“Get ready… the time is coming.”
Liora stopped in her tracks at the sight of two rugged elderly men standing in front of the gnarly old oak, which because of its shape, had been the attraction of Hollyview Park for the past sixty-five years. ‘Wise Ethel’ was its name.
“Repent… judgment draws near.”
She sighed. After being cooped up in the house all winter, Liora had been eager to take a peaceful stroll, and the park normally would have been the best place. The leaves were sprouting, the air was fresh, and the ducks she loved were quacking loudly, signaling their return to the pond that was their summer home. Nevertheless, she turned back to avoid any confrontation.
“Come and listen,” the taller of the men called. He held a black leather book in his hands that she assumed was the Bible.
“Yes, Daughter of Zion, come,” the oldest man spoke gently, while reaching out his hand.
Liora dropped her purse. How did they know she was Jewish?
“Do not despair. Turn back to God.”
She began to shake. After years of serving Jehovah faithfully, Liora had turned her back on Him. Four years ago, a MAC truck had driven into her husband’s car while he was on his way home from work, causing irreparable injuries. Her heart had been crushed, along with her husband’s, and from that day forward, it became consumed with anger towards the One that could have saved him.
“I don’t need God, preachers,” she responded curtly. “Now leave me alone.”
“You used to love Him, and served Him with all your strength. He hasn't forgotten that.” The oldest man, once again, reached out to her. “Your beloved one is safe, and is waiting for you.”
Liora felt her heart race and she began to wheeze. She reached inside her purse, grabbed her inhaler, and took the deepest breath she could muster. Who were these men? Most likely, they were some kind of religious psychic. “How do you know so much about me?”
“We are not psychics. Our knowledge is given to us from the One who created the Heavens and the Earth.” As he spoke, the taller of the men opened the bible, and then began reading aloud quietly.
She wanted to run, but her feet stayed rooted to the ground. They had read her mind and known her heart. It didn't matter; God would never forgive her for forsaking him. The end for her would be the depths of Sheol.
“Have you considered Jesus the Christ?” The oldest and gentler looking of the two walked towards her, smiling.
Knowing she was Jewish, why would they ask her that? “No, I have not.”
“He became the sacrificial lamb that took away all sin. Paid the price in full so that you can be forgiven, and released from the burdens you carry.” Placing his hand on her shoulder, he looked deep into Liora’s eyes. “He suffered the scorn of his Father so that you wouldn't have to. All you need to do is believe.”
Never had Liora felt so much tenderness in a persons touch, and his dark blue eyes bestowed an indescribable power that reached to the core of her soul. Tears flowed from her eyes as she saw a vision of a cross with Jesus upon it. “I believe… I believe.”
“It is done,” the oldest man exclaimed.
The following day, Liora walked through the park with a spring in her step. She felt so free, and wanted to know more of what the men had to teach. At the sight of Wise Ethel, her heart fell; they were gone. She never did get their names…
She noticed that the bible the man had been holding was lying on the bench. She ran over, picked it up, and it fell open to The Book of Jeremiah where a verse was underlined: “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11 GNT) Hope and joy flooded Liora’s spirit… never had God’s presence been so strong.
At the top of the page, words had been written in what looked to be an ancient script. As she read them, tears poured from her eyes as goose bumps covered her skin, making her shiver. ‘Dearest Liora, “I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.”’ (Luke 15:10 GNT)
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