Doug Johnson violently spun the steering wheel. The car careened around the corner, narrowly missing a telephone pole and two parked cars. Doug was thankful for the light traffic at this hour of the night.
Beside him, Cheryl Banks' chest heaved from the sobs that burst out of her.
"Don't worry," he tried to reassure her. "We'll get there about the same time as the ambulance. He's going to be fine."
She just seemed to cry harder. Doug was at a complete loss. He knew there was more going on than either Tom or Cheryl had told him. And, he had honored their feelings by not asking questions. But, now...
He spun the steering wheel again. The car squealed around the corner, into the hospital parking lot.
"Hey," he tried to reassure her again. Those doctors will have him fixed up and out of there in no time. It's going to be all right."
He didn't know whether to believe his own words or not. He hoped his uncertainty didn't show in his voice.
"You don't understand," she wailed. "He might not be coming out of there at all!"
"What's wrong with him Cheryl," he asked pointedly.
"I can't tell you," she cried back at him. "I promised I wouldn't tell anyone."
Doug sighed in frustration. He forced his concentration on finding a parking place. Silently he prayed for God to help him. He pulled into an open parking space and turned off the motor.
"Look, Cheryl," he said calmly. "I can't do anything for him, or with him, if I don't know what is going on."
"Why," she asked scornfully. "So you can pray for Him? Maybe guarantee his soul safe trip to heaven?"
Doug half-turned towards her and leaned against the car door. He had never heard her talk like this before.
"Well, preacher," she shot at him. "What's the matter? God won't let you say anything? What do you do..."
"Silence," he said firmly, not quite shouting.
Her mouth hung open, waiting to say words that never came. Doug gave his head a shake to clear it, and looked at her again.
"First of all," he said calmly, "his soul is already taken care of. He has a one way ticket to heaven because he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Second, I do want to pray for him. But, I don't know what to pray for, and I need you to help me with that."
"Like prayer is really going to help him," she said. It started out scornful again, but the tears and the cry quickly overcame the scorn. "He's dying!"
Doug slumped his shoulders at the finality of the announcement. He had part of his answer. He didn't like fighting for every clue. It was wearing him out quickly. First there was the news of Tom's collapse. Now there was this fight with Cheryl. And all of it after a long day.
"You really believe that crap, don't you," she said breaking the silence with renewed cynicism.
"Yes, I do," he said strongly. "Tell me, do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?"
She snorted. "I'm not some fool who needs a crutch to get through life's problems. I don't need to hide behind some religious junk to avoid my problems."
"Real Christians do not hide from their problems and troubles," he told her. "We face them together."
He reached into the back seat and brought out his Bible.
"I want to show you something from the book of Romans," he said turning pages.
"That," she said pointedly, "is a Bible, not the book of Romans."
"Romans is part of the Bible," he replied with a smile. He flipped a couple more pages. "Would you read the words in green, please?"
He handed her the Bible. She reached for it hesitantly, and turned it around.
"There is none righteous, no not one, she read carefully. "There is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth god, no not one."
She paused. Doug watched her eyes scan through the page. And, again, he prayed silently.
"So what does all that mean," Cheryl asked finally, a note of interest in her voice.
"Before I answer, that," he replied, "skip down the page to the next patch of green, and read that, too."
"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," she said intently.
"What all that means," Doug said slowly, "is that without Jesus in our lives, we can never be good enough for God. In the book of Ephesians, the bible says that salvation is a gift. We get it because of God's favor, through the faith he gives us to believe. We cannot get it by working for it. No one can work their way into the presence of God."
"What's so important about being with God, anyway," she asked offhandedly.
"Well, there is a choice," he replied gravely, with a smile. "You can spend forever with God, in His heaven, or you can spend forever without God, in hell. Personally, I would rather be with God, than without Him."
"So, what's so important about this Jesus stuff," she asked, her mouth twitching slightly at the joke. "I believe in God."
He took the Bible, flipped some pages, and gave it back.
"Read this passage of green for me," he asked nicely.
"If thou shalt confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead thou shalt be saved."
"And that little bit in orange on the next page," Doug prompted.
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
"What all that is saying," Doug went on, "is that Jesus is the Son of God. And, he died to wash away all the sins you have ever committed. But, and this is a big but, to receive that forgiveness, you have to ask Him to be your Lord, and to come into your life."
"I still don't understand why this Jesus is so special," she shook her head. "So he got hung up on some stupid cross and died. So what?"
"That's right," Doug agreed with her. "He did die that way. And He was buried, too. But, God raised Him from the dead, Cheryl. He is alive."
"So what does this have to do with being with God," she asked intently, trying to sound indifferent.
"Wouldn't you want to spend time with the One who let His only Son die so that you could live," Doug asked her powerfully.
"No one would do that," she argued.
"God did," he replied. "For God so loved the world..."
"That he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life," Cheryl finished for him. "That's one I've heard before. I just never understood it."
"Do you want Jesus," Doug asked her hopefully.
"Yes, she replied softly. Then she looked at him. "Yes."
And they prayed.
When they finished, Doug snapped his eyes open and watched Cheryl. Her eyes remained closed, but her lips kept moving. Doug watched as some of the worry lines disappear from her face. The twitch her mouth had developed stopped, too. He knew what it was. And, he knew it was real, too.
"What happened," she asked opening her eyes. "I feel...I don't know how I feel."
You just got born again," Doug explained simply. "Now, let's get inside and see what we can do for Tom."