“Promise me, Sarah! Say it! Tell me you will never see him again.”
His hand was clenched around her wrist as his youngest daughter stood tearfully before him. Her usually soft and sunny face wore a stony expression. He knew she was angry with him, but she didn’t realize how much he loved her. He had to protect her. She was so sweet, so innocent. He was her father and it was his job to keep her from making mistakes like this.
He released her wrist with a sigh.
“I only want what’s best for you.” He whispered it even as he reached out to put his arms around her shoulders. He felt her heaving sobs as he embraced her, and marveled as he had so many times, at how fragile she seemed at times like this. So vulnerable.
“Papa, you haven’t even met him. If only you would meet him…”
“Sarah, sometimes you don’t need to meet people to know what they’re like. Their reputation preceeds them. I’ve heard rumors. The people he spends his time with are not the kind of people I want you to be around. Frankly, I don’t know how you got involved with him in the first place.” He tried to keep his voice gentle in spite of the angry protectiveness that welled up within him. No one would hurt her. No one. She stiffened against him, pushing him away, creating distance.
“I’m surprised that you listen to rumors. I thought you would give him a chance. I thought that my father, of all people, would be fair.”
He thought of many arguments to convince her, then picked the one that would have the most impact. He hated saying it to her, but he was desperate.
“Your own brother tells me that he was seen with a prostitute. It can only mean one thing.”
She covered her ears. “I don’t believe it. Why are you saying these things?”
“His friends are not our kind of people, sweetheart. They’re rough people. You could ruin your reputation. Don’t you understand that I love you? I want to protect you. You’re young, and…” He realized at once he shouldn’t have said those last words. He watched her stiffen again.
“But the things he says...”
“You have to trust me Sarah. Think about what your mother and I have taught you. Think about how much we love you. You’ve been taught to honor your father and mother. Please promise me you won’t leave the house to see him again.”
She was a good girl, an obedient daughter. They’d brought her up so tenderly, so carefully. They’d taught her from God’s Word. He knew that if he could just get her word on this, she would honor it. Her lovely face was so easy to read. He watched and waited as her expression went from sullen anger to resignation. Her mother had trained her well. She would bend. He could see it. He held her close again, and felt her tremble.
“I promise, Papa.” She breathed the words into his shoulder. He felt relief wash through him. He’d kept her safe. There would be no more running after this so-called Rabbi Yeshua.
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