Clips Of Bear Writings

Four Minutes
By Ruth Stromquist

Tedka studied the man quietly limping along beside him. The other guards, one walking behind the man, another on his other side, were also silent, the only sounds those of their boots and of dried leaves skittering along the ground in the icy January wind.

The man's frame was skeletal from the months on the work crew and starvation rations. His tattered, shredded prison clothes exposed many of the welts and cuts of the beatings.

Tedka could almost feel sorry for him, if he weren't one of those undermining the country he so loved. But this one had no loyalty. A writer whose books all had one target -- to convince people to pledge allegiance to his so-called "god" rather than to patriotically serve the brotherhood.

"But that's ended." Tedka hadn't intended to speak the words aloud, but once started, couldn't seem to stop. "In four minutes it'll be done. You still have time to repent, you know. The Premier could make use of your talents, properly directed."

The man looked at him, the area around one eye swollen as large as a fist, purplish and oozing -- Rinklu's fist, Tedka would bet, a good friend and family man, subject to bursts of righteous anger when it came to traitors.

"Repent?" The voice came out husky and choked, through cracked and bleeding lips. "Interesting word ... but how ... repent of truth?" he coughed..."You, my friend...are the one who needs"...he fought for breath..."My life's clock...set to eternity...not four minutes."

He was staggering now. "Your time...short."

The guard behind shoved his rifle hard into the man's back to keep him moving.

He stumbled.

Tedka's stomach churned. "Don't bother preaching at me, mister! I've heard it all before. We'll just see whose time is short, friend." Then he laughed. "That title of your last book, 'The pen is mightier than the sword'? Hah! No one uses swords nowadays." He waved his rifle toward the parade grounds ahead, where the death line stood. The guards were lined up in formation in front of the prisoners, waiting for this last one.

But the man fell to his knees, then sideways, crumpling to the earth. "You missed the"...another cough, and blood turned the collar of his filthy shirt pink, red dots splattering on pebbles near his cheek.

Tedka squatted, reaching towards him, shaken. It was against the law to let prisoners die early. It could mean death to the guards.

"...the point...You didn't read...Depends on whose pen..." the man gasped again, but choked on blood, then was still.

A week later, Tedka stood before the Premier's throne, facing the one who could end his life with a word. He looked around, stunned. His fellow guards stood at attention on his right and left.

They'd let the prisoner die. Just four minutes. They'd fallen short by only four lousy minutes! Tedka gritted his teeth, shoved icy hands deep into his pockets, clenching his fists. Years of service to his country. And this his reward? No one could be perfect. But the law was clear--

"It depends on whose pen."

Startled, Tedka whirled.

It couldn't be! The prisoner...still alive? But how...

The man's eyes were bright and clear. No blood. No welts. Clothes neat and clean.

"How? You can't..." Tedka stuttered.

The man was crying though, tears streaming steadily down his cheeks. "I tried to tell you, friend. It depends on Whose pen you're talking about. And Whose book..." He pointed up at the throne.

Tedka slowly turned to see...

It was no longer the Premier sitting there -- no longer his throne -- but a throne great and white...

And Tedka was surrounded by the dead, standing before God. And books were being opened. And the dead were being judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

And then another book was opened...the book of life...

And Tedka suddenly knew when his turn came, his life depended on being written in that book.

Words he'd heard in some church as a kid, rang in his mind, "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

With a start, he awoke, shivering, his army blankets scattered on the floor. He stared at the bottom of the bunk above him.

A dream...

But his upcoming hearing before the Premier was no dream.

...a Pen mightier than any sword...a Book...

Boots sounded in the courtyard, coming for him. About four minutes left...

or eternity...

Author's notes:

Revelation 20:11-15 (KJV) "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Copyright 2010 Ruth Stromquist (a.k.a. Bear of Bear's Writing Den at ) -- So long as the author's name and web address remain included, permission is given to freely share and distribute this piece.


Through Infirmity
By Ruth Stromquist

The kaleidoscopic effect of passing street lights, head lights, and brightly lit signs flashing through the windows of the bus played across her eyelids, feeding the dull ache at the back of her head. Leslie grit her teeth. Opening her eyes a crack, she caught a quick glimpse of a laughing group of college students sitting down on the bench opposite her before she clamped them tightly shut again. Her stomach churned with nausea.

Focus...She needed focus.

Twenty minutes still, before her stop.

Didn't the bus have an air conditioner? Her skirt and once-neatly-pressed blouse felt soggy with sweat, the air stale. The smell of perfume from the girl student seemed an inescapable cloud, cloyingly sweet. Leslie clamped the leather case from her office tighter between her feet as the bus made a turn.

Fifteen more minutes.

It seemed the bus was turning forever. She grabbed the nearby pole, startlingly cool and smooth under her fingers, and willed herself to ignore the dizziness. If she could just...focus... She sent up a silent plea...

Lord, help. Strengthen me, I pray, and get me home to bed. What a day! Just this last little bit. Please...

"Yeah, and then this dude tells me I've gotta re-do the whole thing! Says he's gonna gimme an F if I don't hit the lab again tonight, and 'do it right'. Felt like tellin' him where to shove that pointer he's always wavin' around in class. Ol' fool!"


Leslie's eyes flew open. The boy was shaking his fist, blowing across scratched knuckles, the aluminum side of his bench now dented in the middle. Baseball cap on backwards, tattered holes in the knees of baggy jeans, dirty grey tee shirt, a tattoo of a coiled snake riding on his bulging bicep...

Heart pounding, Leslie scanned the other two quickly. The girl looked safe enough -- neatly dressed -- although Leslie wondered how that yellow, strapless polyester top actually stayed up.

The other guy seemed okay too, wearing checked shirt, cotton shorts and sandals; fingers flying over his laptop keyboard a mile a minute. He glanced sideways at his buddy, grinning, his typing barely slowing down. "Better chill, man. You'll be doin' more than lab makeup in Bio, if that driver catches you clobberin' his bus. And I've gotta pull an all nighter -- two finals tomorrow -- no time to be watching your back, dude."

Leslie sucked in a shaky breath. Lord? Home?

Ten minutes.

Snake boy caught her glance and glared back. "Whatcha starin' at?"

Shrugging, hoping to look like she wouldn't even think of objecting to people dismantling buses with their fists, she found her hand closing around the cloth-covered Bible in her lap. She flipped it open at random and lowered her eyes, pretending to read, trying to ignore the dark spots and sparks of light dancing with the words across her vision.

Her nausea surged as the bus braked abruptly for a red light. She tried shoving the Bible lightly against her stomach, hoping to settle it down. The last thing she needed right now was to be reading. But she didn't dare drop the pretense. Home, Lord? SAFE. Ibuprofen. Cold damp cloth on eyes...Lord. I--

Suddenly, words seemed to leap out at her, actually registering...

"He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth..."

"Huh! Now that's interesting!" Realizing she'd actually spoken aloud, she felt like clapping her hand over her own mouth.

"What's interesting?" It was the girl, curious blue eyes peering out through thick black eyeliner.

Leslie shook her head. "Nothing. Just...nothing."

The boy at the laptop stopped typing, shoving hair out of his eyes. He raised an eyebrow.

Even the guy still shaking painful knuckles froze. "Nothin'? Whatdaya mean nothin'? Ya said 'interesting' didn't ya?"

Leslie closed her eyes again. You're kidding, Lord. Right? I'm in no condition to tell them about You. Need home, Lord. I..."

The bench-seat next to her shifted with the weight of snake boy landing at her side. He grabbed the Bible out of her lap. "Gimme that! What's so interesting, huh?"

So she told them...

And late into that night, as the bus took the second loop around its route, weaving its way through city lights and past dirty concrete curbs, the four became readers together.

Before the bus made its third loop, "snake boy" gave his life to the Lord.

And Leslie's headache was gone.

Author's notes:

Scripture taken from the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:29-35 (KJV) “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to [him], and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Copyright 2010 Ruth Stromquist (a.k.a. Bear of Bear's Writing Den at ) -- So long as the author's name and web address remain included, permission is given to freely share and distribute this piece.


Bear loves the accounts about those in the Bible who stood strong in their faith, against all odds, and wants to learn from them to be a better Cub for the Lord, and learn to speak more about Him in a world that discourages that ...

Shall we stand?
By Ruth Stromquist    

In Bible days and years of old,
When men of faith stood strong,
There was a king with crown of gold,
Whose Laws ruled "right" and "wrong".
In Government 'twas written: For a span of 30 days,
To the lion's den a man shall go, if to his God he prays.

"Shhh, now Daniel; Walk low key.
Don't give God thanks today!
Shut your curtains. Let no one see.
The Law you must obey."

But Daniel prayed with open drapes, and open windows too,
And soon was in the den of lions (a hungry looking crew).

Another king of olden day,
Made a statue all of gold;
And when men heard the music play,
They did worship and behold
The golden image the king had made, that stood nine stories tall;
For fire awaited every man who ignored the trumpet call.

"Oh, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego,
Shhh, now; serve his god.
Your Peers all bow down in a row.
The music they applaud."

When trumpets played, the three just stood, while all around bowed low;
Were thrown into a furnace, when they kept saying "no".

This next one's quite a different thing,
'Bout a donkey Balaam owned.
Balaam was his Boss -- his king.
Which poor donkey oft bemoaned.
Donkeys should obey, of course, and never speak a word;
And this donkey was a good one, the finest of the herd.

"Shhh, li'l donkey; walk straight ahead.
Ignore the angel of the Lord.
The Boss has kicking feet -- big staff;
Would kill you with a sword."

When the angel of the Lord appeared, that donkey bowed and spoke;
And Balaam beat him with his staff, so hard, it almost broke.

A giant is the next in line.
Goliath was his name.
The fear of him made Israel whine,
And David's Family did the same.
Though David said, "Let's take him on!", his brothers said, "Be still.
The youngest one should watch the sheep. Of you, we've had our fill."

"Shhh, now David. Your Family's right.
His spear weighs fifteen pounds.
It's sure that you will lose this fight.
He's conquered many towns."

But David faced him with a sling and loaded in one stone.
Goliath cursed and taunted, "Why boy, you're barely grown!"

In later days, a man named Paul
Was headed for a city;
Though he was warned by one and all,
"This won't at all be pretty!"
His Brothers In The Lord proclaimed, "In Jerusalem they'll bind you.
Stay safe with us. Don't you go. Three times we will remind you!"

"Shhh, now Paul. Do not preach THERE.
We weep as we demand it.
We're Brothers In The Lord. We care.
Don't preach, because they've banned it."

But at the Temple, he talked at length; said, "Jesus gave me life."
The soldiers came; crowds tried to kill (with riot and with strife).

Apostles in a prison cell.
An angel let them out.
The Sadducees then gave a yell
When God's Son they spoke about.
"OUR Religion makes it clear; this Name shall NOT be spoken.
You're causing us much trouble, by all the people you've awoken."

"Shhh, now Peter. Shhh, John too.
His Name you should not spread!
Religious Courts can kill you.
What good, twelve men, all dead?"

Though all were sorely beaten; though death seemed near at hand;
"It's God, not men, Whom we obey. As witnesses ... we stand."

Now, Daniel was not eaten.
The Three came out, un-charred.
That Donkey rose unbeaten.
Goliath fell down hard.
Paul went on for many years, preaching 'bout the Lord.
The Apostles were just getting started, despite the threat of sword.

Flash forward though, two thousand years...
As Christians in this nation,
It seems we have much smaller fears,
Than those who faced temptation.
"Religious freedom" seems to rule -- no flames to face, no riot.
No giants seem to walk this land -- no lions if we're not quiet.

But aren't we hearing more and more,
On rising wind and storm,
"Shhh, now" . . . louder than before,
Demanding we conform?
Don't we hear the Government -- Religious Courts -- our Peers --
A Boss -- or even Family -- whispering in our ears ...

"Shhh, now Christian. Walk in shame.
No longer shout it out.
Talk of love, but don't preach that Name.
That's NOT what it's about."

Author's notes:
(Story dialogue quotes that are based on Scripture are not intended to be word-by-word quotes; but instead, represent summaries/compilations of KJV Scripture passages and ideas, condensed into story shape and dialogue form.)
Daniel 6 Daniel and the Lion's Den
Daniel 3 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
Numbers 22:21-34 Balaam and his donkey
I Samuel 17 David and Goliath
Acts 21-22 Paul on the way to Jerusalem, and the riot.
Acts 5:12-42 The Apostles imprisoned, warned, and beaten.

Copyright 2010 Ruth Stromquist (a.k.a. Bear of Bear's Writing Den at ) -- So long as the author's name and web address remain included, permission is given to freely share and distribute this piece.


Can The Sun Stand Still?
By Ruth Stromquist

"Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher?

So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel."
(Joshua 10:12-14)

I was having a major spiritual tussle. Reading about this event, it was hard for me to just believe it and say, "Wow, isn't God awesome?"

I'd searched the commentaries...

JFB said it was a "poetic passage," adding, "The language of a poem is not to be literally interpreted." Also ... it could be an optical illusion.

Barnes said the "Christian Fathers" (i.e. Apostles and early church leaders) believed the sun actually stopped; and added, that God, being "omnipotent and omniscient", could easily cause "a suspension of Nature's ordinary working..." But said many modern theologians think it poetical or an optical illusion.

Matthew Henry said "this great miracle" happened as described -- fact.

Try as I might, I couldn't buy the "poem fragment inserted smack in the midst of a book of history" theory; or believe the Israelites were too dumb to distinguish the difference between an optical illusion and the sun standing still "about a whole day".

Plus, Scripture states, "There was no day like that before it or after it."

Moreover, I had a nagging feeling that I'd been compromising my faith through rationalizations, by buying into "providential" explanations for a few of the "harder" things to believe, which were clearly stated as miraculous facts, Biblically.

Also, Jesus spoke of many of those "harder" Bible miracles (including creation of man in the beginning, rather than after millions of years of evolution) as simple fact.

Listing just a few examples...

"But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." (Mark 10:6)

“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly..." (Matthew 12:40)

"They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:27)

What was good enough for Jesus, Son of God, to believe, had to be good enough for me.

Then there were the miracles Jesus Himself did, which demonstrated God's power over all elements of Nature: walking on water, multiplying loaves and fishes, etc.

No matter how much "Modern Science" claims "impossible", Jesus demonstrated, "...with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

My mind went to the Resurrection...

Was Jesus rising from the dead after three days less miraculous than the sun standing still?

To raise a man, dead three days, required the suspension, control, and reversal of natural laws just as much as halting the sun's movement would. It might look to have been a smaller, more-contained, miracle; but concerning the controlling of major laws of Nature ... it was clearly equal.

As Martha pointed out about Lazarus in John 11:39, "...Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days."

Searching the Internet for what happens to a body after even just three days of death turned my stomach. There's major, irreversible, chemical breakdown of the body, and organ changes -- not just a temporary absence of the soul from a place it could easily return to.

"Decomposition" is a very nice word for all that has already taken place by day three.

"Modern Science" can't bring a man to life, after being dead three days. Scientifically, that's just as impossible as causing the sun and moon to "stand still" for a bit (while suspending the resulting catastrophic ill effects that stopping the earth's rotation would normally cause).

So why flinch over the sun standing still?

I couldn't have it both ways. Either God could do miracles, and Jesus rose from the dead; or God couldn't do miracles.

I bowed my head, and as the father of the child in Mark 9:24 prayed, when begging Jesus to miraculously heal his son, I echoed 2,000 years later...

"...Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief."

Author's Notes:

All quoted Scriptures are King James Version.

The following Bible Commentaries used were unabridged versions contained on the Pocket e-Sword's program for my PDA...

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary On the Whole Bible by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown -- Specific reference location: Joshua 10:12-15

Barnes Notes on the Old and New Testaments by Albert Barnes -- Specific reference location: Joshua 10:12-15

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible by Matthew Henry -- Specific reference location: Joshua 10:7-14

Copyright 2010 Ruth Stromquist (a.k.a. Bear of Bear's Writing Den at ) -- So long as the author's name and web address remain included, permission is given to freely share and distribute this piece.


The Supper No One Attended
By Ruth Stromquist

"... Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25 KJV)

Half an hour after the alarm's blare, I was still groggily staring at the ceiling, body aching, mind refusing to focus. Gritting my teeth, I squeezed my eyes shut and rolled over, shoving as hard as I could to force myself upright. Then sat there, gathering strength for the next effort.

My mental cheerleading section woke up suddenly. "Sunday morning! Get moving. Church in an hour."

I groaned in response. "Humph! Just what I need today, sure. Perfumes. Aftershaves. Walking into church feels like bathing in the stuff, the air's so thick with it. Bet I'm sick two more days if I go. No way. I'll catch a Service on the Net."

This had been going on for months. The extreme allergies weren't new. The chronic illness that caused them had been with me for decades. But this winter had been rougher, the illness worse. And mornings were the hardest.

I cradled my head in my hands, thinking of all the Services I'd missed lately ... Wishing I had the initial zeal of 18 years ago, when first saved.

Back then, whenever those church doors opened, I was there to praise and honor the One who had given me life, and to fellowship with my newfound brothers and sisters in the Lord. If I passed out into semi-consciousness from allergies, I was happy I was at least passing out on the church floor, and could still hear those words of life spoken by the preacher, through mental fog. I cared not about the days of low strength and symptoms that would follow that initial exposure.

Nothing could stop me.

However, (still in those early days), the week I had the flu, with high fever, was when I fully realized it was the Holy Spirit enabling me, and nothing of myself. I'd gone to sleep that Saturday night, telling myself this was one Sunday I was going to have to miss. I hadn't eaten for days, and could barely hold myself upright. Didn't even bother setting the alarm.

Next thing I knew, I felt as if Someone were lifting me into a sitting position, I sat up so fast. The clock showed it was 20 minutes before Service; and even though still flushed with fever, I began dressing, and was soon out the door, without a second thought.

Those were the days!

But eventually, I "matured". Learned I could go to the "altar" in the privacy of my own home -- that the Lord heard me there. Learned it was considered "legalistic" to feel a person should be in church every Service. Learned Evening Services were regularly cancelled for Christmas, big TV football games, the kids' softball game playoffs, etc. Learned that lots of great brothers and sisters in the Lord prioritized family get-togethers from time to time Sunday mornings, instead of church attendance.

I learned to stop being "so overzealous".

In fact, as the years went on, I started seeing fewer churches bothering to hold Sunday Evening Services at all. Soon, Wednesday nights started disappearing too. (After all, Wednesday IS a big sports night at the schools, and "our kids can't miss the games" ...).

Then I began seeing so many little country churches closing down completely, all across the land ... not enough people attending regularly. Younger couples -- the lifeblood of the churches -- often too busy to come, (usually having to work more than one job, "and with all the kids' activities, you know") ... The elderly getting too tired and TV Services easier ...

Today, I felt reminded of the parable about the man who invited many to come to his "great supper". "And they all with one consent began to make excuse ... (Luke 14:18 KJV) *

I pictured the trend progressing, until the time of His Return. ... "... Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8 KJV)

An image came to mind: The Lord coming back, tears in His eyes, finding "Humph!" written over the doors of decaying churches, filled with cobwebs ... moldering song books scattered across empty pews.

That's what gave me strength to stand and shakily shuffle across the room ... "Father, forgive me. Fill me with Your Spirit again, I pray ... and get me to church."

Author's Note:

* Luke 14:15-24 (KJV)“And when one of them that sat at meat with Him heard these things, he said unto Him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said He unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.”

Copyright 2010 Ruth Stromquist (a.k.a. Bear of Bear's Writing Den at ) -- So long as the author's name and web address remain included, permission is given to freely share and distribute this piece.


Oh, Ye of Little Faith
By Ruth Stromquist

A tiny bundle of fur zoomed towards the kitchen table, then desperately tried to brake when it saw his wife's foot. Its feet wildly skittered for traction on the polished tiles as it slid into the side of her tennis shoe with a muffled "thunk".

Rich laughed, spraying bread crumbs across the red and white checked tablecloth.

"Eeeeeek!" His wife leaped up, chair crashing to the floor. The mouse dashed under the refrigerator.

"Did you say 'Eek'? ... Oh, that's priceless!" He gasped for air between chortles, doubling over, slapping his thigh.

Tina's soft brown eyes hardened into a glare he'd never yet seen in the three weeks they'd been married. She stood, trembling, hands on hips.

"Oh now, Tina, come on." He sat up, wiping tears from his eyes. "It was just a little mouse. You can't be afraid of a little ..."

"I did not say 'Eek', and it's not funny. How dare you laugh."

He couldn't stop grinning. "Well, you did say 'Eek', and ..."

"Did not!"

"Tina, calm down." He noticed she was breathing rapidly, her face white. "Where's your faith, Hon? 'Fear not ... when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned ...' Right? And how about, 'Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?' -- Right?" He smiled wider, "And, hey -- When the mousest zoometh into thy footeth --"

She threw a dinner roll; then turned and stomped out, as it bounced off his nose.

An hour later, he was still there, trying to sort it out, absentmindedly shoving bread crumbs into small piles with a finger. Could this be the wonderful lady he'd married? The depth and steadiness of her faith was much of what had caused him to fall head over heels in love. She had seemed so gutsy. Always ready to trust the Lord, despite the trials and pressures they'd faced during their long engagement. He had been counting on spending life side by side with one ready to stand strong through whatever was ahead -- through the hard times he suspected were coming ... and she was terrified of a mouse? He prayed silently, "Lord, she is the one you wanted me to marry, right? This is crazy. Please strengthen her faith, Lord. I --"

She stormed back into the kitchen, and began grabbing plates and bowls from the table, shoving them violently into the dishwasher; then turned to face him, arms folded tightly across her chest. "I did not say, 'Eek', and I'd expect you to at least have a bit of understanding ..."

"But Tina. Babe. I'm trying. I've been praying for your faith and ..."

"Ooooo!" She slammed the dishwasher door shut so hard, the pans on the counter clattered. "So you're praying for my faith, are you? Well isn't that just soooo gallant, my man! You're a great judge. You with beams in your own eye, better not be spending time pulling motes out of mine!"

He stared at her, eyes widening. "And what's that supposed to mean?"

"Your faith isn't exactly rock solid either, buddy!" The door banged as she left. She shouted from the living room, "And I'm praying God gives my insensitive, idiotic husband some basic human compassion!"

Red-faced, he yelled, "You did too, say 'Eek'."

They were weeding the garden, a week later, sweating in the sun, she at one end of a 40 foot row of lettuce, he at the other. Though things weren't back to normal, the two had at least established a guarded truce. He wondered if it was safe to try again to reason with her about her lapse of faith, as he reached for the next weed.

His hand froze in mid-air, the hairs on the back of his neck prickling.

Black, beady eyes stared into his.

Rich's heart pounded in his ears, dizziness and nausea sweeping over him, as the snake's head weaved back and forth. Reddish scales glinted in the sunlight.

Through the roaring in his ears, he heard Tina's pounding footsteps. He couldn't move. He couldn't breathe. Pain began building in his chest...

Then she was there, next to the snake, hooting, "You're afraid of a little garter snake?"

He silently prayed, trying to hold on, trying not to pass out ... 'Lord, help me...'

An Answer came. Rich knew what to do.

"Eeeeeek!" he yelled.

Chuckling, Tina slammed her foot into the snake's side, sending it flying into the bushes.

Author's Notes:

Matthew 8:26 (KJV) “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”

Isaiah 43:1-2 (KJV) "But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called [thee] by thy name; thou [art] mine. When thou passest through the waters, I [will be] with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

Matthew 7:1-5 (KJV) "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Copyright 2010 Ruth Stromquist (a.k.a. Bear of Bear's Writing Den at ) -- So long as the author's name and web address remain included, permission is given to freely share and distribute this piece.


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