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A Timely Message

by Cheri Hardaway  
10/09/2007 / Short Stories

"Each year the Chamber of Commerce takes nominations for Citizen of the Year. Those nominated must have contributed to the overall good of our community, without receiving any monetary gain. The Chamber then votes."

The speaker went on. "This year's honoree pioneered the very successful Project HOPE, which has brought new and marked opportunity to our inner city youth. Please watch this film clip from his interview with the local news."

As the clip rolled, Rob's attention waned. He pondered the verse for next Sunday's message: 1 Timothy 3:4-5. "He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect." If a man cannot manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church? Yes, that would be his focal point.

Though directed specifically towards leadership in the church, Rob's thought was that every man was the priest of his own home, and every Christian was called to be a minister to others. He wanted to encourage fathers especially to be active in their children's lives. He had seen too many young people go astray because parents missed the obvious telltale signs.

Shelly jostled his arm. "Honey, wake up," she whispered. Her eyes twinkled. "You're on, Pastor Robert Crenshaw."

"Oh..." Rapidly regaining his composure, he rose to accept his award.

He was mid thank-you when he caught sight of his wife leaving the room, a finger plugging one ear, her cell phone pressed to the other. Cutting his remarks short, he paused only for a quick press photo, and went in search of her.

He found her pale and shaking. "Shel? I saw you leave. Did the sitter call? Is it Lindsey?"

"Lindsey's fine. The sitter got a call. All she could make out clearly was that we're needed at Mountview Hospital... something about a church family in trouble, someone's son in a car accident... drugs in the car. She said your dad's already there. Why do you suppose they called him?"

Rob drove as fast as was safe and tried to stay focused. His mind whirled. Chad was staying the night at his friend Scott's house; he was okay. Whose son was it? Drugs? How do parents not see their kids are in trouble? How can they be so blind? I guess Sunday's message is well-timed.

He felt a twinge of conscience. The move here had been both rewarding and challenging. Chad had to leave lifelong friends and attend a brand new high school. That was no picnic, especially at his age. Lately, he had been a bit distant. But he was a good kid. Rob knew he hadn't spent as much time with him as he used to before the move. This new pastorate was quite demanding. He'd meant to make some special time for Chad, get the dirt bikes out and go riding. It was long overdue.

The move had been easier on seven-year-old Lindsey. She had her mom at home with her. But boys need their dads. He would set a date with Chad tomorrow to take the bikes out.

Chad and Lindsey were both beautiful, healthy kids. He felt so blessed. The doctor had said that Shelly would never conceive children. Giving thanks to God, he pulled into the ER parking lot. God, I can only imagine how this family is suffering. Help me to comfort them all, he prayed.

Several of the church elders were huddled just inside the emergency room doors. Oh, God, is it one of their boys?

They'd been watching for them. Embracing them, they cried together for a moment, each praying silently.

When they separated, Rob waited to be filled in.

"Pastor, they lost control of the car. The officers at the scene of the accident found marijuana in the vehicle."

Rob's face must have evidenced the confusion he felt.

"Didn't your father call you?"

"There was a call. The sitter told us we should come right away, that a church family was in trouble, someone's son" Cold fear gripped him.

"Where's Rob's dad?" Shelly too was confused.

Just then Bob Crenshaw came around the corner and saw his son and daughter-in-law. He crushed them in a bear hug, then said, "Come with me."

In Trauma Room 2, the gurney holding Chad was ready to be wheeled to ICU. Tubes were everywhere, and beeping machines penetrated the roar in their heads.

"He'll be okay. They just want to watch him closely for the night," Bob reassured them. "And Rob? Before they sedated him, he was asking for his dad."

Knowing both the freedom of surrender and the pain of resistance, Cheri desires to bring God's hope to others suffering in life's deserts. She and husband Wayne have been blessed with four children and three grandchildren. Contact Cheri at [email protected]

Copyright 2007 Cheri Hardaway

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