1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
As many of you know, I am working diligently to produce the next two books for Adventures in The Glade. Truly, I released the first installment believing I knew where Book 2 would end. But I was wrong. The story just keeps unfolding! Now, however, I am nearing the end, I pray, with manifold and thorough edits to follow. This will take time; time I know God is granting me. After all, this work is His, not mine. I'm only an instrument to be played by His plans and orchestrated in His courts.
I would like to share with you today an excerpt from Book 3 which I recently wrote. Please allow me to set the stage: David and Sarah Murray are the grandparents of Davy and Sarah. They are travelling from Hawaii to spend some much needed time with family far too distant from them. David and Sarah are also the parents of John, Kate's first husband, who died in overseas combat. Their reunion is a long time coming. And the unexpected glimpse into their son's past as they make their way toward their destination is something I hope will inspire you.
David and Sarah Murray reached Blue Ridge, Georgia, about mid-afternoon and decided to look for lodgings there for the night. It was the height of the tourist season, but they were hoping beyond hope they could secure a motel room. Good fortune found them when they inquired about availability at the Comfort Inn whose sign they had spotted from the highway. While David took care of the arrangements, Sarah stood at a distance from the reservations desk, perusing a rack of pamphlets advertising the many attractions the area offered.
The clerk behind the desk, whose name badge read "Roger," greeted David warmly. "How long will you be staying with us?" Roger inquired.
"Just one night," said David. "We're heading up to North Carolina and the Nantahala Mountains tomorrow."
Roger grinned broadly. "That's some mighty gorgeous country up there," he declared. "God's country, I call it. I've been up that way countless times. Is this your first visit to that area?"
"No," David admitted, "but that was so long ago, it will seem new all over again."
Roger took David's credit card and was prepared to swipe it when he noticed the "check I.D." in the place reserved for a signature. "Sir, my I see your driver's license?" he asked courteously.
"Why, certainly," David answered as he retrieved it from his wallet. "I'm glad you caught that, son. Most folks don't and that's a shame. You can't be too careful nowadays."
"Yes, sir, I agree," said Roger as he scrutinized the license. When he saw David's last name and realized his place of residence was Hawaii, he had a sudden flash of memory. He studied David's face and noticed a familiar green in those eyes, such a rare color he had seen only in one other person his entire life. It was a long shot, but curiosity got the best of him. "Begging your pardon, Mr. Murray," Roger said, "but is your wife's name 'Sarah' by any chance?"
David was understandably taken aback. "Why yes, it is," he said. "How did you know?"
"I really didn't know," Roger admitted, "but I took a guess based on your last name and the fact you live in Hawaii. Plus, sir, I've only seen eyes the color of yours on a friend I served with in the military. His name's John Murray. Is he, by any chance, your son?"
At this most unexpected question, David once again experienced the grief he thought he'd buried all those years ago come churning to the surface like a tidal wave. Before he could stop them, he felt tears stinging his eyes and a lump rising in his throat. David lowered his eyes, trying to gain his composure. He was barely able to croak out an answer. "Yes, he was," he said haltingly. "John was killed in the line of duty."
Roger's face fell and his hands began to shake. "I'm so sorry," he stammered awkwardly. "John was a good man, a loyal soldier, and an even better friend. If I'd known, sir, I'd never have brought it up."
David forced a smile. "It's not your fault, Roger," he said with as much grace as he could muster. "Thank you for your kind words about John. Any father wants to hear good things about his son."
"You have every reason to be proud, sir," Roger said, a bit more confidently now. "We were only in our unit together for two months, but he looked after me like I was his kid brother. I was only 18 and scared out of my wits. His encouragement was the glue I needed to hold myself together and make it though."
"I'm glad to know that," David said sincerely, giving permission for a tear to fall as he reached over the counter to shake Roger's hand.
"And there's one more thing you need to know, sir," Roger said as he raised the signed charge slip up with his free hand. "Your stay tonight is on me."
Roger is the perfect example of what it means to "pay it forward." When have you done the same?
Prayer: Father, may You help us all to be like-minded, sympathetic, compassionate, and humble as is Roger in the story. Allow us to pay it forward and bring joy to others in Your name. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.