Max stood across the street, observing the 'others' like him who had gathered. Some were on the same side of the street that he was. Some were even on the church grounds.
They all watched the man walk up the steps, and enter the sanctuary doors.
Trying her best to 'do' her face, the young girl continually stepped between her mom and the vanity in the church restroom. Although they were the only ones there at the time, and there were two mirrors, little Amy would only be satisfied if she used the one her mother was using.
In the background an organ began to play.
"The service is about to start, Honey."
Amy smiled as she pretended to fix her hair. "I'm almost done." She stopped for a moment and listened, her head cocked slightly to one side. "What's that song, Mommy?"
Jennifer listened for a moment to the melody coming from the large organ pipes in the church sanctuary. "Oh, I love that one," she said, and smiled as she thought of the old hymns and the joy they brought her. She waited for the chorus, then began to sing"Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! How I've proved him o'er and o'er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more!"
The little girl smiled. "You sing pretty, Mommy."
A picture perfect moment, in a picture perfect church, but unfortunately, in a not so picture perfect world...
The gun blasts shook the floor of the bathroom, and in the blink of an eye, Jennifer and Amy's world turned upside down...
The tears came almost immediately, and although Jennifer's first instinct was to protect her child, she desperately wanted to know what was happening beyond the bathroom door.
Another round of gunfire, followed by screams and cries, changed all of that, and Jennifer grabbed her daughter and ran into the nearest stall, closing the door behind her.
She placed her hands over her daughter's ears as the blasts and screams continued.
And then ...they stopped.
Little Amy tried to speak through the tears, "What is it, Mommy?"
"I don't know, Honey." She spoke in a whisper. "But right now I just want you to be quiet. Can you do that?" She was finding it very hard to control herself. "Can you do it for Mommy?"
Amy shook her head. "I can, I can."
"That's my little girl." A moment of silence, as Jennifer tried to gather her thoughts. She held her child's face in both of her hands. "Alright then, here's what I need you to do, okay?"
Amy looked up through the tears at her mom.
"I'm going to go into the church to see if I can find out what's going on, and I want you"
The tears suddenly became cries, "But...I don't want to be by my..."
"it'll be just for a moment, and I'll be right back."
Amy thought about it, and an idea registered. "Will you tell me the words to that song again?"
Jennifer smiled, and quietly began to sing. "'Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! How I've proved him o'er and o'er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust him more!' Now you try."
The little girl began to sing the chorus, miraculously remembering each word and note.
"That was wonderful. You sing pretty, too."
"Now stay here, don't move." Jennifer grabbed her little ray of sunshine and kissed her on the cheek. "I'll be back."
Amy waved bye to her mother as the door closed in front of her. She began to sing, repeating the chorus over and over, until another gun blast, this one much louder than the others, forced her to stop...
After a few fearful seconds, she picked up the hymn again, and with each note the fear began to vanish, the tears dried, and her confidence was restored.
Finally, the bathroom door opened. "Mommy, is that you?"
The stall door creaked open, and the barrel of the gun was the last thing little Amy saw...
The stall door creaked open, and the barrel of the gun was the last thing little Amy sawwhen suddenly two arms seemed to protrude out of the smoking barrel. Amy sighed as the strong and comforting arms slowly reached out and picked her upand began to carry her away.
Max smiled as he felt Amy's arms around his neck.
"You're taking me to see the man the song is about." It was a statement.
Max rubbed his hand across Amy's head, ruffling her hair. She smiled at him as she leaned her head against his. "That's right. We're going to see the Master."
Max began to whistle a familiar hymn as he walked out of the church. He stopped for a moment to wait on the 'others' to catch up, each with their own passenger.