1. Her Win, Her Choice
Sheva was very competitive and a good athlete. She could pretty much do whatever she put her hands to— or her feet. At school, she was preparing to participate with her team in the various events. Sheva admired and looked up to her brother, Asher. She took all his advice. He was captain of the boy’s team.
When Sheva’s coach discovered there was no one to run hurdles, she turned to her. “You have to do it, Sheva, you CAN do it.” Sheva had never attempted hurdles before. She lined up at the start with the others, her feet poised in racing position. At the sound of the gun, she shot down the lane. In her bird-like fashion, she flew across every hurdle and, like Sheva does, came in first!
The next race, the 800-meter run, was her forte, and she’d been practicing daily. The 800 required endurance, skill, patience, practice and lots of stamina. She was ready. I sat beside Asher in the stands where parents and teachers cheered the students on. What I didn’t know, was that Asher had advised his sister about this race; advice that was given casually to her without a lot of detail. Whatever Asher advised, Sheva took seriously.
The gun went off.
The students began to run as a herd, and soon looked like stampeding horses. With each student racing to win, the herd pace increased until we were all sitting on the edge of our seats.
Sheva was at the back of the pack, and as the others gained speed, Sheva’s pace decreased. Sheva was last, and a good 1⁄2 lap behind everyone. Asher and I watched, perplexed. It was entirely out of character.
On the final lap, the group was well ahead of Sheva. We shook our heads. Asher said, “She’s lost this one.” We looked back at the field to see Sheva’s legs beginning to pump— faster and faster. She was gaining ground quickly. When she reached the herd, she began passing each runner until only the lead runner was left. She slowed her pace, and crossed the finish line second.
We were confused. She was congratulated by all, except her mother, who said, “Sheva, what was that all about? You really lagged but took off at the end!”
“Yeah, Mom. Asher told me to linger at the back and then make a mad dash.”
I smiled. “Why did you put on your brakes when you reached the lead runner?”
“I didn’t brake.”
“Yes, you did. I saw you.”
“She really wanted to win. It meant so much to her.”
2. The Woman Who Cried
She had a name as a child; but it was long forgotten. In the village everyone called her “Whore.” She slept where she could, ate what she found, stole, and lied when it benefited. She did what was needed to survive. Her reputation in the village was sealed.
She’d heard of Jesus, and what she heard made her ache for more. It melted her heart and soul. She longed to be near him. One day, squeezing herself into the crowd with her face veiled, she found herself in the rich man’s house. Finding herself face to face with Jesus, she broke down. Clutching her alabaster jar, she fell at his feet.
Her identity, reputation, and sins were exposed. Like a ceaseless fountain, tears cascaded down her worn cheeks. Afraid to look into the face of Jesus, she leaned over his feet and sobbed like a child. She washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Her alabaster jar contained expensive ointment which she poured over his feet, and the miracle happened. His river of life rushed into her stream; she was drenched in his love and filled with new life.
The crowd was repulsed, claiming she was unworthy to be anywhere near Jesus. But Jesus loved her. Jesus didn’t see a sinful woman. He saw a repentant heart. He saw a woman wise enough to follow and cling to the one who has the power to forgive sins and loves unconditionally. Her ceaseless flood of tears became her fountain of life. She came in a sinner, and left a saint. She won.
3. Two Prisoners Freed
Two weeks after I turned fifteen, a man entered our house with a gun. My mother was the only one home, and he knew that. She was abused and murdered. This evil irrevocably changed the course of our lives. What should have been blessings, became curses. Victories turned to defeat. Love and joy were lost to grief.
I was so sad and depressed I didn’t care whether I lived or died. Suicide was a thought in all our minds. “Living” no longer seemed worth the effort. But, to cause others who were already broken, more grief, suicide was not an option. So, we lived on.
Twenty years on, I was married and had three children. My life was changed by Jesus. I had new joy and reason to live. My past was in the past; no turning back— or so I thought.
Evil showed its ugly face again. I was well, my family and children were fine, but a heavy, black unrelenting blanket of darkness covered me, weighing me down. Without reason, I tried to hide from life again. I wanted a dark corner where I could curl up and die. I felt unable to care for my family. Every possible emotion was at war within me. And then, two guests arrived.
I told Yip I was not interested in talking with them, but I couldn’t get out of hosting them. The man from England was an old friend, but his friend, from Scotland, was unknown to us. I did the needed hosting, and somehow, ended up sharing with the Scottish friend. In a private setting, I somewhat grudgingly told him of the dark hole I’d sunk into.
“Have you ever forgiven the man who murdered your mother?”
I thought, “Of course, I’m a Christian now… Christians forgive.” I told him, “Yes.”
“Well,” he said, “I think you need to do it again. And I believe there is a curse on your family. You pray first, and then I’ll break the curse.”
He came up with this plan so quickly, it all seemed like a bit of hocus-pocus to me. But he also appeared more mature in Christ, more experienced than me, so I decided to go along with it. I didn’t see the harm in doing so.
“Lord,” I prayed, “I forgive the man who murdered my mother.” Simple and to the point. But, as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I sensed a change.
Then the Scotsman started praying for me, in the name of Jesus, and through his blood. That too, was to the point. He broke the curse on our family.
When done, there was such a flood of relief in my soul. The blanket of darkness was whooshed off of me and I was flooded with light. In my mind, I imagined the murderer still in his sin, cursed from his deeds, without hope, without Jesus. I literally cried for him. That wasn’t like me at all. I wanted to meet him to tell him that Jesus loved him, forgives him, and can release him, just like he had done for me. I prayed for him ceaselessly for a month. God gave me love for the person who had wounded me. I realized I was no better than him; the only difference being that I had found grace.
I nearly missed my chance when I was draped in my private darkness. Forgiving set me free and offered grace to the one held prisoner by his evil deeds. Yet, grace is like being offered a glass of water… it’s optional. If you’re thirsty, you’ll drink.
4. The Victory of Defeat
He was marked for defeat. Betrayed with a kiss, he was stripped, whipped, crowned with thorns, nailed to a cross, and died. It would have been a thorough defeat, except death could not hold him. Leaving his grave clothes behind, he rose from the dead, forever blazing a trail for us to follow. He taught:
Turn the other cheek.
If asked for your cloak, give your shirt too.
Forgive seventy times seven.
The first shall be last.
Love your neighbour as yourself… Really? Who does that?
Jesus always was a rebel, never went by the norms, broke the mould. How else could he take us to heaven?
“Peep-hole to Heaven” by God
Simi Sara Thomas