as much," Charles said, kissing his wife. "Good night, my Angie."
"Good night, my Charles," Angie said. As they both drifted back to sleep, Angie did what she did every night. She praised God that no obstacle had been strong enough to tear her away from her beloved husband. Their backgrounds were so different. Angie's father had been involved with the Ku Klux Klan, and Charles was black. Nevertheless, their common faith in Jesus Christ and their passion for fighting for civil rights had brought them together, and Angie could see that Charles respected her more than any other man ever had. They even had to confront tragedy when a friend of her father had tried to shoot Charles but had ended up killing Charles's best friend, Ty Miller, instead. Yet no matter what they had faced, their love for one another and the mutual faith they had in Jesus kept them strong, and now seven years later here they were, happily married and cherishing their precious six-year-old son, Jeremiah. Now that Jeremiah was old enough to take care of a little brother or sister by doing things such as feeding him or her and helping to sing him or her to sleep, Charles and Angie planned to try to have another baby. They figured it was best to have a baby when Jeremiah was old enoug to help out, because that way Jeremiah could learn more responsibility.
The next day the family went to church at Saint Philip Baptist Church. Jeremiah went to his Sunday school classroom where his teacher, Rebecca Martin, was telling them the story of Noah's ark. Charles and Angie went to listen to Reverend Bill Cross read from the Gospel of Matthew, which he had been doing for a few weeks now. For these past couple of weeks the preacher had been teaching on what Jesus taught about holy living and the Beatitudes. Most weeks Charles found Reverend Cross's preaching encouraging, but this morning's sermon convicted him and made him feel uneasy.
"You see, dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Himself had told us, 'Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,' in Matthew chapter five verse forty-four. He goes on to tell us that even people who don't know Him love those who love them when He says, 'If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?' You see, Jesus wants us to have the kind of unconditional love He has to show the world we are His. He wants us to be good to people who hurt us so they can learn about God's love through our actions."
Charles shuddered. This was definitely an area he was weak in. Every time he thought of the man who shot Ty, he thought about getting revenge. He'd imagine breaking into the prison with a gun and shooting that horrible Klansman. But he knew that wasn't how God would have him deal with his anger. He'd never go and try to kill the man now that he'd been convicted by the Holy Spirit of his desire for revenge, but he was still so angry and hurt by what that rotten man had done to his best friend that he couldn't bring himself to love and pray for him, either.
Angie had felt her husband shudder as he sat in the pew with his side wedged against hers and his arm around her, and she whispered, "Are you all right?"
Charles was a little startled by hearing his wife's unexpected whisper, and he turned to her and whispered back, "I'm all right, darling. We'll talk about it tonight."
After church was over, Charles and Angie picked Jeremiah up from his class and started walking toward the car, each parent holding onto one of their precious son's hands.
"So, what did you learn in Sunday school today, sweetheart?" Angie asked.
"I learned that Noah put two of almost every kind of animal on the ark," Jeremiah answered. "But I have one question."
"What's that?" his mother asked.
"How could those elephants get on without breaking the wood?"
Charles and Angie both laughed. "Well, son, I reckon God had Noah use some really strong wood," Charles replied.
"Oh-h-h," said Jeremiah.
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