“… and miles to go before we sleep …”
The words slipped into her mind. The quotation eluded her. She saw the road before her: pale in the sunlight, white under the moon. The country stretched on either side was featureless. Not dull, nor colorless. Just featureless.
She looked away, returning to the question foremost in her mind.
Looked at from whatever vantage point you chose, there were a lot of “whys” in her current situation. They were not her questions. They were questions she was expected to answer. Unfortunately, they were questions for which she had no answer. So that now the questions she could not answer had become her question, too.
She had her Bible open on her knees. In the back it had a reference section, “Scriptures to Help in Time of Need,” and here she looked for answers to the “Why’s?” The answers were as elusive as the quotation she couldn’t remember, and she wondered if the miles to go were in the pages of the Book.
“Seek and you will find;
“Ask and you’ll receive;
“Knock and the door will be opened to you.”
The words sang their way into the background of her thoughts. This was a favorite topic with Pastor John, who constantly exhorted the members of his congregation to ask, to seek, to knock. And just like James the apostle writing to the twelve tribes, he stressed, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally.”
She considered Pastor John and her husband to be two men of a kind, great with the exhortation but none too helpful with the questions, especially the “Why’s?”
Of course, there is always that modern contrivance, the computer, with its gigabytes of encyclopedic memory, but her experience of Google left her goggle-eyed, and Yahoo was as intelligent as the name. No, there were no answers in that box of tricks.
So back she came to the Book and her need of wisdom. Which was the most recent, and the most frequently asked question that she had been unable satisfactorily to answer?
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Perversely, she felt more able to answer the question, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” She found no comfort reading James’ words in context: “count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations.” Nor was the apostle Peter any greater help in his letter when he wrote, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season ye are in heaviness.” Neither did his ‘faith tried by fire’ offer any degree of understanding the “why?”
Of course, it is always possible to resort to the book of Job and explain the “bad things” as the permission given to Satan to test the upright man. But somehow Cassandra did not find this a satisfactory explanation. She came back to the matter of asking, seeking and knocking.
John records that Jesus said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.” This reminded her of his earlier words adjuring the unbelieving Jews to search the scriptures, for “they are they which testify of me.” It all comes back to Jesus, she thought, but I still don’t see the answer. She turned back to James.
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.”
Perhaps this was the Deus ex machine of understanding. Faith, the substance of things hoped for. With a sigh she opened her Book to the eleventh chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, and read it slowly through with a growing sense of despair.
“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.”
She stopped reading for a moment, seeing herself standing on the road that was pale in the sunlight, white beneath the moon. Her eyes returned to the text.
“God having provided some better thing for us.” She read on, into the next chapter: “…we are encompassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses … looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
She closed the Book. It was time to sleep. She could see the trees and the houses beside the road, and the road was peopled with a great cloud of witnesses. Faith is the Deus ex machine – in modern parlance, the search engine - more accessible than Google, more intelligent than Yahoo.
But Jesus is the answer.
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