“I don’t know, sometimes it seems like it, but a lot of the time I just can’t tell.” Melissa and Joana were still sitting in the pews even though church had been over for almost fifteen minutes, the crowds had left long ago and the only people left were those that had volunteered to stay after and help clean after the service. They were discussing the same thing that had been brought up last week, and the week before, and although Joana didn’t want to say it, this conversation was starting to get a little old.
“Melisa, I would love to stay and talk, but I promised Thomas that we would go to the park and I really want to get there before the rain or he’ll be running around the house all afternoon and never take his nap.” “I’m sorry, I do tend to go on, don’t I.” On the drive home, Melissa could not get that feeling out of head, something was different inside of her, something that she couldn’t put her finger on, like something was just around the corner but always out of sight. There had been no real changes in her life, except of course the news from the doctor, the same routine was being executed in her day to day routine, same meals, same people, but that feeling just would not leave her alone.
There was one small change, but it really had not seemed like all that much at the time, in fact, it had not even crossed her mind until the moment that the garage door closed and she was in the dark, in that moment she felt like inside of her was dark where it was supposed to be light. She had been a praying woman, saved at seventeen, married for a short time to a man who loved her deeply, but whom the Lord loved more, for He had called him home at the age of twenty-two. That had been almost twenty years ago, and though she had gone on a few dates in that time, she considered herself a married woman, her husband just happened to be at a location that she could not reach him at, but she knew that she would be with him again someday. The moment the garage door came down she knew something that she had not realized before.
“I don’t know what to tell you Melissa, you know that I’ll always be there for you whenever I can, but this time it’s different.” Joana had known her friend since grade school, they were not exactly best friends, but close enough acquaintances that she had been one of her bridesmaids at her wedding. “Are you sure there’s absolutely nothing that they can do?” The doctor had been very careful on his analysis of Melissa’s condition, but had been her family physician since the day of her birth and knew her well enough to know that he should never to try to hide anything from her. It had been almost three months since her heart condition had been found, and if it would have been found just a few weeks earlier there might have been some hope, but the condition had worsened in such a way that at any time it could just stop beating.
“I know that Joana, and I’m not really looking for a cure, what I think I need is security, something just doesn’t feel right, and I can’t tell what it is or where it’s coming from.” They had cried together until the tears ran out, but then her friend had to go home, she had a life and Melissa was not going to continue to call her up every day looking for some one to talk to, she liked her friend enough to know that she wanted to help her with her burden, but she was not willing to make it her burden also. “If you could just check up on me once in a while, that would be great,” and if things get too, well you know, bad, if I could call you on the phone that would be great.” The calls had gone on for about two weeks, but then the feeling that she was becoming a burden to her friend began to creep into Melissa’s thoughts, and so she just made sure to leave that up to Joana. She still sought her out when she had the strength to show up for church, but her friend always seemed to have something to do, today had been the first time in quite a while that she had spent more than a few minutes talking with her for any length of time.
It was in the dark of the garage that the thoughts began to come into her mind, that which she had been trying to grasp for the last few weeks jumped into the forefront of her mind, it was dark. Not just dark in the place where she had always parked her car, where someday very soon she would never park again, but inside of her, a place that was supposed to be light. The church that Melissa attended was well known to the community, had been there for well over a hundred years, and it was the type of place where the people there made you feel at home. Everyone was usually friendly, there were very few disagreements of any kind, and the flow of the church never seemed to change. It was the elderly pastor that had retired just two years ago that had told her about the Lord, had asked her if she was ready to accept Jesus, and then had baptized her, just like she and everyone else there had come to the Savior.
So why did she still feel like she was in the dark, why was she still sitting here in the garage feeling like she was just as dark inside as it was in the place where her vehicle rested every evening. “Because you don’t know me.” The voice startled her so much that she almost jumped out of her seat and into the house to phone the police. Thoughts of a day when she was still seventeen flashed into her mind, she was at the church with her parents, and the push of her mothers’ hand on her back she could now feel as if she was there again. The pastor had just given his call for those who wanted to know Christ as Savior to come up to the front, and before she knew it that was where she was. Some words were spoken that she repeated, and the following week she was baptized and given a new Bible.
“But do you know me?” This time Melissa was not startled, this time she was afraid, something inside of her felt like every cell was vibrating at full speed and that she was going to shake apart. After her baptism everything seemed to go back to normal, her parents were of course so proud that their daughter was now finally a Christian, and even gave a large gathering for her at the house. Many of those that attended the church were there, but for some reason her thoughts went to their words to her at that time, not just the gathering itself. Words of congratulations, her plans for college, perhaps even marrying that fine young man, but nothing of what they called a conversion at the church, nothing of Jesus. In fact, the more she thought about it, not one person that she could recall in all her years at that church had ever brought up much about Jesus Christ, except maybe a few times in some of the pastors’ sermons. Most of them seemed to revolve around how they were all supposed to follow the commandments of the Scriptures as best as they could, be nice to their neighbors, and quite a bit of news about how the outside world was falling apart.
Melissa had always done everything that the church had told her she should do, she prayed when she was supposed to, she sang the songs loud and clear, and she even put some money in the offering plate every Sunday. “But do you know me?” This time she felt like she was going to throw up, the voice in her head had a kind of finality to it, like this would be the last time that she would ever hear it again if she did not answer. Melissa could hear the phone ringing inside the house, but it was the call inside of her heart that she knew she had to answer, a heart that she knew was not going to last much longer.
The memory of a man she had met in the hospital the night her husband had died came into her mind, a man she had never met before, and had never seen since. It had been a terrible car crash, but her Jeremy had been a strong young man and had lasted until the ambulance had pulled up to the hospital and gotten him into the emergency room, but that was when his body could no longer sustain itself, and he had died. The man she recalled now had said something to her that she had never forgotten “He accepted Christ at the last moment ma’am you’ll see him again, and then he had walked out. “It’s your last moment, Melissa.”
The voice almost sounded comforting, but there was an urgency to it, and that feeling that she was in the dark came upon her like a storm. The Jesus that Melissa thought she knew she really did not know. Her works had as been filthy rags, her decision had been done only to please her parents, and the words that she had repeated after the pastor had been hollow and of no meaning within her soul. She had been deceiving herself all these years, and her years were coming to an end. “Please help me, please forgive me, please, tell me what to do.”
The funeral was large and well attended, there were many flowers and cards, and the newspaper told the story of her life in about three paragraphs. The real news though around the church came from those who had found her, Joana and her husband. When Melissa had not answered their third attempt at phoning her, they had come over to the house and found her in the front seat of her car. “Her hand was on her heart, and I had known her for most of her life, but I never seen her with a smile like that on her face my whole life, not even at her wedding.”