Chapter Fifteen: Thankfulness
A quarter of an hour later found Jeffrey outside the cabin. Archie stood across from him.
“Jeffrey, I’m sorry, too, for the loss of Keegan. He was a friend to us all.”
“Yes, sir, I know.”
“At ease, Jeffrey.” Archie commanded. “I hate seeing a boy who has suffered so much death stand so stiffly that it seems as if nothing can heal that hurt.”
“Mr. Archie, sometimes I wonder,” he paused, “if there is anything that can heal my heart.”
Archie stood and walked to Jeffrey’s side. “Jeffrey, have you forgotten the love the Creator demonstrates toward His followers?”
Jeffrey sighed. “I try not to, Mr. Archie.”
“Don’t let go of His love, it is the greatest healing power on this earth.”
A sob escaped the boy’s lips. “Don’t you ever wonder…” he trailed off, tears rolling down his cheeks. “Don’t you ever wonder if that if He really loved us, He’d free us from this curse of life in Edaled? Daron grows ever stronger, Mr. Archie!”
Archie lowered his eyes, and then wrapped Jeffrey in his arms. “Yes, I do wonder that sometimes,” he admitted. “And then I remember that it’s for His glory. And there’s more, Jeffrey, that keeps me holding on to life.”
“And what is that?”
“That nothing can separate us from the Creator’s love.”
“Aye,” Jeffrey said quietly. Then he let his head drop onto Archie’s shoulder. The tears fell freely, and closing his eyes, the man held the boy’s shaking body close to him. Archie’s mind took him back to the night around the fire he had watched this same boy hold out so much strength and courage when his father and mother died. He learned so much from Keegan, he was like a second father to the lad! Dear Lord, why did you have to take that away from him?
Archie, my child, will you not learn? My ways are not what you as a man would make them out to be.
When Jeffrey’s sobs ebbed, Archie let him go. “Is there anything else?” He asked, searching the young man’s eyes.
Jeffrey shook his head. “That is all, Mr. Archie.”
After talking with Archie, all Jeffrey wanted to do was see Kianna. He knew his days with her might be running out. The doctor was coming out of the cabin as Jeffrey approached.
“Can I see her?” He asked.
The doctor nodded.
“How is she?”
“I don’t know. If she keeps resting, she might get better. Might. She’s very weak.”
“She’s not getting better?”
“Her rest is troubled.”
“Is she scared?”
Jeffrey nodded. “Thank you.” He entered their cabin,
“Jeffrey,” Kianna whispered.
Jeffrey smiled. “How are you?”
She gave him a weak smile.
“I told you you needed rest.”
“I know. But it’s gotten worse since I rested.”
“Why didn’t you rest earlier?”
“I didn’t want you to worry.”
Jeffrey looked at his hands. “Now I’m worrying even more.”
“You’ll get better.”
“Jeffy…” Kianna said gently, and then shook her head. She took a shaky breath, and then began coughing.
Jeffrey helped her sit up, and kept holding her even when she relaxed.
“I’m getting weaker. More coughing… but if I die, I’m going home, Jeffrey. Home.”
“How can you be so joyful?” He whispered.
“The Creator’s going to be there. And finally a place to rest, and be safe.” She paused and coughed. “Don’t worry about me.”
“I can’t help it, Kianna. You’re my sister… the person I love most in Edaled… my best friend…”
“You won’t have to worry about me any more. I’ll be safer than you.”
Jeffrey sighed. “You’re braver than I am, little sister.” Kianna smiled at the nickname. He had called her that since the day his feet got longer than hers.
“We both have the same strength on our side.”
Jeffrey sat quietly by her side, staring at his hands. “Are you scared?”
“A little. I don’t want it to hurt.”
Blinking back tears, Jeffrey reached out and held her hand. “I’m here, don’t worry.”
Kianna drew in a shaky breath, and then the tears came. She managed a few words in between coughs and sobs. “I don’t want to leave you, Jeffrey… I do want to be with the Creator, but I don’t want you to miss me.”
Just like dearest Kianna… always thinking of others first. “It won’t be long until I come, Kianna.” He moved closer so he could give her a hug.
She fell asleep there, and Jeffrey gently lay her back down in the hammock. He stayed by her side all night. From time to time Kianna would wake up coughing, and he would hold her hand until she drifted back to sleep. Finally, he slumber overtook him, too.
The first rays of dawn were on the horizon when both of them woke, Kianna coughing harder than ever before. Jeffrey shook his head as he held her hand. No, no, no…
“Jeffrey,” she whispered faintly.
“Don’t talk, Kianna.”
She shook her head. “No. I… I love you…”
Jeffrey’s chin quivered, and he let his forehead fall onto her hand. Through his tears, Jeffrey prayed harder than he ever imagined he could pray. His mind drifted to a passage of the Word Archie had read only days before.
“Likewise He helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but He Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of Adan, because the He intercedes for His followers according to the will of God.”
Jeffrey clung to the knowledge of Adan interceding for Him, with groanings deeper than words. Groanings even deeper than the words with which he now cried out to the Creator. He could not stop praying, though hours passed by. Never was there anything that he had prayed for for so long or with such fervor.
Oh God… give her life! Please, giver her life…
After getting permission from the captain, Archie quietly climbed the rigging. This was the first time that Keegan was not waiting for him, nor would his friend join him for conversation and prayer later. This time, Archie was alone. He was glad no one was with him, for it encouraged him to voice his cries more openly to the Creator. Caithlin’s death he was able to take. Timothy’s, also. But somehow, Keegan’s departure hit him harder, even though he was more aware of the joy that Keegan was now experiencing before the throne of the Creator.
Still, did you have to take him? Archie asked silently. We need him!
“Not as much as you think. There are many being raised up in his place, leaders who will stand on his shoulders. But place not your trust in men, but remember in whom these great men trust.”
Archie lowered his eyes at this rebuke. He had placed too much trust in the wisdom of Keegan. Forgive me, Creator. He leaned back into the ropes. I have so much to learn! It seemed that every day the Creator taught him a lesson, brought some sin to his attention, or showed him a way that he could glorify the Creator more.
He looked at the deck far below him. Liam was crossing it, heading for their cabin after the midday meal. He had been quieter since Kianna had become sick. After Keegan’s death, he had barely spoken a word, and didn’t mind being cooped up in the cabin. Was it all a mistake? Archie wondered. Should we have stayed on Tilkah? But they had seemed so sure of their decision at the time! Keegan’s death… Kianna’s sickness… is it a sign to turn back? Or is it a sign of trials ahead that we will face? Is it wise for me to continue with the children? Can I handle teaching them in a place like Sealyn?
There were so many questions; it was overwhelming. But in the midst of them, there was peace.
“Wait and see. There are blessings at the end of trials. You have yet to see the blessings.”
But what blessing can be found in Sealyn?
“Have you so soon forgotten? Do not place your trust in man, but in Me!”
Archie nodded, but his heart still cried out to place its trust in man. A battle for his trust ensued, Daron on the one side, beckoning Archie to put confidence in man, and the Creator on the other, reminding Archie of His character and great acts of the past.
I want to trust You! Archie realized. But… I’m scared to trust you, because I’m scared of what might happen. I’m afraid that if I trust you, Kianna will die. And then Jeffrey would be inconsolable.
“You speak as if Kianna’s death would be a terrible thing. She would be home with me, away from her suffering, away from the sin she so much desires to conquer.”
But she is so fruitful in her ministry here! She brings much glory to your name!
“Wait and see. My plans are perfect, but all of them have yet to be accomplished. You trusted me when you resigned in Rakeyna, when you left Ladylan, and when you left the islands. Have I failed you?”
Not once. Archie relaxed as he remembered the many times he had feared before. Every time, the Creator showed His great and perfect plan.
“All right, God,” he whispered at last. “I surrender.”
Jeffrey didn’t stop praying for almost an hour. When he did, he realized he had not heard Kianna cough for a long while. At first, he was afraid. Even in her sleep, Kianna had been coughing. There could only be one reason she was silent. Without lifting his head, he moved his hand to feel her wrist. For a brief moment, there was nothing. But then he felt her pulse, as strong as ever. He looked up. Kianna’s chest rose and fell steadily as she breathed. She still looked frail and weak, but was no longer pale.
Thank you, God! Jeffrey felt like laughing, crying, singing, even dancing all at once. Oh, thank You that You hear our prayers! He stood quietly and left the room so he wouldn’t wake Kianna in his joy. Liam was right outside the door of the cabin, and he, too, was praying. He jumped to his feet as Jeffrey came out.
Jeffrey beamed. “God has heard our prayers and has answered them according to His will,” he said. “Kianna’s getting better.”
“Huzzah!” Liam shouted, jumping high in the air. “Mr. Archie’s in the rigging. Let’s go tell him.” Liam was already on his way up to the deck before he finished his sentence, and Jeffrey was right behind him.
“Mr. Archie, Mr. Archie, Mr. Archie!” Liam yelled up to Archie.
“Hold on, lad,” Archie replied. He descended as fast as he could, but it was not fast enough for Liam, who bounced impatiently on the deck. Beside him, Jeffrey had such a grin plastered on his face that Archie thought he had gone crazy.
“What is it?” asked Archie as soon as his feet landed on the deck.
“Kianna,” the boys said at the same time. Then they stopped, intending to let the other speak. “She-“ They said, again simultaneously.
“She’s going to be alright,” Jeffrey said.
Archie fell to his knees. “Oh, thank You, Creator! Your mercies are new every morning! Great is Your faithfulness!”
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail,” Jeffrey whispered, remembering the passage that Archie was reciting.
Then Liam’s impatience got the better of him. “Can I go see her?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t talked to the doctor yet. She’s sleeping now, anyway. It’s best not to wake her, this is the first sleep she’s gotten in who knows how long. At first… at first, I thought she was dead. But she was breathing. And she’s so peaceful.”
“We have much to praise the Creator for, aye?” Archie asked.
“Aye.” Said the boys in unison, both more grateful for the gift of life than ever before.
“I am so thankful that He chose not to take her. I know He very well could have if He had desired to. I just wish…” Jeffrey trailed off.
“Wish what?” Liam prompted.
“Wish that He had not taken Mr. Keegan.”
“We can’t see why yet, Jeffrey, but we know from His promises that the Creator works everything for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. His purpose is to bring Himself glory. We can’t yet see how He’s going to do that, but one day we will see, and it will lead us to worship Him.”
“Aye. I know that… I know it in my head. But it’s simply knowledge right now, not wisdom and not action.”
“It will become so one day, Jeffrey. The Creator is not done with us yet.”
That evening found a happy trio reunited in the cabin. Kianna sat in bed, propped up by pillows. Liam sat at her feet, and Jeffrey by her side on a chair. Earlier that day, the doctor had, at Jeffrey’s request, thoroughly examined Kianna again, and declared that she was well on her way to being healed. He thought that within a week – the time they were due to reach Sealyn – she would be as well as ever. However, the doctor did privately warn Archie to keep her out of the rain and cold weather as much as possible.
“She was near death’s door,” the doctor told him. “I had given up hope for her… she was unable to rest properly because of her cough, and so was growing weaker and weaker, which made it harder for her body to heal. I know it was nothing I did that gave her her strength back. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“Neither have we, though we have heard many instances of it happening before. We know that her health is a gift from the Creator, and we thank Him for it.”
Now Archie looked on with much thanksgiving in his heart as he watched the siblings talk and laugh at Kianna’s bedside.
“So the second day that you were in bed,” Liam was saying. He told stories with such vigor that even the most boring story was made exciting. “I walked into the galley to get some herbs the doctor had asked for, and I couldn’t see the cook over the pile of dishes that was there! It was as high as I was – on the table, of course – and I couldn’t see any bit of the tabletop. I knew the cook was behind it, washing dishes, because I could hear him, so I walked up to the table and told him what I needed. Then his head poked out above the dishes and he stared down at me. He asked me to repeat it – you know how he says it – ‘Ehhhh… whassat, laddie?’” Liam mimicked the characteristic face the cook made. The cook was partially deaf, so he had to ask things to be repeated frequently, and did so each time by saying, “Eh, whassat?” and tipping his head to the side, squinting with his eyes, and wrinkling up his nose. Kianna almost fell over laughing at Liam’s imitation.
“So I’m standing there, and suddenly I forgot what the doctor wanted me to get. “‘Herbs… something or other, for Kianna.’
“He squinted at me. ‘Kianna, hey? Where’s she been?’
“‘She’s sick,’ said I.
“‘We need her back in here real bad,’ he said, motioning to the pile of dishes… but he didn’t stop moving, so WHAM!” Liam demonstrated the falling dishes, first pretending to smack them with his hand, then falling flat onto the bed. “I helped him clean up. He wouldn’t stop talking about you the whole time, Kianna. It was ‘And she this and she that…’ until the dishes were all picked up. Then he sat down, complaining about his ‘old, creaky back,’ and scratched at his beard for a few minutes.
“ ‘Sir,’ I said. ‘I need some herbs the doctor asked you about earlier.’
“ ‘Ehhhh… whassat, laddie?’ He asked again.
“ ‘Herbs. For. The. Doctor.’ I said slowly.
“ ‘The doctor didn’t send no herbs.’
“I was about to give up when he seemed to get it. ‘Ah, the herbs for the doctor.’ He reached into the pocked of his apron. First, he pulled out a pair of scissors, which were covered in food and looked like they had been in that pocket for some time. Then out came a letter, which he skimmed before returning it to his pocket. He rummaged around in there for a few more seconds, and then pulled out a packet. ‘All dried like the doctor asked,’ he said. ‘Took a good lot of space out of my ceiling for nigh on two weeks.’” Liam said all this with great action and characterization. One of his favorite – and probably the most rambunctious – pastimes was imitating people’s foibles. It started when he was young and trying to irritate Kianna or Jeffrey, but soon he learned that annoying them only got him a spanking, while they learned that he had a knack for acting and sounding exactly like people if he so desired.
The next week passed quickly for the siblings. They spent most of their time together in the cabin, and as the week ended, the doctor allowed them to take Kianna up onto the deck. Kianna ate voraciously all week, gaining back her strength. On deck, she soaked up sunshine and the fresh sea air. When a seaman walked by their cabin, he most likely would have heard laughter or singing, and when they were on deck, he would have heard the siblings teaching each other things they had learned in life or from their readings.
On the day they sailed into Sealyn, the three stood on the deck with Archie. Anyone who knew them well would have been able to guess immediately what they were doing.
“We ask, Creator, that you bless our work in Sealyn. Grant us Your protection as we labor in a place filled with Daron’s traps. Give us the strength we need each day, guide us as we follow Your Word. Help us to be gracious with the people we meet. I pray that we would show Your love to those who have yet to see it, and encourage those who already have. Thank you for the good works you have already laid out in advance for us to do, help us to fulfill them to Your greatest glory. Keep us from pride and self-ambition. Let your glory be our only banner. We ask that you do all this, for in Your name we pray.”
As they finished praying, the dockworkers were tying down the moorings. Archie looked at the children. “Ready?”
Kianna nodded quietly, while Jeffrey and Liam replied with zest. “Aye!”
“Introduce me to the man who’s always near, Elspeth,” James said. He and Elspeth had finished studying a portion of the Law together. “I know he’s around frequently; I see him from time to time. And I see you with him through the window when you come visit. He protects you well, does he not?”
“Aye, papa. His name is Ben. And he wants to meet you, too.” Elspeth stood and ran to where she knew Ben listened. “Come on.”
He followed her willingly and sat down on the floor next to her when they arrived back at the cell.
“Papa, this is Ben.”
“I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?” James wondered, searching his memory and trying to place the familiar face.
Ben lowered his eyes. “Aye. Before anything else, I need to ask your forgiveness. I was there at the meeting the last time you went. I scared Elspeth, I’m sure she told you of it.”
“Ahhh. So that was you.”
“Aye. And then… I led the soldiers that came to your house to arrest you.”
“You held Elspeth back when she would not let me go.”
“Aye… thank you. You kept her out of trouble.”
“I cannot be thanked for it; it was my intent to harm you.”
“But the Creator had planned it for good. Look at us here.” James spread his hands wide. “Not one of us is harmed.”
“And no harm will ever befall anyone without the Creator letting it.”
“Tell me more of this Creator. What I hear of Him sounds familiar… like a tale from long ago – a faint memory.”
James looked steadily at Ben. “Perhaps they did. Many were told of Him, yet forsook Him for the lies of Daron.”
“Now that name I know.”
Sighing, James replied, “That is the name everyone knows. Would that the name of the Creator was so widely known.”
Elspeth reached out and took hold of her father’s hand. “One day it will be, Papa.”
He nodded “And long ago it was known. Do you know of that day, Ben?”
“Find it in the Law, Elspeth. Read it to him.”
Opening the Law, Elspeth read the story of creation to Ben. She loved the way everything was called good, but was not complete until man was created. She loved remembering her father explaining why man needed a helper, and how she as his daughter could help him until she married and aided another man. Fondly she remembered James pointing out the kingdoms on a map and helping her learn the rulers of each kingdom. Then she read about the rules the Creator set up. Here she stopped.
“Do you want me to keep going, papa?”
James nodded soberly. “Aye. The story of creation is finished, but the tale of the Creator has barely begun.”
Tears rolled down Elspeth’s cheeks as she read of Nathan’s disobedience. She trembled at knowing how near Daron was as she spoke of Nathan allowing the dragon into his kingdom. She thought of the way that her mother had died long ago as she read about death coming into the world. Her heart rejoiced as she remembered the promise the Creator had made to provide a way for men to come back to Him.
“But although he will bruise the heel of the son of man, I will crush his head,” Elspeth read. She cherished those words, as she cherished the knowledge of Adan’s death and the freedom it brought her.
She closed the Law and wiped away her tears.
“Has the promise come?” Ben asked.
“Aye. His name was Adan. Unlike men, He never fell into the traps of Daron. He was tempted to in the same ways that we are, but never sinned. He died in place of a young man one day. But his death didn’t just atone for that one man. Adan took the wrath of the Creator for all of our sin. Before, death meant separation from the Creator – life with Daron – forever. Now, it means that death is gain – because we will be with the Creator forever.”
“Read more, Elspeth.” Ben said.
“Read him some from the Word.” Recently Jonathan and Timothy had come through their city, distributing copies of the Word and Law. They had given one to Elspeth, and she and James cherished it.
Elspeth opened a second book and leafed through it. “For the wrath of the Creator is revealed against all the sin of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the Truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because He has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew the Creator, they did not honor Him as Lord or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal Creator for images resembling mortal man, birds, and animals and creeping things.
“Therefore He gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the Truth for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, He gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know the Creator’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also give approval to those who practice them.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law: the righteousness of the Creator through faith in Adan for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of His glory, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Adan.” Elspeth stopped reading. “That’s more about the Creator, Ben. About who He is, and what He has done.”
Ben nodded, but said nothing for a time. Then he shook his head. “I’m not ready for it yet.”
“We will pray that someday you will be ready.” James glanced at the window. “Elspeth, it’s getting late.”
She stood and gathered the books, but then knelt down by James. “I love you, papa.”
“I love you, too, precious Elspeth. Pray much for Ben this night.”
“I will see you tomorrow.”
Elspeth left, and Ben followed her to the gate, not saying a word. There they said a quick farewell and Elspeth walked home with Ardal. They arrived home in time for dinner, where Elspeth shared the events of her afternoon with the family.
“Ben – the guard at the gaol who’s walked me home before – joined us today. After a while, I mean. Papa and I spent time praying and talking, just the two of us, and then I introduced Ben to papa. He wanted to sit in and listen. We read him the creation account, and then about Nathan’s disobedience. Papa explained about Adan, then, and I read the passage from the Word where it says ‘for we have all sinned and fall short of His glory.’ Papa reminded me to pray for him. I don’t know, but I think that Ben may have gone back to talk to papa after I left. He went back that direction. He’s so close… but says he’s not ready yet.”
“Well, we shall definitely pray for him tonight,” Brock said. “And for your papa. How is he?”
“He is strong because of the Creator. But I know how hard it is for him to be in the gaol. He wants to be busy about his ministry in the town, and be able to walk with me and hug me and fellowship with other followers of the Creator.”
“The two of you have quite a ministry in the gaol, I must say,” Cara encouraged. “Already Ben has seen the Creator in you. If Ben comes to the Creator, he, too, will be an example to many.”
“Thank you, Aunt Cara. I never doubt that the Creator is at work, but it’s hard to see His hand sometimes.”
That night, the family gathered in the front room as Brock read from the Word. Then they recited a passage from the Law they were memorizing together. After singing, they bowed their heads in prayer. Most nights they spent much time praying for James, and tonight they spent just as long pleading with the Creator for Ben’s salvation.
Meanwhile, Ben sat opposite James at the gaol. The two were deep in conversation about the Creator, and had been for many hours.
He is so close! James often thought. But many who are close have fallen away before. Draw Him to Yourself, Creator! As they talked, James was ever seeking wisdom from the Creator. Ben had few questions, and when he did ask something, it was usually the same thing: “Is there more?” Each time, James searched his mind for more knowledge of the Creator. Finally, he threw up his hands, saying,
“That is all that my finite mind can grasp of the Creator at this point. He is ever revealing more of Himself to me, and to all of His followers. He is so great that all that I have said is not even a scratch in His character. It is the pursuit of my life to bring Him glory and to become like Him by studying His character and conforming my life to it.”
“That sounds like a worthy cause to spend your life pursuing… but I don’t know if it’s for me.”
“What holds you back?”
“My life. I serve Daron right now. I don’t only mean that I fall into his traps frequently and willingly. Look at where I am. To follow the Creator would mean abandoning all that I’ve worked at here.”
“Is He not worth it?”
“I don’t know Him like you do, James. I can’t answer that.”
“Seek Him, Ben, and He will draw near to you. Read with Elspeth and me, and learn about Him. Begin to shape your life around Him, and your desires for other things will fall away.”
“If I begin to seek Him, I don’t know if I will live to change my life.”
“None of us knows how long we will live. Repent now, accept Adan’s sacrifice now – there may not be a later.”
“I want to, but I’m afraid.”
“That fear is from Daron, Ben. It’s him trying to keep you from following the Creator.”
“Then I will, I will!” He began to tremble. “I want to be free from Daron! I am tired of always doing his bidding… I want a new Master!”
“Then praise the Creator, the true Master of man, and the Creator of man… the ultimate Love of man!” James whispered. He could only murmur it, for he was in such great awe of the Creator. The work of grace He had begun in the heart of Ben was nothing of James’s doing, and the man knew that. Only You can change the heart of a sinner and make it desire You. Only You can show Yourself to be worth more than life, more than ambition, more than status. Thank you!
Ben stood quickly. “I must go.”
“They will find out otherwise.”
“You must tell them – or show them – at some point, Ben. It will become evident if you have truly been redeemed. There will be nothing you can do to hide it. And you must tell them, it was Adan’s command to tell others.”
“It’s not time for that yet. I will come back tomorrow.” Ben said, and then he was gone.
True to his word, Ben did come back the next day, and he was there before Elspeth, who arrived after the midday meal. She joined the two men, sitting down on her stool and reaching in through the bars to hold James’s hand.
“We prayed long and hard last night, papa.”
“Thank you, Elspeth. I knew you would. The Creator is good in His infinite wisdom, and He has heard our prayers.”
“And He has already acted,” said Ben.
Elspeth’s gaze moved from her father to the guard. “Has He?”
“Aye. Though I have not the courage to proclaim it yet, I have decided to follow the Creator.”
Elspeth smiled. “He is so good.”
“We were talking about courage, Elspeth.” James explained. “And discretion. There’s a boundary between fulfilling the command of Adan to tell everyone and being reckless. I was telling Ben to let the Creator shape his life, and for now, let that be his witness. There will come a time when we should verbally express our convictions, but let that be at a different time. Don’t throw yourself into the arms of death, but don’t recoil from death, either. Be always prepared to die, and die well, for the world must know that when we die, we go not to a dark place, but to the loving arms of the Creator.”
Weeks went by. Each day Elspeth continued to meet with her father, but Ben no longer joined them. His superiors made sure that he was always on duty when Elspeth came, and forbade him to be in near the prisoners. Ardal begged permission to accompany Elspeth as far as the building where James’s cell was, and the guard at the gate agreed. He muttered something about Ben under his breath, but Ardal hurried Elspeth away before she could ask anything.
The father and daughter prayed for Ben daily, but knew not what was happening with their friend. One day Ben stopped Elspeth in the market place.
Elspeth whirled around. “Ben?”
He nodded. “Aye, it’s me. I want to tell you…”
“How are you?” She interrupted.
“Listen, I can’t talk for long.” He glanced around himself furtively. “They know, and they’re doing everything they can to make me turn back to the ways of Daron.”
“Papa and I pray for you every day.”
“That’s what I need to talk to you about.”
“They’re not going to…” Elspeth asked worriedly.
“Your father is being transferred to… somewhere else. I don’t know where, and no one will tell me.”
“No… no…” She started to run, but Ben stopped her.
“It doesn’t mean they’ll execute him. If anything it means they won’t.”
“Because they put people they forget about in other places.”
“But I won’t be able to see him anymore, will I?”
“I’m afraid not.”
“Well… thank you, Ben.”
Ben nodded. “And…”
“Pray for me – you and your uncle’s family – pray often. I shall need it.”
“Why?” Elspeth asked.
But Ben shook his head, put a finger to his lips, and left, leaving Elspeth confused and sorrowful.
Oh Creator, what is going on?
Chapter Fifteen: Thankfulness