Kevin took her hand as they walked along the river. It was a pleasant summer day. Sparkling sunshine prevailed while bright colored wildflowers winked as shade and sunlight alternated through the trees. It was quiet and peaceful except for the occasional mating call of a distant bird.
Sarri felt she could exist in this peace, with her childhood sweetheart, forever. But, as his hand tightened in hers, reality kicked in. There was something wrong with this scene. And Sarri was pretty sure she knew what it was.
It was going to be hard to do, but Sarri knew that she had to convince Kevin that, as much as they loved each other, their love was not the kind of love that caused fireworks to explode in their hearts. It was instead a strong bonding love of true friendship. They would always love, but their paths were taking different directions.
Kevin would soon be off to Bible School with plans to pastor someday. Sarri, on the other hand, didn't know where she was headed in the Lord's plan, but she did know it wasn't in that same path.
That was seven years ago. Kevin was now married to a lovely young woman whom Sarri had learned to love as much as she did Kevin. But, in spite of all the prayer and fasting, reading God's word and seeking his direction, Sarri had just recently begun to feel her calling. Her searching had led her to this adventure she was now experiencing.
As Sarri looked out over the water and viewed the small island approaching, she thought of the scripture "present your bodies a living sacrifice" She had taught it many times to the young women in her Sunday School class. But this was reality. "This is what I'm doing today," she thought. "Presenting myself as a living sacrifice to God."
She had spent many weeks preparing for this adventure. Weeks of shopping, sorting, choosing and discarding clothes - first deciding, and then changing her mind. Also, there had been much prayer and fasting. Not just her's, but that of friends and family too. This was going to be a big step in Sarri's life. And everyone knew that God's will in this decision was important, imperative.
Sarri was excited about this new undertaking. But there was a lot of fear in that excitement - a lot of mixed feelings. "Do you ever know for sure that you're in the center of God's will?" she wondered. The answer was waiting for her there on that little island which became increasingly larger as the plane approached it. At least, she hoped it was.
She wasn't alone. Her long-time friend Lois was sitting next to her. Well, not really sitting, because in her excitement, she had leaned over Sarri to stare out the window at the familiar sight below. Coming home always brought a sparkle to Lois' eyes and a smile to her lips. Sarri had seen it many times before when she had been at the airport seeing Lois off. Off to her beloved island and her adopted family.
"Will I ever come to love them like Lois does?" Sarri wondered. The fear was returning, so she made herself think about the departing scene at the airport in the States.
However, that brought little comfort as she pictured her parents in the last moments before boarding the plane. Tears of joy and tears of sorrow were flowing together down her mother's cheeks. This was one time when fresh and bitter water mixed together in spite of the impossibility.
Her father being the man he is, showed little emotion. But she had not been deceived. She knew him too well. For most of her 26 years she had watched his hands clasp together tightly when he was upset. No, he hadn't fooled her.
As they fastened their seat belts for landing, Sarri's eyes drank in the enormous beauty of the island. What a majestic scene! Blue-green water lapping lazily on the white sand of the coastline; small foam whitecaps, just enough to show that the water was moving; palm trees waving in the wind as if to welcome them. A few fishermen had cast their lines in the sea, but it looked as if they weren't expecting a bite, for they were laying back on the warm sand with closed eyes, soaking up the sunshine. Her heart lifted at the scene, which quickly disappeared as the plane topped the trees, flying deeper inland.
There was a feeling of "rightness" as Sarri's feet touched the sandy soil on the makeshift landing strip. Lois was immediately surrounded by her adopted native family. Warm and animated greetings filled the air in a tongue that was still unfamiliar to Sarri.
She watched, seemingly from afar, as the crowd left no space empty around Lois. She just stood there unnoticed, like a circus side attraction. She understood, but still felt a little "left out".
Suddenly, she sensed the warmth of welcome from a scantily clad little girl who chose, who knows for what reason? to hug her.
As little hands and gangly arms reached around her legs and large black eyes looked up at her face, Sarri knew, without a doubt, that she was going to "present her body to God" on this humble little island for many years to come. She realized that she was committing herself, and this brought personal meaning to being "a living sacrifice".
Scripture used in this article is from Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." KJV
Jacquelyn Horne is a former newspaper reporter who has won various awards including two Delaware School Bell awards. She has poems and articles published in magazines and Christian publications. She moved from Delaware to central Georgia 13 years ago.