Katie pushed at Papa John’s legs with all her might, but couldn’t budge him.
“I don’t feel like going to church today!” groused the taller of the two.
She seized a pinkie then and tugged, “But Papa, you hafta’, you’re the preacher.”
John’s bushy white brows exploded upward, “Oh, that’s right, I almost forgot.”
“You did not, Papa, you’re teasin’ me! Gamma Glenda, Papa won’t get dressed for church. You gots to come make him!”
Glenda bustled in with an armload of Sunday school materials. “John, please stop provoking that child; now move it, or lose it!”
John moved it.
Rumpled chestnut hair, not a trace of makeup, gray jersey over jeans: Laura could waltz into church like that and still draw oohs and aahs. Her room mate, Heidi, felt it to be grossly unfair. While Laura merely tumbled out of bed at the last minute to shrug on any old thing, she, Heidi, must dress with infinite care.
At 5 am she surfaced to pray, have her quiet time with her King James; fuss over hairdo and lipstick. She thought she still looked frumpy. She had talked to God about it, knew it was a sin to covet her best friend’s natural beauty and aura of allure. But Heidi’s old nature seemed to wage a never-ending battle against her: one step forward, two back.
If I could just lose another 10 pounds maybe then I wouldn’t feel so crummy. There’s that new hair color out, too. Just a hint of red might do wonders for my complexion. I’ll grab a highlight kit next week and also treat myself to a pedicure in smashing tangerine.
At the time these thoughts produced a fresh burst of confidence. But later, on the drive to church, Heidi again had to pray against envy.
“Jen, you clear the table; Christa, stack up the dishwasher. Keisha, I need you to brush out Faith’s braids: don’t pull now, part it on the side and use the new red barrette. You’ll have to work fast because Abby still needs a bath and Ethan will have to be changed again before we leave. Abraham is ready to go, so on your way down tell him I said to load the diaper bag; he knows what goes in. I’ll be out of the shower in fifteen flat and if the traffic isn’t too bad we should still have a wee margin to drop the twins in the nursery and Isabel at pre-CE.”
Dena Fisher, fount of this flood of orders, grabbed an extra minute from someplace or other. She bent over her husband and set her smooth cheek against his stubbly one, “Sweetheart, you’ve still got a fever. Are you sure you'll be alright by yourself for a few hours?”
Roger grunted and flopped over, “I’ll be fine.”
The seating arrangement at New Covenant Praise and Worship Center afforded Pastor John a panoramic view.
His eye lit first on his dear wife, Glenda, fellow-laborer in the trenches. Bringing up their grand-daughter Katie after her parents' tragic death had taken no small effort. The Lord had kept His promise though: truly His yoke was easy, His burden light. Katie kept them young.
Partway down the middle section the Fisher family’s rainbow of faces filled him with a heart-smile. John detected a blank space though where Roger normally sat and prayed it wasn’t that dratted malaria, come back on him. The Fishers’ years on the mission field had marked the father with a badge of affliction. John made a mental note to stop by on the way home.
At the side entry Laura Taylor and Heidi Schroeder had just scooted in. Pastor reflected on his tough counseling sessions with Laura. Two abortions in less than a year - before she knew the Lord - had left her an emotional shipwreck.
But she’s coming along nicely, learning to leave her baggage at the cross where it belongs.
He recalled an instance when, weeping, Laura bared another facet of her private struggles. “If only I could be as perfect as Heidi!” He urged her to confide in her friend; he hoped she had.
When Pastor John looked out over his church family the love of Jesus rose up in him like rivers of living water. He understood why the Lord had placed *John 14:16 on his heart as the sermon text for this morning.
“Let's begin the service with prayer.”
And the people bowed their heads and worshipped.
*John 14:16 KJV - And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.
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