Thoughts for the Week

Archive for the ‘Bible Story’ Category

Naaman’s Dilemma

The hot Samarian sun beat down on Naamam’s itchy neck. Several flakes of dying skin slipped through his fingers as he absentmindedly brushed sweat away.

He had been on a wild goose chase trying to find someone to heal his  deadly and embarrassing skin condition, and now the Prophet Elisha was his last hope. He slowed his chariots down as Elisha’s small house came into view. Kicking up dust clouds, Naaman almost missed the messenger coming toward him. He stopped and the messenger spoke.

“Hello Naaman, commanders of the army of Aram, the Prophet Elisha knew you were coming and gives you instruction on how your skin might be cleansed.”

Naaman slid off his chariot and began to feel the first stirrings of relief since he started the long trip from his homeland. “Oh, wonderful news. Tell me, what does the Prophet say?”

“Go wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River, then your skin will be restored and will become healthy again.”

The small relief Naaman had felt was suddenly swept away by a burst of hot anger. “Wait…that’s it? Wash in that disgusting river? Never! Why can’he just wave his hand over me and cure me? Can’t at least tell me this himself?”

The afflicted man turned and stormed away, his servants jogging after him. “Sir, wait!” Naaman slowed, still angry, but he let his servants continue.

“If the Prophet had asked you to complete some great task whether by might or bravery, you would have done it. But bathing in the Jordan River is much easier than that. This may be a test of trust.”

Naaman made his way to the river’s edge and subconsciously fingered his neck’s rough, and damaged skin. “I fear this river could make my condition worse.” The muddy river’s stench was hard to bear. “But I will do as the Prophet says.”

After bathing seven times, Naaman broke from the surface and wiped the streaming water from his eyes. To his amazement, his skin was as soft and smooth as though it was brand new.

He made a vow on that day to only worship and make sacrifices to the one true God, the One who healed his skin because Naaman had trusted and believed.

2 Kings 5:1-18

Copyright 2016 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Escape to Egypt

“Mary? Can I talk to you a moment?”

Joseph looked down at his wife as she cradled her son. She looked outside at the setting sun, the crisp smell of evening air had filled their home. “It’s getting late, let me get him to bed first.” She began to rise from her sitting position, but Joseph sat beside her and gripped her arm gently.

“No Mary, I think we need to talk now.” Mary looked startled at Joseph’s worried expression. “What’s wrong?”

Joseph gingerly took one of the baby’s small hands, and sighed as it gripped his finger. “Mary, I had a dream last night. A dream in which an angel came and talked to me.”

Mary half-smiled, “You mean like the dream you had that told you I was telling the truth and you should marry me?” Joseph cupped the baby’s smooth hand in his rough calloused one, not allowing himself to smile. “Mary, I think Jesus is in danger.”

Her smile faded. She held her son more tightly. “An angel told you that?” Joseph nodded. “It said that you, Jesus, and I are to escape to Egypt and stay there until we hear from the angel again because Herod is going to try and kill him.”

It all had tumbled out at once; Joseph had been debating all day how to tell his wife. But the stunned silence she had now was worse than a blatant argument.

She stared at him with wide eyes, she held Jesus so closely that he wriggled as if wanting to get down. “Joseph…” she began, “escape to Egypt?”

“Yes, the angel wasn’t wrong last time, and I believe it’s right this time, too.”

“But Joseph, Egypt?” Her eyes were still fearful, “That’s a world away! It’s a different language, different culture, different gods…it’s not where I want to raise Jesus!”

Joseph let go of Jesus’ hand and placed his worn hands on Mary’s shoulders. “Neither do I, but it’s not permanent. The angel will let us know when it’s safe to come back.”

Mary looked down to blink away stinging tears and began brushing back the soft hair on her son’s head. “How will we even pay for it? I don’t think we can save up enough for a trip like that.”

Joseph smiled gently and pointed to a crude wooden shelf behind her where three ornate boxes were displayed. “I think the Magi’s gifts we got yesterday are the provision we need.”

Mary paused and nodded slowly, but tears stilled welled in her eyes until they spilled onto her cheeks. She lowered her head so her chin rested on top of Jesus’s head and began to cry.

“Joseph, I don’t know how I’m going to relocate again. It’s so hard for me to find friends. As soon as they find out what year we got married, and then find out Jesus’ age, they do the math themselves. After that, they won’t even give me the time of day. I don’t know if I can leave what little comfort we’ve made for ourselves here.”

Joseph finally released Mary’s shoulders and enveloped her in his arms, along with the baby. “Mary, I know the past few years has been extremely difficult for us, especially for you. But God is doing something incredible here, and He is going to be with us if we’re here or in Egypt.” Mary pulled back and looked at her husband with streaming eyes. He reached up and whisked away one of her tears.

“He’s going to take care of us. I think we just need to trust Him.”

Mary nodded, wiped her eyes, and then stood with the baby in her arms. “Then let’s leave tonight.”

Matt. 2:13-15

Copyright 2015 Molly Farnsley. Use by Permission Only.

Peter’s Denial

“Does anyone know where the Pharisees are?” Someone asked quietly.

Peter said nothing but kept his gaze on the locked door. “I heard they’re preaching against the Master at the temple.” answered Thomas. Many of Jesus’ disciples had holed up in a small, dusty room in Jerusalem to hide, and were asking themselves what they were going to do next. Jesus had been crucified three days ago. Thomas continued, “they’re undoubtedly celebrating now that they’ve-”

But his words were cut off when a pounding at the door jarred everyone to their senses. “They couldn’t have found us already!” someone whispered. But their fears were abated when they heard: “Let me in, it’s John!”

John entered looking pale. “We….we found Judas.” James cracked his knuckles, “Well, where has that back-stabbing traitor been hiding this whole time? I would like to give him a piece of my-”

“No, James, you misunderstand. We found his body. He killed himself. Probably due to the guilt from betraying our Master.” There were several outcries such as:

“Serves him right.”

“How could he? He worked with us and Jesus.”

“He’s worse than the Gentile dogs.”

Peter couldn’t handle it anymore. Without a word, he rose to his feet and burst through the door, leaving the surprised disciples behind. John was the only one who ran after him.

“Peter! Peter, wait!”

Peter had been trying for the past few days to ignore the aching guilt in his chest. How he had promised to die for Jesus, how he had failed to protect him in the garden, how he had even denied knowing his Master three times, and how it had pierced his heart when Jesus had looked at him as the rooster crowed.

Icy shame welled up in him as he ran down the street and wet morning air filled his lungs. A few vendors were setting up their shops, and a group of temple guards watched him suspiciously. Peter didn’t even care as tears welled in his eyes, threatening to spill down his cheeks.

“Peter, stop!” John had finally caught up with him and clamped a hand around his arm. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?” He jerked on Peter’s arm, pulling him into an alleyway, away from the temple guards’ view. He hissed, “After cutting off the high priest servant’s ear like you did, they can easily have you stoned or-”

“Maybe they should!” Peter exclaimed. John stopped tugging.

Peter couldn’t hide the tears of shame that had been plaguing him day and night. He let the story spill about how he had betrayed his Master’s trust and wasn’t willing to tell the truth.

Peter swiped at his stinging eyes with the back of his hand, “I know the Master prophesied that I would deny him at our Passover, but I…I’ll never be able to tell him how sorry I am.”

John finally let go of Peter’s arm. “But don’t you recall what the Master said before that? He quoted the prophet Zechariah, ‘Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered’, he meant us. But remember the rest of the passage? ‘Two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire;I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.’

“Don’t you see, Peter? I believe the Master means to test us and we will-” But Peter cut him off. His eyes wide with grief.

“But what if I’m supposed to be included in the group that is to be struck down and perishes? What I did three days ago was unforgivable and I as good as betrayed the Master just like Judas Iscariot.”

Before John could answer, a woman came speeding down the alleyway, her face flushed with excitement. John turned. “Mary Magdalene? What are you-?”

“John, Peter! The tomb, it’s empty!”

Leaving Mary in the city, the two disciples made haste for the tomb with the wet grass brushing at their ankles. John ran ahead of Peter, who began falling behind, the shame in his heart slowing his steps.

“What took you so long?” John panted as he rested outside of the tomb as Peter finally arrived.

“John…what if it’s true? What if he’s risen? What can I say to him? I couldn’t even bear to show my face.”

“Well, I don’t know. Let’s go look.”

The empty, folded grave clothes that met them were both a surprise and a disappointment inside the musty tomb. If someone had stolen the body, they wouldn’t have left them behind. But if it wasn’t stolen, where was the body?

Peter cried out in frustration, “I can’t stand all this uncertainty! If he’s risen, where is he?” He took off again, and this time, John did not follow him.

Peter wound up back in a dark room inside the city, all alone and contemplating his options. Should he turn himself in? Should he be protecting the others? Or maybe he needed to end it the way Judas had. He was so wrapped up in his guilt, he didn’t notice when someone had entered his locked room.

“Peter.”

Peter looked up and nearly fainted as he saw Jesus standing before him. His heart froze in fear. “No, please leave me alone! Your ghost has come back to torment me.”

Jesus came closer and placed a scarred hand onto his shoulder. He certainly didn’t feel like a ghost. “Peter, you know it’s me.”

“Then, you truly have risen…” Eyes down, the tears began to flow again as his apology tumbled out. “Master, I’m so sorry, I promised I’d die for you and instead, I became a lying coward. I don’t deserve to be your disciple.”

Peter looked up, expecting a look of condemnation. But instead there was a soft, kind expression on Jesus’ face. “Peter, I still need you to feed my lambs. Don’t you know that your sins have been forgiven?”

John 20:1-9; Luke 22:61; John 18:10; Matthew 26:31-35; Zechariah 13:7-9; 1 Corinthians 15:5

Copyright 2015 by Molly Farnsley. Use by permission only.

Conviction (Part 2)

ED-Depression-Man-in-Suit

“So, you said vandals did this?”

Zach Jericho strained to look up at the maintenance man. The man’s cool blue eyes reminded Zach of a calm sky. He glanced down again. Someone outside had noticed the broken window several stories up, and found him sitting on the floor, his back to the desk.

Zach was almost too ashamed to speak, but he mumbled, “I didn’t say that.”

The maintenance man straightened up, and glanced back to the broken window. He seemed to catch on when he noticed the unstolen diamond cuff links on the floor. He scooped them up and laid them on the desk.

“Listen, this office is insured so don’t you worry about the window.”  The maintenance man turned and  leaned against the arm of the couch to face Zach.

“Whenever I feel shaken, I go for a walk.” Zach didn’t respond. “Why don’t you take the day off, son?”

Zach  soon found himself outside, aimlessly walking down the busy city street.  The weather was getting warmer, and a few puffs of wind had that fresh spring taste to them.  Zach didn’t notice. He hadn’t slept at all last night, and his eyes ached. His dress shirt, underneath his Armani suit, itched, and he didn’t care that his Italian shoes were getting scuffed on the pavement. Wrestling with how to remove the  heaviness from his chest, he stumbled down the sidewalk.

Suddenly, a crowd gathered in an outdoor courtyard caught his eye. They grouped around a single man who spoke loudly, his voice echoing off the gray walls. “Listen! You think money will make you happy? Too much of it will only bring you trouble.”

Zach remembered this man. He had heard about him from the news.  This guy traveled the city and preached the Bible to anyone who would listen. Some loved him, some hated him.  Zach thought him as “one of those Christians.”

But something compelled him to make his way toward the crowd and listen. He sighed, What do I have to lose? The man continued speaking about money, life, and how to gain lasting happiness. Zach found himself more and more intrigued.

It wasn’t long before more people  flooded the courtyard and Zach was pushed to the back of the crowd. Some taller people shoved their way in front of him. He couldn’t see and had trouble hearing. Zach glanced around; a black lamppost met his eyes. That’ll do.

Remembering his childhood days climbing trees, he shimmed up the lamppost. He didn’t mind the grungy spots it put on his suit, and was able to see over the crowd. He saw the  preacher look directly at him, and then talk to a few people nearby. Oh, great…he’ll figure out who I am and ask me to leave. He glanced to the crowd. A few people had recognized him. One woman glared. A young man in a t-shirt made a rude gesture. One older woman with grizzled, dark hair yelled at him.

“Get out of here, lawyer!” More people turned and joined in the glares. Zach looked away, his head pounding again. No matter where he went, people hated him. I don’t blame them.

He was about to slip down and leave when the crowd started shuffling. He glanced up to see the people parting to let someone through. His heart stopped when he saw the preacher walking toward him. Clinging to the lamppost, his thoughts raced. Oh no! What do I do? Run? 

Too late. The man looked up at him, as he clung halfway up the lamppost like a scared cat. The entire crowd was staring at him now, many snickered. Zach thought he would die of embarrassment. He finally glanced at the  preacher. To Zach’s surprise, the man’s expression was soft.

“Hey Zach, come down here, I want to buy you lunch today.”

No one had offered to buy Zach lunch in years. He slid down the post, his feet clapping against the concrete ground. He was stunned and didn’t know what to say. The preacher stepped over and clasped Zach’s shoulder, leading him back toward the street.

The crowd watched in shock as this honorable man left with a dishonest lawyer. Zach overheard some angry murmurs “Doesn’t he know who that is?”

Once they rounded the corner, the man glanced at Zach and flashed a genuine smile. “Pick any restaurant you like.” Zach couldn’t take it anymore. He looked away in shame and his head pounded like it was between a hammer and anvil. “W-Why…? Why are you doing this for me?” Tears spilled from his eyes.

The preacher stopped and looked him squarely in the eye. “It looked like you needed a friend.”

“But you don’t understand, I’ve done some awful things and everyone hates me.” Zach sniffed. “I’m not someone you should be hanging around with.”

The man placed his hands on Zach’s shoulders. “Yes, I should. I want to let you know that I can forgive all the things you’ve done. You shouldn’t hate yourself. I can help you become an honest man.”

***

Back in the office, Zach gripped the phone tightly. His stomach was twisting into knots. But he knew this was the right thing to do.

“Mr. Stephens? Yes, Zachary Jericho…No! Wait! Don’t hang up! I…I wanted to call and offer a deep apology. You were correct, I overcharged you an unforgivable amount, and I would like to reimburse you completely…no, this isn’t a joke. In fact, we should meet. How about lunch tomorrow? My treat.”

After hanging up, Zach crossed Mr. Stephen’s name off a sheet of paper.

“One down,” he murmured under his breath as he ran his finger down a list of past clients.

Luke 19:1-10

The End

Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

Conviction (Part 1)

ConvictedI have it all.

Attorney Zack Jericho leaned back in his chair, quite content. His  mahogany desk shone. The new leather couch filled the office with its rich smell. He picked up the next case from his desk. It was a private civil case regarding a Henry Stephens who wasn’t satisfied with a major company’s product.

Too easy. Hellooooo, new Ferrari.

Mr. Stephens was ushered in, and Zack told him to take a seat. After going over several details, court dates and such, Mr. Stephens stood and offered his hand. “Thank you, Mr. Jericho. I know I’ll have the best lawyer backing me up.”

Once the man left, Zack broke for lunch and rose from his desk. He opened his office door a crack when he heard his secretary, Miss Rhett, speak. She sat in her little work space just outside his door. He heard every word.

“I wouldn’t hire Mr. Jericho if I were you.”

He heard Mr. Stephen reply. “Wow, you must really hate your boss.”

He heard Miss Rhett’s chair creak as she leaned forward. “No, everyone hates him. I’m quitting as of next week. He cheats his employees out of their paychecks, he scams his clients, and no one can touch him with all his power–”

“Oh, he can’t be like that.” Mr. Stephens interrupted. “I’ve heard good things about him.”

“From whom, his mother? Oh wait, can’t be. He ripped her off, too.”

Zack retreated into his office. Wow…that’s a shame. Miss Rhett was very useful. Second secretary this month. He made his way toward his wooden desk to fill out a pink slip. Can’t quit if I fire you first.

He almost couldn’t hear Mr. Stephen’s final comment. “Well, I have my faith in Zack Jericho. I think he’s the the best lawyer this city has to offer.”

***

A couple of weeks later, one Wednesday evening, it was late and everyone had gone home. Zach was left alone in the office. The week had been tough, and he couldn’t shake a heaviness that had been pressing him for a few days.

Maybe I should call it quits— His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a new email. It was from Mr. Stephens. Zach usually deleted emails from previous clients. But something compelled him to read it.

It began with no formality. “You overcharged me $20,000, you selfish–” Zach skimmed through the description. It was typical hate mail which he usually did not read, but he continued. The last line caught his eye.

I trusted you, Mr. Jericho, I heard bad things about you and decided to give you a chance. You may be the best lawyer this town has to offer, but you’re the most despicable man in it.”

Zach stared at the text. His stomach twisted into knots, and his heart began to pound. He leaned back, trying to forget the names Mr. Stephens called him…but he knew the man was right. He was the first man to trust him in a long time, and he took advantage of him.

Glancing down to where his hands hung limply in his lap, he noted the diamond cuff links he had bought for himself two years ago. He got them because of the Bradley Case. Remembering Mr. Bradley’s devastated look when he was forced to sell his house to pay him back, Zack suddenly didn’t feel very comfortable wearing them.

He ripped the cuff links off and threw them across the room; they plinked against the new leather couch. Zach looked at everything in his office. The things he owned were bought with money from an angry customer or broken life.

Zach stood. His head pounded along with his heart. Flashbacks of all the people he had cheated and all their angry words came back to him like a flood.

Coward…worthless creep…back-stabbing liar…selfish pig…everyone hates you….

“No! Leave me alone!” His eyes darted over all the valuables in his office. He could barely stand. “I hate this office, I hate it.” He noticed his costly paperweight resting on his desk he had acquired after overcharging a single mother. Her pained, begging expression floated like a ghost in his mind. Zach screamed.

“No! Stop!” He took the paperweight and chucked it at his floor to ceiling window. The glass shattered. Wind kicked up his papers.

Zach dashed over to the broken window, and looked several stories down onto the pavement. He snatched his Rolex watch from his wrist and threw it as hard he could.

“I hate this!” He dug through his suit pocket and pulled out the keys to his Ferrari, he let his arm fly, “I hate all of it!”

The wind and heights made him dizzy and he leaned against the crumbling pane. He breathed deeply as he felt tears begin forming.

“I…I hate myself.” He glanced out the window and down at the pavement. “Oh, God. I hate myself.”

Suddenly, the wind slammed into him and pushed him backward. Landing on his back, he crawled, and leaned against his desk, arms wrapped around his knees like a child. His breaths came in short gasps. Tears streamed from his eyes. “Oh, God. Everyone hates me….”

To be continued…

Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

The Miracle at Troas (Part 2)

E2

(Based on Acts 20:7-12)

I rushed down the stairs as fast as I could to my friend. His father reached him first. Eutychus lay unnaturally still on the hard ground as many crowded close by. I crept to Eutychus and saw fear in his father’s gray eyes. I reached out my hand. Remorse welled up inside of me.

“Is…is he…?”

I was interrupted by a tall man. “Hold on, I’m a physician.” He knelt and gently placed his hand over Eutychus’ face and felt his neck. Paul reached the center of the group and asked the physician, “Well, Luke? Is he all right?”
Everyone held their breath. Luke bit his lip and looked to Eutychus’ anxious father.

“I’m sorry, but he’s dead.” Instantly, Eutychus’ father wept over his dead son. I cried bitterly alongside my dead friend. If there was a mighty God that Paul talked about, why did He let this happen?

Paul reached toward the lifeless Eutychus and wrapped his arms around him. After a brief pause, Paul looked to Eutychus’ father. “Don’t be alarmed. He’s alive!” All eyes were on Eutychus. Paul placed his hand over Eutychus’ forehead, and I saw his chest move.

Then to everyone’s surprise, he moaned. “Oh, my head, what happened?”

I gasped. “He’s alive!”

The father held Eutychus in his strong arms and wept harder. Everyone rejoiced and praised God. Paul stayed the rest of the night; he told us more about God and His Son who had power over death. After seeing this miracle happen to my friend, I heard the words Paul preached and believed.

The end.

Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

The Miracle at Troas (Part 1)

eutychus copy     (Based on Acts 20:7-12)

My heart beat rapidly as my sandals slapped against the stone road. My thoughts raced too. Paul the apostle was here in Troas! He came to speak about Jesus. I had heard about Jesus before. I had many questions, and I knew I could ask them when Paul spoke tonight. I rounded a corner sharply and dashed into my friend’s dusty yard. Eutychus!” I yelled and waited. He stumbled out of his house, a weak smile on his face.

“Oh. Hello Marcus.” He yawned. “Why are you so excited?”  I waved my hands in the air. “Didn’t you hear? Paul’s here and he’s going to talk about Jesus.”  Eutychus’ eyes brightened. “Paul of Tarsus? Really?” I nodded. “I can’t wait to hear him speak about his travels.”  Eutychus smiled and rubbed his eye. I talked on. “He’s leaving tomorrow, so he’s talking tonight. Oh, you look exhausted.”

Eutychus stretched. “I was up all night looking for our runaway calf.” He sighed. “He was halfway to Assos when I found him.”
I replied. “I’m sorry about that. Are you coming tonight?”
My friend smiled. “Wouldn’t miss it.”

*  *  *

     I listened with Eutychus by my side as Paul retold his story about meeting Jesus. It seemed our whole town was there gathered in the little room. As Paul spoke, I was spellbound. This Jesus person was actually God?
“…at that point, this man named Ananias came to where I was staying and told me all about this Jesus whom I was persecuting and the God who had sent him to me.” Paul spoke on late into the night.
Eutychus seemed uncomfortable. He whispered. “It’s stuffy in here, let’s sit by the window.” I agreed. We silently shuffled over to the window for some air. Eutychus perched himself on the window ledge. He yawned. While Paul talked about the council at Jerusalem, something horrible happened. I heard Eutychus move and turned just in time to see him slip from the window’s ledge.
He was asleep!
I dove to grab him, but it was too late. He fell three stories to the ground below.
“Eutychus!”

To be continued…

Copyright 2013 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.

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