The Call of Love: Part 2
It was the third stormy day in a row. Justin looked out the window and felt angry at the rain. Now he couldn’t try out the new remote-control truck Dad had given him! “Why does everything have to go wrong?” Justin growled, pounding his fist on the window ledge. But he wouldn’t cry.
“Juss, what’s the matter?” Rochelle asked, standing her dolly next to him.
“I can’t drive my new truck and you don’t even care.” He frowned, thinking how she had ruined the go-cart last week. “You prob’ly would wreck it anyway, stupid. All you like are your silly old dolls and—” but Rochelle was gone. Was she mad at him? Served her right for calling him Juss. It rhymed with fuss and he hated it. Too bad he had to stay with her while Sam and Teddy got to go fishing with Uncle Mike.
Are you being kind? Justin pushed the thought away with his favorite attack: Well, she wasn’t being kind to me. But God wanted him to be good and think about others and—no, he wouldn’t think about devotions this morning. Justin went into the kitchen.
“I’m hungry,” he said, poking his head under Aunt Linda’s arm. She was making stuffed eggs and talking on the phone. She put her finger to her lips, so Justin decided to get an egg for himself.
The slap on his fingers made Justin yell. He couldn’t help it, but Aunt Linda frowned at him. “Shush! You know better than to snitch food without asking.”
But he was hungry! Justin looked at the rounded mounds of creamy yellow filling and frowned. Aunt Linda wasn’t being fair. He waited until she turned to the sink, then quickly slipped one egg off the plate and darted out of the room. Aunt Linda wouldn’t ever know.
But God knew. Justin stopped with his finger in his mouth and thought about what had happened to Cain when he had killed his brother. He wasn’t going to think about that story! Anyway, he wasn’t that bad. He wouldn’t ever kill anyone. But Aunt Linda said lying and cheating and thinking mean thoughts were just as bad.
“Justin? Justin, where are you?” Oh, it was Rochelle!
“Do you want to play with my new puzzle?” Rochelle didn’t look mad. She probably had forgotten that he had called her “stupid.”
Justin smiled at his cousin. “Oh, sure.” He wasn’t really a bad boy; he would show her he wasn’t. The puzzle was harder than he thought. But he would show Rochelle that he could do it. He tried to follow the picture, but the pieces didn’t fit together right.
“Try this piece,” Rochelle said. Justin frowned. He didn’t want her help. He was being selfish, but he didn’t care—really. That isn’t true, a little thought whispered. You’re trying to be nice, but you can’t do it.
Justin’s stomach hurt. It was the egg he had eaten. Maybe it was poisoning him! But he couldn’t tell Aunt Linda about it. She would punish him for disobeying. She said everyone who did wrong got punished, even if no one caught them. This time he couldn’t push the accusing thoughts away. Tears burned in his eyes and he buried his head in his arms.
“Justin, what’s the matter?”
“It’s stupid!” Justin said, choking down the sobs. “I just can’t do anything I want to.” He felt terrible. Aunt Linda would say it was the sins that made his heart black. But how could he get rid of them? Everything he did was wrong! No one cared what happened to him. Except maybe Aunt Linda.
She was telling him something. He could feel her warm arm around his shoulders. “Jesus can make everything right, Justin. He loves you and wants you to come. He says: ‘Come unto me, Justin. Take My way and I will give you rest.’ ”
“I never hear Him talking to me,” he muttered. “I just feel all sad. I can’t ever be good, even when I try!”
“No you can’t. That is why you need Him.”
But Justin didn’t want anyone to help him! He could be good. He tried to straighten his shoulders, but it didn’t help. Did Jesus, that Man who did everything right and died on the cross, want to help him? Could He help him?
Aunt Linda was still talking. “It is in the Bible that God talks to us, and when we pray He will remind us of what is right and help us to do it. But we can’t do right if we have sin in our heart. If you want to live right and be happy, you need to repent and ask Jesus to give you a clean heart. Do you know what repent means?”
Justin shook his head. He wasn’t looking at Aunt Linda, but he could hear the love and firmness in her voice. “It means that you need to hate the wrong things you’ve done and really, truly want to get rid of them; that you want to please Jesus more than you want your own way. Is that what you want?”
“I don’t want to be bad anymore,” Justin said, blinking away the tears.
“Do you believe that Jesus really loves you, and died instead of you, so that you don’t have to be punished?”
Did Jesus really get punished for him? Justin had never thought of that! But how did he know that Jesus loved him? Jesus never had been his friend or talked to him. You haven’t been Jesus’ friend either, a little thought argued. Justin never had wanted to please Jesus. Just himself. And now see how sick and miserable he felt! Would Jesus listen to him now?
“Let’s pray,” Aunt Linda said softly. She was on her knees, talking about how God loved him and asking God to please talk to his heart. He didn’t hear anything, but he felt all the mean and selfish things come rushing back around him. He must get them away!
“Oh, Dear Jesus, I am sorry for being mean to Rochelle,” Justin prayed. He remembered the times when he had disobeyed Aunt Linda, and cheated Sam, and made Dad angry. Tears rolled down his cheek as he thought of how selfish he was to little Teddy and how he got in trouble so much. “I tried, but I just can’t do it,” Justin moaned. “I don’t want to be a bad boy anymore. Jesus, please give me a clean, good heart!”
It seemed like all the hidden bad things were being found out. Suddenly Justin knew he wanted it that way. He wanted every single bad thing gone; all the lies and the bad feelings and every mean word. “I’m sorry I did them. I don’t want to do wrong anymore,” he said, and clenched his fist to show he meant it. Now what would happen? He thought maybe Jesus would talk to him, but he didn’t hear anything. Justin felt the quietness creep into his heart.
“Has Jesus taken them all away?” Aunt Linda asked.
“I think so,” Justin said slowly.
“And so do you believe He will be with you and help you to keep everything clear? He says that He will not turn anyone away who comes to Him.”
It was true! Justin knew it, and somehow he felt like Jesus was there, holding his hand. Justin looked up at Aunt Linda’s face and smiled. He did love her so very much! How sorry he was that he had disobeyed her!
“Oh, I do want to live for Jesus,” Justin said quickly. “And, Aunt Linda, I am sorry that I took an egg when you told me not to.”
“I forgive you, dear,” she said, giving him a squeeze.
Justin thought of his cousins. “Where is Rochelle?” he asked.
“I sent her to take care of the chickens, but she should be in soon.” Aunt Linda smiled as she stood up. She seemed to know his next question. “And the boys should be home by supper. Jesus will help you make everything right if you ask Him to, Justin. Remember, even though you can’t see Him, He is there. And He loves you very much.”
This time Justin felt like he could believe what Aunt Linda said. Jesus did love him, and he felt all happy inside to think of it. What could he do to make Jesus happy?
The pieces of Rochelle’s puzzle were scattered on the carpet. He could pick them up and put them away before she got back! It had been mean of him to call her stupid when she was so nice and kind. Justin determined to tell her so as soon as he could.
“Oh, it’s alright. I am sort of stupid,” Rochelle said with a smile. “But could you show me how to work your new truck sometime? When it stops raining?”
“Sure!” said Justin, glancing out of the window. “Just look, Rochelle! The sunshine is already coming through the rain.” And it was—spreading a bright rainbow over the treetops.
“God’s promise,” Aunt Linda whispered. And Justin knew it was a message sent just for him.