CHAPTER 38 - AUGUST, 30 CE – A CHANGE OF HEART
Before Paul and Tamara left their little house to begin morning lessons, a knock sounded at their door. Sarah went to the door and invited the couple standing there into the house.
Paul stepped forward and extended his hands in welcome. “Hello Ebenezer, Emma. This is my wife Sarah and our daughter Tamara.”
“Hello, Paulos, Sarah,” Ebenezer said.
“Papa,” Tamara said, tugging on Paul’s tunic, “Jesus told me ‘bout Emma in my dream last night. He gave me a message for her.”
Emma and Ebenezer looked startled.
“Who is Jesus?” Emma asked.
“He’s my friend, and He knows everything. He told me last night you need to hurry to see your mama. She doesn’t feel good, and she wants to see you before she dies.” Tamara gazed anxiously up at Emma.
“Before she dies? How do you know about this? Paulos, what did you tell this child?” Emma’s eyes narrowed.
“No. This Jesus talks to her often in her dreams, and thus far, all of what He has told her has happened. We believe Jesus is the Son of God.”
“The Son of God? You mean the Messiah? Is He actually come?” asked Ebenezer
“Well, that’s our belief. He’s been seen by many people, not just Tamara.”
“Have you seen Him?”
“I have, although Sarah hasn’t.”
“That is indeed good news—He has finally come to save His people.” One edge of Ebenezer’s mouth tipped upward, the first hint of a smile Paul had seen from the man.
“We came to tell you we would go see my mother with our children,” Emma said.
Paul smiled at her. “That’s wonderful. I can’t leave now because Tamara has been very ill, or I’d ask our employer if I could accompany you. Please give Mehida my greetings. Tell her that her adopted son sends his love. May God go with you.”
CHAPTER 39 - JULY, 30 CE – WAITING FOR EMMA
Mehida lay quietly on her bed, staring at the ceiling. “Adonai,” she murmured, “I know I’ll soon leave this home where my children and my husband lay buried. Soon I shall join them. I don’t fear to leave this earth, but I wish I could see my daughter one last time. I need to tell her I’m sorry. Yes, I probably should tell that fisherman she married I’m sorry too, and give them my blessing. I know now I was wrong. If I don’t see them, great Jehovah, please would you tell them for me?” A tear trickled down her withered cheek.
Her friends Joel and Abidon sat outside her house, quietly talking.
“She won’t live long now,” Joel said. “She grows weaker.”
Abidon nodded. “It was good we stopped to see her when we did. She’d have died there on the ground by her goats.”
“To the goats’ credit, they were trying to comfort her—or was it that they enjoyed the taste of her sleeves?” Joel grinned.
“Whichever, it seems they did help her. They lay down close to her body and kept her warm during the night.” Abidon patted one of the friendly goats.
“She said she wants to see her daughter. Even though we sent word by the next person who passed on his way to the coast, I don’t think anyone will be able to find the daughter in time. Mehida might live another week, but it would take that long to get to coast and back riding horses, even if they knew where her daughter was, but this messenger was leading a donkey.”
“It would take a miracle to get the daughter here in time. Maybe she’d give us a message for her daughter.”
“Perhaps. I’ll go talk to her.” Joel rose and turned to go inside the house.
Mehida was still staring at the ceiling when he entered the door. She turned her head at the sound of the door and squinted her eyes.
“Is that you, physician?”
“It is, Mehida. How do you feel?”
“I don’t feel anything. It’s as though I’m floating somewhere.” She cackled softly, sounding a little like the old Mehida. “The view is terrible—I remember myself as a young woman, yet here I am, old, crippled, wrinkled, and weakened by too long a life.”
“It happens to all of us sooner or later, Mehida. You’ve had a good life, haven’t you?”
“Some good, some bad. Some joy, some sorrow. Now I’m at the end of this life, and I don’t know what lies ahead.”
“A Man called Jesus said that if you believe in Him, you would have everlasting life with him. Jesus is the Son of God.”
“I believe in the one God. I didn’t know He had a Son.”
“He does, and the Son’s name is Jesus.”
“How do you know He is God’s Son?” Mehida asked.
“There are many reasons. He raises the dead to life, He heals the sick, He speaks with the wisdom of the ages. The biggest reason I believe in Him, though, is because He speaks to my heart,” Joel said, gazing out the window. “Then, too, I was on the banks of the Jordan River when He was baptized by a prophet named John, and God spoke in a voice like thunder saying, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”
Mehida listened in silence, looking thoughtful. Finally, in a very soft voice, she said, “If anyone but you had told me this, I’d think he was either lying, jesting, or out of his mind, but since it’s you who tell me, I believe you. Therefore I believe in Him.” She added wistfully, “I wish I could see Him.”
Mehida coughed and held her hands to her chest, and Joel looked alarmed.
“You need to rest, but I need to ask you one question,” Joel said. “You don’t have much time left here on this earth, Mehida. I sent a message to your daughter, but I don’t think she will get the message and get back here before you step across the river between here and heaven. Do you want me to tell her anything?”
“I might fool you yet, Physician. Remember when you thought Paulos would die? He fooled you, and now I might fool you, too.” Mehida grinned her old toothless grin. “I’m stronger than I look.”
“Yes, Mehida, you’re one amazing old woman, I agree. I just don’t want her to miss her mother’s last words to her.”
“Well, right now I think I have another day or two left. Maybe more. If I think I’ll die before Emma gets here, then I’ll tell you what to say to her.”
“It’s a bargain, Mehida. Now I’ll go outside and let you rest. I’m making some good chicken stew for you in a pot outside. It should be ready in an hour or two.”
Joel went back outside where Abidon was stirring a pot filled with one of Mehida’s old chickens and vegetables from her garden, and the air filled with the mouth-watering aroma steaming from the pot.
“Mehida doesn’t think she will die today,” Joel said.
“And do you agree?” Abidon blew on a spoonful of the stew.
“She feels well enough to argue, which might be a good sign she could be right. I hope she is. We will do our best do keep her alive until her daughter arrives, but I don’t believe she will. We can pray she will, but I don’t know how to work that miracle on my own. It will probably still be two weeks before her daughter can get here, if she gets here at all. The messenger we sent might or might not find her, and Mehida doesn’t want to give me any messages until she is close to death. I fear that if she waits that long, she won’t be able to tell me. On the other hand, if I press her for details, it could stress her to the point where her heart fails.”
“I’ll pray, too, Joel. As we have seen, miracles do sometimes happen. If only Jesus would pass by here, perhaps He would heal her.”
“Perhaps, Abidon, but I think she is willing to go. The only reason she holds on to life is because she hopes to see her daughter one more time. That is also what I pray for.”
“Then that will also be my request to the One God.”