I grabbed the dusty Bible off the bookcase and headed out the door. I needed to think. Life had gotten out of hand lately. I found myself at the park as dusk approached. One minute I was sitting alone on a bench, trying to remember how to pray and the next a man dressed all in black sat beside me. With every breath he took smoke exhaled from him, yet he held no cigarette. He cleared his throat and asked me what I was doing. Yet before I could answer him, he started in on me.
“It looks like you were about to read that Bible. Why would you go and do a thing like that? Haven’t you made a mess of things? Haven’t you done enough? Too much, I’d say. Isn’t that right, Jess? Jess the mess.” He scolded.
I sat still, not knowing what to say. I had made a mess of things. I hadn’t wanted to open the Bible in years. What did I expect it to do for me now? But when I was little, didn’t I once hear about how God loves us? Loves me? Yes, that’s right, I think.
“Loves you?” The man said out loud as though he had heard my thoughts, “loves you, after everything you’ve done. Outlandish! You’ve gone too far. He doesn’t want you. He doesn’t love all that you have done, he can’t, he won’t.”
I still held the little Bible in my hand. It felt solid in them, while everything around me felt slippery and questionable.
The man beside me continued to tear my life apart and everything I’d ever done. He knew it all. I felt tears stream down my face and my heart ached at all my life had amounted to. I fell to the ground and the Bible slipped from my hands.
The man stood up and towered over me.
“I can offer you a trade.” He said in a cool, calculating voice, “I’ll take you away from here, to my kingdom.”
“For what in exchange I asked?”
“Take your life,” he hissed just above a whisper, “If you take it right now.”
His offer sounded outlandish. Take my life? His kingdom? Something didn’t sound right. But then I could escape all this pain I had caused. I could be free of this world. His offer began to sound easier and easier.
“I’m all you got. Make your choice, I’m a busy guy.” He cut into my thoughts. “All this world’s worries will be behind you.”
Just then I heard footsteps coming towards us. It was another man, clothed in white.
He came towards me and called my name, “Jessica Anne.”
The man dressed in black seemed to shudder at the brightness of the other, “Jess is mine.” He said.
The man in white came closer and kneeled down beside me as he spoke, “Jessica belongs to me and you know it.” He helped me up and placed the Bible back in my hands.
The man in black scurried around pleading his case. The one in white stood in front of me protecting me from the hatred being spilled out by the darkness of the other man.
“All you have are some words she said as a little child. She deserted you, traded what you offered for everything the world put out in front of her. She’s damaged, stained…”
In a firm, commanding voice the one in white spoke out over the evil one,
“Enough, you lose, you’re done. I took the cross for her, I conquered death. I overcame this world. I died for her. I love her that much. It is finished.”
The man in black vanished. He'd lost the battle.
The man in white turned to me and smiled. He held out his arms and I fell into them. Tears of joy filled my eyes as my heart filled with a forgotten love.
“I’ve been here the whole time, just waiting for you Jessica, my Jessica.” The sound of his voice saying my name gave me peace like I had never known. I truly was his. I always had been. How I had let myself get stolen away over the years, I mourned. I knew though, from this moment on I would live as a true child of God. I would never forget how he loved me with an outlandish kind of love that no one else could ever offer.
“Thank you,” I whispered, “My Jesus.”
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