When the Williamses got back to their house, Angie changed her clothes to go to the store and pick up the things she needed to make a stew that night. While she was gone, Charles took a shower, which he often did when he wanted to think about something serious. The thought of his struggle with loving Ty's shooter the way Jesus had said to love one's enemies had never left his mind. After his shower he put a light blue bathrobe on and sat down on his and Angie's bed with his head in his hands. Suddenly he began to cry and was unable to stop. He looked up and cried out, "Why, Lord? Of all the things You ask us to do, why, out of all the commands You give, do You ask us to do hard ones like love our enemies? I want to do what You say, but ths is such a struggle for me!"
Jeremiah, who had been playing with a fire truck in his bedroom, heard his father's voice and came into the room. "How come you're cryin', Daddy? Are you sad or scared?"
Charles turned toward his son. "I'm sad--real sad."
Jeremiah walked up to him and climbed onto his lap. Then he gave his father a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Do you feel happy now?"
Charles sighed. "I'm afraid I don't."
Jeremiah frowned. "You mean, my hugs and kisses don't work anymore?"
Charles smiled a little and pulled his son back further on his lap so he'd be closer to him. He kissed Jeremiah and patted his head. "Oh, son, your hugs and kisses always make me happy." He hugged his son tightly and said, "I'm sad because I'm thinking of a good friend of mine who died."
"How did he die?" Jeremiah asked.
"A mean man shot him."
"He just had a lot of hate in him. He was angry, and he hated. Hate can make people do bad things." Which is why I need to let go of my hate, thought Charles. If I don't, my desire for revenge may come back.
"Daddy, I heard you talkin' about praying for your enemies. What's an enemy?" asked Jeremiah.
"Someone who likes to hurt people," Charles answered. "Like the man who shot my friend. Jesus tells us to pray for the people who are mean who like to hurt us, and I was just telling Him it's hard for me to, becuse I'm so angry at the man who killed my best friend."
"Well, pray for him, even if it's hard. We're s'pposed to listen to Jesus," said Jeremiah.
Charles smiled at his son's sweet, cute, innocent face and voice. "You're absolutely right, son," he said. "And I promise to pray and ask God to help me pray for the man who shot my friend."
Jeremiah smiled back. "Thanks, Daddy." He gave Charles another big hug. "So, are you done bein' in your thinking place now?" he asked. Jeremiah always called the shower his dad's "thinking place".
Charles chuckled a little. "Yeah, I'm done."
"Will you carry me on your back and around the house?" asked Jeremiah.
"All right." Charles put his son down on the bed. "Let me get some clothes on. I'll change in the bathroom and be right out, and then we'll play."
That night Angie cooked the stew so it was steamed to perfection. When everybody gathered around the table, Jeremiah said the prayer. "Dear Jesus, thank You for this food and for this family. I pray for my daddy. I thank You that he's not crying anymore and for our fun time together this afternoon. Please help him to do Your will about prayin' for enemies. Amen."
Angie looked quizzically at Charles. "What does he mean? What did you guys talk about while I was gone?"
"I'll tell you later on tonight," Charles replied.
"How come later on?" Jeremiah inquired.
"'Cuz there are some things mommies and daddies talk about in private," Angie explained.
"Oh-h-h," Jeremiah said. Then his eyes widened. "Like the three-letter word that that starts with S and ends in X?"
Charles and Angie nearly choked on their dinner. "Now, Jeremiah, where on Earth did you hear that word?" Angie asked.
"From a kid at school. He said he once walked in on his big sister and her boyfriend--"
"Hold it," Charles interrupted. "Now, you're too young to know all the details about that three-letter word, but for now just know God only wants a man and a woman who are married to each other to do--well, y'know, the 'S' word."
"Then how come his big sister and her boyfriend--well, y'know, do it when they're not married?" asked Jeremiah.
"Some people don't know God or His laws," answered Angie, "or if they do, they're choosing to ignore them."
"Oh," said Jeremiah. "Like Adam and Eve did with the forbidden fruit?"
Charles and Angie smiled at the way Jeremiah was learning God's Word. Even more so, they were thankful that Jeremiah had accepted Jesus as his God and Savior a year ago, at the age of five.
"Yes, son, like Adam and Eve," Charles answered.
Angie looked at her son's plate. "My, you really cleaned your plate tonight. I'm glad--you barely ate anything at all last night."
"Well, I mainly didn't eat the spinach," Jeremiah told her.
"It'll make you strong--to the finish, just like Popeye," Charles said. "You know that song. I know you watch that cartoon all the time." He then broke into song:
"I'm Popeye the sailor man.
I'm Popeye the sailor man.
I'm strong to the finish,
'Cuz I eats me spinach.
I'm Popeye the sailor man."
"Toot, toot!" Jeremiah pretended to pull on a handle to ring a bell.
Angie clapped her hands. "Bravo! You two should be a father-son singing act."
Everyone had a good laugh and enjoyed the rest of the dinner hour.
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