08 Mar A Price to Pay
As Ebin boarded the train he looked around for his berth. He was glad when he discovered that he had a lower side-berth and a window seat. He knew he wanted sometime to talk it over with the Lord and under the circumstances, and his allotted berth seemed to be ideal for that.
“Alright Lord,” he almost said aloud. “Let’s make a deal. She knows I’m travelling by this train and that I’ll be in Nagpur by eleven in the morning. If she comes to the station to receive me, that means it is an all-clear signal from you. While if she doesn’t come it means I shouldn’t go through with it. But I am ready either way, Lord.” He determined that he would only act if God confirmed His leading.
He tried to go off early to sleep but found he couldn’t. He was too anxious about the outcome of His leading. He could not sleep the whole night. All he heard was the steady rhythm of the sound of the train rattling on the tracks as it hurtled into the darkness.
At around 4 am he got up and tried to read the Bible on his iPad. He found he couldn’t concentrate and felt too tired after all that tossing and turning.
Around 10 am the train reached Wardha station. Ebin found his heart beating loudly as it was just a little over an hour before he would arrive at Nagpur.
After sometime he looked out the window and noticed that the train was now in the suburbs and was only ten minutes away from Nagpur station.
Soon the train began slowing down and he could make out the multiple railway tracks outside the window as it approached Nagpur. Ebin felt his anxiety reach a feverich pitch as the train entered the station. His eyes pealed, he scanned anxiously the sea of faces on the platform.
Yes ! He could hardly believe it. It was her !
He had felt deep inside that she would not really come and the shock of seeing her overwhelmed him. The Lord had heard his prayer. There was no doubt about it.
“Dolly!” he yelled, unable to contain his joy.
He could see her looking around, her keen eyes trying to locate the owner of the voice.
She saw him and waved. He waved back excitedly.
Their eyes met and she smiled. He took up his suitcase and elbowed his way towards the door. He jumped off the train and set his suitcase down. She came up to him and greeted him.
“Hi Dolly! Thanks for coming,” he said. “I didn’t expect it.”
“There must be a reason why I came, don’t you think?”
“You catch on fast. I must admit that.”
Ebin felt overjoyed that the Lord had confirmed his decision.
That afternoon, as Ebin sat with Cyrus, at the restaurant, he couldn’t help being excited about it all.
“There’s no doubt about it, Cyrus. God confirmed it. That’s all that matters,” said Ebin.
“Ebin, I still think you should wait a bit. Don’t move too fast,” said his friend.
“Oh, come off it. What more confirmation do I need?”
“What about her commitment to the Lord ?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, are you sure she’s a believer, like you?”
“Look, she sings in the choir at the church. And attends our youth meetings. What more proof do you want?”
“A believer is more than that. And if she isn’t a believer then you might get into trouble marrying her. Remember, what the Bible says about not being married to unbelievers.”
“So are you saying that her coming to the station was a coincidence? That it had nothing to do with God?”
“I’m not saying that. I’m only saying that even the devil can arrange circumstances to prompt us to make a wrong decision. Obedience to the Word of God is more important than coincidences or circumstances. We can’t rely only on our emotions.
“Oh come off it, Cyrus. You’re jealous. That’s all I can say.”
“If you say so. But I feel I should warn you, as a friend.”
“Okay. See you. I’ve got to get back to work.”
They both got up and Cyrus shook Ebin by the shoulders.
“Will be praying for you,” he said.
Ebin felt his euphoria gradually evaporate. His friend had somehow punctured his joy at having seen her at the station. Anyway, there was no harm in finding out about Dolly’s commitment to the Lord. Even though he was still certain she had come to the station because the lord had led her in answer to his prayer.
He met Dolly on Saturday in the youth meeting. He stopped her soon after the meeting and said, “May I talk to you a moment”
She flashed her smile at him, “What is it?”
“Just wanted to ask you something.”
“ Tell me.”
“What do you think of Jesus, Dolly?”
“I don’t understand. What do you mean?”
“Do you have a personal relationship with him?”
“I don’t get you.”
“I mean, have you accepted him as personal Saviour and Lord in your life?”
“Look are you trying to be spiritual with me, or something?”
“No, I didn’t mean to offend you, but-“
“Look if you really want to know, Jesus was a revolutionary, who served as an example to us. He taught us how to live.”
“But do you believe that he is the only way to God? Do you believe he is the son of God? And if we repent he forgives us and takes away our sin and gives us a new life?”
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Jesus was a model of a good human being.”
Ebin felt a lump in his throat. She isn’t a believer, he thought. She doesn’t know what I’m talking about.
“Can I go now?” She asked him. He could sense her hostility.
“Next time don’t ask me anything about religion,” she said and walked away.
I messed it all up, he thought.
When Ebin met Cyrus that evening he couldn’t conceal his anger.
“You’re the one who messed it up for me, Cyrus.”
“What d’you mean?’
“She’s not a believer. Does that make you feel good? I wish I hadn’t asked her about it.”
“Better late than never. What did she say?”
“How does it matter? She’s not a believer. “
“So, what are you going to do?”
“Nothing. I can pray that she becomes a believer.”
“Which may or may not happen.”
“It will happen. Remember the Lord made her come to the station.”
“I know you’ll get angry at what I have to say next, but I need to tell you something anyway.”
“You’ve messed my life enough. What else can you add to that?”
“I think you should give her up. There’s always a chance she may never become a believer.”
“Give her up? That would be unbearable. I like her too much.”
“Again, it’s your choice. But I want to warn you again. Maybe, for all you know God may have someone else in mind for you if only you are willing to wait.”
“I don’t think so.”
Ebin felt deflated as Cyrus left.
He was obsessed with Dolly. He felt so frustrated and helpless. Maybe he had to act. Or ask God to act.
The next morning he received a text message from Dolly on his phone.
Ebin, I can’t live without you. My dad has been asking me regarding my marriage.. He asked me if I had anyone in mind. I told him I did. And that I liked you very much. My parents would like to meet you. I know we have our differences. I may not ever be as religious as you. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be happy together. It’s all a question of making adjustments. I’m sure we will get along well. Let me know asap.”
He was so disturbed by the message that he hurried to the park that evening. He sat on a bench in the park, going through the text message repeatedly, captivated by it. At the same time, Cyrus’s warnings seemed to weigh on his mind. He felt like he was on the horns of a gut-wrenching dilemma.
Abraham must have felt like this, he thought, when he was confronted with the decision to slay his son in obedience to God’s command. After much agony and soul searching, realizing that like Abraham he had to pay the price, Ebin surrendered himself to God. His hands still trembling, he typed out a text message on his phone.
Dear Dolly. I’m sorry for what I have to write. I thank you for considering me as a possible life-partner. But I have to say that I am unable to accept the proposal. What you call my religious or spiritual side is really the most important part of my identity. And I’m afraid I don’t want to compromise on that. So please don’t think I’m rejecting you as a person. I am merely being as sincere as I can in telling you this. I am sure you will find someone more suitable for you. No hard feelings.
He could sense a calm take over him as he sent the text message to her.
Yet he knew it was not going to be easy for him to recover. But somehow he was also sure God would provide him the necessary grace to get over it.
Dr. Anil Z. Mathew is Former Head of Dept of Eng. Hislop college, Nagpur. Wife Alice serving as High School teacher. Both are involved in UESI ministry for almost 3 decades. Son Ashish serves as an Engineer at Palampur, Himachal Pradesh.