A Short Story
The old house had stood since 1896 when Mrs Appleby’s father had finished building it. In those days it was beautiful – a single storey dwelling built of wood and painted white. The sun used to bounce off the boards. A wraparound porch contained several rocking chairs where Ma and Pa sat at the end of the day reading their Bibles and thanking the Lord for His many blessings, as they watched the sun disappear beyond the horizon.
As Summer turned to Autumn Ma spread quilts over both their knees to keep the chill out. Quilts that had been made with love and prayer. Every stitch contained thanks for her husband and little girl Bessie.
The house was a happy house with first Bessie and then her brother Dan toddling around. Love and laughter rang out. And praises for God who was so good. Ma and Pa had married young and had a great love for each other and for God.
As Bessie and Dan grew so their love for the Lord blossomed. Their laughter bounced off the walls. The house seemed to echo their laughter as it creaked in unison.
The old house was well lived in and well loved but then the conflict in Europe came. The family watched and prayed that America would stay out of the fighting. Ma and Pa’s prayer on the porch became ever more desperate but “not our will but Yours be done” they cried.
The day the old house dreaded arrived – Dan disappeared to war. Bright smiles from Ma, Pa and Bessie hid breaking hearts. “Keep him safe, Lord”, was the cry from the rocking chairs at night. Followed by a “Bring him home. Yet not our will but Yours be done.” Bessie sat holding her parents hands as they held their nightly vigil. The old house felt their need for comfort. As they rocked, the boards beneath their feet creaked.
Ma was in the kitchen with Bessie making jam on that fateful day. Pa was in the barn milking Daisy as he heard the scream. Pa ran outside in time to see the post boy cycling away. As he entered the kitchen, Pa saw the telegram on the table before he saw Ma, crumpled in a heap on the floor, sobbing and clinging to Bessie. The sun streamed in through the window, bouncing off Bessie’s golden curls. Why did the sun still shine when their world had been shattered? The jam boiled over on the stove, as the smell of burning filled the air, but no-one cared about that. Outside the birds sang gaily. Inside only wracking sobs could be heard. Even the old house was silent, as if it mourned the loss of one young man on a muddy battlefield far away. “Why Lord?” sobbed Ma. “Yet not our will but Thine be done” echoed in her heart.
The old house was never the same again. Ma and Pa still sat in their rockers every evening trying to count their blessings but the atmosphere was more sombre now. Still they thanked the Lord for each other and for Bessie but questioned why their son had gone. “Yet not our will but Thine be done.” They still loved the Lord but their joy was gone. The old house stayed quiet.
Mrs Appleby rocked in her chair, covered with the quilt Ma had made, was it really eighty years ago? Mrs Appleby smiled, remembering ma and her small stitches – each one sewn with love. Mrs Appleby remembered her Pa, so strong and so in love with his family and the Lord. Mrs Appleby remembered Dan. She remembered his teasing. She remembered the young man, so smart and upright in his soldier’s uniform. “Come back safely”, she had said. Dan, his blue eyes suddenly serious replied “Bessie, remember not my will but Thine be done” and then he was gone.
Mrs Appleby glanced around her. She saw the peeling paint on the house, a mucky white now. She looked to the old barn, many years had passed since it housed Daisy the cow. Mrs Appleby smiled, as she rocked. “This house has been loved”, she thought. “This house has known the presence of the Lord.” Mrs Appleby thought back to that fateful day in 1918. She remembered clinging to Ma and Pa in desperation and then the ‘warm glow’ had happened. Mrs Appleby was suddenly bathed in light and warmth. She felt calm. She felt loved. She knew without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus stood with them in their pain and in their hurt, Jesus shared it all. She tried to tell Ma and Pa, but they did not feel what she felt.
As Mrs Appleby sat rocking, remembering, she felt it again… that warm glow, that sense of peace. Mrs Appleby looked up into the brown eyes of the One who had always loved her. The One who had never left her. The One who had walked beside her in the good and the bad times. He held out His hand, “Come,” He said. Mrs Appleby placed her hand in His. She arose from her rocker, her arthritic knees felt no pain any more. Her sight became clearer. As she walked with the One who loved her unconditionally, the One whose will was always done, Mrs Appleby felt loved, accepted and knew she was going home.
The old house had known love. The old house had known laughter. The old house had known the presence of Jesus. The old house creaked as if to congratulate Mrs Appleby for her faithfulness and to send her on her way to life everlasting.
Not my will but Yours be done. Always. Forever.