Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)
TITLE: Messy Tessie-Friend of God
By Debbie OConnor
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Tears slid down her face. She felt warm, as if she were being hugged. "You're here, aren't you?" she whispered. "I feel you."
Danny Baker walked over and put his hand on her shoulder in front of the whole youth group. "Jesus is here, Tessa," he said, almost as if he had heard her prayer. "He wants you to know that he loves you."
Tessa felt joy surge up within her. She had never known such hope. God exists and He loves me! Nothing else mattered.
A week ago that Brenda Jones sent her a horrible anti-valentine ridiculing her because she didn't have the greatest clothes. Brenda and her friends called her "Messie Tessie." I couldn't even get a seat on the bus, she mused, remembering how no one would let her sit down. Now, Jesus is my friend!
Danny's mother dropped Tessa off at home after church. "We're glad you came with us, Tessa. Please tell your mother what happened, and give her my number if she has any questions."
"I'm home," Tessa yelled as she entered. She went straight to her room. She needed time to absorb what had happened--time to pray and read some of the Bible the church had given her.
Tessa sat cross-legged on the floor with her back against the closet. The cheap shag carpet scratched her legs, but she ignored it.
"God, I don't know if I'm doing this right, but thank you for what happened this morning. I feel so different--like everything is new. Please help me tell Mom. Help her understand and not think I'm silly."
After a few quiet minutes, Tessa picked up her Bible. She found John in the table of contents. The youth pastor had told her to start reading there.
Tessa devoured the first chapter. "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known," she read. "You're still doing it! You did it for me this morning," she said.
Tessa got up. She found her mother folding laundry in the living room. Her mother smiled appreciatively when Tessa started folding a well-worn towel.
"Thanks, baby. We'll get this done in no time together..." she trailed off. "Tessa, has something happened? You look so happy. You're...you're glowing."
"I am? Oh, Mom, I have something to tell you." Tessa's voice was shaking.
"Well, tell me. Anything that makes you look that happy can't be bad."
"It isn't." Tessa took a deep breath. "Do you believe in God?"
"Wow. I wasn't expecting that. You went to church with the Baker's this morning, didn't you?"
"Yes, and Mom, I prayed..." she stammered. "I don't know how to explain it, but God was there. He really was. I felt like He hugged me."
Tears filled Annie Scroggins' brown eyes. "He hugged you," she whispered. "Of course, He did. Tessa, I love you so much."
"I love you, too."
"Baby, when your father left us it broke my heart. I felt betrayed by him and by God. You're too little to remember that we were always in church; your father was an elder at Lake Castle Baptist. He got involved with a woman he was counseling. The church didn't know what to do with us afterward. Divorce wasn't as common then as it is now."
Tears strangled her mother's voice and she trailed off. After a couple of deep breaths she continued, "All my friends were happily married and raising their kids together. I worked all the time. I was too tired to attend Bible studies and services and I was too broken to feel like serving others. I fell away. I was angry because my marriage broke up and my life was hard...but yes, Tessa. I do believe in God. Seeing you all lit up with hope and joy makes me jealous. I used to look like that...to feel like that."
"Oh, Mom. I wish I'd known."
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I've robbed you of the relationship you could have had with Him all these years. It is time I made some changes in my life."
"Will you come to church with me?"
"Yes, Baby. I will come to church with you. I've been a foolish, bitter woman for far too long."
Tessa hugged her mother hard. She had never been so happy.
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