Pastor Ray Macabee pulled into the church parking lot just as the bells in the steeple finished their melodic rendition of “Amazing Grace”. That had been Ellie's favorite he thought.
He sat there looking down at his trembling hands. “Lord, I feel so alone”, he murmured aloud. It had been six months since Ellie’s death, but the emotions were still so raw. They were planning their first trip as empty nesters when she collapsed on the livingroom floor and died instantly due to a stroke.
Walking into the sanctuary Ray turned on the radio and it greeted him with one of his favorite worship choruses however, it did nothing to stir his soul. The stillness in the sanctuary use to be a haven but now it was deafening and only seemed to remind him of his loneliness.
He mounted the steps to the platform, his feet feeling like one hundred pound weights. Running his fingers over the familiar well-worn pulpit he tried to remember just how many messages had he given from here. To many to count he realized. All the words spoken from here were but a hollow memory. Were they all just platitudes? Why don’t they reassure him when he thought they would do the same for others? Where was his trust in the Almighty that he expected everyone else to have? Ray had no answers, only an emptiness he found hard to bear.
He eased himself to the floor and leaned his lanky form against the pulpit. Usually this brought consolation because he could picture leaning against the Lord himself, much the same way the disciples did in days of old. Still the isolation over took Ray and his shoulders shook with massive sobs. He wondered how he could go on. Just then the announcer on the radio said, “I have a young caller that wants to share a story. Jeffrey, please go ahead.”
There was a pause then a small quivering voice came on the air. “Big John, I want to tell you about my dog Buster.” There was a long pause again, filled only with an occasional sniffle. Big John, the announcer, sounding slightly irritated said, “Please, continue”.
Another sniffle was heard over the airwaves. Something in that small boy’s voice caught Ray’s attention as he waited for him to continue. “I had to put Buster down last night.” Another sniffle. “We live on a horse farm and Buster got cornered between our horse Lightning and the barn wall. Lightning was spooked and he accidentally kicked Buster in the side.” There was another long pause but this time the announcer did not interrupt. “It broke Busters back. You see, Buster was special. I’ve had him since I was a year old and he was my best friend. I had to put him down because he was hurt so bad. I cried and asked God, “Why God? You know how special Buster was to me, he was my buddy.” There was another belabored pause. “You know what God told me Big John?”
It seemed like forever before the announcer could muster his voice. He asked, “What did God tell you Jeffrey?”
Jeffrey now speaking in a stronger voice said, “He lost someone special too. It was his son Jesus. He gave up his life so that we could be forgiven of our sins. God understands what it means to loose someone special.”
The announcer asked, “How old are you Jeffrey?”
“I’m twelve.” He replied.
Ray could not believe the wisdom of that twelve-year-old boy. There he sat after thirty years of preaching from this very pulpit questioning God, and it took a young boy to teach him a lesson in faith and trust. Ray stood up and walked out of the sanctuary. His heart was still heavy with grief, but his step was light. God understood what he is going through and he had to learn that from a twelve-year-old boy.
The next Sunday, Ray stood in front of his congregation with an open Bible. He paused as he looked out over the congregation made up of his friends who had helped him through the last several months. He closed his bible and laid it on the pulpit. He paused for just a minute looking down at the place next to the pulpit where he had sat the day before. Looking up he smiled and said, “Let me tell you about a little boy named Jeffrey”.
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