What a relief to close the door behind me: Room 8 is all mine.
Don't get me wrong--I chose to participate in this seminar; but I didn't know it required digging up "old bones". For some, these recollections are savory: they reacted like puppies recollecting where they'd hidden their choicest morsels. For me, it's unearthing dead bodies.
What an assignment: easy for those who earnestly followed some teacher's prayer in Sunday school at age seven. But putting my testimony on paper detailing how I met Jesus Christ, well... It's easier committing to full-time missionary work in the Sudan than putting all that in writing. He got me: enough said.
They want more. Dear God: Make me able. Sprawled across the bed with my eyes closed, I can hear the steady dripping of water in the bathroom.
Just like Room 2: was that the beginning? During the summer before college I worked as a maid at a 24-unit bargain motel on the outskirts of town. New to the business, the owners' dreams of freedom clashed with reality: motels are like babies--constantly in need of changing, and impossible to leave without babysitters. Dewey and Joyce had none.
Our guests varied: families and singles, business people and vacationers, suicides and party animals, newlyweds and adulterers. All kinds sleeping successively in the same beds: only the sheets were changed. If walls could talk, how many would stay?
Because I could fantasize, time passed quickly. Rarely did we meet face to face, but I learned to read guests through subtle shifts in our surroundings. Whether or not intended, people impact their space--almost like dogs marking territory. I'd picture people: who they were, what they looked like, where they'd come from and where they were going, neatly classifying each room's occupants by the time I finished cleaning.
Until Unit 2: Something about that guest was different. I breathed in peace, contentment, and tranquillity every time I walked through his door. It was intoxicating!
For two months he lived there, but I never saw him. Unconsciously I watched his entry from every vantage point, hoping he'd appear; then consciously I strained to glimpse the one person that summer who defied my classifications: he was never home.
I loved touching his possessions as I dusted: the framed picture on his desk of a twin-engine plane named "Dominique", a Baby Ben alarm clock on his nightstand, and our like-new Gideon Bible placed beside his bed. Each day I'd return it to its proper spot in the bottom drawer; each night he'd move it back beside the clock.
Such a small thing, but it was personal. He left a message: "My Dear Maid," it began. I opened the Bible to read the rest, where his note protruded from the book of Romans: "Thank you for leaving this Bible where placed--May God bless you." The ninth verse in chapter ten was underlined, so I continued: "if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Did he want me to read that, too? It got me thinking.
Who knows? He moved on and so did I. Years later, neck-deep in quicksand, Jesus called again, and I responded. By then it was too late: I'd buried bodies in the swamp. Unspeakable.
God's ways are mysterious: I wonder... Reaching inside my nightstand drawer, I grab a Gideon Bible. It slips from my grasp to drop open on the floor at 1 John 1. My eyes focus on the ninth verse: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"--like making old beds new with fresh, clean sheets. Why haven't I seen that before?
It's not about burying past sin, is it? Rather, we remove dirty linens, hand them to Jesus and exchange them for new. We start over, letting the dead bury the dead while reaching the living--spreading His presence everywhere we go, a fragrance to be inhaled. Like the man in Unit 2: not making a difference so much as being different, and letting the Holy Spirit do the rest.
Who cares about the past? It's all about present and future. Grabbing paper and pen, I scribble: "I met Jesus in a motel room, but I didn't know it for the longest time." I still don't know the end, but with God's help, at least I see my beginning.
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