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Long Time Wounds, Part Three
by Lauren Alan
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The next morning Charles woke up a couple of hours after daybreak. "I must have really been beat," he said quietly to himself when he looked around and realized he'd spent the whole night in his son's room. He looked to his left and saw Jeremiah and Angie sleeping beside him. He smiled at his beautiful wife for a moment. Every morning when he woke up and looked at her next to him, he loved her even more than he did the day before. Watching her sleep with her arm stretched across Jeremiah reminded him of one of the reasons he loved her so much--she was the most nurturing woman he'd ever known.

Charles looked back at his sleeping son, who still lay wedged against his side, and at the Bible that had fallen on the floor when he'd dropped it in his sleep. This was one major reason he loved being a dad so much. He had a small child who felt safe when he was close to him. A small child he could raise to learn the Word and ways of God. Charles felt like there was no other man in the world as blessed as he was.

Just then Angie opened her eyes and stirred. She turned toward her husband. "Oh, hi, honey. You're up," she said quietly.

"Hey, baby," Charles said softly. They leaned toward one another and kissed. "We both konked out in Jeremiah's room, huh?" he asked.

"Yeah. I was wondering if Jeremiah was keeping you up when you didn't return to the couch for thirty minutes last night," Angie explained, "so I came up to see what was going on, and then I heard you snoring in here, so I came in and joined you guys."

"I was snoring?" Charles was surprised. He'd had college roommates before, and none of them had ever heard him snore. He'd never heard Angie say anything before, either.

Angie laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Well, not loudly, but you have been doing it lately."

Charles's own arms went around his wife's waist. "Oh, really?" he asked playfully. "And just for how long?"

Angie shrugged. "I dunno--maybe a month or two. But, like I said, not loudly. Trust me," she added teasingly, "if you were a loud snorer, there's no way we could sleep in the same bed."

"And there's no way I'd want to sleep in separate beds," Charles said with a smile as he kissed his wife tenderly on the cheek.

At that moment Jeremiah woke up. "Mornin', Mama. Mornin', Daddy." He sat up and hugged Charles and Angie.

"Good morning, sweetheart," Angie said as she pulled him onto her lap and gave him a kiss. "How did you sleep?"

"Good," Jeremiah answered, "but just one question."

"What's that, son?" Charles asked as he leaned to give his son a kiss on the forehead.

"Why were you two sleepin' in here?"

Charles smiled. "Well, I fell asleep in here as I was reading you your Bible story. I was really tired from my long day at work yesterday."

"And when Daddy took a long time coming back downstairs last night, I wanted to see what was taking him so long," added Angie. "Then I found you guys sleeping in here, and I decided to keep you company."

"Ohhh," said Jeremiah. "Well, no wonder I felt so warm in here. You guys were keeping me warm by sleeping so close to me!" He smiled. "Thanks, Mommy. Thanks, Daddy. I feel like we were having a campout."

Charles and Angie smiled at him. "Maybe we should have family campouts more often," Charles said.

"Let's pick up where we left off last night, Daddy," said Jeremiah. "Please read me the story of Balaam's donkey now."

Charles smiled and pulled his son into his lap. "Okay," he said. He reached down to pick up the children's Bible and turned to the story. With Jeremiah's head resting against his shoulder, Charles began to read: "Balaam was a false prophet who went out to curse God's people. As he was riding on his donkey, an Angel of the Lord appeared three times, causing Balaam's donkey to stop doing what Balaam wanted her to do. Once she even leaned against the wall and crushed Balaam's foot! Balaam became so angry at the way his donkey was acting that he bit her every time she got off course! Finally, God made the donkey be able to talk, and she asked Balaam what she had done to make him hit her, reminding him that she'd never behaved this way before. When God showed him that the Angel of the Lord had been standing before him and told him to bless God's people instead of curse them, Balaam obeyed."

Jeremiah nodded slowly.

Angie asked her son, "Jeremiah, sweetie, do you have any questions about the Bible story?" Charles and Angie always asked Jeremiah if he had questions about the Bible stories he had just heard so that they could answer him and help him understand God's Word better, should he be confused about anything.

"Why did Balaam want to curse God's people? What did it mean when somebody tried to curse God's people?" asked Jeremiah.

"Well, son," Angie told him, "you see, Balaam worshiped other gods besides Jesus--he didn't worship the true God, he worshiped pretend gods, which are called idols. When the Bible ays Balaam went to curse God's people, it means he went to call on his gods to hurt God's people. A man named Balak had sent him to do this."

"But God stopped Balaam before he could curse His people. You see, just like with Balaam, God has a way of telling us to stop when we're doing something bad or about to do something bad," Charles explained. "Like He stopped Daddy from getting revenge on the guy who killed his friend."

"Oh-h-h," said Jeremiah. Then he asked, "Daddy, I know Jesus says it's wrong to get even, but why?"

"Because dealing with people who hurt us is God's job, and He will punish them if they never receive His forgiveness. He wants us to follow His example of loving people who are mean, just like He did. Just as Jesus died on the cross for us, He died for our enemies, too. They may be our enemies, but we can't get to Heaven without Jesus's forgiveness any more than they can. Plus, when all we can think about is revenge, we forget about all that God has blessed us with."

"What do you mean, Daddy?"

"Well, if I'd reached the point where all I could think about was hurting the guy who shot my friend, pretty soon I'd stop thinking about the two most wonderful blessings in my life." Charles pulled Angie close to his side and held her, then hugged Jeremiah. "You guys--you and your mom--are the two most wonderful blessings in my life, and I never want anything to stand in my way of remembering to thank God for you every day."

Angie and Jeremiah joined Charles in a big family group hug.

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