Letting It Shine
By Dennis van Scoy
It was a cloudy, dismal spring day, the kind of day that left you feeling damp to the bone. Tom and Betty Schlotts got into their car to leave Newark's Oak Haven cemetery, and begin the hour-long return drive to their home in Ridgeville. As they buckled their seat belts and waited momentarily for the traffic to exit the cemetery, Tom broke the silence.
"Boy…I'm glad that's over," he said sarcastically.
"Yeah..." Betty replied in agreement. "I thought those prayers were going to go on all day." She squirmed slightly in her seat as their car began to move.
"And those church people….Pl-l-l-lease." Tom shook his head. "I mean….all that singin' and hand raisin'. It's hard to imagine Uncle Andy turning out that way."
"He sure changed over the last ten years or so." Betty sighed with pity. "He used to be the life of the party, but toward the end there, all he could talk about was God and religion!" She shook her head. "He got so touchy about music he'd listen to…or movies he'd go see."
"I'll tell you who I blame," Tom asserted angrily. "Her…that's who…Judy!"
Tom shook a cigarette from a package in his right hand and placed it between his lips. "Ever since she got her nose stuck in that bible a few years back, she got goofier by the day…. and she just pulled Andy right on into it." He lit his cigarette and snorted smoke like an angry bull.
"I know…they both talked like God was their personal friend or good buddy…like He was standing next to them all the time or something."
"Yeah, there was something different about Andy for sure," Tom lamented. "Almost like he was anesthetized. Even when things weren't going well for him…he just kept raving about God!" He shook his head slowly. "I just don't get people like that…I mean religion's got its place on Sunday morning, but c'mon not all the time."
"Boy, do you remember that temper of his? He used to go to fist city with anyone at the drop of a hat. I guess I really didn't miss that aspect of him," Betty said absolutely. "It's just weird how his tastes changed…like he had a personality transplant."
As Tom made a right turn onto Highway #94 and drove south down the Colorado turnpike, they both pondered over the funeral's events and the resounding message concerning eternal salvation. They pictured Tom's Uncle Andy in their minds, compared him to the person he had been in his earlier years and considered the depth of his legacy.
After five minutes of silence, Betty again voiced her thoughts. "Still…I gotta admit that Andy sure did become a lot softer these last years. I used to think it was just because of his heart condition, but now…I…I…just don't know."
"Well, maybe leaving that prominent job at the bank and becoming a school janitor mellowed him. After all, he didn't have to be the tough lending officer anymore."
"I don't know Tom…there was just something different about his relationships with people….almost as if he liked everybody!"
Tom brought down his window slightly and tossed out his cigarette onto the roadway. "Maybe dreamers like Andy just mellow with age…I mean, take his writing…another dream! I told him when he got started to stop writing things about religion, and do commercial stuff like Tom Clancy or Stephen King, but oh no…he had this thing about giving glory to God! Is that goofy or what?"
"Oh, Tom…" Betty began with some regret and sympathy in her voice. "I guess we just didn't know your Uncle Andy and Aunt Judy like we thought we did." Betty slid out of her shoes and stretched her legs. "Maybe we should have gone to church with them a time or two – heaven knows they invited us often enough. Then we might have seen what made such a change in them...I know Andy told me once that he found God by reading the words of the bible."
"By the way Betty," Tom inquired with curious sincerity, "don't we have a bible lying around somewhere at home?"
"Yes, Judy gave us that one for Christmas two years ago. I think it's still on the shelf in the entryway closet."
"You know Betty…" Tom began with cautious reservation, "…maybe the changes in Andy and Judy weren't so bad after all. I mean…they seemed to grow deeper in love every day, were always kind to other people and forgave everybody."
"Yeah…something certainly changed those two." Betty spoke, as she slipped back into her shoes. "Judy said it was Jesus…what do you think?"
"I guess it could be…" Tom replied with guarded reservation. "Truth is, it would take Jesus to make a saint out of my Uncle Andy! Yet I know there was indeed something different…a calmness…an order, even purpose to his life that wasn't there before. Why, I even heard that Uncle Andy and Aunt Judy were spending a lot of their free time delivering meals to the needy and fixing up that old homeless shelter on Tenth street…hey…come to think of it, that preacher did say faith in Jesus changes people…"
"Tom?" Betty asked cautiously. "Are you happy with our life the way it is?"
"What do you mean?" he replied, with feigned surprise.
"I…I…mean…don't you feel like something's missing sometimes…like there's more to life than our day to day?" She sighed with some longing. "Something else that preacher said hit me…he said Jesus came so we could have life in abundance. Maybe that's what Andy had…a satisfaction…a confidence…an abundance about his life."
Betty shrugged her shoulders, "I just know was there was something different about Andy!"
Tom turned slightly in his seat and looked at Betty. "To be honest honey, I've been a little envious of the happiness they seemed to have in their lives…" He paused momentarily to ease the lump forming in his throat. "It's caused me to think that there's got to be more…"
"Tom?" Betty interrupted. "Maybe when we get home, maybe we could do a little reading in that bible…see if we can find out what Andy meant about finding God in there."
"I'm glad you mentioned that Betty," Tom stated with a notable sense of relief. "I think that's a good idea, it's kinda been in the back of my mind too...because there sure was something different about Uncle Andy."
"…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16 NIV)
Denny Van Scoy is a retired Police officer turned Christian, freelance writer. He and his wife, Deb, have nine adult children and twenty grandchildren, and they make their home in Iowa. If you would like to write to Dennis, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.
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