Blackbird has Spoken: Part 15
- Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 14
Amazing things are happening for Ivy now that her cousin James and Aunt Gwen are by her side and participating in her recovery. Thomas Gimmler seeks to rebuild his life, beginning with his marriage.
From Blackbird Has Spoken: Part 14
Ivy's cousin James and Aunt Gwen arrive with a suitcase full of things from Ivy's home. As a special gift, Aunt Gwen gives Ivy Nana's study Bible. This leads to a sweet dream from childhood in which Nana introduced Ivy to the Bible. She shares in grief group about the dream and people share similar experiences, brining a special joy that day.
James and Aunt Gwen also attend a family support group offered by the hospital.
Finally, Thomas seeks to rebuild his marriage having great regret and remorse for the way he's treated his wife and people in general. She is skeptical but she hears him out. He tells her of his search for God.
On my way out the hospital elevator I noticed the chapel. I've never noticed it, and as you know I've never darkened the door of a church other than weddings and funerals and I've despised religion. But I went in and sat and prayed. I don't understand God or religion but I asked God for help and that I want to turn my life around. Funny enough, Dr. Wong was in the pew behind me and we got to talking, trying to figure out this God stuff. We decided we'd call on the chaplain."
Linda was riveted. When he was done she saw a glimmer of hope but was still afraid to trust this was all legit. She wasn't sure what to say.
"Thomas, let's have dinner and we can talk more. You look peaked, you need food."
They sat down to eat, did the dishes together, and talked long into the night. It was a start.
Tears in the Chapel
Thomas sat in the second row pew of the hospital chapel. This morning the weight of guilt, shame and hopelessness was unbearable. His wife Linda was very skeptical of his declarations of remorse and commitment to change. He thought of Murray at home recuperating from the beating he'd given him. He longed for the burdens he was responsible for to be lifted. He wanted Linda and Murray both to forgive him, everyone he'd ever hurt, for that matter, but more than all others he wanted God's forgiveness, a second chance, and His help to change. But how to get it he had no idea.
Thomas thought maybe he should kneel. There was a kneeling bench in front of the chapel. 'If the bench is there I better use it. Should I cross myself?' He'd seen that in movies and television. He stood to his feet and made the few steps to the front and knelt, and made a feeble attempt at crossing himself. It all felt so foreign and awkward.
"Now what do I do?" he asked himself aloud. He decided to just start talking to God and let the chips or blessings fall where they may. "God, I just don't know how this all works, how to reach you, and get you to help me," he said. "But I'll do anything, ANYTHING!" he cried. "I'm desperate for you, for forgiveness, for help to change my life, to rebuild my marriage. I see the cross, the Bible, and the dove, but what do they mean?"
Thomas began to weep, something he had not done since he was a small boy. In his household growing up, he was shamed and sometimes punished for crying; even the time when he jumped over a small fence while holding a stick, and fell, jamming it up through the roof of his mouth. After he returned home from treatment at the emergency room his father gave him a spanking and a humiliating tongue lashing for crying when he'd gotten hurt. The humiliation hurt far more than the terrible pain of his injury and spanking. As these memories came to him at the altar, his weeping turned to sobs.
Bob Reddick, Chaplain of Mercy Hospital, quietly entered the chapel, having heard Thomas' weeping moments before. Not wanting to intrude at such a personal moment, he waited until Thomas was quiet. Having returned to the pew, Thomas continued to plead silently. The Chaplain stopped at the pew and put his hand on Thomas' back gently. Thomas looked up into his kind face.
"Hello, Mr. Gimmler," said the Chaplain. "I don't want to intrude, but if you need a friend to talk to I am here for you."
With gratitude, Thomas welcomed him to sit down. "Chaplain. This is awkward but I do need to talk with you. But please, call me Thomas."
"Of course, and please, call me Bob. Thomas, how can I help you?"
"I'm trying to reach God. I don't know what I'm supposed to do, but whatever it requires, I will do it if you'll just tell me what it is."
"I see. What is it you seek from Him?"
"A second chance, to be shown how to right the wrongs I've done, how to change, to be absolved of this terrible weight of guilt." His lip quivered. "I'm a terrible man and I don't deserve any good thing from God, but I can't live like this anymore. I'll do whatever He wants me to do."
"Well, Thomas, I have good news and I have bad news."
"The bad news is there is nothing you can do to earn God's favor, forgiveness, acceptance, or means to change."
Thomas looked barren of hope. "Well then, please tell me the good news."
"The good news, my friend," said Bob, "is that God gives you all those things as a free gift if you'll but confess your sin to Him, repent and ask to come into your heart and make you a new man in Him."
"That doesn't make sense. Why would He give me those things as a gift? I'm not deserving of that. And what is repentance?"
"Repentance means to turn the other direction, from sin to God's way. As for deserving, Thomas, no one is. This gift God gives us is called grace. Grace is unearned favor. He give us what we don't deserve because He is a loving, kind God."
"For sure I don't deserve anything from Him. Why would he give me grace?"
"Because He loves you, because He created you. He wants you to be His. Do you see that cross up there?" Bob said.
"Yes. I don't understand what the cross is about. It must be important since it seems to be a religious symbol."
"It is of utmost importance. Yes, it's a symbol representing a real cross two thousand years ago. The Romans crucified criminals on crosses. It was the most tortuous and humiliating way to execute someone."
"Those Romans executed Jesus Christ on a cross at the riotous demands of the Jews. Jesus being the Son of God, had the power to keep from being crucified, but He surrendered Himself willingly on our behalf."
Thomas' face was a blank. "I'm sorry, I'm still not following. Why would He go to the cross on our behalf?"
"You say that you carry guilt and shame. That's because you are guilty and done shameful things. Join the club, it is the curse of mankind."
"I'm not feeling better here, Bob."
"I know, but listen, we feel guilt and shame because we sense there is a higher standard somewhere. That is God's standard. There has never been anyone who could live up to God's standard, except Jesus. Are you following me?"
"Yes, I think so."
The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death. Sin is doing anything that does not meet God's standard. Death is physical and spiritual. In other words, if we sin, even once, we are guilty of God's judgement."
"Yes, eternal separation from God. But back to the good news, Thomas. God loves us so much that he provided a way for us to be saved from that judgement. The deal is, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to take the sins of the whole world upon Himself and die in our place, took the judgment for us. It's like He's saying, "Thomas, I love you too much to let you go to eternal judgement. So I've sent Jesus to take that punishment for you. And your debt is paid and clear. How does that sound to you?"
"It sounds too good to be true."
"Many think so too. Then there are other's who don't believe anything about Jesus. It's important to know who Jesus is."
"Is? Don't you mean was? I thought He died."
"Yes, but there's more to the story. Three days after His death He rose from the grave, and forty days later He ascended to heaven where He now prepares a home for those who put their faith in Him."
Thomas' face was a question mark. "Rose from the grave? You mean He rose from death to life? That's a little over the top to believe."
"It's called the resurrection. It was by the power of God that He rose from the dead. Jesus once said, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.' Note that He said 'He who believes in Me, shall never die. You die physically, but spend eternity alive with the Lord. Thomas, it really is so simple. The Bible also says, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.' Believe, confess, repent and ask Him to come into your heart and live inside you, then you will be clean, whole, saved, and have a future in heaven."
"That's exactly what I want," Thomas said. "I believe, I want this. What do I do?"
"I can lead you in a prayer, Thomas, to receive Christ into your heart."
"Okay, say this in your heart, aloud if you want. "Lord Jesus, I am a sinner, weighted down with guilt and shame. Thank you for taking my guilt and shame upon yourself and dying in my place on the cross. Thank you for rising from the dead to prepare a place for me. Come into my heart and make me clean. I want to follow you all the days of my life. In Jesus name, Amen."
With tears streaming down his face, Thomas expelled a big sigh of relief. "I feel the weight gone. I feel clean. Thank you so much. I still feel like I have a lot to learn but this is amazing."
"Thomas, I have a Bible I can give you and if you've got time, we could meet however often we can work into our schedules and read it together."
"That would be great, Bob. I've got lots of questions."
"Good, write them down. I have to see a patient in a few minutes and then go to a meeting."
Thomas looked at his watch. "Yes, I need to go, as well."
"We could meet early like this either everyday, once a week, whatever works for you."
"Once a week won't work. Everyday if possible."
"Okay then. Tomorrow at six a.m.?"
"That's fine. Bob, shouldn't I start going to church?"
"You bet. I'll get a list of good churches in the area and give it to you tomorrow."
With deep gratitude in his eyes, Thomas thanked Bob. "Now I'm going home and tell my wife."
"God bless you, Thomas."
Thomas didn't hear. He was already out the door.
Plotting for revenge
Murray took another pain pill and chased it down with two shots of Crown Royal. His broken nose made it hard to breathe freely, his arm was painful and useless in its sling. He was utterly miserable. He was livid that Thomas destroyed his eighteen hundred dollar bottle of Pappy Van Winkles - a rare brand he'd searched for for years. He was livid with Thomas for getting the upper hand and beating him within an inch of his life. No way was he getting away with it. He'd paid off the police chief immediately after treatment at the hospital to keep Thomas out of jail. The chief was new to the department and Murray had pleasantly learned he could be bought. He hoped it would help if the murder investigation closed in on him. Murray wanted to make Thomas pay in his own way, in his own time. While he was recuperating he was making his plans. He had to be careful, very careful. A full proof plan and a plan B just in case. He took two more shots of his Crown Royal, a poor substitute for Pappy's, and was out in minutes.
Thomas entered his home with a spring in his step and a joy he'd never known.
"Linda? Linda are you home?" Thomas began searching for his bride in every room. He couldn't wait to tell her the good news. Things were going to be okay. More than okay. "Linda? Honey?" He checked the bedrooms, bathrooms, office, everywhere, but she wasn't there. 'She must be out.' When he returned to the kitchen he sat at the table to call her on his cell phone. He started to dial when he saw an envelope with his name on it leaning against the vase in the center of the table. He opened it and read.
Thomas, I'm taking some time away at our condo at the ocean. Please don't follow me. The truth is, I need time alone to decide if I want to continue our marriage. You've been talking a lot about wanting to change, your regret for the past. So much trust has been broken. Seventeen years of lies, affairs, disrespect, followed by lavish gifts and honeyed words. I want so much to trust but as I was cleaning out the closet this morning I found an old note that had fallen out of one of your jackets, or shirts to a Marilyn. My, my, rated R. I know it is old and Marilyn is out of the picture - I want to believe it - but it brought back all the pain of your many betrayals. I could barely breathe when I read it. I have to get away and clear my head and think about this. Please respect my need to be alone. I will be in touch, I promise.
Thomas put his head in his hands. In just a few moments he went from ecstatic and hopeful of reconciliation with Linda to heartbroken and alone. The guilt and shame he'd just received forgiveness for came flooding back.
Tears fell as he prayed. "God, I don't get it. I just gave you my life. You promised me hope and good things, and then I come home to this. I don't want to doubt you but I'm confused. I can't bare to lose Linda. Show me what to do? Please."
Falling in love
Thomas lay in bed with the bedside lamp on thumbing through the Bible. It was so big and overwhelming. Chaplain Bob had said he should start in the gospel of John. It took awhile but he found it. He stopped at 3:16 where it had been underlined.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall have everlasting life.
It was exactly what Chaplain Bob was explaining to him. He read into the wee hours of the morning, riveted to the stories and teachings of Jesus. He didn't understand everything, but he fell in love with Jesus. The horror of His crucifixion made him weep. Not just for His suffering, but because He suffered for him. Then there was the resurrection that Bob had spoken of. When he finished he knew he couldn't go to sleep without talking to this Jesus he just fell in love with.
"Oh Jesus, I'm so in awe of you. I felt your love so strong as I read. I feel it now. I know I am not alone. Stay by my side and help me through this thing with Linda. And Jesus, would you watch over Linda. Keep her safe. Show her I still love her and we can start fresh. More than anything though, I pray she will learn of you as I have and receive you into her life, even if she divorces me, I want her to know you and find peace and joy as I have. Amen!"
Thomas slept soundly wrapped in the love of his Savior.
© 2016 Lori Colbo