“You care more about a bunch of orphans than you do about your own kids! I can’t believe you’re leaving us out in the middle of nowhere for two whole weeks!” Jessica grabbed her suitcase and stormed off to the farmhouse, a dust cloud traveling in her wake.
Jean gave her father a pained expression. “I’m sorry, Dad. She’s at a tough age. Sometimes she says some pretty hurtful things. She’s right, though. Two weeks is a long time. We just really feel that God is calling us…”
Robert held up his hand. “Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll be just fine, won’t we, Sport?” He looked down at Bobby chasing the dog in circles around Robert’s legs.
“You bet, Grandpa! It’s going to be great!”
Later that day, after observing the effects of Jessica’s words on her brother and grandmother, Robert decided it was time for a lesson. He handed her a small metal rod with rings on both ends.
“Jessica, do you know what this is?” She shook her head. “No? Then I’ll show you. How would you like to learn to ride a horse?”
Jessica’s expression brightened for the first time that day. Robert led her to the stable and introduced her to Charlotte, their chestnut mare. He showed her how the bit would fit into the horse’s mouth and how it would attach to the bridle. For the rest of the afternoon, Jessica and Charlotte were inseparable.
After dinner, Robert called Jessica to him. “Could you please bring my Bible here?”
Jessica complied, carrying the heavy leather-bound volume to her grandfather. Pipe smoke formed a wreath around his head as he carefully turned the pages until he found what he was looking for. “James, chapter 3.”
He read the chapter to his granddaughter as she sat at his feet. When he finished, he turned her face toward his. “Do you really think your parents don’t care about you, your brother is stupid, and we are crazy for living out here on this farm?”
Jessica blushed and lowered her eyes. “No.”
“These are all things I heard you say today.”
“But I didn’t mean it. I was just upset.”
“God’s word tells us we need to be careful with our words. We can either choose to build others up or tear them down. Just like we can control Charlotte with that bit, your tongue can control you.”
Jessica bit her lip. “I’m sorry , Grandpa. I’ll try harder to be kind.”
The old man’s eyes fluttered open as he struggled to sit up in the hospital bed. The young woman standing beside him slowly came into focus. “Jessica. What brings you here?”
“ I’m going to be going away for a while, and I wanted to tell you something before I go.” She paused, and drew a deep breath.
“Do you remember the summer we came to stay with you and you gave me this?” Robert leaned forward to look at the object in her outstretched hand. His face clouded as he sank back against the bed.
“Of course I do. That was when you had your accident. I don’t know how it happened. Charlotte had always been so gentle before. I still feel terrible about it. You were laid up for the rest of the summer.” He shook his head, looking down at the bit in her hand. “I can’t believe you kept that. I’d have thought you’d want to forget all about that trip.”
Jessica’s expression grew serious. “Absolutely not. I keep this bit with me all the time to make sure I don’t forget. I couldn’t speak for six months after falling from the horse. When I was in the hospital, all I kept thinking about was what you had taught me the night before. Grandpa, I think God took away my speech to teach me. It’s taken me a while to learn my lesson, but I wanted to let you know, I’ve decided to become a missionary and spend my life speaking the words God has given me.”
James 3: 3, 5-6a
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.
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