1 Hour Later

November 6, 2013 at 10:23 a.m.

1 Hour Later is 1 of 3 conversations.

1 Hour Later
1 Week Later
1 Additional Week Later 
following the blog written 15 Years Ago Today.

1 Hour Later 
Sequence 1 of 3... 

It was the anniversary of the day my dad died 
and I was absorbed in writing a blog in his memory.
(15 Years Ago Today) November 6, 2013 at 10:23 a.m.
After finishing the final details, 
I leaned back in the chair, 
closing my eyes to the words on the screen and stretching my shoulders. 
At that moment the doorbell rang.

I made my way to the door without much thought. 
Thinking back, 
I suppose I assumed it was the neighbor lady;
 she was prone to popping in. But it wasn’t her. 
A sneak peek out my front window revealed a young gentleman. 
Everything about him unveiled his identity – Jehovah Witness
The exception being that this man had come alone, 
no partner; the way I had always done it.

This moment in time felt different as I opened the door. 

Something in his demeanor struck me. 
Old and painful memories 
suddenly settled in the pit of my stomach. 
A looking-in-the-mirror kind of moment came over me as I gazed in his eyes.

Hi there,” I said as I managed to swallow the lump in my throat.

Hello,” he said in formal response.
 I noticed he had a tract in his hand as he extended his arm toward me. 
“I am here today to give this to you.”

Sure. What is it?” I asked.

Well, each of us knows someone dear to us who has passed away. 
That can be a very difficult time in anyone’s life. 
This tract: Can the Dead Really Live Again,
will give you some comfort in knowing what the bible teaches.”

The words of his presentation 
sounded familiar and normal 
but it was his nervousness that struck me. 
He didn’t want to talk or engage. 
He only wanted to get this tract in my hands as quickly as possible and scurry off.

It may have been 
the tone of his voice or the shakiness of his hand 
on the tract as he passed it to me. 
But mostly I think it was the look on his face that made me think of the mirror again.

 I remember being where he was;
 that moment of not wanting this anymore. 
That sense of not wanting to be a part of it anymore;
 going through the motions and emotions because ‘they’ were watching from the car. 
The hypocrisy of doing what I was told to do while not doing what I wanted to do.

Okay. Thanks,” I said as I reached my hand out to take the tract. 
“And your name is…?”

My voice seemed to shake him out of his trance. 
“Brandon. And yours is…?”

We shook hands as he passed me half a smile. I gave him a full, engaging smile and said, “Thank you Brandon. I will definitely look at this.”

He shifted his bag, presumably full of more of the same tracts.
“Ok, you have a good day.”

My heart went out to him. “I will Brandon, you as well.”

Years ago I would have doubted in this moment; wrestling with the idea that this might be a Jehovah-appointed time to return to the role of Jehovah's Witness. 
Those old questions coming back to the surface to haunt me… 
Did I really leave "the truth"? 
Did I really mess it all up?

But now there were no doubts, I knew it was a divine intervention. 

To think an hour ago I had written the words, 
Dad, I'm going back to get 'em."
But they had come to me! It was time to do something different, 
something radical; 
time to step out and do what I never thought I would ever be able to do.

As I waited for the car to work its way through the neighborhood, 
I started asking myself why. 
Why would I walk to the middle of the street? 
Why wouldn’t I just let them pass by? 
But every why was met with the same answer; 
because my heart is breaking for people like Brandon.

Brandon appeared to be someone working his way back; doing the things necessary to earn back some kind of salvation. 
He was on a time table to see how well he would do. 
Would he measure up? 
Would he ever be good enough? 
Would he ever meet the requirement of proving himself to mere men?

God reveals things to you, when you ask Him, and that day He showed me that Brandon was questioning his faith. 
He’d been nervous at my door, questioning if he had "the truth." 
I could sense in my spirit that Brandon just wanted to get out of there. 
I remember that feeling; 
not wanting to do what a Jehovah’s Witness was told to do. 
I remember putting my finger to the doorbell; 
pretending to press the button, while never actually ringing the bell.

There’d been so much weariness; exhaustion from trying to earn the hope of maybe making it through Armageddon; tired of never measuring up or being good enough. 
I’d never have enough hours in the Kingdom work. 
I’d never have enough return visits or bible studies. 
I’d never have enough gestures when I gave my talks on Thursdays. 
It would never, ever be enough.

As I reflected on these things I found myself praying, 
“Lord, I can do this. I am no longer afraid.
 I can march right out there and ask them to come back.”

As I waited in the driveway to put my youngest son on the bus, I purposely took the tract with me so they could see that I was looking at it. 
I waited and waited for the car to work its way through the neighborhood. 
But as it finally circled its way back to the house across the street from mine, a keen sense of nausea rose up in me. 
Calling to God again, 
“Oh Lord, what have I done? 
What was I thinking? 
I don’t know if I can do this! I am so weak!” 
I knew my window of opportunity was closing 
and I felt like Peter, not wanting the rooster to crow.

But in my moment of fear, the Spirit of God rose up in me and said, 
"Melissa you know how to be obedient to Me. 
Go and be obedient again."

And as the car approached the end of my driveway, 
I found myself walking out to the middle of the street. 
I wanted to talk to Brandon and ask him to come back and talk some more. 
But as I approached the car, it was obvious Brandon was not in charge. 
He sat in the passenger seat; timid, unsure, not wanting to make eye contact. 
I noticed two women in the backseat, also reluctant to engage.
I approached the driver, the ministerial servant in the car, and asked if Brandon might be able to come back at another time for a more in-depth discussion of the tract he had given me. 
He told me they were out on a campaign and that Brandon was not from the area.

Noticing his eyes flit to the tract I was holding in my hands, I seized the opportunity to open a conversation. 
I told him about the blog I had just written concerning my dad’s passing 15 years ago followed by the prompt delivery of this tract: Can the Dead Really Live Again?

Isn’t it interesting how God works sometimes,” he responded.

My whole-hearted agreement brought the discussion back to the idea of a follow-up meeting. The ministerial servant told me that Brandon would not be able to return but he and his wife would come back next week and answer any of my questions. He assured me they would not take more than an hour or so of my time and would not charge a fee.

Oh! I never would have thought you’d charge me a fee,” 
I said with surprise.

His eyebrows shot up. “Really? 
Most people think we charge a fee.”

The thought never crossed my mind,” I said.

The conversation was nearing its end. 
I gave him a warm farewell 
and told him I was looking forward to speaking with him again. 

Before I could depart from the car, the gentleman said,
 “I just want you to know that we hardly ever receive this kind of treatment.” 
When I asked him to explain, he went on to say, “You have been ever so kind and nice; so very cordial with us. Thank you. It has been very refreshing talking to you today.”

Well thank you,” I said. “And let me just say I am sorry and would like to apologize on behalf of those that may have mistreated you in the past.”

Thank you,” he said. “We will see you soon.”

As I walked back to my house I processed those words: obedient, kind, nice, cordial. 
I smiled as I realized that the four people in that car had seen Jesus that day. 
They’d seen Him in me. That is how the Holy Spirit works and how I know that He is alive and active, in me. For I in my flesh would act all together different, 
but submitted to The Holy Spirit, I know and believe 
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.*

And now I will continue to pray as I dissect their tract and await their return next week...
*Phillipians 4:13

Writing- Edited by Amy Heidenreich

Images from-Google Images