Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Great Expectations (not about the book) (08/25/11)
TITLE: The Great Dr. Matthew and Mrs. Jenkins
By Leola Ogle
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From the time I was a small boy, it was expected that I would become a minister like my father and fore-fathers. It was my heritage, my calling.
That was fine with me. I loved God and church with a passion. I’d always sensed God’s presence, His hand on my life, and knew I was wanted to be in ministry. When my family gathered, the women laughed, cooked, prayed, and chased kids while the men engaged in spirited Bible discussions. I couldn’t imagine a life any better.
Everything changed when I entered high school. I excelled in sports and academics, was captain of the football team, class president, with girls clamoring for my attention. Everyone said I would go far, become anything I wanted to be.
I began to view my family as old-fashioned, out of touch with real life. I resigned my position in the youth group and frequently found excuses to skip church altogether. Oh, I knew it broke my parents’ hearts, but I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Ask anyone and they’d tell you what a good kid I was.
Becoming a minister was their expectation, not mine. Besides, being a doctor was helping people. I thought it would make them happy, take away some of their hurt. They never criticized me, they were even proud, but I could tell that they were disappointed.
I met my wife, the beautiful, smart Meredith, in college. We became the charmed, envied couple with two beautiful children, a gorgeous home, nice cars, and vacations all over the world.
At first we continued to attend family gatherings. Meredith occasionally asked about my family’s Bible discussions and church involvement, but I’d brush her off. After awhile we quit going. We were busy, and besides, my family probably felt as awkward having us there as we felt being there. It always made me uncomfortable when my parents told me they were praying for me. Why did I need prayer? I was on top of the world.
But lately I’d been feeling restless, unhappy. It grew increasingly worse no matter what I did. I tried vacations, a new sports car. I even bought a yacht. Nothing shook the pervading malaise.
Then I met Mrs. Jenkins, a tiny, frail woman who looked ancient, although she was sharp and feisty. She had serious heart problems and needed surgery. I warned her and her family that surgery was risky because of her frail condition. But it was obvious how deeply they loved her and they begged me to make her better, so I agreed to try.
Mrs. Jenkins always had her Bible open and Christian music playing. I found myself drawn to her, visiting her more often than necessary. It always left me feeling soothed and at peace. She loved to talk about God, her family and her husband, Earl, waiting for her in heaven. She had a way of looking at me, her face full of compassion and understanding, as if she knew all about me.
I went to her room early this morning before her surgery. She was awake, looking more frail than usual. Her eyes lit up, her lips curling in a tender smile. “Dr. Matthew, I hoped you’d come. I’ve been thinking about things. If it doesn’t go well in surgery, well, I don’t want you to feel bad. You see, I’m missing my Earl, and heaven sounds mighty good to my old, tired body.”
I felt tears come to my eyes. “I promised your family I’d fix you up.”
“I know,” she nodded, staring at the ceiling as if she beheld something I couldn’t see. Turning back to me, she asked, “Can I give you a hug?”
I hesitated before embracing her thin shoulders. She pulled me close, softly praying, “Jesus, please touch dear Matthew. Let him know how much you love him, how you long to draw him back to you. You see his doubts and confusion. All you’ve ever wanted from him was his heart. Help him, Jesus.”
Then I, the great doctor, was blubbering like a baby while she comforted me, whispering, “Dear, dear boy.”
I feel different, at peace. Now I’m driving home. I can hardly wait to call my parents, but first I’ll talk to Meredith, tell her about Jesus.
Mrs. Jenkins? I think she just wanted to go home. Tearfully, I blew a kiss heavenward, picturing her with her beloved Jesus and Earl.
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