The county fair grounds were dusty dark brown, intensely hot, and streaked with burning ribbons of sun. Searching for a cold drinks stand, two old friends, Henry and Max, struggled to walk, each supporting the other. Arguing, they were oblivious to the other fair-goers around them.
“Will you forget the wheelchair already! I don’t need it. I’ve survived eighty some years and don’t need help from anyone,” Henry, the older man, screeched. “Now let’s get on with seeing this fair!” Max grimaced with frustration and turned away. He loved his old friend but he was such stubborn man. Ok! They’d walk.
White-haired, thin, and stooped, Henry, his face lined and grey with deep fatigue, inched his feet forward. Max, younger and much more stout, stoically clutched Henry’s arm and they continued to trudge past the fair booth owners loudly pitching their wares. People crowded everywhere and deafening carnival music exploded the air.
A few yards ahead, set on a grassy lawn, stood a dark, green canvas tent the size of a small house. Under its cool, dark blue shadows sat multiple rows of sturdy wooden chairs, many already occupied by resting fair-goers, some of whom held white paper cups filled with free, iced-water. At the far end was a small stage where a gentle faced man stood smiling out over the crowd.
As they neared the big tent, Henry just stared fixedly ahead but Max slowed his steps.
“Let’s at least rest here,” he urged.
Grumbling, Henry stumbled just inside the tent’s shade and crumbled into the nearest chair. For a moment, Max relaxed until Henry suddenly began to scream.
“Stop! Stop! I don’t want to listen to this! I’ll cover my ears! I will! There’s no reason for this torture! I don’t need it!”
The man on the stage had begun quietly reading from a Bible about God’s love and forgiveness. Henry angrily shook his head at him. Max and Henry had been friends for decades. Though Max believed in God, Henry did not.
“Ok! I’ll take you home,” Max sighed exasperated. “Calm down!”
He wouldn’t admit it; but Henry had been very ill for several months and was worried that his time was near. Now, he lay trembling in a hospital bed, fearful of what lay ahead. Max sat at his side and offered all the kind support he could muster. Nothing soothed Henry until the day Max brought with him his own Bible. Tentatively, he began to read aloud of God’s love and salvation. This time Henry didn’t yell “Stop!” as he had at the fair. Max looked up at his friend. The lines in Henry’s grey face relaxed as he smiled for the first time in many months.
“Please keep reading, Max. It is so beautiful!”
Blessed is he that readeth. Rev.1:3
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