(Scene is in Heaven. An angel sits on a park bench, scribbling into a scroll. He is dressed all in white, with no wings or halo. Occasionally, he glances to his right, offstage. He glances to the right again and smiles. Henry Miller enters from the right, with a bewildered look on his face. He is in his seventies, dressed in a modest suit coat. He stops, still not seeing the angel, and slowly pats down his body, as if to re-assure himself that he is still intact. He slowly grows more perplexed.)
Old Henry - (To himself) I donít understand? Where am I?
Angel - (Standing up) Henry! My name is Levi. I will be your guide and servant.
Old Henry - (Looking around) But, where am I?
Levi - You are in Heaven, Henry.
Old Henry - What? What about the streets of gold? The pearly gates? The judgement?
Levi - (With an amused expression) Anxious to be judged, Henry?
Old Henry - Well, no. But I am anxious to see Jesus.
Levi - And you will, Henry. You definitely will. (He guides Henry towards the bench) Will you sit for a while with me? (Henry nods and they sit. Levi picks up a scroll) Iíve been reading about you.
Old Henry - (Looking shocked) You have?
Levi - Yes. Iíve been reading about your life and the lives youíve touched. And, frankly, I am impressed.
Old Henry - Why?
Levi - Donít you even know how many lives you have helped change through your faithful witness? Do you know that in one summer alone, you helped bring twenty people to the Lord! Twenty! Now, that might not seem like a great amount to you. But, to the Lord, every soul gained is a harvest.
Old Henry - (Getting embarrassed) Look, I was just doing what any other Christian would do, what God wanted of me.
Levi - Unfortunately, what Christians are supposed to do and what they actually do are often two vastly different things. The average Christian would rather sit comfortably on grace, smothering it in selfishness. The average Christian thinks that if he doesnít follow Godís directions, then someone else will. Someone else will go to Africa to be a missionary. Someone else will tell their neighbor about Christ. Someone else will witness to their own children. (He settles down, and looks sheepishly at Henry) Sorry. Itís a pet peeve of mine.
Old Henry - I understand. But, I think youíre wrong. Iíve known a lot of good Christian men and women who accomplish great things for God.
Levi - Oh, yes, youíre correct. Donít get me wrong. There are Christians on the Earth with a definite love for God. No question about that. But the average Christian is what Iím talking about. You see, the true follower of God, follows his shepherd wherever He leads, in the dark or light. A true Christian is not just saved on Sundays. (He picks up the scroll and motions with it) Now, you have been a good example to a lot of struggling Christians. Do you remember the time when Elise Abins was having problems with her teenage son? Do you remember how you took the time to talk with her, sharing an equally difficult time in your own life, about how God aided you when no one else could? Or, what about Dave Ridgeway or Stuart Becker?
Old Henry - (Puts his hands on his head) All those names. Youíre bringing up such memories. Itís hard to believe that those things occurred so long ago.
Levi - (Folds his hands over the scroll) Henry, do you mind if we take a little peek at your life?
Old Henry - Well, I guess not. Where do I have to be anyway?
Levi - Thatís right. Okay. (He opens the scroll) How about if we start when you were born?
Old Henry - That was back in nineteen-sixteen. I remember my parentís house so vividly.
Levi - Actually, Henry, I was referring to your spiritual birth, your birth into the family of God.
Old Henry - Oh!
Levi - You had gone to church since you were five years old. Your parents took you every Sunday. But, it wasnít until your father died that you started looking for a relationship with God.
Old Henry - I was thirteen.
Levi - Thatís right.
(During the last part of their conversation, a light spots on a group of children being
taught by a Sunday School teacher. As Levi and Henryís conversation comes to close,
class stops and all the children leave except for one, who hesitantly approaches the
Old Henry - Mr. Brody, my Sunday School Teacher, showed me what I needed to do to accept Jesus into my life.
Levi - Yes, Henry. Watch. (He waves his hand towards the Sunday School scene)
(Mr. Brody is cleaning up the desks, straightening chairs and picking up papers, when a
younger Henry enters the room. Hesitantly, he approaches Mr. Brody. Hearing Henryís
approach, Mr. Brody looks up and smiles.)
Mr. Brody - Ah, Henry. Shouldnít you be off to church by now?
Boy Henry - Yeah. Iíve got a few minutes.
Mr. Brody - Okay. Do you want to help me clean up?
Boy Henry - Sure.
(They work in silence for a moment, before Henry gets enough courage to ask his
Boy Henry - Mr. Brody, do you think that God ever hates anybody?
Mr. Brody - What? Of course, not. I think He loves everybody the same.
Boy Henry - Well, He loved Joshua and the Israelites more than He loved the people in Jericho, or He wouldnít have allowed them all to be killed.
Mr. Brody - (Choosing his words carefully) Well, I could be wrong, but I donít think He loved the Israelites more. It was just that the Israelites were the only ones who worshipped God back then, while most other nations worshipped false gods. Maybe God treated the people of Jericho like bent nails.
Boy Henry - Huh?
Mr. Brody - Well, think of a board being Godís will. A nail thatís straight will go right through. But, a nail that bends isnít any good. You can try to hammer it back into shape, but itís usually still a little bent. And, it might bend on you again if you hammer it too hard.
Boy Henry - Oh, I get it. (He pauses, while still cleaning) Mr. Brody, why did God take my father away?
Mr. Brody - Well, I donít know, Henry. But, Iím sure it was for a certain purpose. Sometimes God allows bad things to happen to help us grow closer to Him. Sometimes, He lets bad things happen because He knows that, for some people, thatís the only way He can convince them of their own frailty. Seeing friends or relatives die, may be the only thing that convinces some people that the wages of sin really are death and that faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing that stands between them and eternal darkness.
Boy Henry - Why would God send anybody to hell?
Mr. Brody - He doesnít really want anyone to spend eternity away from Him. Here. (He opens the Bible to John 3:16) You probably know this one by heart.
Boy Henry - Sure. ďFor God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting lifeĒ.
Mr. Brody - Thatís right. God loves everyone so much that He made His Son the ultimate sacrifice that would cleanse man from his sins for good. Do you know what sin is, Henry?
Boy Henry - Sure. Sometimes I donít do what my mom wants me to, and sometimes I lie to her about stuff I really didnít do. I guess thatís what sin is.
Mr. Brody - I guess youíre right. But, look here. (He opens the Bible to Romans)
Boy Henry - (Reading) ďFor all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of GodĒ. So, everybody sins?
Mr. Brody - Well, everyone was born with a sinful nature. And, like we said earlierÖ
Boy Henry - ÖĒThe wages of sin is deathĒ.
Mr. Brody - Thatís right. But, if you let Jesus be the Lord of your life, and have God forgive your sins, you can have eternal life.
Boy Henry - How do I do that?
Mr. Brody - Well, the first thing to do is to admit to God that youíre a sinner and that you want to be forgiven. And, admit to God that you want to turn away forever from your sinful nature. Then, ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life. Let the blood that Jesus shed a long time ago cover your sins and wash you clean.
Boy Henry - How do I tell God all that? I know Heís really busy and He probably doesnít even have time for me.
Mr. Brody - Of course, He does. God wants to have a personal relationship with you. In times of trouble or abundance, He wants you to rely just on Him, getting strength from Him. He wants you to talk with Him. Tell Him how you feel and walk in His will. He wants to be your friend as well as your savior.
Boy Henry - And, all I have to do is pray?
Mr. Brody - Yes, thatís it. Would you like to pray right now?
Boy Henry - Here?
Mr. Brody - Sure, why not.
Boy Henry - Okay. (He closes his eyes and gets down on his knees) Dear God, itís me, Henry. I just wanted to let you know that I know Iím a sinner. And, I donít want to be. Please forgive me for sinning against you and my mom, and please let Jesus come into my life. I want to do what you ant me to do and I want you to be my friend. Please let me go to Heaven when I die, so I can be with my dad. I know Iím not perfect, but I want to give my life to you. Please take me and let me have your Son. Amen.
(Scene fades out with Henry on his knees and Mr. Brody bowing his head.)
(The lights go on over Henry and Levi)
Levi - And, then you were free.
Old Henry - Yes. It seems as if I barely knew what sin was. Like I wouldnít have fully realized what God had just done for me.
Levi - Maybe you didnít.
Old Henry - What do you mean?
Levi - Well, Henry, as youíll recall, (He unrolls the scroll a little farther) you treated your salvation pretty lightly up until the time you were old enough to drive.
Old Henry - Yeah, I gave my mother a little torment for a few years, if I recall.
Levi - And do you remember what turned your life back onto the correct path?
Old Henry - Well, I donítÖ No, wait. It was Patrick Wall.
Levi - Thatís right, your new Youth Pastor.
Old Henry - (Getting up and walking, as he remembers) He was so full of the Holy Spirit. He set all of the youth on fire. (He turns to face Levi) Before he came, it seemed like all the youth ever did was meet and watch boring movies, or have overnights, or play volleyball. But, then Pat came and got us out on the streets, showing everyone we came in contact with that Christ can work through teenagers as well as adults. He showed us that church wasnít only for learning more and worshipping God, but for learning and accomplishing His will as well.
Levi - And, you started being more active in church and church related activities. You were a youth counselor at camp, and attended youth rallies. You even led youth group Bible studies.
Old Henry - It seemed like the more I experienced God working through me and the people around me, the more I desired to know about Him. It was like a great, big circle. The more I learned about God, the more I wanted to do His will. And, the more I walked in His will, the more I wanted to share Him with others, and to learn from them what God was doing in their lives.
Levi - So, your youth director got you on fire for the Lord and you returned the favor.
Old Henry - Well, I just wanted to share with others as much joy as I had known through knowing Christ.
Levi - And, you did share with quite a few others. At youth rallies, you would volunteer to counsel those teens that needed to know more, that needed Jesus.
Old Henry - I remember.
Levi - Henry, do you remember leading a girl to Christ at a youth rally in Sioux City, Iowa?
Old Henry - I remember being in Sioux City, but I donít recall any certain people who were with me.
Levi - Would it help if I gave you her name?
Old Henry - It might.
Levi - She was born Ruth Ann Cawley.
Old Henry - (Smiling in remembrance) Of, course. My Ruthie. I remember now.
Levi - Yes. Ruth Ann Cawley was just another lost person looking for the saving grace of Christ. You gave her the same gift that your Sunday School teacher, Mr. Brody, gave to you so long ago. Watch.
(The next scene is a youth rally. A crowd of teenagers is half-circled around another
teenager, Henry, who is leading a prayer. Ruth, as a teen, remains at the back of the
Henry - ÖAnd, Lord, help us to be living examples of your faithfulness, an empty vessel through which the lost of the world might catch a glimpse of your beacon of hope. Let us be grounded in faith, so that nothing worldly might lead us astray. Bless those that are gathered here today in your name. And in Jesus name, the only name that will allow us to have a relationship with you, I pray. Amen.
(Henry leads the youth in a hymn. As the hymn nears an end, all teenagers besides Henry
and Ruth gently leave. As the other teens fade out, Henry and Ruth are left singing the
last line of the hymn together. After singing together, they both laugh nervously.)
Henry - Hi. Iím Henry Miller. (When she doesnít comment, he continues) Iíve seen you around. You just started coming to these rallies, havenít you?
Ruth - Yes, this is my second time. I came to last weekís rally with my friend, April.
Henry - Oh, I know April. (He thinks for a moment) April Russell. Sheís been going to my church since I was little. Sheís pretty cool.
Ruth - Yeah. April and I met at school. We sat next to each other in American History class, and just sort of clicked. I invited her to my church a few Wednesdays ago, and she invited me to go to one of these rallies. I didnít know what to expect. And I wish I could stop babbling like and idiot.
Henry - Oh, I donít think youíre babbling.
(Ruth suddenly sticks out her hand, which Henry shakes)
Ruth - Iím Ruth, Ruth Cawley.
Henry - Hi, Ruth Cawley. Hey, do you mind if I sit for a second?
Ruth - Sure, thatís okay.
(Henry leads Ruth over to a couple of chairs)
Ruth - Thanks.
Henry - No problem. So, which church do you go to?
Ruth - Oh, First Baptist, over on Clark Street. You know, the one across from the fire station?
Henry - Sure. I used to work at Doctor Vicís. Doctor Vic ran the Veterinarian clinic down the street from there.
Ruth - Yeah.
Henry - Anyway, tell me a little bit about yourself. Got any family? Do you like school? What about those Mets?
Ruth - Yes. No. I donít know.
(They both share a laugh.)
Henry - Well, what do you think about what we talked about tonight at the rally? Is Ruth Cawley walking that narrow path of Godís will? Will Ruth make it to Heaven? How are you spiritually?
Ruth - Well, Iíve been going to First Baptist nearly all of my life. At least since I was about five. I think my mom wanted me in church so she could put me in dresses more often. I donít know. My father never went to church. In fact, he never went anywhere much. Except when they got a divorce. Then he moved pretty fast. He moved as far away from us as possible.
Henry - Iím sorry to hear that.
Ruth - Yeah, so was I. He didnít really treat me that well, but he was still my dad. And, I miss him.
Henry - Divorce hurts the kids more than the adults. I think that parents who want to get divorced are just being selfish, and looking for a quick fix.
Ruth - Thatís true.
Henry - But, al least youíve always got God. Heíd never let you down or leave you. How is your relationship with Him?
Ruth - I donít know. I havenít prayed or read my Bible in a while. Not since I was a lot younger.
Henry - Ruth, if you died tonightÖ
Ruth - I sure hope not.
Henry - Right. But, if you did die tonight, do you know where youíd go?
Ruth - I hope Iíd go to Heaven.
Henry - Would you like to know for sure?
Ruth - Can you? Know for sure?
Henry - Certainly. (He reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a very used Bible) Look here in 1 John 5:13.
Ruth - (Reading from the bible) ďThese thing I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of GodĒ. ďSo that you may knowĒ. Huh.
Henry - Right. Thatís the kind of assurance Iím talking about. And, when youíre talking about your own eternity, you need to be absolutely sure of whatís to come. Would you like to be sure? Would you like to be certain that Jesus saved you from your sins, and that, through Him, you can have eternal life? Thatís true freedom, the freedom of assurance.
Ruth - Yes, I would like to be sure. Iíd like that very much.
Henry - Here. (He puts the Bible into her lap) Letís start in Romans.
(Lights dim slightly on teenage Henry and Ruth and brighten on Levi and Henry)
Old Henry - She turned out to be a strong woman of God.
Levi - As you are a strong man of God. You complemented each other, as God has designed a marriage to be.
Old Henry - She turned out to be a stronger Christian than I ever was.
Levi - (Quietly) No. One thing that I have noticed about the human race is that they either remember mainly the good times or the bad times when they reminisce. But, they rarely remember both equally.
Old Henry - I donít think itís intentional. I like to remember the good times because I know that if I start to dwell on the bad times, I might get bitter. And, there'í no room in my life for bitterness. (He turns away from Levi) I know that we had difficult times, and Ruth may have wandered a little in her faith, but we made out okay.
Levi - Henry, (He points at the younger Henry and Ruth) witness the rebirth of your future wife.
(Lights brighten on teenage Henry and Ruth. Ruth is kneeling on the ground, as Henry
kneels beside her.)
Ruth - Lord, I know that Iím a sinner and Iím headed to hell. I want you to come into my life and cover my sins. Please, be Lord of my life and give me eternal life through your Son, Jesus. In Jesusí name I pray. Amen.
Henry - Amen. All right! (Henry helps Ruth to her feet, then gives her a hug) Congratulations, Ruth.
Ruth - Thank you. But, what do I do now?
Henry - Well, now you start to grow as a Christian. And, I can help you.
Ruth - Iíd like that.
Henry - Come on. Letís go see if we can catch that friend of yours, April, and give her the good news.
Ruth - Great!
(The lights brighten over Henry and Levi)
Levi - And, so, you were given the honor of witnessing to the lady who would soon be Mrs. Henry Miller.
Old Henry - Soon? As I recall, we dated for six years before I got enough courage to ask her to marry me.
Levi - In the scope of your life, those six years were just a drop in the ocean. Life started to pick up for you and Ruth soon after you were married, with the arrival of your first son.
Old Henry - (Whispering) David.
Levi - Yes, David. He was your first.
Old Henry - I remember. We put a lot of love into that boy. Maybe a little too much love sometimes. I think he may have been a little spoiled. I remember how much trouble he used to get in. Ruth and I were such inexperienced parents. We werenít half as lenient with William or Judith. But, David was our first. And, for all the trouble he got in, all the talking back, and spankings, he sure ended up loving the Lord something awful.
Levi - He accepted Jesus into his life when he was eight. And, soon after, he was baptized.
Old Henry - Yes. He was really excited about the Lord. My little fanatic. He used to get into trouble at school for being a little church boy. The other kids would tease him, and heíd just start swinging. He would just start his own little holy war. I remember a time when I had to go pick him up from elementary school after a fightÖ
(Lights dim on Levi and Henry, and brighten on a middle aged Henry ushering in a nine-
year-old David into the living room of the Miller house. Ruth is sitting in a chair, doing
the bills. A frown crosses her face when she sees David. Henry guides David to the
couch, after taking his coat. An awkward silence stills the room.)
Ruth - What are we going to do with you, David?
David - Mom, I didnítÖ
Henry - Not yet. Let us speak first.
David - ButÖ
Henry - Wait, just wait. Son, I know you accepted Jesus as your savior. What do you think He would think about your fighting?
David - Well, IÖ
Henry - Not yet, David. Iím not finished. What kind of witness are you showing the other kids? Youíre supposed to be turning the other cheek. Youíre supposed to be the one who loves your neighbor as yourself. Are you just ignoring Godís voice in your life? When He tells you to ignore the other kidís remarks, are you just ignoring Him?
David - But, Dad, you didnít hear what Mark said about Jesus. He called Jesus aÖ
Henry - It doesnít matter. Do you think that I havenít wanted to punch somebodyís face in for taking the Lordís name in vain or when they flippantly say something about God? Do you think that I just donít feel anything when someone talks about Christians like weíre all a bunch of idiots or fanatics? But, the important thing is that God doesnít want us to act like the world treats us.
Ruth - You see, David, God said not to be conformed to the world, not to be just like it. Weíve got Jesus living in us, not the world. And, we should be acting like Jesus would act. If Jesus is truly the king of our lives, then weíll become the Christian that God wants us to be.
Henry - Son, we love you. And, we know that you think that youíre doing the right thing. But, youíre not. Youíre just doing what the world expects you to do. Donít sink down to the worldís level. Rise up to Godís standards.
David - How?
Henry - (Taps David on the chest) Use whatís in here. When you accepted Jesus as your Lord, He didnít abandon you. He didnít just say, ďNow, go get themĒ. He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell inside you, to give you courage, strength, and the wisdom to deal with other people. If you get into a situation that you can not handle, God will show you the way to go.
David - All right, Pop. From now on, Iíll ask God what to do.
Henry - Good.
David - Okay. So, can I go out and play with Tim for a while?
Ruth - Honey, youíre still in trouble. You need to go into your room until supper.
David - All right. (He exits)
Henry - (Moving closer to Ruth) Well, I think we raised a good boy.
Ruth - (Raises checkbook) We raised an expensive boy. I donít even know how we make it month by month.
Henry - Only by Godís grace, Dear.
Ruth - I still donít know why you decided to give so much to that missionary last Sunday. Iím sure that the church has a mission fund. He wonít starve.
Henry - I know that, Ruth. It was just something that I felt God wanted me to do. Heís given so much: our lives, our family. Weíve never gone hungry.
Ruth - Well, if we end up fifty dollars short of paying our bills this monthÖ
Henry - We wonít. God will take care of us.
Ruth - (Sighing) I know. He always has.
(Light darkens on Miller living room)
(Light brightens over Henry and Levi. Henry has a smile of remembrance on his face.)
Old Henry - He always did too.
Levi - He always did what, Henry?
Old Henry - God always took care of us. Even in the lean times, he was there. When David broke his arm, and we were in between health care providers, the church took up a collection that helped us pay for the doctorís bills.
Levi - And, when William, and then Judith, was born.
Old Henry - He did His greatest miracles then. I still canít believe that we ever came up with the money to pay for those bills. But, God did it. He gave us a little help here, a check there. And, in between, He gave us peace, knowing that He would take care of everything.
Levi - Dealing with money wasnít the only thing that God helped you with.
Old Henry - Well, when you have these three kids running around the house, sometimes life gets to be a little like a circus. We had a little acrobat named Judith. David was our lion tamer. And, William was the clown.
Levi - Was it any surprise, then, when William decided to become a preacher?
Old Henry - No, not really. Besides wanting everyoneís attention all the time, he was the most personable. He had a real love for people. Has. I suppose heís still alive.
Levi - Well, we have a different time system here. On earth, yes, he was alive after your death. And, he walked Godís path for another forty-eight years.
Old Henry - What about Judith, and my Ruth?
Levi - Well, Ruth lived about ten years after you died. Judith lived a little longer than William did. But, you should see all of them up here sometime soon.
Old Henry - And, David?
Levi - Yes. David is here.
Old Henry - (Quietly) I think I know what you want to see next.
Levi - You do?
Old Henry - Yes. But Iím not sure I can take watching it again. It was hard enough to go through the first time.
Levi - Yes.
Old Henry - I would like to see him.
Levi - You will. But, firstÖ
Old Henry - I remember it as clearly as the day it happened. David was out on a date. The kids were asleep in their rooms, and Ruth and I were in the living room. I remember the crispness in the air, like a knife made of ice was swinging gently back and forth. It was November the fifteenth and there was a light dust of snow on the ground. We were a little worried about David. He usually never stayed out very late. If he had gotten into any trouble, ran out of gas, he would have called us. Ruth was working on a crossword. She used to love those things. And I was reading this book on the end times. I never did finish that book. Anyway, as you know, at about ten oíclock, I heard a car pull up to the curb. Ruth rushed over to the window and looked out, expecting David. She got this look on her face, like sheíd just seen a ghost, and staggered back. Before I could ask her what the matter was, there was the knock on the door. The knock that every parent dreads.
Levi - It was the police.
Old Henry - At first, I thought that David had gotten into some sort of trouble. In fact, I think I was hoping that he was in trouble. The truth came out quicker than I wanted it to. David and Cathy had been driving back from seeing a movie. They were on a back road, and I guess this kid coming home from a party, or going to a party, had come up over a hill without his lights on and ran right into them. Luckily, Cathy only got a few broken ribs and a cut on her forehead to mark her. But, DavidÖ
Levi - (Reading from the scroll) David suffered massive head injuries and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died. The driver of the other car was Jerry Profit. He also died, eventually. You met his parents at the hospital later. And, RuthÖ
Old Henry - Yes, Ruth went a little crazy that night. I wasnít so sane myself.
(Light dims over Henry and Levi)
(Light brightens over a hospital waiting room. Henry enters, supporting Ruth. Ruth is
sobbing. Mr. and Mrs. Profit are sitting in chairs.)
Ruth - My baby. My David is gone.
Henry - Shh.
Ruth - Donít you shush me. I want my son.
Henry - I do too, honey. But, heís in Godís hands now.
Ruth - God! God should have been taking care of my David. Where was God when that boy smashed into him? I would like to know that!
Henry - Ruth, I donít know. God doesnít do things for no reason.
Ruth - What was the reason for taking my David? Was it to hurt me?
Henry - RuthÖ
Ruth - No. Leave me alone.
Henry - Iím not going to do that. Look, for whatever reason, God decided that it was Davidís time to come home. I donít know why. I donít like it, but I guess Iíll have to live with it.
Ruth - I donít want to live with it.
Henry - You have to. Henry and Judith need us right now.
Ruth - (Looking around, half-crazed) Where is my Judith? Whereís William?
Henry - Donít you remember? I called Don and Bonnie and had them come over to watch the kids.
Mr. Profit - (Getting out of his chair and approaching them) Excuse me.
Henry - Yes?
Mr. Profit - Are you the parents of the boy that was killed in that car wreck?
Henry - Yes, our son David was killed tonight by a drunk driver.
Mr. Profit - I just wanted to apologize. That drunk driver is our son. He was coming home from a party, and I guess he had too much to drink. Heís in the Intensive Care Unit right now. The doctorís donít think that heíll live.
Ruth - How dare you!
Henry - Ruth!
Ruth - How can you apologize for your drunk son murdering my baby? What gives you the right? Your son is still alive and mine is dead. It should be the other way around.
Henry - Ruth, thatís enough! (To Mr. Profit) Iím sorry. Sheís a little upset right now. We realize that itís not your fault.
Ruth - Donít you apologize for me! I wonít take back anything I said. I hope that boy gets everything thatís coming to him.
Henry - (Harshly) Ruth, I said, thatís enough! Ruth, IÖ
(Ruthís friend, Janet, enters the waiting room.)
Henry - Janet, thank God in Heaven. Could you please take Ruth down to get a cup of coffee?
Janet - Sure. Come with me, sweetie. (She gently guides Ruth to the door) Has your family been told?
Ruth - (Distantly) We havenít told anyone yet.
Henry - (Turning back to the Profits) Iím sorry. He was our first. We have two other children, a girl and a boy, but theyíre quite a bit younger than David is. Than David was. (He sits heavily down in a chair)
Mr. Profit - Iím so sorry. We knew that Jerry might end up drinking at this party, but we let him go anyway. I can only blame myself for your sonís death.
Mrs. Profit - Roger.
Mr. Profit - And my sonÖI donít even know whatís happening with him. How is the girl that was with your son?
Henry - Sheís been downgraded to a better condition. I think sheís going to make it.
Mrs. Profit - Thatís good.
Henry - Look, for what itís worthÖ
(The doctor enters, looks quickly at Henry, and then speaks directly to Mr. and Mrs.
Doctor - Excuse me. Mr. and Mrs. Profit, your son appeared to be stabilizing. We had repaired the punctured lung and halted the bleeding of the right leg. But, we just located some internal bleeding from the frontal lobe.
Mrs. Profit - Frontal lobe?
Doctor - He is bleeding internally in the front of his head. Doctor Moore is currently working on your son. As long as we can localize and stop the bleeding, I think he should be all right.
Mr. Profit - Okay.
Doctor - Iíve got to go back in. Weíll keep you notified. (He exits)
Mr. Profit - Thank you. (He sits down and tries to comfort his wife)
Henry - Excuse me. I hate to bother you.
Mr. Profit - Oh, itís all right.
Henry - I was wonderingÖis your son saved?
Mr. Profit - Saved? Saved from what?
Henry - Okay. Do you mind if I pray with you, for your son?
Mrs. Profit - Would you, please?
Henry - Certainly. (He bows his head and closes his eyes as the Profits follow suit) Father in Heaven, giver and taker of life for all of us, please watch over that young boy, who is struggling for his own life in the other room. Give the doctors sure hands and strong minds. Please give comfort to this family and let them know that you have them enveloped in your loving hands. If itís your will, let the boy fully recover from his afflictions. And, if recovered, let him realize that it was from your grace and your grace alone, that he survived. Let all of us today be touched by the events that happened this night, bringing us closer to You and Your will. Please teach us to accept any situation that comes before us as a chance to grow stronger for you. Please watch over my son until I can join him in Heaven. And, help my wife through this time and into your own. In Jesusí holy name, I pray. Amen.
(Light fades on hospital waiting room)
(Light brightens over Henry and Levi)
Levi - Did you notice the peace that God gave you in your time of need?
Old Henry - Yes. Looking back, I seemed like the only peaceful person in that room, besides the doctor. But, I was tearing apart inside. All I could keep thinking was how I would be able to see him again once I got to Heaven. Ruth, however, was completely changed by our sonís death.
Levi - She grew more distant from you and from God. In her heart, she blamed God for Davidís death. And, she blamed you for loving God.
Old Henry - Yes. And, she started distancing herself from the kids as well. She stopped praying with them at night before bed. She stopped playing with them. It broke my heart to see the sadness in their eyes when they watched her. They didnít know what they did to deserve such torment. And, neither did I.
Levi - She distanced herself from you as well.
Old Henry - She stopped talking to me. And, when she did talk, she only answered me with one-word sentences. It was like living with a robot.
(Light dims on Henry and Levi)
(Lights brighten on the Miller family living room. Ruth is in a chair, staring into space.
Henry enters with a smile on his face, which quickly fades when he sees his wife. He
seats himself on the couch.)
Henry - Well, I put the kids to bed.
Ruth - Uh, huh.
Henry - William prayed that his teacher wouldnít call on him for math questions anymore. And, Judith prayed that you wouldnít cook meatloaf anymore.
Ruth - Hmmm.
Henry - Judith also asked God why you didnít love her anymore.
Ruth - I love her. She knows that.
Henry - Not from the way that youíve been acting. You treat me and the kids like strangers in our own house.
Ruth - Well, what do you want me to do? I lost my son, Henry. Do you want me to jump up and down, laughing? Do you want all of us to go have a party, to celebrate his death?
Henry - That was five months ago.
Ruth - Not to me it wasnít.
Henry - Is this how you think God wants you to act?
Ruth - Who cares? He sure didnít care about my feelings when he took my son.
Henry - Ruth, you know God doesnít do things to hurt people. He has a good reason for everything he does, or doesnít do.
Ruth - Well, I wish Heíd hurry up and tell me whatís so good about me losing David, so I can get on with my life. (She starts crying)
(Henry gets up and goes over to Ruth, seeking to comfort her)
Henry - RuthÖ
Ruth - No, just leave me alone for now.
Henry - You canít keep on shutting us out. The kids need you and I need you. It feels like you abandoned us for David. Well, weíre alive and heís not. If I could change the situation, I would. But, I canít. (He gets up) Please pray about this, Ruth. God wants to help.
(Henry exits. Ruth sits staring, then gets up to leave. Suddenly, she sighs and throws
herself to her knees)
Ruth - Oh, God, why did it have to come to this? Why did you steal my son from me? I donít understand. Please help me to understand. I love Henry and the kids, but I canít get David out of my head. I try to think about Judith or William or Henry or anything, but David keeps crowding back in. I miss him so much. But, I donít know how to let him go. But, I miss my other children, too. And, I miss Henry. Please help me.
(Lights fade on Miller family living room)
(Lights brighten on Henry and Levi)
Old Henry - Oh, my Ruth. I wish I could have helped her more.
Levi - That was up to God. He did, in fact, have his reasons. He always does. Remember that God never closes a door, without opening another one. It just might not be instantaneous.
Old Henry - Well, all I know is that in three weeks time, Ruth was almost back to her old self. I never did find out what happened.
Levi - You will now. God sent Ruth someone who needed more help than she did.
(Lights dim on Henry and Levi)
(Lights brighten on the Miller family living room. Ruth is in her chair, doing a crossword
puzzle. William, now 10 years old, enters the room, followed by Jeremy, Janetís son)
William - Hey, mom, can me and Jeremy go play in the pool in the back? Itís getting pretty hot outside and Jeremyís starting to stink.
Jeremy - (Swatting playfully at William) Hey!
Ruth - Thatís fine, guys. Just dry off outside and donít track anything into the house. (They start to exit) In fact, why donít you leave your shirts in here, so you donít get them all wet.
(William takes off his shirt. Jeremy takes his shirt off reluctantly and turns quickly to go.
Ruth notices the bruises on Jeremyís back)
Ruth - Jeremy, honey, where did you get such nasty bruises?
Jeremy - Uh, I donít know. I fell down or something.
(Ruth comes over to Jeremy to investigate his back)
Ruth - This one looks a little like something a belt would make.
Jeremy - Yeah, well, sometimes my mom gets a little mad. And, when I do stuff Iím not supposed to, she lays into me. Itís not her fault. She just doesnít have enough patience to sit me over her knee and spank me. Besides, Iím getting a little big for spankings anyway.
Ruth - Okay. You two run out and play. Jeremy, your mom should be getting here in about an hour. So, you two better watch the time. William, whereís your sister?
William - Judyís with Sherry in her room, playing dolls or something.
Ruth - Okay. Off you two go.
(Both boys exit. Ruth sits back down, thinking. Suddenly, a knock sounds at the door. Ruth opens the door, shocked to see Janet)
Ruth - Janet. I didnít expect to see you here so soon.
Janet - I know. I got off early. So, I thought I would come by and talk a little.
Ruth - Come on in and sit down, Janet.
Janet - Thanks. Hey, is there something bothering you?
Ruth - Well, I Öhow did Jeremy get those bruises on his back, Janet?
Janet - (Startled) I, uhÖI donít know. He must have fallen down or something. You know him. Heís so clumsy.
Ruth - Thereís a bruise on his back that looks like it was made by a belt.
Janet - What are you accusing me of, Ruth? Iíd like to know. Do you think I beat my child?
Ruth - Jeremy said thatÖ
Janet - Oh, these kids make things up all the time. Are you going to believe him or me? Really, I donít know why I should sit here and listen to this at all. (She stands up, as if to leave)
Ruth - Janet, sit down.
Janet - What?
Ruth - I said, sit down. Now, listen. I donít know whatís going on in your life, what kind of pressures you have. But, if youíre taking your stress out on your child, then you need help. And, you need it now. I lost a child through no fault of my own. And, it enrages me that something could happen to your child that can be prevented. You might not be able to stop one time and youíll go too far. Maybe next time, Jeremy wonít have a bruise on his back. Maybe next time, youíll be so mad that you hit him in the head, or shove him into a wall.
Janet - (Breaking down) You donít know. Youíve got Henry. Youíve got someone to help you. Itís hard, hard being a single mother. Iíve got all these bills to pay, so I work all the time. Then, I come home and see that Jeremy canít even do something simple, like clean his room for me. And, that infuriates me. All the work I do for him, and he canít do something simple for me.
Ruth - You know, whatever reason you have, they're not good enough. God gave you that child so you could love him, and teach him and help him grow. Heís not your little slave. Look, Iím not going to sit here and put a guilt trip on you. You know that what youíre doing is wrong. Why donít you ask God for help, when you think youíre going to blow it?
Janet - I have. And, He wonít help me. I donít think He even listens when I call out and ask Him for help. I donít think He cares.
Ruth - Of course, He cares. Janet, HeÖhow long have you been going to church?
Janet - What? Oh, I donít know. Maybe ten, fifteen years. Why?
Ruth - Have you ever developed a close relationship with God? Ever really got to know Him?
Janet - Sure. I mean, I go to church, donít I? I know Him about as much as anybody else does.
Ruth - Do you pray to Him? Do you read the Bible to learn more about Him?
Janet - Well, sure. I mean, Iíve prayed when Iím in a fix or when I need some help. And, I read my BibleÖwell, itís been awhile. But, Iíve read it. And, you know all of the things I do at church. Iíve been on the Womenís Committee for five years straight.
Ruth - Itís not enough. Unless you have Jesus ruling your heart, unless you realize that Christ died specifically for you to save you from your sins, itís not enough. Look, Janet, if you died right now, do you know where youíd go?
Janet - I just donít know anymore. I hope that I would go to Heaven, but with everything Iíve done, I donít feel very worthy. I donít think Iíll make it.
Ruth - Janet, thereís nothing to ďmakeĒ. All that youíve got to do is realize that youíre a sinner and that God loves you even when you donít love Him. I guess I didnít realize that myself for the last few months. I got so wrapped up in Davidís loss, that I didnít realize what I had right in front of me. And, Iím sorry about that. I should have trusted God a little more. Look, all Iím saying is that you donít have to accept what you are as something permanent. If God is ruling your life, if youíre following His will, you can rise above anything.
Janet - How can I be sure?
Ruth - Well, weíre talking about your eternity. You definitely need to be sure. Let me share with you what my husband shared with me a long time ago. (She reaches for the coffee table, rummages through some papers and comes up with henryís Bible) This is Henryís. Heís had it for close to twenty years now. Itís pretty used, but I guess thatís a good thing. Any way, letís start in RomansÖ
(Lights fade in Miller family living room)
(Lights brighten over Henry and Levi)
Levi - Not only did Janet give her life over to our Lord, but Ruth re-committed her life as well.
Old Henry - I never knew.
Levi - No, she never told you. Henry, not only did Janet commit her life to Jesus, but she went from there to be a great worker for God. You know about her work in the cityís homeless shelter. But, did you know that she helped lead, with Godís help, a certain man, named John W. Pierson, to Christ.
Old Henry - The preacher, John W. Pierson?
Levi - The same. And, how many do you think heís talked to about Christ?
Old Henry - Millions.
Levi - Thatís right. So you see, God always has a plan and a purpose. Sometimes, youíre only a small part of that plan, and you canít see the outcome. Now, of course, your life didnít end there. I could show you when you took the time to help one of your co-workers, and eventually shared your faith, leading him to Christ.
Old Henry - James Redfield. I remember.
Levi - Jim had some tough times, even after coming to Christ. But, with Godís help, he could handle the difficult times a lot better than before.
Old Henry - I know that the company released him not soon after we had that talk.
Levi - God had other plans for Jim. And, of course, there was Angela.
Old Henry - Judithís daughter. Of course, I remember that night she stayed at our house, and, after prayer, she asked me to help her ask Jesus into her life. It brought back memories of David when he was first saved.
Levi - Ah, yes. David.
David - (From offstage) Dad?
Old Henry - David, is that you?
(David enters, looking about eighteen. He rushes to his father and they embrace. Levi
Old Henry - Oh, son, I missed you.
David - Me, too, Dad.
Old Henry - Your mother missed you too.
David - Oh, Iíve already talked to mom.
Old Henry - (Looking back at Levi) What?
Levi - I told you that time worked differently here. Your whole family is here. As well as a few who you havenít met yet.
(Voices can be heard from offstage. In walks Old Ruth, a middle-aged William and
Judith, as well as several others)
Old Ruth - Henry.
William - Dad.
Judith - Hi, dad.
Old Henry - Ruth! William and Judith. Iím so glad weíre all here together. I canít believe that everyone is here.
(Hugs are given all around as Henry wades into the crowd. Levi silences the crowd)
Levi - Henry. (Everyone turns towards Levi) Thereís someone else who wants to see you. In fact, He wants to see everyone. So, if you will all follow me.
Old Henry - Iíve been waiting practically all of my life to see Him. Letís go.
(Levi leads everyone offstage. On the way out, Henry starts everyone singing a hymn)