Saturday, March 10, 2012

No . . . and Yes

      Janie put her foot down — Greg gave in. It had gotten to be a long-standing pattern. Now it would be different. Things had changed, and time was running out for Greg Anderson’s dream.
      The first time was still etched in his mind.
      “Sweetheart, I just couldn’t wait until your birthday. I want you to have this.” Greg grinned as he put the small box in Janie’s hand.
      The small diamond sparkled against the blue velvet, just as a sudden tear sparkled in Janie’s blue eyes.
      “Oh, Greg. No. I can’t take this engagement ring. Not unless you promise you won’t go into law enforcement. I’d always worry myself sick.”
      For a long moment Greg embraced Janie wordlessly. Then she handed him the box and smiled, “You are so talented. I’m sure you will be a success at just about anything.”

      Janie had her way, and Greg decided his childhood desire was probably just a young boy’s dream. Two months later they were both on their way upstate to NAU, Janie on scholarship for gymnastics and Greg earning his way as bus boy at his Uncle Don’s café on the outskirts of the city.
      Five years later Janie and Greg sat on the deck of the small house next to the café. After a busy day of work it was a favorite retreat, sitting in the darkness and watching an occasional car pass on the country road. “Sweetheart, for our anniversary I picked out this pair of diamond earrings for you. Wish they were bigger, but ….”
      “Now you hush, Greg. They are just perfect and I love them. But I just can’t see splurging on myself when we really must buy that lot next door. I have my heart set on us putting up two nice cabins to get a start on the bed and breakfast business.”
      Greg had to admit that things were going well in his career. Uncle Don had generously given him plenty of work during his college years and saw to it that Greg learned the business. Thankfully, Greg was able to take over when Uncle Don died of a heart attack. They were both surprised when his will made the property theirs. Eagerly they pitched in to make it a success.
      Swallowing his pride he took the earrings back. There’d be time, later, for doing what he wanted to do.
      By their tenth anniversary there were four small cabins on the wooded property and Janie managed a thriving bed and breakfast while Greg supervised the crew at the expanded café.
      “Sweetheart, I’d really like to take you on that honeymoon to Hawaii that we never had. Don’t say no. Don’t say anything yet. There’s going to be a special musical in town at the Lutheran Church. Tells about it here in the paper. Maybe that will put you in the mood for a trip.”
      The “Singing Hawaiians” were coming, and the congregation was holding a “luau” afterwards. The next few days it was the talk of the coffee regulars at the café, and Janie and Greg decided to go, even though they’d been too busy to make any commitment to attending church regularly.
      Janie, for all of her strong mind and determination had been unprepared for the strong tug on her heart when the invitation was given at the close of the musical program.
      As the sweet strains of “God Is So Good” were sung to the Hawaiian steel guitar she didn’t look at Greg, she just quietly made her way down the aisle to where the young Hawaiian couple stood. Janie gave her heart to Jesus.
      On the way home nothing was said, but after hours of a sleepless night Greg quietly slipped outside to the deck and sat under a starry sky to talk to God by himself. Then, having asked Jesus into his heart, he waved upwards and spoke aloud, “Thanks, Lord. Good night, for now. Talk to You in the morning.”
      The sun dawned on a day bright and clear as Janie and Greg dressed, excitedly exchanging their impressions of the decisions each had made. Janie rummaged through the bookcase in the spare bedroom and found a Bible someone had given them on their wedding day.
      The next four weeks found them both eagerly making up for lost time. The amiable pastor had visited with them, the Sunday School teacher welcomed them to class, and a couple of praise CDs were in the player in the bedroom, handy to listen to first thing in the morning. They had begun to pray together, and every day was new and exciting. Janie even conceded that a trip to Hawaii might be possible next summer.
      However, when the pastor preached on tithing it came as a shock. “Ten percent, wow! I don’t think we can do that yet. I mean, we’re really new in this. …..” Greg began.
      “I agree. It’s totally out of the question, but ….”
      “Oh, well. Why don’t we just try it out for a few weeks and see what happens. Pastor Peterson seemed to think anyone could manage, and God would show them.”
      “Trust and obey, I recall him saying,” Janie nodded.
      Despite some initial misgivings, it worked. There was enough money to pay the bills, and the Andersons were happier than ever.
      Everything was wonderful. How could he think of upsetting their new-found closeness? How dare he put their faith to the test? But, it had to be done, for sure. Time was running out.
      One night after turning out the bedside lamp Greg began a carefully rehearsed speech. “Janie, there’s something I’ve got to talk about.”
      “My, this sounds serious. What’s on your mind, honey?”
      “Remember the dream that the little boy had. The dream of being a policeman in a shiny patrol car with a big siren. Well, that little boy is nearly too old to apply. And …” he hurried on without giving her chance to interrupt, “we’re doing well, but my heart isn’t in the food service business.”
      “Greg. No. You’re probably just worn out and overdue for a vacation.”
      “Janie, when you said no to me the first time we were both just kids graduating from high school. Now we’re nearing 35. And we’re both Christians. Fear wouldn’t have to be part of it, now that we’ve got the Lord.”
      “You’re serious.” Janie took a deep breath, then went on, “let’s pray about it. I believe God will show you…and me….what’s the right thing to do.”
      A week later after lots of prayer and soul searching Janie agreed. “Go ahead, and look into it. If the door is closed, then it won’t be me that stood in your way this time.”
      In a whirlwind of activity the application was made, personal interviews completed and the paperwork finished. It was a beautiful, cloudless afternoon in September when the phone call came.            
      Later in the cool of the evening sitting together on the deck Janie and Greg savored the moment. “God said yes! He said yes! That means that it’s all falling into place. There’s nothing to be afraid of. God doesn’t sponsor junk.” They both laughed at Janie’s last remark.
      After being the boss in his own business Police Academy was a real shocker, but Greg made it through with flying colors. And no one was prouder than Janie when the badge was pinned on his uniform. Greg Anderson, badge 5035.
      “Trusting God …. Yes, I’m going to trust God. He will take care of you whether you’re flipping blueberry pancakes in the café or riding on the highway, defending us from 18 wheelers who are exceeding the speed limit,” Janie beamed as she snuggled into his arms.
      It was early March when the Andersons understood their miracle. Janie spread out on the kitchen table a stack of bank statements along with several folders of paid bills and receipts. As she organized the paper work to take to the CPA who did their tax returns she dutifully scanned the items.
      “Greg! Greg!”
      Looking up from his magazine Greg stared at her as she ran out onto the deck. “What ever?”
      “Honey, how can I ever doubt God again! Look at this, the first check when we started to tithe to the Lord’s work. Look at the check number,” she demanded.
      “Check number 5035. Yes, that’s the first one; yes, that’s the date. And, it worked, didn’t it? We manage just fine.”
      “Get it? 5035. Greg, what’s your badge number?”
      “Oh, I don’t believe this. Is this one of those God happenings, how the old timers at church refer to coincidences! That is my badge number!”
      “God has a way of getting our attention, that’s for sure. We are both definitely going to learn to trust Him all the way.”
      “Janie, have I ever told you how beautiful you look in blue, with those sparkly tears in those big blue eyes?”

by Elaine Hardt ©2000