Authors: Jerry S. Eicher
Tags: #Christian Fiction, #Amish, #Christian, #General, #Romance, #Fiction, #Religious, #Love Stories
“That was a nice thing to do,” Jake said, drying his hands on the dish towel.
“And now, you scat off to the living room and let me finish my work,” Hannah said. “You’ve done enough and plenty.”
“I’ll take the ice cream freezer to the barn, and then I’m done for the night,” Jake said with a sigh. “And what a night it has been.”
Hannah held the door open as Jake went out with the ice cream canister in both hands. Five minutes later he was back and settled down in the living room to read. Finishing in the kitchen, Hannah made two trips out to the springhouse with the extra food, taking care that Jake didn’t hear her open and close the kitchen door. He would have been up in a flash to offer his help, and he had already done enough for one night.
The poor man. First Mr. Brunson spilled his story on him, and then she had to add to his load. Turning on the flashlight only when she came close to the springhouse, she stored the items, making sure the latch was securely in place. There had been no bear problems since Mr. Brunson had killed the grizzly all those months ago, but neither she nor Jake wanted to take any chances. When she was finished in the kitchen, she moved toward the bedroom, asking Jake if he was ready to retire for the night.
Jake yawned and followed her readily into the bedroom. As she prepared slowly for sleeping, Jake quickly changed out of his clothes and climbed into bed. By the time she joined him, he appeared to be asleep, his even breathing a comfort to her.
“So why did Mr. Brunson make you think of Peter?” Jake asked suddenly, and Hannah jumped under the covers.
“Because so many things can go wrong when you think you love someone. We need to pray for Mr. Brunson.”
Hannah sat on the hard bench without moving. Bishop John’s wife, Elizabeth, sat beside her, but Hannah’s eyes were on Jake’s face. He looked tired—and had ever since he came down from the morning ministers’ conference upstairs. She could read the signs in the tenseness of his jaw and in the deepening lines on his face. Jake was much too young for the heavy responsibilities laid on his shoulders. He should be sitting on a bench across the room, seated among the men his own age, instead of standing up front by the kitchen doorway, closing out the main Sunday sermon.
always know what He was doing? Jake didn’t complain, so why should she? But then he didn’t have to watch himself suffer as she did.
Bishop John’s eyes were also on Jake’s face, watching him from the ministers’ bench set up against the kitchen wall. He looked pleased, nodding from time to time, so Jake must be doing okay. Of course Jake always did okay, regardless of what was required of him. So perhaps
had known what He was doing.
“The Scripture says,” Jake said, his hands hanging by his side, pacing slowly in front of the doorway, “that ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ Jesus Himself quoted those lines from the Old Testament, applying it to Himself. If Jesus needed those words, then we need them even more urgently.”
Jake paused in his pacing and seemed to be thinking, his eyes looking down. He looked up and continued. “We, as the people of God, can get so busy with our work, with our jobs, with our farms, that we forget there is more to life than what we can see. Just as the physical body needs food, so too our spiritual man must also be fed the spiritual Word of God. And this is true today even more than ever before.
“Trouble gathers in the world. The devil goes about not only as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, but as an angel of light seeking to deceive even the best of us. We must humble ourselves as we never have done before and listen to the Word of God. Not only must we read it for ourselves, but we must listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters, who sometimes can see the dangers to our souls better than we ourselves can.
“I want to close now with one final Scripture from the letter to the Roman church. Paul wrote to tell them they were not to be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of their minds that they might prove what was the good, the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. I believe those words are still true today and can be applied to many situations in our lives.”
Hannah moved on the bench, feeling goose bumps running up her arms. Jake and the other ministers must be very concerned about something. Likely it was the Mennonite revival meetings heralded by the posters on the grocery store door or perhaps it was some news Jake had learned this morning. But surely not. Or had Mr. Brunson ignored Jake’s advice and spoken to Mary Keim about his interest in her? And even worse, had Mary accepted?
Hannah turned her head slightly, finding Mary’s face on the other side of the room. She looked calm and untroubled, so it must be the Mennonite meetings.
“I will now bring what I have to say to a close,” Jake said, sitting down. “Would both of the other ministers give testimony to what has been said—and perhaps Will Riley also?”
Hannah listened while Bishop John spoke. He seemed to like what Jake had said, but she had already known that. This meant Minister Mose Chupp wouldn’t object either unless he broke the tradition. Glancing at him quickly, Mose looked calm enough, so nothing negative must be coming. That left Will Riley, but what could he say against what Jake said? He liked Jake.
The bishop closed his remarks, wishing the blessing of God on His Word, and then he glanced toward Mose. Mose nodded and began speaking. He didn’t have much to say though, only quoting one of the verses Jake had recited and closing with his blessing.
Hannah moved slightly on the bench as a long silence hung over the room. Several of the men cleared their throats, but none of them sounded like Will.
He must be really nervous at having been asked for testimony and is having a hard time finding his voice,
Bishop John raised his head to look in Will’s direction, and Will started speaking with a sudden burst of sound. Hannah couldn’t understand what he was saying, even when he ran out of breath and slowed down.
No one was looking at Will, but Hannah glanced at him. Still unable to understand the rush of words, she listened more closely.
Bishop John shook his head in Will’s direction, but the layman continued talking. Slowly comprehension came over her. Jake’s jaw was even tighter than it had been while he was preaching. Bishop John looked ready to stand and say something.
Faintly Hannah caught some of the words. “I can’t agree with the implications of what was said here today…I do appreciate Minister Jake…his testimony that he has, but today I cannot help but think he is guilty of twisting the Word of God to fit his own purposes. Why don’t we all be honest and admit that we all know what is happening around us?
“If we would open our eyes we would see that the world is changing…We have to move along with it. This is all about the Mennonite revival meetings…We all know they are coming to town this summer. And I don’t think we should be speaking against what other Christians are doing.
“And don’t say that I’m immature…that I don’t know what I’m saying. I’m married and have two young children whom I desire to raise in the fear of the Lord. But this is not the way to do it. We don’t have to make Scripture fit our purposes to try and accomplish the will of God.”
Will paused, taking a deep breath, “So I don’t give my blessing to Minister Jake’s sermon…I wish he would speak more plainly if he wishes to instruct us, without hiding behind the true Word of God.”
Silence hung heavy over the room as Jake got slowly to his feet, his eyes watching the floor.
“I regret that our brother does not give his blessing, and it was not my intention to hide behind the Word of God. Rather I thought I was using the Word of God to open our eyes to what is going on around us. I will take counsel with the other ministers and see if they have any further words of correction for me.”
Jake raised his eyes to look in Will’s direction, nodding once. “I hope that is satisfactory with the brother. If not, he is welcome to speak further with the bishop about the matter. Let us pray now.”
A soft rustle filled the room, and Hannah knelt with the rest of the people. What in the world had come over Will to cause such an outburst—and in public at that? Soft sobs came from across the room as Hannah covered her face with her hands. There was no need to look around to know who was crying. The voice of Will’s wife, Rebecca, was clearly recognizable.
Jake read the prayer, his voice rising and falling like usual. He must be handling things very well, but then he always did. She was the one who wasn’t. Her heart was pounding so hard it hurt. Why did those Mennonites have to come into the community and make trouble for all of them? Didn’t they know life caused enough trouble already?
Jake closed his prayer with a strong voice, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Hannah rose slowly, sitting back on the bench. Elizabeth was looking sideways at her. She reached over to squeeze Hannah’s hand, which didn’t help much. It just made the threatening tears that much closer to falling. She wiped her eyes with her handkerchief as Bishop John announced the close of the service, and the smaller boys made a dash for the outside.
Will’s oldest boy, Andrew, followed behind them, already too old to walk fast at six years of age. He was the spitting image of his father, walking erect, and grabbing his black hat by the front door. How his mom loved her children, and now Will was acting up again. Apparently Will’s desire to leave the Amish hadn’t been fully resolved last year, even with Jake’s best efforts.
Bishop John couldn’t blame Jake for that, could he? Jake had tried his best and had come away from a difficult task with excellent results. It was those Mennonites who were stirring things up. They were the ones to blame, but she must not be bitter about it.
gave grace to all, and He wished His people to love even those who did them wrong.
Hannah watched the short line of older boys get up and walk toward the front door. Not that long ago Jake would have been in that line, and her heart would have been pounding with joy instead of wrenched in pain.
Will’s brother, Dennis Riley, was the last one in the line, stooping low to pick up his hat before stepping outside. He was tall, even taller than his brother, and good looking. Why had he never married? Surely he could find a girl if he wished to? Sylvia’s sister Susie had been looking at him at the last Sunday evening hymn sing, smiling in his direction in between songs. Apparently he wasn’t interested in her attentions or was taking his
time about it.
But then perhaps he shared Will’s desire to leave the Amish and wasn’t interested in an Amish girl? Wouldn’t that be an awful thing? Yes, but surely not as awful as the situation Rebecca was in—married with two small children and her husband disagreeing with one of the ministers in public. Bishop John wouldn’t let Will’s outburst pass, but Jake would likely speak on Will’s behalf for patience. Jake was that kind of man.
Why didn’t Dennis date? Perhaps he had, and she didn’t know about it. It wasn’t likely that any girl would have dumped him though. He wasn’t the kind of boy a girl would do that to. Miriam was coming soon, and cold chills ran up Hannah’s spine at the thought. Miriam was looking for a relationship.
This is too horrible to even contemplate! If Miriam falls for Dennis, and he for her, what will happen? Surely Miriam wouldn’t join the Mennonites
but then Rebecca hadn’t wished to either. It was her man who did.
Was there time yet to warn Miriam? She would arrive soon. Even a rushed phone call would not reach her in time. And would she believe her anyway? What would she tell her mom? Something like, “I noticed again how handsome one of our young unmarried boys is, and I’m suspicious of him because his brother criticized Jake’s preaching today.” What sense did that make, except that she might be sore at him because his brother spoke against Jake? And Miriam would laugh anyway. She had yet to meet a boy who impressed her, and she had seen lots of them in Indiana. The young folk gatherings were crawling with Amish boys, and there were always plenty of visitors. Certainly not like Montana, which saw Amish visitors only once in a blue moon.
No, there was no use in warning Miriam. She wouldn’t listen anyway. Regardless, their mom had given her blessing to the trip, and that was that. Perhaps Miriam would have enough sense not to fall for Dennis once she arrived. She was a sensible sister most of the time, but love did seem to bring out the strangest qualities in people.
Elizabeth squeezed her hand again, and Hannah got to her feet. Behind them the benches had already emptied out, the women heading toward the kitchen. Hannah followed them, pausing when Betty grabbed her arm and pulled her into the bedroom. Several young children lay sleeping on the bed, with two babies lying on the floor, one with his eyes open, staring at them while he sucked his thumb.
Betty shut the door behind her.