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She sat next to me in the waiting room, eyes wide, in awe of… something. I situated my body so that I was turned towards the wall. I didn’t want to talk to her- or anybody for that matter.
We were in the doctor’s office. I was here again for the hundredth time this week, picking up results from previous tests.
I was dying. Cancer. There was nothing that could be done to save my life, just slow death down a little. I could feel death drawing closer, as if waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
Fear coursed through my body. I didn’t want to die! Not like this. No one would remember me. I was a nobody. My life was insignificant. My death would make it worthless. No amount of comforting care and speeches made could ever calm the terror welling up inside my chest, expanding to the brink of explosion, a little bigger every day.
A small sigh escaped my lips, then my eyes darted around the room, making sure nobody had noticed. The girl was still seated next to me, eyes glued to my face, yet lost in thought.
“Did you hear?” she blurted out, catching me off guard.
I didn’t answer. Instead, I ignored her and gazed at the floor, suddenly becoming extremely interested in the pattern of the carpet.
“Did you hear about that guy in the Middle East?” The girl again attempted to lure me into conversation. Why should I care what happened to some guy in the Middle East? I had too much to mourn about here to worry about worldwide problems.
“Crazy stuff, right? That was barbaric what they did to him. I looked it up and there are over sixty books written about him!”
This sparked my interest. The only way I was ever able to forget about my present troubles was to lose myself in a good novel. I racked my brain for books about a guy in the Middle East, but nothing came to mind. I couldn’t think of any on what she was describing.
Slowly I turned my head to look at her. “No. I didn’t hear about it. What happened to him?”
“He was killed.” She was obviously pleased at my attention.
“Nothing. He did absolutely nothing wrong. The man was perfect.”
At this I scoffed. “I’ve never met a perfect man. He must’ve done something to be killed. “
“They hated him.”
“Some religious group. He was preaching things that were supposedly contrary to their beliefs. But it was perfectly legal. They had no right to execute him!”
I rolled my eyes, oblivious to the stereotype ignorantly fell for. ”Religious groups are always crazy. Never know what they’ll do next.”
The girl smiled and nodded, but not exactly in agreement. It seemed more like she understood it far better than I could imagine.
“What kinds of things was he saying?” I asked.
“Well, plenty of things. But his main statement that had them in an uproar was that he was the Son of their God.”
“Why would he say such a thing if he knew they would kill him?” I was amazed at the stupidity.
“Because he believed it.”
“Surely he must’ve been lying to gain something.”
She shook her head. “There was absolutely nothing to gain. For himself, at least. “
I smirked. “I knew it. He lied to help out some friends of his, I suppose.”
“More than friends. His followers. He called them the ‘children of God’.”
I was never into spiritual things, but this strange story had me intrigued. I wanted to hear more. “What did they gain from his death?”
At this, she glanced around the room and leaned in closer. In a whisper, she answered, “Eternal life.”
My head snapped back, annoyed. I was shocked to look down and see I had gotten chills. Why was she telling me this story again? A flash of anger crossed my face.
“You mean, now they live forever.” I stated sarcastically.
“That’s what they claimed.”
I shook my head in disbelief and once again turned away from the girl, staring at the floor, tracing the carpet with my shoe. After a moment or two of awkward silence, the girl continued, “Want to know the irony of it all?”
I decided to humor her. I lifted my gaze to match hers and waited for her to speak.
“The ones who killed him actually had prophecies written about him. They knew he would be coming, but didn’t see him even as he stood before their very eyes.
My eyebrows raised. “Prophecies?”
She nodded solemnly and pulled a small, mysterious black book from her bag.
“What’s that?” I asked, suspicious.
“It contains the books of that religious group. And their prophecies.”
“What do they say?” For a reason unknown to myself, my heart was pounding wildly. I was frightened.
“I see him, but not now.” She stared deep into my eyes. “I behold him, but not near; a star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth.?”
Moab… Sheth? How long ago was this? I couldn’t help but wonder.
Again she spoke, “’Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’?”
“So he was a king?” I asked. “And they still killed him?”
“No, they expected a king. This is why they didn’t recognize this humble carpenter’s son to be their Savior.”
“I thought you said he was the Son of God.”
“Well, the carpenter, Joseph, wasn’t really his dad. More, his adopted father.”
“Then how was he born?” I was determined to shoot down this belief, even though this was the first time I had ever heard of it.
“Another prophecy.” She had an answer for everything. She quoted, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.?”
“His name was Immanuel?”
“One of his many names. ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’? He is most commonly known as: Jesus.”
“If it is written in their books as clear as he told them, why didn’t they believe him?”
A sad smile covered her lips. “This also was prophesied.”
“Someone predicted their rejection too? Where?”
She opened the black book and handed it to me, saying, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.?”
She said these things as though they were in her heart as well as the book. She believed it.
Suddenly I felt sick.
“Go away,” I whispered.
“Don’t you want to hear how my story ends?” The girl saw into my heart.
I said nothing.
“Spat on, beaten called the most horrible names they stuck thorn branches into his head and whipped him brutally.”
I began to tremble. She took no notice.
“His friends had all left him. He was all alone. They cut out a cross of wood, shaped like this.” She held up her arms perpendicular to the other, intersecting just above the center. “It stood twice as tall as any man. You can imagine how heavy it was. There was a hill, called the Place of the Skull. They set the cross upon his back and forced him to carry it up this hill. He could not, his body was too weak. A sympathetic man in the crowd volunteered to bear it for him.
“Upon arriving at the Place of the Skull, they threw the cross down and roughly pinned him on top of it. Taking a hammer and a huge nail, they drove it through the palm of his right hand, cutting through skin, bone, muscle, and nerve into that wooden cross. Then they did his left, and his feet together.”
She continued without batting an eye, “Taunting him, someone wrote ‘King’ at the top of his cross. They steadied the cross upright and set it into the ground. There he hung. Humiliated, tortured beyond compare.”
Tears were streaming down my face now. Something inside was telling me that this was all my fault.
“That wasn’t the worst part. What he had been dreading all his life was still to come. God, his own Father, turned away from him. Hid his face, showed no mercy. No help. Jesus died.”
I could only force on word from my constricted throat, “Why?”
She looked at me, noticing my discomfort for the first time. Her eyes softened. “For you, Valerie.”
I stared at her blankly. How does she know my name?
“I’m not done with the story. Three days later, he came back to life, appearing to many of his followers. They asked the same question. He died, and rose again, so that his Father would forgive them, forgive you, of all sins. And spend eternity with Him in heaven. Eternal life. For you.”
Life? I was sitting here, ready to walk into that doctor’s office, and be told that I was going to die. But now, I’m being offered life? How can this be?
I spoke suddenly, surprising myself, “I want it! I want this life!”
She smiled, pleased. “It was already yours. I came here to make you realize it.”
“Where did you come from? Who sent you?”
The girl did not answer but the smile never left her face. She stood up to leave. As she opened the door, I shouted, “Wait! What is your name?” I realized this girl just opened my eyes to the most important thing that ever happened. I couldn’t just let her walk away.
“I have many names,” she replied. “But you may call me Friend.”
With that, she was gone. I ran to the door and looked out, but she had disappeared. I sadly turned back to my seat. Looking down, I noticed I was still holding the little black book. I turned it over in my hands, examining the cover. The words Holy Bible were inscribed in gold on the front.
I clenched it tightly, resolving to never let go of this precious book that contained words of truth.
“Valerie Claymore.” A nurse read my name from the clipboard in her hands.
I followed her back into a sterile room of blinding whiteness where the doctor would reveal the test results. He was waiting for me, a somber look on his face.
“I’m sorry Miss Claymore. But I’m here to tell you… there’s nothing more we can do. Death is imminent.”
I simply smiled at him, replicating the expression of the girl. Then I looked out the window to the sky.
“It’s too late for me, doc. I’m already saved.”
? -Numbers 24:17; ?-Jeremiah 23:5-6; ?-Isaiah 7:14; ?-Isaiah 9:6; ?-Isaiah 53:3