May 19, 2017: Broken Vessels
2 Corinthians 4:6-12 (NIV)
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Ruth called Henry, her pastor, to ask him to pray for this meeting. Henry passed the word to others on the prayer team at the church and they, in turn, called others on prayer teams across the city.
Ruth and Dr. Williams met at the café just a little past seven on Friday to pray together before Becki would arrive at eight. “God, we trust you for whatever you are doing with our lives and our reputation. We know being ridiculed and falsely accused is part of belonging to you so help us love those who would think only evil of us. Help them to see Christ clearly through all the confusion.
“Lord, we pray for Becki that she would be set free from her bitterness and confusion. Use us in whatever way is necessary for that to happen.” That was the quick prayer Dr. Williams prayed over his wife and then quickly exited Java Joe’s before Becki arrived.
Ruth had arranged ahead of time to have a rather secluded table in the back corner so Becki would not be seen out in the open talking with her. Ruth sat there remembering what had happened to her that caused her to identify with Becki. The images flashed through her mind and brought up all sorts of anger and rage in her own life once again.
“Wait a minute, God. I thought I was through with these feelings. I thought this was finished. Why am I feeling this way right now just before Becki meets with me? I don’t understand why this is happening now.” She poured out her complaint to God, not understanding what His plan was.
“Ok, Father, I will trust you through this but this is going to be more difficult than I thought. I am going to need your grace now if I am going to make it through this conversation with Becki.” Just as she was finishing her prayer, she saw Becki coming over to her table.
“Hello, Mrs. Williams. Thanks for getting this table, I really don’t want many to see me here talking with you, I don’t think my father would be very pleased,” Becki said as she sat down, looking around seeing if anyone she knew was in the coffee shop.
“You look upset Mrs. Williams. You look like you have been crying? I don’t get it. You call me to say you can help me but it looks like you are the one that needs help,” Becki said as she noticed the tear streaks on Ruth’s face and her noticeably sad expression.
“I’m sorry Becki, but I think what I have to share with you is going to be much harder than I thought. Why don’t you tell me what you want and I will go get it then we can talk,” Ruth offered.
“Sure that would be great. I think I will have a large Caffe Mocha and one of those huge blueberry muffins.”
Ruth went to place their orders. Becki was surprised by what she saw in Ruth’s appearance this morning. She had never seen Mrs. Williams look this upset. For some reason she found herself feeling compassion for Ruth instead of disdain.
Ruth returned with their coffees and muffins. “Becki, would you mind if I offered a prayer of thanks to God for our food and our time together. I know you don’t necessarily agree with this Christian stuff but could you at least humor me. I could use a little humor right now?”
“Sure Mrs. Williams that would be ok,” Becki replied.
“God, I want to thank you for Becki Wilson this morning. Thank you for her willingness to hear my story. I know right now there are so many things that are confusing to both of us. Frankly, I need your grace to help me with what I have been feeling this morning as well. Bless our food and our time together. Amen.”
Becki felt something unusual for the first time since the accident. This feeling took her back to the times when her mother would pray over her before she left for school or when she having a hard time. She remembered the prayers of her mother and how they made her feel. This time was much like that.
Ruth and Becki enjoyed small talk for a few minutes. They even shared a laugh or two. Becki was drawn to Ruth but she wanted to fight it. After all, she was the one who was trying to get her and her husband fired from the University. “I wonder what Mrs. Williams would think of me if she knew it was me that started all these rumors,” Becki thought to herself.
Ruth looked at Becki and began, “I called you yesterday when someone told me your story about what happened to your family at the last university your father was chancellor. When I heard your story, I knew I had to share my story with you.
First, let me say, “I am sorry for what happened to your mom and your brother four years ago. I don’t know how I would handle all that. I admire you and your father for being able to survive as well as you both have. Let me get right to the point. Becki, I know you are angry about many things, one of them being God. I got that right from our first meeting at the health center.”
Becki laughed. “It was that obvious?”
“Well, let’s just say it was clear God was not one of your best friends at the time,” Ruth offered.
Becki was finding herself strangely drawn to listen to Mrs. Williams. Her candor and her down to earth conversation was refreshing. Most of the adults she knew sounded too polite and robotic. They offered the usual responses, smiled, and nodded when appropriate but you knew they did not feel what they were communicating with their words and expressions. Everything seemed too false to Becki. Mrs. Williams and Dr. Williams were different. She even noticed that about Peter and Nathan in her study group. Perhaps there was something to this Jesus stuff after all.
Alarms were going off everywhere across campus far underneath the administration building. “What is happening up there at Java Joe’s? Someone get over there right now. We are about to lose one of our prime humans, we simply cannot let that happen.” The voice of Old Slew Foot was raging and loud. Demons scattered everywhere.
“Hey aren’t you one of Barry’s friends?” came the question from a student that Becki had never met.
“I’m sorry, am I supposed to know you?” Becki asked.
“No, I don’t think so. I was listening to you talk with those girls the other day at the dorm and I agree with you. I am sick and tired of the Williams pushing their religion down everyone’s throat on this campus.”
Becki felt her face redden as the words tumbled out of this stranger’s mouth.
“Yes, what you said about the Williams needs to be heard everywhere. I agree. What those Christians are doing behind closed doors really is concerning. The things you said about the Williams is probably truer than you know. I am going to our Skeptics club right now and we are planning a protest to see if we can get rid of the Williams and all others who hold to such outdated beliefs.”
Ruth was stunned by what she was hearing. This young freshman had been the one that had started all these rumors about her and her husband. How could she even stay at this table with her now?
“Yes, I quite agree with you, Becki. Keep up the good work and we will be finished with these Christians before you now it.” With that, the stranger disappeared.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Williams. I should have never agreed to meet with you. I am very sorry. It just seems every time I try to do something right everything blows up. I’m sorry we cannot meet again.” With that, Becki left the coffee shop and Ruth sat there terribly confused.
From far underground: “Whew, that was a close one wasn’t it?” remarked one of the demons sent to the coffee shop.
“I am not so sure the Fallen One will agree with your report. Knowing the Williams’ history should have been enough for you to keep Becki Wilson as far away from them as possible. You know how much damage those two have done over the years. We have lost many who would have been great deceivers for us because of them,” Old Slew Foot countered.