The prompt: All that matters is to be at one with the living God . . .
What came out of my head:
"All that matters is to be at one with the living God," the woman said. Abby stood like a guard in her doorway and looked carefully at the woman. Her long, brown style-less hair pulled back from her dull peachy skin. The long moss green skirt and beige cotton top. If ever there was personification of the Mother Earth, this hippie-looking woman was it. She stood on Abby's stoop, sharing her natural philosophies, spreading the gospel of taking care of nature so that nature will take care of us.
"And God to you...,"Abby started.
"...is everywhere. He, or she," the woman said, smiling as she corrected herself, "is in everything, everyone. God is in nature and nature is God." The woman held brochures in her hand, but was not offering one just now. "I just want to share this message of peace..."
"That will be enough," Abby said, cutting her off abruptly. "God is nature, nature is God." Abby frowned her disapproval. "You are misguided. Misguided are your notions." The woman tilted her head in confusion. "I..I'm sorry?"
"It's hard to believe someone would call you on this nonsense?"
"Ma'am," the woman started in a soft tone, attempting to quell the argument she saw coming. "It's not nonsense. It's common sense."
"Oh brother," Abby scoffed, tossing a hand in exasperation. "Worship the Creator, not the creation. That's the common sense," she said impatiently. "Psalm 19:1. The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies proclaim his craftsmanship. Nature is an extension of God, not the other way around."
The woman shook her head. "See, it's close-minded people like you..."
"No, no," Abby said, waving her finger. "Nothing closed here. I'm open to God and I guard my thoughts, like the Bible says. You need to look around and use the reason God gave you. It's people like you who are trying to force God out the creation. Be not deceived, my dear, God won't be moved."
The timer from the stove beeped it's interruption. "My cookies. I have to go." Abby picked up a tract from the stack she kept on the table by the door. "Read this. Pray. Salvation is free to all," she said, placing the tract in the woman's hand on top of the brochure she held. "Even you." Abby stepped back, leaving the woman in her frustration, and closed the screen door. She let the woman watch her walk away.
She breathed a heavy sigh. "Another soul for you, Lord," Abby prayed out loud. "I planted the seed. You will water it. You will give the increase." She breathed a breath of satisfaction and hastened to the kitchen to pull the cookies from the oven. "Oh dear, don't let them have been in too long. One lousy minute too long..." She swiftly pulled open the over door and reached in nearly grabbing the sheet of cookies before she realized she didn't have a dish towel in her hand. "Oh, stuffing," she said, annoyed with herself.
"What's wrong, mommy?" Hannah, Abby's 3-year-old daughter, stood naked at her mother's side, hugging her Asian Angel doll.
"Hmm? It's ok, Princess," Abby said absently. "Mommy nearly burned her hand, but God was good and..." Abby looked down at Hannah and laughed at the naked child. "Hannah!" She closed the oven door as she put the cookies on the stove. "Hannah honey, what have I told you about taking your clothes off like that, baby?" Abby pushed the girl forward to her room to get her dressed. "Hannah, Hannah. What am I going to do with you?" Hannah laughed as Abby plopped her on the bed and began to look for the clothes Hannah had hidden somewhere.
After Abby had redressed Hannah, she carried the girl and her Angel doll back to the kitchen to finish checking on the cookies.
She opened the nearby drawer to retrieve the spatula. "See?" She carefully slid the spatula under a cookie to make sure it was as toasty brown as it should be underneath. "All safe. They just have to cool a little more before I move them to the plate." She propped the spatula on the side of the cookie sheet and bent down to stoke Hannah's pitch black hair.
Hannah had been a revelation for her one night. Even though Abby wasn't married, she felt called to adopt a Chinese child after seeing an infomercial one late night. She had just spent the previous two hours in deep prayer about her future, wondering if she was meant to have a family of her own like her twin sister, Gabrielle, who seemed as far from God as one could be. Yet her sister, her visual double, got the degree, found the man, had two boys of her own and never seemed to struggle with any of it. She didn't even seem to care if she had any of these things. It was just like in the book of Psalms. The ungodly seemed to prosper but ultimately God is in control and their seemingly sure footing will become slippery ground and they will be cast down to ruin.
In the meanwhile, she saw the infomercial about the Chinese girls who needed American homes and her heart knew instantly that even without a husband, she was called to become a mother, like Mary even. A modern virgin birth, minus the actual pregnancy.
Hannah was Abby's joy and she was determined to raise her in the way she should go - God's way - so that when she is old, she will not depart from it. It was difficult to do alone and yet Abby knew she was not alone. God was with her, helping her, keeping her aware. Her job was to take care of this child but she was also called to warn people of the coming of the Lord.
Abby knew the signs were all around, including people like her unwanted visitor who espoused the divinity of nature but ironically was a living example of what God said would happen, a falling away from God as people denounced Him more and more and began to have a mentality that anything goes, live and let live, anything is OK as long as people mean well and are good and kind.
She had to show people the truth so their souls would not be lost; damned forever to a hell too unimaginable for most. But this was one of Satan's tricks. Convincing the world that yes, there is a God and He could just as easily be a She and He/She could be anything around us and in us. The word games were shrewd, but Abby knew not to fall for the devil's tricks. She stayed prayed up and made sure Hannah stayed prayed up too.
"Let's sit awhile and wait for them to cool, ok?"
"OK, mommy," Hannah agreed, taking Abby's hand. The pair playfully skipped to the sofa where Abby fell into the soft cushions, then lifted Hannah in the air, making airplane noises as she landed her on her lap. "There. Let's see what's on the Miracle Network, huh?"
Abby felt the cushion beside her for the remote, while she nuzzled Hannah's nose and kissed her forehead. The TV was usually already set to her favorite satellite station, but this morning she had turned to the morning news to watch Gabby's husband, Riley, talk about his newest book, Save Your Money and Your Money Will Save You. He was the one who needed saving, she had thought as she listened to him explain his philosophy.
But that was this morning. Now it was time for the news. She clicked the remote button. A choatic scene emerged before her as a voiceover spoke about yet another bomb scare in some midwestern school. Abby hugged Hannah closer, thinking about the Christian preschool she attended. Terrorists of all kinds went after anybody. Losing Hannah would be the one thing that would kill her for sure. It was her second greatest fear.
"It was yet another day of loss as 20 soldiers were killed today in Afghanistan," the news reporter said. Abby shivered. Wars and rumors of war, she remembered from one of the may sermons Pastor Davis preached on the Miracle Network. The neutral reporter went on to the financial report, talking about the global impact of America's current economic crisis. "One world order," she whispered.
"What, mommy?" Hannah looked up, putting her hand on Abby's cheek and stroking her.
"Nothing, baby," Abby tried to shake of the feeling of foreboding these reports always gave her. "You? You are just fine. If Jesus were to return right now, you, for sure, would be right with Him immediately."
"Jesus," Hannah repeated. "Jesus loves me."
"This I surely know," Abby replied in agreement.
It was her Lord's imminent return that should have given her her greatest comfort but it was in fact her greatest fear. What if she wasn't ready? What if she was left behind? The phone's shrill ring startled Abby out of her thoughts. She gasped. "Gotta grab that, Hannah honey." Abby picked up the girl under her thighs and swung her to the opposite chair to sit so she could answer.
"I'll be right back," she said, patting Hannah on the head.
Abby hurried to grab the phone on the fourth ring.
"Did you see him?"
Abby's shoulders fell. "Yes, Gabby. I saw him."
"Wasn't he great?!"
"Yes, Gabby, he was great."
"Don't let that enthusiasm overwhelm you, ok?"
"What do you want me to say," Abby asked. "He's on a book tour. It's his third book. We already know he's famous, for crying out loud."
"You know, Abby, it's not about being famous. I'm just really proud of him, you know? I should be able to share that excitement with my sister. My twin sister, no less."
Abby sighed. Gabby wasn't wrong but she still had this really demeaning way of lording things over her.
"I know. I know. You should be proud of his success. It's good for all of you." Abby paused as she considered her next words. "Imagine all the good you two could do with all your wealth."
"Oh Abby, don't start."
"What? Is it wrong to help people?"
"We do help people," Gabby said, louder than before. "In our own way. We don't need judgment from you about it."
"I'm not the judge, Gabby."
"No, no," Gabrielle said mockingly. "God is. I know."
"God is not mocked, Gabby."
"I'm not mocking God, I'm mocking you."
The sisters listened to each other's silence.
"Abby, you could be, you could do..."
"Oh now don't YOU start," Abby said with a sigh.
"What? You're my twin Ab. I know what you're capable of."
"God knows what I am capable of as well and we're doing just fine, sis."
Abby heard Gabrielle's boys in the background. "Listen, Abby, I have to go."
"Would you mind? Can I... Will you please let me take the boys to church with me and Hannah on Sunday? Hannah would love the company and..."
"Uh, no, Abby. We won't be here. We're going all the way to New York to meet Riley and have a family weekend because he got a tiny break in his tour."
"Oh. Across the country. Sounds," Abby searched for the safe word. "fun."
"Yeah. Um, maybe next time."
"Yeah. Maybe you'll come too."
"Gabby, time is short you know. Jesus is coming again."
"I hear you, Abby. Gotta go. Love ya."
Abby slowly hung up the phone. Mother against daughter, father against son, sister against sister. Just another sign. Abby heard the news still going. This time it sounded like the national news. Some sort of disaster somewhere. It was all too much. Abby leaned her head against the phone, the wait of her worries bearing down more than usual. Panic beginning to creep in. It settled into her soul when the house briefly shook. The lights dimmed and the sound of a distant alarm rang in her ear.
"Oh my God. My God! My God! The call!" Abby remembered where she was and ran to the living room. The TV was nothing but static and Hannah was not in her chair. All that remained of her was her Angel doll and her clothes.
"Hannah!" Abby screamed in horror realizing what had happened. Her worst fears, her very worst fears. She was left behind and Jesus had taken her daughter so she was left alone too. Abby fell to the floor, feeling the house tremble at God's command. The static of the television fed her hopelessness as she buried her face in the carpet. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me," she cried. "I was your servant. I was your servant! Hannah!"
She was rocking herself in a corner when Gabrielle found her.
Abby rocked, her whispered prayer too faint to understand.
"Abby, look at me."
Abby's eyes widened as they focused on her sister. "Are you an angel? Are you here to help me? Is this some sort of purgatory? But I'm not Catholic. I didn't know," she said, pulling on Gabrielle's arm.
"Abby. Abby," Gabrielle hugged her sister. "It's me, Gabby, don't you know?"
The paramedics touched Gabrielle's shoulder. "It's going to be OK. She's in some sort of shock. I'm sure she'll come out of it before too long."
One paramedic began to check Abby for injuries as the other questioned Gabrielle.
"You found her like this?"
"Yes, about an hour ago. I didn't call right away because I thought she was going to snap out of it. I don't live too far. After the earthquake, I couldn't call her so I came over. I found Hannah outside naked so I knew something was wrong."
"Oh," Gabrielle gave a slight chuckle. "She does that sometimes. Strips and runs around. I don't know why." She pointed to the television. The satellite must have gone out in that little earthquake and it was so loud when I came in, it's a wonder she could hear anything going on around her."
Abby sat before the scene, seeing angels and demons and apocalyptic evidence all around her, her despair clouding her perception, alone in her own unimaginable hell.
What's this about, Monica?
You don't know? Why, it's my own March Madness!
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