“Tommy, don’t talk like that, it isn’t right.” “I’ll talk like I want to; you know I am right, first Jim and now dad, I’m done with Him.”
Six months, grass already growing on the grave, the cheap marker, the only one his mother could afford, already leaning over. Tom wasn’t going to set it back up, not this time, in fact, he didn’t even know if he would ever return to this spot, he was getting tired of talking to someone who didn’t reply, talking to the grass that was turning brown with the approaching winter. His folks had been Christians, he thought he was also, but his brother and then his father dying within just a few weeks of each other had made him question that lifestyle, he wanted out, he no longer wanted to serve a God who only took but never gave.
His dad had worked at the local sawmill since Tom was a small child, he and his brother Jim joining him there when they got out of school. “It doesn’t pay much boys, but its steady, as long as people need houses and God keeps planting trees, we’ll have a job.” Or until the main belt breaks and nearly cuts your dad in half, until one of the town drunks crosses the yellow line and kills your brother. Tom left the mill the day after his father’s funeral, he left his faith the moment two of the town’s sheriffs and the owner of the mill showed up at their house, and six months after that Tom left the town he grew up in.
“This is my last trip back dad, I’m moving across the country, mom doesn’t like it, but I can’t take it no more, you and her might love Jesus, but I’ve got no need for Him anymore.” As usual, the sound of the wind, nothing else, no reply, just the wind and a lone bird that hadn’t left for the winter yet. His mother would be fine with the pension from the mill, she had her church family, she had her God, Tom had a new job waiting a thousand miles away.
“How long now?’ “Almost five years, time flies by when your having fun, doesn’t it?” “Just like the dew of the morning, Tom” “Oh please, don’t start with the Bible stuff again Sandy, it was turning out to be such a fine evening.” Five years, and moving up the ladder fast, already one of the associate vice presidents, and no where to go but up. Maybe drinking just a little too much, cussing a little too often, but Sandy had helped to keep him on the straight and narrow for the last year, she was a good gal, and they got along fine except for the religious side she had. “You can’t blame God forever Tommy, how do you think you were able to accomplish all you have at the company in only five years? You may have thought you left God, but He doesn’t go away that easily.”
She had called him a prodigal son when Tom first told her about his past, but he would not accept that, prodigal sons ate pig food, Tom could eat steak any night of the week he wanted to, life was good, and getting better, with only one major roadblock. “No Tom, not until you get right with Jesus.” He had put the ring back into his pocket, feeling more dejected than he ever had in his life, but in the next moment Sandy had surprised him with a big hug and a kiss, “There’s no one else for me Tommy, nobody can run away from God forever, I can wait.”
“Why didn’t you call me sooner, why did you wait until it was too late?” “Now, don’t you worry about that, I’m going home to be with your father, I’m so happy, be happy with me Tommy.” He got back home the day after the funeral, mom didn’t have enough to be concerned with, he let the neighbors have what personal possessions they wanted, put the house up with a realtor, and went back home.
“I didn’t realize there were so many, why didn’t you tell me about them?” Almost three hundred letters, all on the same stationary, all with the same handwriting, all ending with a Scripture verse, so many, did you ever write her back?” Guilt swelled up within Tom, an occasional phone call, and a short, quick one at that, as soon as his mother would begin to tell him of the love of Jesus for him, he would automatically remember that he had important business somewhere to attend to. “It’s appointed a man once to die, no greater love has a man, trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.” Tom could finish everyone of those verses, he knew them all by heart, he had just tried to forget them, tried to forget how much he was loved, how much of a price was paid for him.
The tears were instantaneous, the sobbing was deep, coming from his very soul. Sandy watched him fall to the floor, on his face begging for mercy, pleading for forgiveness, but she did not hold him, she offered no comfort, instead she went into the kitchen, and from the glass sugar bowl in the kitchen she pulled the ring that had been offered to her. She put it on, went back into the living room, sat in the chair opposite her fiancé, and waited for him to finish talking to his Lord.