“Lindy, I have a surprise for you,” Mama said with a smile.
“What is it, Mama? What is it?”
At nine years old, Lindy was always ready for a surprise, but with Daddy sick for so long, and Mama working as a “domestic,” there wasn’t much money left after all the bills were paid.
“Well, Mrs. Beasley, that nice old lady that I wash and iron for on Wednesdays, wants to send you to camp this summer.”
“What’s camp?” Lindy wanted to know.
“Ohhh… honey,” Mama said excitedly. “You’ll have a great time. You’ll get to fish, and swim, and play with lots of kids your age. You’ll love it!”
“Ohhh… boy!” Lindy hopped up and down with anticipation.
Lindy found herself on a bus full of strange people. The kids were friendly enough, but all of the grown-ups seemed very stern. None of them smiled very much, and it made Lindy feel kind of funny in her stomach.
Daytime was fun... just like Mama said it would be… but the nights were definitely not fun.
“God hates sin,” the preacher man yelled at the kids. He banged a big, black book on the table.
“If you do not obey your parents, you are a sinner. If you do not tell the truth, you are a sinner. If you do not tell God you are a sinner, and that you are sorry for the bad things you do, you will go to Hell. Hell is a very bad place…and Hell lasts forever.”
Lindy was shaking in her tennis shoes as the preacher man continued to yell. She imagined God as a giant, dangling bad kids over a big fire. She didn’t really think she was as bad as the preacher man said she was… but she didn’t want to go to the bad place.
When they had the “altar call,” Lindy ran as fast as her little legs could carry her.
~ ~ ~ ~
Mama came to meet the bus. Lindy couldn’t wait to get away from the awful people.
“Did you have fun, sweetie?”
“Ohhh… Mama!” Lindy burst into tears as she ran into Mama’s outstretched arms.
“Lindy,” Mama pleaded. “I really think you should give this retreat a chance.”
“Ohhh… right… I’ve heard that before,” Lindy rolled her eyes.
“Your dad thinks…”
Lindy waved her hand in front of Mama’s face to stop her.
“He’s your husband… he’s not my dad. Daddy died a long time ago.”
Tears filled Mama’s eyes, but her resolve was firm.
“You’re going and that’s all I have to say about it.”
“Ohhh… brother!” Lindy huffed and stalked away.
Lindy found herself on a bus filled with strangers. The kids were friendly… and the grown-ups were smiling, and welcomed her onto the bus with big bear-hugs. It made Lindy feel kind of funny in her stomach.
The preacher man spoke earnestly… passionately… his hand resting reverently on the big, black book on the table.
“We all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s expectations. But, while we were still lost in our sins, God loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus to die for us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Lindy was trembling as she finally realized... God was not mad at her… He loved her. He wasn’t dangling her over the pit of Hell… He was waiting with open arms to welcome her into His family.
When they had the “altar call,” Lindy ran as fast as her legs could carry her.
~ ~ ~ ~
Mama came to meet the bus. Lindy hated to leave these wonderful people… but she couldn’t wait to tell her family what had happened to her.
Tears of joy ran down her face as Lindy ran to embrace her mother.
Romans 3: 23
Romans 5: 8
1 John 1: 19
John 3: 16
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