Steven felt pretty good about himself today, he had stood up when he was supposed to stand, knelt when he was told to, and while he sat for the rest of the mornings service, he had not fallen asleep, well, not totally this time. His wife Alice had begun to nudge him about a year or so ago when she saw that his head was starting to drop ever so slightly, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, today it had. As they said their regular goodbyes to the others that had showed up that morning and headed for their car, Stevens mind began to wander back to some thoughts that had begun to enter into his mind a little over a year ago, about the same time he found himself beginning to doze off during the service. He started to feel hungry again, not for the food though that his body needed, but for something else, there had been a feeling lately, this was the best that Steven could describe it, a need if you will for more, more of what though he just hadn’t really been able to figure out.
“You’ve got that look again” Alice said to her husband of almost thirty years, “want to discuss it?” “Maybe some lunch first” he said, knowing that sooner or later they would have to make a decision about having ‘that conversation’ in its totality, something they both had pondered over the last few months. Alice thought it very rude the first few times that her husband had begun to get sleepy, actually falling asleep more than once, something that was not uncommon among some of the members of the church that they had been attending, but when it came from Steven, well, that was different. She remembered quite well how embarrassed she felt when he had actually started snoring once, it was a little more than a nudge that day. But lately she had begun to notice the same drowsiness in herself, catching her eyelids as they began to slowly close then jerk open again. Once she had even caught Steven staring at her during a morning service with a big smile on his face, and when he had said “Wake up, sleepy head” she knew that perhaps it was time that she should begin to listen a little more intently to the short, small talks her husband had begun to have with her about whether or not they should continue attending that church.
In all honesty, they had begun going to that particular church for no other reason than that it was the closest one to their house, only four blocks away, and on nice days it was an enjoyable stroll. The people there were not pushy, and generally were very friendly, never prying too deep into Steven and Alice’s life. They had never been religious people, had raised two children in the community they also had been raised in, drank only on special occasions and then very little, they both had good, longstanding jobs, Alice’s only part time like she wanted, and Steven was always home before supper, ready for hugs from his small children and loving looks from his wife each evening he arrived home. Both children were grown and off to make a life of their own now, and although they all took turns visiting each other, Steven and Alice were in love, always had been since high school, and they relished their time alone together, looking forward to laughing and growing old with each other. They were not church attendees then, but their lives exhibited what others would call a happy life, they were ‘good people.’
Just over three years ago though things had changed, the possibility of losing those that they held most dear to them became an almost reality on that day. Their daughter and youngest grandchild had flown in from the city that they lived in to spend a long weekend with Steven and Alice, the extra bedroom had been made up, the crib was brought up from the storage closet in the basement and placed in its proper spot, and anticipation and smiles abounded while the two waited for the day that they would arrive. Steven could not remember the conversation they were having right before the wreck, but he did recall that it was his wife who, after the tragedy had stabilized, at least emotionally, that had suggested that maybe they should think about attending a church.
The semi driver’s truck had crossed the median of the highway immediately, almost as if he had intentionally turned left and aimed at them. The impact was instantaneous and horrific, slamming their vehicle into the guardrail on the other side of three lanes of traffic, catapulting it nearly twenty feet into the air before it rolled several times down an embankment and came to rest against a large tree. Although Alice remained conscience during the event, she was confused for several hours after the accident and still has no memory of it to this day, Steven received twenty-six stiches in his scalp and a cast for his broken arm, and although by some miracle of God the baby was completely unharmed, their daughter had fractured both of her legs in several places. Their daughter’s husband had flown down immediately after hearing of the collision and had spent nearly the entire four weeks with his wife in the hospital. They returned home when they were able, but Steven and Alice’s daughter would walk the rest of her life with a very pronounced limp. “Praise God she can walk at all” Steven had heard the words come out of his mouth when he was informed that the limp would be her only long term problem, words that he did not think, but that just seemed to come out of him from somewhere, and that was when he first thought that perhaps his wife was right, maybe they should begin attending a church. Alice had no idea why she had thought about attending some church, perhaps the accident had shown her just how quickly those we love can be lost to us, and so the Sunday morning strolls had begun.
“There’s just something missing, but I don’t know what it is” Steven said to his wife as they cleaned up the lunch time plates, “The people are friendly there and everything, but it just seems like there should be more than the same repetitive things every Sunday with a twenty-minute sermon throw in.” Alice agreed as she had so may weekends before, but this time a new thought came into her mind, and before she had time to ponder it, it came out of her mouth, “Maybe we should pray about it.” Steven stopped in the middle of rinsing the plate off that his wife had just handed him, looked at her for what felt like several minutes, and then said, “You mean now, just the two of us?”
This was a completely foreign idea to them, they had of coursed prayed the words that they were told to pray in church, well, repeated what they were supposed to pray, for it was nearly the same thing every weekend, and of course they bowed their heads at the end of the message, but they had never prayed together, just the two of them, not even before they had their meals. Steven finished rinsing the plate that he was still holding, as Alice drained the sink and began to dry her hands. The silence was incredible, it was as if they were the only two people on the planet, and it felt like something was going to happen, but neither of them could tell what it was or where the feeling was coming from. They both stared at each other with a look that only two people who are deeply in love and know each other very well can understand.
Steven took his wife’s hand and walked towards the living room, feeling almost as if he was being led there. There was only a moment of hesitation before Alice joined husband who had let go of her hand and was now on his knees in the middle of the room, his hands clasped tightly together, his head nearly touching the floor. She heard her husbands voice, but the words did not seem to be his, they were nothing like she had ever heard him speak before, they seemed almost holy. He asked, no he pleaded for guidance, for mercy, for grace, for forgiveness, for help, until he could speak no more, the tears flowing down his face as his voice fell silent and his lips began to quiver. She felt his hands reach for hers, and she knew a love for this man that she had never known before.
They wept and cried in each other’s arms for several minutes, not truly even knowing why, they both felt a peace that was new to them, a feeling of security that could not be explained. As Alice wiped the tears from her face, she found her eyes fixed on the Bible resting on the stand next to the door, and as Steven sat on the sofa, she went over to God’s word and brought it to her husband, sitting beside him and listening to him as he open it to the Book of John and began reading.