(With Apologies to C. S. Lewis)
It was an unhappy day for the Blackie cousins: they had just been assigned to Podunk City in Nebraska.
“Your fault, Buzzy!” shouted Baldebub (“my friends call me Bubba”) Black.
“Weren’t!” Buzzard Blackie shouted back at his cousin.
“You coulda got that last guy,” Bubba harrumphed. “In Noo York City, of all places! THE place for temptation, if ever there was one.”
“The Prince told YOU to do it,” Buzz grumbled. “You know temptations there better’n I do—you’ve been assigned there lots, remember? Now we got this gal we gotta get outta The Light’s clutches. Gals ain’t so easy, bein’ soft-hearted ‘n’ such. Out here inna middle-a nowhere—we gotta create our own temptation, cuz they ain’t thick on the ground in the middle-a nowhere. I mean—Noo York, well, there’s lotsa stuff there to trip up a guy; ‘n’ a GUY, they’re easier somehow, ya know?”
“Quit yer bellyachin’, Buzzy,” Bubba said. “She’s gonna be easy, BECAUSE she’s soft-hearted. I got a plan, don’t worry.”
They popped up in a little bookstore to catch a conversation between Bonnie Wells and Cora Flowers. It seemed Cora had belonged to The Light for some years, but had been unable to persuade Bonnie to believe in Him. When business was slow (and in Podunk, how could it not be, occasionally), Cora tried to take advantage of the situation by sharing little tidbits of her faith with her friend. But Bonnie was sophisticated, well-read, had even traveled to countries which had birthed world religions and had studied them in depth. Cora’s experience was limited to the local Community Christian Church which, according to its advertising, preached “Christ and Him crucified.”
Bubba elbowed his cousin, said: “This one’s gonna be a breeze, Buzz. This Miss Wells has been around the world; she’s been tempted, but she’s got a moral streak a mile wide. That means we got to use the one Big Temptation: get her to believe there is no God. Simple.”
“Simple,” Buzz echoed. “Huh. Like how?”
Just then all attention was drawn to a horrible screech followed by the mother of all crashes. Screams followed, along with unintelligible shouts and sounds of running feet. Cora and Bonnie were drawn irresistibly to a chaotic scene just outside the shop’s front door. Bonnie’s eyes lit immediately on two small lumps on the sidewalk, nearly at her feet. Rushing to them, she discovered two tiny bodies, boys of perhaps two years of age, bloody and lying in twisted heaps.
Two weeks later, Cora and Bonnie were back in the bookstore, talking during another slow period. Bonnie had been angered and deeply disturbed by the car accident which had killed two little boys in front of their shop.
“Cora, if God exists, how could He let such things happen?” she asked for the third (or thirtieth) time, tears again welling up in her eyes. “That’s been the thing I’ve been asking all along, you know. I mean, you believe in Him, that’s bringing you peace—but honestly, can you say you can continue to believe in Him when such things happen? And they happen all the time.”
One thing Cora knew for sure: nothing she could say would change Bonnie’s mind. Cora’s own belief in God had nothing to do with whether such things happened, or didn’t. Her faith was based on simple trust in the love which He had revealed to her heart. This was something she couldn’t explain, even to herself—it was just a fact.
So she prayed silently: “Lord, I’m asking you to send your Holy Spirit to guide Bonnie to your truth. By your Spirit, please make yourself real to her, because there’s nothing more I can say.”
The Blackie cousins hung back in the darkest corner of the shop, listening and watching. Buzz gasped, “Oh, now she’s done it…” and Bubba leaned against his cousin, holding his stomach and moaning.
Cora said one more thing. “Bonnie, there’s nothing I can say to convince you, except to tell you that God loves you. He would have sent Jesus to die on that cross, even if you were the only person in the world. What will you do with that love?”
In the shop’s dark corner, there was a small sound of sizzling. Where there had been two distinct dark figures, there was now one greasy, oily black stain.
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