Pastors’ Conference, 1972, ch. 33-34

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Chapter 33

Chapter 33

Glynn knew Wednesday morning what the topic of Sunday morning’s sermon would have to be and the conversations of the rest of the week only confirmed that knowledge. People were scared. If these “terrorists,” a word still new to the American lexicon, could infiltrate what had been assumed to be a secure Olympic Village, an assumption that proved fatal for those 11 Israeli team members, what else could they infiltrate? Some thought the US team should have been brought home immediately. Others thought the military should assist Israel in its retaliatory bombings of Palestinian strongholds. 

The pastor knew, however, that underneath all the talk and saber-rattling going on at the diner and other places around town, a basic emotion had taken hold: fear. He recognized it in himself the instant it was announced that all the hostages were dead. He saw it in the shortened patience Marve had with the children. He saw it in the way people huddled together in worried conversations on the street. He heard it in the anxious prayers offered at Wednesday night’s well-attended service. He saw it in the nervous fidgeting of the volunteers at the hospital. He choked on the increased cigarette smoke at the diner. 

Knowing what he was up against, Glynn was careful in the construction of the morning service. Announcements were kept short and limited to only the most important events. He talked with Richard about hymn selection. The opening hymn, with its bouncing tune, addressed the subject head-on, 

What have I to dread, 
What have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace
With my Lord so dear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms! 
(Elisha Hoffman)

Glynn asked if there were a more contemporary hymn that might address the topic, but Richard convinced him that, at least for this congregation, the familiarity of 19th-century hymns, even with their stilted language and occasionally archaic language, was still more comforting.  He pointed to the second verse of what would be the morning’s second hymn:

Sometimes mid scenes of cloudless doom,
Sometimes where Eden’s flowers bloom;
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
(Joseph Henry Gillmore)

 Both agreed that Horatio G. Spafford’s It Is Well With My Soul, fit the third spot well, and after the offering had been taken, Richard sang Mosie Lister’s 1958 hymn that had become popular.

In the dark of the midnight,
Have I oft hid my face;
While the storm howls above me,
And there's no hiding place;
'Mid the crash of the thunder,
Precious Lord, hear my cry;
"Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.”                    

With such an introduction, there was little doubt the direction Glynn’s sermon was going. The hymns had done their job, though, and the pastor could feel that the morning’s tension had relaxed somewhat as he stepped into the pulpit. The sanctuary wasn’t quite as full as it had been on Easter, there were no folding chairs in the aisles, but it was an attentive audience that sat waiting to see how he would address the subject in a way that would give them a comfort they hadn’t been able to find on their own.

He didn’t bother to smile, as he usually did. He was dressed in his blackest suit, the one usually reserved for funerals. His gaze moved intentionally from one person to the next. He stood behind the pulpit, his hands on either side and solemnly began, “Fear is a natural response to things outside our control. And that fear is not necessarily a bad thing. We look on the horizon and recognize that a severe storm is headed our direction and we take the appropriate steps to ensure our safety. We check the oil in our engines and the air in our tires before making a trip to calm the fear that we might break down. We give our children the newest measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines because inside every parent lies the fear that disease could strike and take our children from us. 

“Not all fear drives us to such logical and common-sense response, though. We read reports of crime in our newspapers and we become more suspicious of people we don’t know. We hear that foreign nations might have the ability to cut off our fuel supply and we begin hoarding gasoline even when we know it’s not safe. And this week, we hear of a new terror, one that comes into the places we’ve always considered safe, and we wonder that, if the Olympic Village isn’t safe, is there any place left that is? We worry that we or someone we love might be next. We fear another outbreak of war.

“In Matthew’s eighth chapter, verse 23, we see an exhausted Jesus, weary from an onslaught of people, crossing a lake with his disciples and no sooner had they cast off from shore when Jesus found a place in the boat to lie down and sleep. He who knew all and was in control of all was sure of their voyage. 

“His disciples, however, as familiar with sailing as they were, did not have the same confidence. A storm comes up and as the wind grows stronger and the waves start lapping over the side of what was most likely a fishing boat, they became afraid. The situation was out of their control and their fear was that the boat would capsize, taking both them and their leader, who they had yet to fully recognize as the son of God, down to the bottom of the lake. They panicked and went running to wake up Jesus screaming at the top of their lung, ‘Lord, save us! We are drowning!’

“I think many of us can identify having had that feeling at some point this past week. We sat there watching events in Munich unfold with the same anxiety as though it were happening right next door, as though the athletes from Israel were our own children. And while we had hope for a minute, when that message came that all had been lost, that there were no survivors, we felt like we were drowning. We felt like our whole world was crashing in like a massive wave. We responded not with confident determination to fight this new terror but with fear that we, too, might become its victim.

“Now is when fear becomes a demon, staring us in the face, leering at us, taunting us with our lack of control. This fear reminds us with an evil glee that we can easily lose what we think we have. This fear tells us that the world is out to get us and we freeze in place. We become bound by that fear that constantly, persistently, whispering in our ears, reminding us of everything that could be taken from us; our jobs, our health, our homes, our children, and even our lives. With each passing moment, this fear strips away our humanity, delighted that it has reduced us to little more than shivering, helpless animals. 

“Like the disciples, we come here, to church, desperate and pleading, ‘Lord, save us! We are drowning! When we are finally feeling that we have lost all control, when we have tried everything we know and all our effort is not enough, when the waves of disaster are knocking us down and moving us backward, that’s when we go running to church, looking for God, hoping that he can save us.

“Then, Jesus responds to us exactly as he did to his disciples. “What are you so frightened about, you little-faiths?” His rebuke almost sounds insulting and from our perspective sometimes it’s easy to judge the disciples harshly. Did they not understand that Jesus was still in control? Did they not have faith that this teacher, who they had just seen heal dozens of people from the most incurable of diseases, could get them across the lake through this storm? 

“But we are no different. We’re all sitting here this morning just as overcome by fear as the disciples were. We have set sail on a voyage without faith, without hope, and paralyzed by a fear we don’t even completely understand. Even worse, we’ve given up. We’ve already thrown in the towel, yielding to terror as though we don’t have any other choice. We’re not even sure that we want to address the matter. Some face fear with apathy, moving powerlessly from one day to the next. Some face fears noisily, making sure everyone around them knows how very afraid they are. Others respond with bold but empty statements that ‘we’ll go over there and show them who’s boss,’ a vacant show of force that’s easy to make while sitting on a tractor in the middle of a field in Oklahoma. Just like the disciples, we’ve allowed fear to swamp the boat.

“To some our fear is justified. For the disciples, had they been on any other boat on that lake, they might have been excused for thinking they were about to drown. But this was no ordinary boat because Christ was on that boat and that made all the difference in the world! 

Glynn paused, made certain he had everyone’s attention, then stepped out to the side of the pulpit before continuing. 

“We sit here this morning afraid of Palestinian terrorists, but Christ is in our boat.

We sit here this morning, our country facing a critical election and we fear that no choice is the right choice, but Christ is in our boat.

We look at our world this morning and we’re afraid we might not have enough gas to get through the winter, but Christ is in our boat.

We consider the strained relationship between the Soviet Union and the United States and we’re afraid that Communism is coming for all of us, but Christ is in our boat.

We look at the condition of our crops and our cattle and we fear prices will be too low for us to cover our debts, but Christ is in our boat.

We examine the state of our society and we fear that ideologies we don’t understand will force us to make decisions we don’t know how to make, but Christ is in our boat.
Our fear has us wondering if all these things happening around us are because our sins are too great, that God must have given up on us, but Christ is in our boat!

Our fear has us looking for a place to crawl up and die because our suffering is so great, but Christ is in our boat!

Our fear is telling us to give up, to just let the waves wash over us, that there’s nothing we can do and drowning is inevitable, but let me tell you again, and I want you to hear it well, Christ is in our boat and when Christ is in our boat there is no room left for fear!

“Christ is in our boat! Don’t be afraid but be of good courage.

Christ is in our boat! Look to Him in whom you believe and speak to him.

Christ is in our boat! And in him, a thousand years is as a day. He’s got this.

Christ is in our boat! And his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His ways are better than our ways.

Christ is in our boat so there is no evil, there is no power, there is nothing on this planet that can stand against us.

Christ is on our boat! Oh ye of little faith, do you not trust in God to deliver you not only from this moment of fear, but from the next moment of fear, and the moment after that and the moment after that?

Christ is in our boat and just as surely as he was in the boat with the disciples he is in the boat with us here in this sanctuary reminding us that the only sure answer to fear is faith, reminding us that it is he who calms the seas and settles the waves, reminding us that he’s got the whole world in his hands, from the little bitty babies to the nations and the armies and the terrorists of this world.

“Christ is in our boat. Lose all your security and let him keep you safe. Let your lives be broken so that we rest upon the strength of God alone. In our hours of temptation and affliction, know that God is standing by our side, keeping us resolute, walking us hand in hand through the valley of the shadow of death so that we might fear no evil. His rod and his staff watch over us.

“Now be careful. Just because Christ is in our boat is no reason to be cocky and overconfident. Remember how, in another instance perhaps on this same lake, Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and wanted to walk out to him. Jesus told him to go for it and Peter jumped out of that boat and started walking out to Jesus. But then he saw the waves and he felt the wind and what happened? He got scared! He had been so confident when he first stepped out of the boat! He was sure that HE could walk on water just as Jesus was. But when he was faced with the realities of life, when he looked and saw the danger that was all around him, fear grabbed hold of him and he started to sink! Why? Because it was only as long as his eyes were on Jesus, his focus was on the son of God, that his faith was strong enough to keep him afloat. 

“Christ is in our boat. Jesus gives the ability to rise above the storm and walk on water, but we don’t do this by our own power. Our focus, our attention, cannot be on the threat of terror, cannot be on the uncertainty of politics, cannot be on any of the other things going on around us. Our focus and our attention must be on God.

“When the disciples saw this they said among themselves, “Whatever sort of man is this—why, even the wind and the waves do what he tells them!”

Our faith in Christ leads us to an astonishment that should drive us to our knees. In wonder, we kneel before him. In amazement, we yield our will to his. For when Christ is in the boat, fear gets tossed overboard.”

By the time he was finished, Glynn was visibly drenched in sweat, not so much from the exertion of delivering the sermon, though it had been considerable, but because the air conditioning unit had stopped functioning about five minutes after he started. The response at the invitation might have been significant, but Glynn saw how people were struggling. A couple of those with asthma had pulled out their inhalers. Others were using whatever they had close, Sunday School quarterlies, worship bulletins, random pieces of paper from their Bibles, to try and fan some kind of breeze. Nothing was working. Glynn cut the invitation after the first verse and encouraged people to get a drink of water from the fountain in the hallway if they needed.

The four deacons who were present quickly assembled outside, knowing that something would have to be done as soon as possible. While September’s temps were generally off the 100-degree mark, high 90s were still possible and just as dangerous. 

“I’m pretty sure the unit had a ten-year warranty and it’s only been about six years since it was installed,” Alan was saying as Glynn joined the group.
“Probably isn’t anything significant,” Buck commented. “A leak in a hose could have caused the freon to leak out.”

Glynn stood there with his suit coat draped over his shoulder, the outline of his undershirt clearly visible through his wet dress shirt. He was still trying to catch his own breath and was content letting the others talk through the problem and possible remedies.

Horace looked over at the preacher and grinned. “In hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best day to wear a black suit, pastor.”

Glynn nodded. “In hindsight, swimwear would likely have been more appropriate but I don’t think anyone wants to see that.”

Roger Sutherland, who had been listening silently with his hands shoved in his pockets finally spoke up. “You know, I might have to dig around in the barn for it, I’m pretty sure I have the gizmo for testing the freon levels. If it’s just a hole or a crack in a line somewhere, we can fix that. It’ll just be mornin’ before we can get any more freon.”

The others nodded. “What’s freon costing now, two or three bucks a can?” Alan asked.

“Somewhere in that neighborhood,” Buck answered. “Little enough I’ll just buy a can if that’s what we need and donate it to the church. No sense taking it out of the budget if we don’t have to.”

They all agreed that having Roger test the unit and add freon as needed was the best route to go. That still left another issue to resolve, though.

“What should we do about the evening service?” Glynn asked. “I’m not inclined to cancel but I don’t think we can ask people to sit in a hot and stuffy sanctuary like that when the windows don’t open.”

The men stood there scratching their heads, more in favor of canceling than not, when Buck offered a different idea. “You know, when I was a boy, back in the days before air conditioning, there were a lot of times we’d have church outside under a makeshift cover of some kind. I don’t know that we need a cover, but why couldn’t we set up chairs here in the yard between the sanctuary and fellowship hall and have church out here? There’d be a bit of a breeze and it’d definitely feel cooler than it would inside.”

Glynn perked up. “You know, that could be a lot of fun. We’d have to sing without the piano, of course, but I don’t think Richard would mind that for one service.”

“Kind of like an old-fashioned camp meetin’,” Horace added.

Glynn tried thinking of any downside to the plan. “We’ll need to get the word out, let people know to dress appropriately for outdoors. Anyone opposed to me not wearing a coat and tie tonight?”

“Just tell my wife and she’ll make sure everyone in town knows, church member or not,” Horace said. “That woman is the best emergency broadcast system this town has.”

“And you’re fine in short sleeves, preacher, as long as you’re not wearing your bathing suit,” Alan teased.

The men left as the unofficial meeting adjourned and everyone went home. Glynn was glad the air conditioning in the parsonage was working and went straight to the shower while Marve fixed lunch. 

“Daddy, did someone pour water on you?” Hayden asked between bites of his chicken leg.

“No, it just got really hot in church this morning,” Glynn answered. 

“Was it as hot as hell?” Hayden asked.

“Hayden Wayne!” Marve immediately exclaimed. “You know better than to talk like that!”

“It’s just what someone said at church,” the child attempted to explain. “They said Daddy gave them a touch of hell so they’d appreciate heaven.”

Glynn couldn’t help laughing, despite an ominous glare across the table from Marve. “I’m sure it felt that way, but you still need to watch your language, young man.” He looked back across the table and winked at Marve.

Marve shook her head and shared a knowing glance with Lita.

“I know, Mom,” she said dryly. “They can’t help being boys, can they?”

Glynn laughed hard enough he almost choked on his mashed potatoes. Regardless of what might be going on in the rest of the world, everything was still normal at home.

Chapter 34

Chapter 34

With Labor Day and the Olympics behind them, people across Oklahoma returned to business as usual. September tended to be a quiet month, anyway, with harvests winding down, stock sales focused on calves, and most people more concerned about football and the new fall lineup of television shows such as The Waltons, The Bob Newheart Show, and one that Glynn found particularly interesting, M*A*S*H. Not that he would publicly admit to even watching the show, given the general consensus that the movie and book on which it was based were both widely considered vulgar. Still, it didn’t come on until after the kids were in bed. It was a quiet vice that would likely go away if the ratings never took off. 

There was a calm sense of relief that came with September. The routine was familiar and welcoming. People knew what to do. There was no guesswork to the schedule, no holidays to interrupt. Even national politics had yet to really grab hold of the general public conversation. Temperatures fell back to a more comfortable, liveable condition, and Glynn could tell as he walked through town that, generally, moods had improved. With the exception of rather minor challenges here and there, people were happy.

As he sat at the desk in the church office, however, Glynn was starting to feel some pressure. The state pastors’ retreat was at the end of the following week and on Tuesday of the same week would be the trip to Bartlesville to check Hayden’s eyes. Both came with their own challenges and there was barely a moment when Glynn wasn’t thinking about one or the other. Marve mentioned too many times that he wasn’t paying attention to what was going on right in front of him, whether it be a dinner conversation or something the kids were doing or even the school’s first-ever home football game. He rambled through Wednesday night’s prayer meeting. He appeared distracted in almost every conversation. 

At the same time, the associational executive committee kept meeting, looking at possible candidates to be the new Director of Missions. The work was disheartening for everyone on the committee as they continued to find serious character flaws with each of the people the state convention had recommended. Glynn was beginning to wonder if there was anyone who was morally upstanding enough to lead them.

The frequent meetings did give Glynn a chance to discuss his sermon for the pastors’ retreat. Everyone on the committee was going and where Glynn’s personal resources on the topic were weak, Clement and Bill were both happy to offer books and magazine articles they had saved on the topic. The other pastors did their best to be encouraging. That one of them would be asked to speak at the event was exciting. Despite the challenges of the summer, they felt as though the state convention was finally giving them some of the attention they had long wanted.

Sitting at his desk, though, surrounded by the borrowed books and smudged copies of articles, Glynn felt completely alone. Death was not a topic he felt qualified to discuss in detail. While he had officiated over a number of funerals, especially since moving to Adelberg, he had managed to avoid any direct interaction with the loss of someone. Both his parents and siblings were alive and in reasonable health as were Marve’s. Even across his extended family and a host of cousins, they had all managed to escape even the shadow of death. To a large extent, death was a work thing, something he oversaw. Grief was to be managed for others. Comfort was a concept he was expected to carry in his pocket and dish out in appropriate volume when called upon.

Glynn wondered what it must feel like to truly face death. Jerry was probably the one reasonably close person that he might have asked, but he hadn’t. The preacher had never faced a direct threat in any way. He had avoided the entanglement of military service in Vietnam. He hadn’t experienced a life-threatening disease. And while there had been some youthful moments of carelessness in during his brief college experience that might have been life-threatening had they gone wrong, none of them had yielded anything more than the emotional thrill ride he had sought from them.

As much as he tried to focus and get something solid written down, though, Glynn found himself distracted. The insurance company had said they would only cover 60% of Hayden’s initial visit to the ophthalmologist and only 40% of any successive appointments. This was going to be difficult to do on his salary. One visit was going to cost more than Glynn made in a week, nearly $100 more. While they had enough in savings to cover the first visit, any additional visits would force them to face the question of either denying their son the care that he needed or going into debt.

Being neighbors with the president of the bank had some advantages. In casual conversations, while standing in their front yards, the promise of an unsecured loan at a reasonable interest rate of only 12% was offered without any additional background checks or collateral. All Glynn would have to do is call the bank and the necessary papers would be available for him to sign the next day. The banker also offered his influence in getting Glynn one of the new BankAmericard credit cards that were becoming popular. He assured the preacher that, should additional funds be necessary to pay for healthcare, they would be there.

At the same time, though, Glynn had strong feelings about unnecessary debt. Paul’s letter to the church in Rome had been exceptionally clear on the subject. 

Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America

The phrase, “Owe no one anything,” was stuck strongly in Glynn’s mind. How could he, as a pastor, go into debt when such a direct command was sitting right there in scripture? Sure, there were times when debt was unavoidable, such as buying a vehicle or a house. But was a medical expense unavoidable?

On one hand, Hayden’s behavior at school had improved. He had started participating better in class, sitting down when asked to do so, and rarely walked away during storytime. So, maybe there wasn’t really a problem after all. The situation seemed to be solving itself. To take out any kind of loan when there wasn’t a significant problem to address seemed foolish. 

At the same time, if there was a problem, which only the ophthalmologist seemed capable of discerning, then Glynn had an obligation to care for his child. Scripture was just as unwavering on that topic. 1 Timothy 5:8 was especially clear:

If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

There was no way Glynn would consider not taking care of his baby boy. Even if there hadn’t been such a direct command supporting it, his own sense of morality said that he had to do whatever was necessary to take care of his family. The question, however, was whether debt was necessary? Were there other options that they should be considering?

“If it’s going to bother you so much, why don’t you talk to your Dad?” Marve suggested. “I can talk to mine, too. Maybe, between our two families, we can cobble together enough to pay the bills without having to rely on the bank or anyone else. Besides, we’ve got enough to cover this first visit. You’re worrying over problems you don’t even know you have yet.”

“I just want to be ready for whatever the doctor tells us,” Glynn replied. “If we’re sitting there in that office and he says that Hayden needs glasses, then I want to be sure we can afford those glasses. If he says that there’s some other treatment that he needs, I want to know that we don’t have to hesitate in signing him up for that. We shouldn’t be in a position where we have to say anything other than, ‘Go ahead, set it up.’ Anything short of that feels as though we’re failing to trust God.”

Marve reached over and took Glynn’s hand as they sat at the dining room table. The hour had grown late and the kids had been in bed for quite a while. She was tired but knew that her husband would spend yet another sleepless night tossing and turning in bed, keeping her awake as well if she didn’t find a way to help him work through this problem.

“So trust God, if that’s where the crux of this problem is, Glynn. You know the Bible better than I do. How many times does it mention trusting God to take care of our needs? I can think of three just sitting here without opening my BIble. Having a plan in your back pocket isn’t trusting in God, it’s trusting in your plan. Plans, even the best of plans go wrong. What if something prevents the bank from giving us a loan? What if no one in our family can help? Both of those scenarios seem silly, I know, but if there’s one thing we both should know by now it’s that anything can happen. Only God seems to have anything that resembles control and, between you and me, after the Olympics, I’m beginning to question whether he’s got all that tight a grip on things. This is one of those situations where we have to make a decision. Either we trust God or we don’t, and if you’re not going to trust God on this, Glynn Waterbury, you need to resign.”

“Trusting God does not mean we make foolish financial decisions, though,” Glynn countered. “Proverbs 16:3, ‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.’ Luke 14:28, ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and consider the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?’ Psalm 90:12, ‘Teach us to number our days, that we may gain in wisdom.’ Trusting and planning may seem oppositional to each other, but there has to be a way for them to work together. We plan for the worst and trust God that the worst doesn’t happen and if it does that he will provide the means, through whatever sources, to take care of our needs. You’re right, this is a critical moment, one where we can and should be examples of leadership. When the people in our church look at our lives and see how we handle this, it has to be an example they can follow, one that leads them toward a path that God approves, not one that leaves them with more questions than answers. We have to get this right.”

Marve’s belief in God was as strong as Glynn’s on any day but she did not like having scripture thrown in her face as though she were a novice. “So, what are you going to do then, with Proverbs 19:6, ‘A man’s mind plans his steps, but the Lord directs his way?’ How do you justify deliberate misuse of Luke 14:28 in light of Proverbs 19:21, ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established?’ And come on, how many times have you thrown Isaiah 8 at a situation? Those words are practically tattooed on the back of your hand! ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ I’ve heard you preach from that text so many times I can almost quote the whole thing. Don’t you think it’s a little bit hypocritical of you to sit here right now and consider anything other than trusting God completely to take care of our son’s health?”

“And what if I’m too afraid to trust God on this one?”

Glynn’s words came out forcefully and he pounded his fists on the kitchen table. He immediately hated himself for letting the question come out of his mouth. Now that it had, though, he had little choice but to follow up. “I’m scared, Marve. It’s easy enough to trust God about things that are happening to other people. It’s easy to trust God when one of our church members is sick and we pray for God to heal them. It’s easy enough to trust God to stop the rains before it floods everyone’s fields and ruins the planting or harvest seasons. I can even trust God when it seems like the politicians in Washington are nothing but a bunch of godless idiots. But when it comes to my little boy? Not so much. What if he has some kind of disease that requires long-term care? What if he’s going blind and there’s nothing we can do to stop it?”

Glynn was sobbing by the time he finished. Marve squeezed his hands even tighter as she leaned against the back of her chair. For everything they had been through, she had never seen Glynn this distraught over anything. His had always been the faith that was solid, unwavering, ready to take on any challenge that God might throw at them. Quitting his job at the plant hadn’t been this big of a decision. Moving the family across the country to Oklahoma had not caused him anywhere near this much of a challenge. Now that it was his own family, his own son, that was on the line, though, everything was different. There were no assurances in the words on a page that was concrete enough to convince him that his little boy was okay, and when she reached the point now where she could be honest with herself, Marve wasn’t all that certain, either.

She wanted to be tough with her husband. Marve wanted desperately to tell him to suck it up, be strong, be the man of the household, the leader of the church, and the man of God that he was supposed to be. She could imagine herself standing up, getting in his face, and throwing a box of tissue at him, demanding that he dry his tears. Instinctively, though, she knew that those impulses were wrong. This was where Glynn and Hayden were so much alike. Overwhelmed and over-stimulated, they both broke down and needed a soft, guiding voice to get them back where they could control their emotion. 

Marve thought hard as the silent seconds passed between them. Glynn’s head hung low, his hair brushing against the table. She knew the right words had to be there, somewhere, if only she could find them. As much as she loved her husband, right now she was angry that he wasn’t being the strong foundation he’d always been before. Seeing him crumble was frightening. Finally, she said, “This is your Abraham moment.”

Glynn raised his head and looked across the kitchen table at his wife. He could see the weariness and worry in her eyes. He loved her. He loved his family. Still, it took him a moment to realize the reference Marve was making. “Be willing to sacrifice your only son,” he said, summarizing the story from Genesis where God had told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. “And trust God to provide a ram.”

Marve nodded and smiled. She recognized the look of clarity that moved over Glynn’s face, the expression he would get when he finally understood something that, moments ago, had seemed a mystery to him. Never had that look been such a relief as it was now.

Slowly, he sat back up, wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, and squeezed Marve’s hands as tightly as she had been holding his. “Of course, you’re right. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. Even in the face of the ultimate sacrifice, God provides what we need at exactly the time we need it.” He sat back in the chair and felt a sense of relief rush over him. This was his Abraham moment. Now, the path seemed obvious. They would go to Bartlesville with nothing more than what was in their savings and they would trust God even if the news wasn’t good. An example had already been set. All they had to do was follow it.

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