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Treasures of the Kingdom, Number 39 (April 2006) | Timeless Truths Publications

Taken from Treasures of the Snow (highly recomended) by Patricia St. John

Annette Forgives

Annette could never forgive Lucien. He was a mean bully and had nearly been the death of her little brother, Dani. Now Dani was a cripple and Lucien was an outcast forever. Never mind that he had tried to show that he was sorry. Annette is determined to get revenge. Lucien must never be happy again, so she turns everyone against him and destroys his carving so he can’t win the prize in the school contest. But as the months go by, Annette discovers that revenge doesn’t bring happiness. Grandmother says she must let Jesus come in and then the hate will have to go. But how can she be friends with the despised Lucien and tell him that she broke his little horse?

Winter had come to the Alps of Switzerland. The moonlight sparkled over the blowing snow and Annette thought she’d like to go out for a walk. She left the cozy chalet with Grandmother knitting by the fire and little Dani tucked in bed early for the evening. Father was out in the barn milking and it was good to be alone. Up over the field she trudged, enjoying the stillness.

Her tracks in the snow reminded her of the dream she had had the night before. There had been a dark house locked up and still, and a stranger had come through the snow, leaving footprints all the way. He had come to the door and knocked, but no one answered. On and on he had knocked—it was Jesus, Annette was sure—but the house had been dark and silent. It had been a sad dream, for Annette knew that someone was inside, someone that didn’t want him.

She was up at the little bridge now. Everything was quiet and far below Annette could hear the whisper of water in the ravine. It was the same ravine that Dani had fallen into the summer before when he had broken his leg. Annette shivered and the old hard feelings toward Lucien nearly choked her. It was his fault that sweet little Dani could never walk again. How could Jesus ask her to forgive such a cruel boy? It was impossible.

It must have been because she wasn’t paying attention, but all of a sudden her feet slipped on the freezing boards and she was on her back in the snow. The pain in her ankle took her breath away and she lay still for a moment. When she tried to rise, she found that she couldn’t stand at all.

Sudden fear gripped Annette, for she knew that no one would be up this way so late in the evening. It was getting colder and she would soon freeze to death unless she could reach some shelter. Then she remembered the Berdoz cabin not far up the path. If she could manage to drag herself there, the young woodsman and his wife could take her safely home.

Slowly and painfully Annette began to crawl up the path. The soft snow numbed her hands and knees as she dragged her swollen ankle. Her arms began to ache and tears came to her eyes. When she could stand it no longer, she rested in the snow until the cold began to creep all through her. With a struggle she got up and crawled on. She mustn’t give up, for she could see the woods ahead, and finally, the cabin. With relief she saw a light in the window.

It seemed like hours before she sank onto the doorstep. Eagerly she knocked, but the house was still. No one came to the door. In fear, Annette pulled herself up and began beating on the door and shouting. Would no friendly footsteps come to answer her? And then it dawned on her—the house was locked and empty. The light had only been left on to keep away thieves.

Annette felt panic rise inside. She tried to think. If the light was left on, maybe the Berdoz’s would be back that night. But if they had gone down into the valley it might be too late. The cold had already stiffened her fingers and toes. She must rest, then maybe she could crawl home. Annette sat and looked at the wide cold snow spread out before her, covering the fields and fences like a blanket far out into the night. In all that whiteness there were no footprints but her own.

In her dream footprints had led up to a dark house, too. Now she knew what it felt like to knock at a closed door and have no one answer. She had knocked for a short time, but Annette knew that Jesus went on knocking for years and years. And suppose that Monsieur and Madame Berdoz were inside right now and had said, “Somebody’s knocking, but we don’t want to answer him now”? How she would hate them for being so unkind!

Yet that was just how she was treating Jesus. And He didn’t hate her. He still went on knocking because He loved her.

Suddenly Annette lifted her head. Someone was coming. She knew well the soft whoosh of skis skimming over the ground, but in a moment they would fly past her. “Help! Stop and help me!” Annette cried.

The dark form of a boy twisted to a stop below the cabin. “What’s the matter? Are you hurt?” said a startled voice, as the boy came up the slope toward her. It was Lucien. Annette was so glad to see someone, anyone at all, that she didn’t care. She grabbed at his cloak to keep him from running off.

“Oh, Lucien!” she stammered. “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve sprained my ankle and Monsieur and Madame Berdoz are not here. Will you take me home? I’m getting so cold!”

Lucien quickly took off his cloak and wrapped it around her. His gruff voice was unusually gentle when he said, “I can’t take you on the skis, but I’ll be back soon with my sled. You’ll be home in less than half an hour.”

In a moment he had disappeared down the mountain, leaving Annette bundled up on the doorstep. While she waited she had much to think about. First, when she had thought she was all alone, Jesus had sent Lucien to save her. And now that she knew what it was like to be shut outside, she knew she didn’t want to leave Jesus outside knocking any longer.

All the old excuses—the hate she didn’t want to let go, the need to confess to Lucien—these didn’t seem important anymore. She leaned against the door post and closed her eyes. “Dear Lord Jesus, I don’t want to shut you out anymore. You’ve knocked for so long and I want you to come in. Please help me not to hate Lucien any more—and if I have to tell him about smashing his horse, help me to be brave. Thank you for sending him to come and save me. Amen.”

And so the Lord Jesus, who had been waiting so long for Annette to open up her heart, came in to forgive her sins and help her become the girl she was supposed to be. No one saw it at all, except the angels that rejoiced because her name was written in heaven. “I know what will happen now,” Annette said, feeling her heart beat fast. She looked up at the starry skies and the mountain peaks rising above the dark trees and she felt that Jesus was there to help her. It didn’t seem long at all before Lucien’s dark form appeared in the turn of the path. He was puffing when he reached her and could hardly speak.

“Climb on,” he said. “I brought the big sled so you can stretch your leg out.”

Annette took a deep breath. “Wait a moment,” she said. “I have to tell you something, Lucien. I was the one that smashed your horse the day before the school contest. I did it because I didn’t want you to get the prize, because you hurt Dani. I’m sorry.”

Annette didn’t know what to expect, but something in Lucien’s shaky laugh made her know that she had done right in breaking the old grudge. “It’s all right,” he said. “Just get on the sled.” He tucked the coat around her and soon they were whizzing down the hill, the powdery snow flying out behind.

Annette had to crawl up the steps to her front door. She managed to balance on one leg, and was about to open it, when she thought of Lucien. Opening the door to the Lord Jesus meant opening the door to love and forgiveness, and she had barred Lucien from their home long enough. He had turned away, but she called to him. “Lucien, won’t you come inside? Grandmother will be so glad to know that you have found me.”

So she opened the door as wide as it would go, and she and Lucien went in together.