The cold winter wind howled with great ferocity, and at times the light falling snow became nearly horizontal in the grip of it's icy gusts. But that chill and restlessness on this dark Christmas eve could not begin to compare with the rage and despair in Amy Markel's own heart.
She had reasoned it all out, enough was enough…if there was such a thing as "hope" it wasn't meant for her, and if there was a "god"….he wasn't listening. She was simply going to end a loser existence…..one less ill-fated soul to clutter up society. She much rather preferred becoming just another fatality, …a statistic,….news fodder to a cruel and uncaring world, to facing the prospect of still another lonely Christmas holiday.
Amy considered herself the victim of bad destiny,…abandoned by her father at birth, and traumatized by the premature death of her mother when she was just twelve, she grew up primarily a "street child", living a reckless teenage life, resulting in pregnancy at the tender age of sixteen. She reluctantly ended that pregnancy of an infant girl through abortion, upon insistence, and with funding and orchestration from the parents of the baby's father.
Now, sixteen years later, she was the veteran of two, very short term, failed marriages, and several indiscretions, none of which offered her even so much as a glimmer of genuine love or fulfillment. As an only child she had no close relatives, and her own internal anger and defensive posture made friends a near impossibility, leaving her mostly isolated to the maze of her own regrets.
Although she had for so many years longed for love and family, she always seemed to try the wrong recipe. She hated the desertion of her father, hated the cruelties of the past, hated men she once thought she loved, but mostly, she hated herself. She envied women with families, especially those with babies, and believed herself unworthy of motherhood, since she had terminated the delicate and helpless life of her own infant girl. It was cruelly ironic, because at the time of the abortion, she had secretly given her baby a name,… "Hope", the one thing she would never know in her life. She now recognized her abortion of that precious life for the act of selfishness it really was, and cursed her youthful haste in that all important decision, the ghost of which had never given her a moment's rest.
So, it had come to this,…..one last drive up to "Overlook Peak" high above the bay,….petal to the floor, and through the guard rail….the end
to all Amy Markel's problems. Certainly, if there was an after life, it had to be better than this.
As she left her apartment building, and walked out to her car, Amy tightened the scarf around her neck and pulled her stocking cap firmly down over her ears. She could hear the sound of Christmas songs from carolers down the street, and saw festive lights adorning light poles and apartment windows, but for Amy, Christmas had always been a stranger, someone who did not speak to her, and one to whom she did not speak. She entered her car, started it up, and drove slowly down Belmont Drive toward the bay area some 15 minutes across town.
The city streets were beginning to ice up and becoming hazardous,and, as she entered onto highway 76, she noted unusually heavy traffic.
Drivers seemed to be trying to get to their destinations before conditions got any worse, so she figured to bypass the congestion, and take an alternate, seldom used, route across town. Three miles down the highway she exited onto Orchard Parkway, taking instead that quicker, albeit hilly, roller coaster route to the bay area.
As Amy started down the steep grade from the top of the first hill, she discovered that the roadway lights were completely out, and there
seemed to be no traffic at all. Suddenly, her car encountered a long area of black ice and began to slide out of control. She put the shifter in neutral, held the wheel steady and gently applied the brakes, but the car seemed to speed up and slid sideways in the road. Amy saw the trees along the roadway getting closer and she pushed on the brakes with all her strength but to no avail. With a "thud" her vehicle impacted the side of the road and came to an abrupt stop, killing the engine. She rested her head momentarily on the steering wheel, and upon looking up, was startled to see a pretty, teenage girl standing at her driver's door. Amy opened her window.
"Mmmm…mam?…." The young girl asked. "….a….a….are you okay?"
"Yeah, I guess so." Amy replied, frustrated at the whole turn of events."It just figures this would have to happen now…." She shook her head.
"……the story of my life." She grumbled.
"Will your car start?" The young girl inquired, as she looked over the car's position.
"I dunno….." Amy replied. "….let's see." She turned the key in the ignition, but it merely made a "clicking" noise. "DAMN!" She cursed,
striking the steering wheel with her hand."
"M…m…maybe I can do something…." The young girl said with a tender and pleasant smile.
"Oh sure sweetie,…." Amy said sarcastically. "Go ahead,…..knock yourself out."
"Mam, would you please open your hood?"
"What are you honey…..some sort of mechanic or something?" Amy quipped with sarcasm, as she pulled the hood release lever.
The young girl went to the front of the car, lifted the hood, and after a few moments Amy heard her call out: "Okay,…give it a try now!"
Amy turned the key, and the vehicle started right up. "Say kid,….that's some trick…." She began, with pleasant astonishment. "…..I guess maybe you ARE some type of mechanic. Where are you going?….I mean, can I give you a lift to somewhere?"
"I sure would like that mam." The girl replied eagerly. "I'm headed up by the bay."
As the girl got into the front seat, Amy noticed that she was carrying a book with a pretty white cover. "You just coming home from the library?"
"No mam,….." She replied. "This book is a gift from my father to someone very special…." She smiled gently at Amy. "…..I'm just taking
it to her for him."
"So..o..o.., you need to deliver the book…..right?" Amy inquired, trying to hide her reluctance about making a side trip that might delay her mission.
"Oh, that's okay mam….." The girl remarked cheerfully. "….she's close to us, and I'll just drop it off on the way."
Amy put the car in gear, pulled away from the curb, turned around in the street and slowly drove on. "Hey kid, where'd you ever learn to fix a car like that?"
"Something I must have picked up from my father I guess…." She replied with confidence. "….he can fix anything."
"You must have a good relationship with your dad?" Amy asked.
"Oh yes mam……" The girl responded. "……there's no one like my dad,….he's always there for me." The girl smiled softly as she looked
over at Amy.
When they reached the top of the next hill, the street lights were again in operation, and Amy could get a better look at her young passenger. To her amazement she saw a strange familiarity in the girl's face,…the blonde hair and the deep, penetrating, blue of her eyes.
"Mam, …..were you on your way home for Christmas?" The young rider inquired seriously.
"No dear…." Amy felt the tears well up in her eyes. "…..I don't really have family." She shook herself back to the focus of her intent. "I've just got something I have to do."
"…..y…y..you know mam?…." The girl asserted. "….I know my father could help you if you would let him. He's never failed to help anyone who ever asked him!" Urgency resonated in the girl's tender voice.
"Oh honey,….." Amy replied sympathetically. "….thank you so much, but this is something I've got to do alone." Amy could feel a tear roll down her cheek, and quickly brushed it away to conceal her pain.
For a few moments there was silence in the vehicle, then suddenly the young girl shifted in her seat, looked directly at Amy and said:..
"Mam,….I know someone who loves you very much and wants to be with you this Christmas."
Amy was as shocked by the girl's seriousness as she was by her statement. "Little girl,…..I don't know WHAT you are talking about!" She replied, with a hint of anger in her voice.
"I'm talking about God…." The girl responded pleadingly. "…..God wants you to turn to Him, and away from your own devices. He wants to mend all those many hurts you carry inside."
Again, Amy's eyes teared up, and the coldness of her former intentions began to melt in the warmth, and concern in the girl's words. She slowed her vehicle and pulled off to the side of the road, wanting to hear and focus on what the girl was saying. "Oh honey, if you only knew the terrible things I've done……" She began to gently weep. "…no God could love somebody like me."
"Amy,……" Girl spoke softly as she touched her hand. "….God knows all people do bad things….sins,….. but He sent Jesus into the world to save us from sin…..not to condemn us."
"W…w…w…wait a minute…." Amy puzzled. "……how did you know my name. I don't remember telling you my name!"
"God knows all about you Amy…." The girl spoke deliberately. "….He's my Father and He can be yours too if you will just let Him."
Amy felt her longing heart receptive to the love emanating from the girl's words and reflecting from her eyes. She felt the need to surrender….to seek release by confessing the deep pain that had for so long tortured her soul. "I…I…I…killed my baby!" She sobbed. "How could any God love someone who'd do such a terrible thing….I killed MY OWN little baby….!!!" Amy collapsed against the steering wheel in tears.
"Oh Amy,….. God will forgive you ANY sin if you just ask Him!" The girl put her arm around her shoulders. "You don't need to die…..He will
give you a whole new life if you'll just invite Jesus into your heart,……my Father can fix anyone."
"But….my baby….my little baby…." Amy sobbed.
"Take my word for it Amy….." The girl said with assurance. "….your child is happy with God, and she does love you very much. If you'll just come to Him….I PROMISE that someday you'll be with your child again!"
"I want God to be my father too….." Amy looked over at the girl through her tears. "…..and I DO want a different life, but I just don't know how to reach Him."
"The only way to reach God is through Jesus, Amy." The girl pleaded. "PLEASE, give your burdens to God and your life to Jesus….Seek Him while He may be found!"
"But where do I find Jesus?….a..a..and WHY do you care that I come to Him?" She asked.
"Because I've only got a few moments to speak with you, and I want you with me,… m…mm…MOMMA. I'm your little girl…….I..I…I AM Hope!"
Suddenly, Amy was face to face with proof of God's love for her. She recognized this girl as her daughter and reached out, but her image started to become transparent. At the same time, Amy began to lose her own consciousness, and as she drifted into sleep, she could still hear Hope's voice, becoming more and more distant.
"Seek Him in His Word….momma,….THE WORD,….The Word,…the word,….the word,……" The girl's voice tapered off and her image faded away. "….but WHAT word?…..wh…what word?" Amy puzzled.
As her consciousness returned, she raised her bruised head up from the steering wheel and saw several people standing around her car. She was back at the location where she had slid off the road earlier, only now her car was smashed against a tree on the roadside.
"Just take it easy lady…." Said a large bearded man standing along side her door. "….we got an ambulance on the way…..you'll be okay."
For a split-second Amy thought her whole encounter with Hope had just been a wishful dream, but then she looked over on her passenger
seat and saw the book,….the same pretty white book the girl had brought into her car. She quickly grabbed it, turned it over and read the title… THE HOLY BIBLE. "THAT'S IT,…the word…God's Word!" Only then she realized that she,….Amy Markel,…was that someone very special God wanted to reach on this night. He had touched her life, left her with His Word for guidance, and showed her Hope for Christmas.