Branches tore at Sharon, pulling her hair, scratching her face and hands. She ran blindly in the darkness, terror propelling her as the cold air sliced into her lungs. Her winter clothing was heavy, soaked with water, its weight impeding her progress, but she dared not stop to remove it.
“Please God, help me!” she sobbed repeatedly, unsure if she spoke aloud. She had no idea where she was running to, and her mind could not accept who she was running from.
How could Ben do this to her?
They were teenagers when they met at church, drawn together because they both felt called into ministry. They dated throughout Bible College with plans to marry and go into ministry.
They were so in love and full of plans for their future. They married, but right away, Ben got sent to war in Vietnam.
He wrote many letters at first, missing her, declaring his love. Sometimes he’d mention the horrors of war, quickly assuring her that he was okay.
Months passed with fewer letters arriving. Eventually his infrequent letters were brief and impersonal, never mentioning love.
Heavy-hearted, she prayed it was just the effects of war. Her letters continued, full of love, hope, and scriptures as she counted the days until his return.
Now she was running for her life. A large branch hit her on the forehead and blood trickled down her face. The sounds were deafening - the pounding of her feet, the crackling of branches, water dripping off her thick coat. She stopped momentarily, heart pounding, gasping for air. Fear drove her to flight again.
Then she saw it…a light! “Thank you, God,” she whispered as she ran up to the small farmhouse. Beating on the door, she collapsed when it opened.
After phoning the sheriff to meet them at the hospital, the farmer and his wife bundled Sharon into their truck and drove into town.
After getting stitches and bandaging, the sheriff approached her, poised with pen and notepad. “Okay, miss, what happened?” His voice was gentle, his smile compassionate.
“Ben… tried to kill me!” She began to sob, the horror descending on her like a nightmare.
Ben had returned from Vietnam a stranger, sullen and withdrawn. He wouldn’t go to church, and acted angry to be home. She worked every day while he watched television, and had hushed telephone conversations at odd hours. He would stare with cold, calculating eyes that unnerved her.
This continued for weeks, despite her pleas with him to talk to her. Her assurances of her love for him went unreciprocated. Her pastor told her that war changes a man, to give it time, and to accept that Ben would never be as before. Sadly, he said, it happens in war with some men.
There had been a big blowout fight, Ben screaming and throwing things, Sharon begging him to tell her what was wrong.
That next night, he greeted her with an apology and kiss. He had a surprise for her - a picnic by the old rock quarry where they hung out as teens.
“Ben, it’s so cold, and gets dark so early. Are you sure? We could just go to a nice restaurant.”
He insisted, and she so wanted things to be right between them.
They parked beside the road. Teens loved coming here because it was quiet and isolated. They sat at the edge of the ten foot drop leading to a pool of murky water. Ben brought a basket with sandwiches and hot cocoa. He was sweet and attentive, encircling her in his arms, buttoning her coat for warmth. He pulled her close for a kiss, and that’s when it happened. She somersaulted backwards after he pushed her, hitting the icy water like a sledgehammer, knocking her breath away.
She couldn’t swim, and the weight of her heavy coat pulled her down. She finally gave up thrashing and flailing, knowing she would die, that Ben wanted her to die. Resigned to death, she felt it…..His presence! Against all odds, she pushed her way to the surface, clawing the gravelly, slippery slope to the top, losing her gloves in the process.
Ben was arrested and served prison time. Sharon divorced him, but struggled with the hurt and betrayal for years. It was discovered Ben was involved with a woman. Their plan was to kill Sharon for the life insurance money.
It was not her Ben that returned from war. That Ben became but a memory in her heart!
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