I may be only ten, but I’m not stupid. Something was going on. Usually when I walk into church with mom and dad, I get real excited; like God’s waiting for me. That gives me goose chills. Today I have a different kind of chill.
I felt it on the way there, too. My brother did his five-year-old best to torment me but I was focused on the front seat. When it got quiet in back, Mom gave Dad one of ‘those’ looks and he clammed up. It was all so very mysterious. That’s my new spelling word. M-i-s, no, M-y-s, oh, never mind. Anyway, it is. Very. Mysterious.
Grandpa Joe met us at the door. He scares me. He pulls my hair when he thinks I’m too loud and he takes away my dessert; says I’m too fat. Mom gets mad but nobody can stand up to Grandpa. I’ve seen him do the same thing to adults. He had a stroke. Dad says he hasn’t been the same since. Don’t know if I should feel sorry for him or for the rest of the world.
More people came and huddled together like football teams do on T.V. Mom shooed us off to class. Noah went. I didn’t. No one noticed. I’m short and they were busy. When Pastor walked by – well, you should have seen their faces. Wow. I knew for sure something was up. Noah has the same look when he’s in trouble. Green gills from guilt. That’s Grandma’s saying.
They all scattered after that but by then I was so sick I had to run to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet. and held my stomach. It hurt awful. Not the normal kind of hurt either, like from when I eat too much. It was more a hurt like something bad’s gonna happen. I shouldn’t have been scared I’d miss something. Clues followed me through the door. I heard someone come in.
“What are you going to do?”
“I have to believe Joe. He’s been here forever. How well do we even know Pastor?”
It was Miss Katy and Miss Becky. I knew them since I was little. Liked them, too. They whispered. I kept real quiet so I could hear. I shouldn’t have worried. They were loud whisperers. No secrets kept around those two.
Katie said, “But Joe’s been known to lie, Beck.”
My stomach finally let loose. Ugh. I heard them gasp and then the door slammed shut. At least I knew I was right. Something was happening. I must’ve made it stink good in there. The door opened and then closed real fast a couple of times. It was a good thing. God started to talk to me in that bathroom.
Wow. I was excited. I never had God talk to me before. After He said all He had to say, I figured I had a job to do. I didn’t know how or when but I knew what to say. I looked at myself in the mirror and then I got scared. “Why me, God? No one will listen to a kid.”
The longer I stood the more brave I got. I left that stinking old bathroom humming, “Be bold, be strong.”
I stood in back. I saw heads together. People whispered. I could tell where the trouble-makers sat. Dad and Mom were right there in the middle of it all. Grandpa Joe sat at the edge of his seat, like he was ready to jump up and do something crazy.
I walked down the aisle while Pastor prayed. A long prayer. I think he was scared to stop. Don’t blame him. Just as soon as he said, “Amen,” Grandpa leapt to his feet. I beat him to the stage, though, and whispered in Pastor’s ear.
He handed me the microphone, “Jesus loves the little children and Jesus loves all of you. He doesn’t want you to fight. He wants you to praise and worship Him. That’s what God wanted me to say to you.”
Grandpa froze then I saw tears fall down his face. I held Pastor’s hand and walked him down the steps with me. I slipped my hand through Grandpa’s. People huddled again; this time for a good reason. I heard them pray as I squeezed myself between the bodies. I did my job, now it was up to them. I was out of there. After all, I had junior church and we were having jelly-filled donuts.
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