As Anna sat on the couch in her aunt and uncle’s house in New Orleans a few weeks later, she looked out the front window and saw kids playing on the sidewalk. Cars were passing on the street. Everyone seemed to have something important to do except her. It was seven o’clock in the evening – too early to go to bed, and too late to invite anyone to come over for a visit. She had been getting one or two visitors every day since being released from the hospital in Mobile.
How long ago was that? she wondered. Maybe two weeks?
She still had not been back to work. Fortunately, her boss was understanding once he figured out that she was involved in the train wreck. He was willing to let her take a few more weeks off – without pay, of course. But at least her job would be waiting for her when she returned.
It was becoming somewhat of a problem entertaining herself. She had read all the books in the house. The television programs were not interesting. Nothing newsworthy was happening in the world.
As much as she hated to admit it, Matt’s visits were starting to become the highlight of her day. Back when she, Jackson, and Matt had been a threesome, Matt normally acted like a jerk toward her. His specialty seemed to have been teasing her and making fun of her. But now he was different somehow. He still liked to joke and clown around – but it seemed as if his motives had shifted. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Nevertheless, it was a good change, so she didn’t plan to complain.
With a broken arm and leg, she was usually unwilling to venture too far from the house, because it meant riding in a wheel chair that someone else was pushing. Her niece and nephew were willing to push for a couple of days after she came home, but that quickly got old. As easy as it looked, they explained that any little hill or curb was a mountain needing to be climbed with a wheelchair.
There was also the problem of getting in and out of the house. Like most of the houses in New Orleans, there was no basement. However, the house was built about three steps up from the sidewalk, and one big step up from the carport. That way, if the street flooded in a heavy rainstorm, the water did not get into the house.
Unfortunately for her, Anna was the first person to have ever lived in their house that needed a wheelchair. Consequently, there were no ramps. Since she would only need the wheelchair for a few months until she could walk again, it didn’t make sense to do a major remodeling of the house to be wheelchair-friendly.
This left Anna somewhat stuck in the house most of the time.
She did have friends and coworkers that came to visit occasionally. But as much as she didn’t want to feel sorry for herself, most of her days were a little slow.
Therefore, it was not too surprising that when she saw Matt park his car in front of her house, and walk up the sidewalk, her heart beat a little faster, and a smile lit up her face. Today she could see that he was carrying roses – even better. Her aunt had started unlocking the carport door so her friends could get in easier when they visited.
He entered the room with the flowers, and told her, “Beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady!”
She just couldn’t stop smiling. “For me?”
“Well they’re sure not for me. Of course they’re for you.”
“Thank you, Matt. That was very thoughtful of you. I’ve been feeling a little neglected today. Why don’t you put them in water then bring them back in here so I can see them?”
“Sure thing.” He went into the kitchen in search of a vase.
She could hear him asking her aunt for a vase. Her aunt had a tendency to make more of their friendship than was actually there. So when Matt returned, Anna was not surprised to find the flowers in the heart shaped vase that Jackson had given her for her birthday last year.
Her aunt meant well, but her efforts were misplaced. Anna knew that the Bible warned about Christians marrying non-Christians. And her youth minister at church had explained that you marry someone you date, so he also warned them about dating non-Christians.
However, Matt was usually fun to be around, and not much of a pest anymore. Anna had no problem with being friends with him, especially since she was so starved for company and contacts with the outside world. Besides, she reasoned to herself, he is back in medical school during the day, leaving very little free time in either his days or his evenings.
“How were classes today, Matt?” she asked him.
“Oh, you know, another day, another lecture. Too much talk and not enough action – effects of this disease or that disease – ways to treat this ailment or that ailment – the difficulty in distinguishing between a light case of appendicitis and a kidney infection. You know, the usual. Never enough frogs to dissect, and always too much talking about dissecting without actually doing it.”
“My guess,” she told him, “is that the frogs see you coming, and they run the other way.”
“If they weren’t swimming in formaldehyde you’d probably be right.”
“Gross,” she said, scrunching up her nose.
“That’s a cute expression. Do it again,” he prompted.
“Do what again?”
“Leave my nose alone, already,” she said playfully, hiding her nose behind her good hand. “Tell me something interesting. I’m starved for news.”
“Something interesting – let me see.” He tapped his chin in thought. “Well, I don’t know if you would call it interesting or not, but my mom and dad are planning a vacation to Rio de Junero, Brazil, over the Christmas holidays. January will be their twenty-fifth anniversary, so that’s how they’re going to celebrate it.”
“Wow. That sounds like fun. Do you get to go too?” she asked.
“Now Anna, do you actually think you’ll take your kids along when you celebrate your twenty-fifth wedding anniversary? Something tells me that entertaining the kids won’t be high on the priority list for the week.”
She could feel her face blushing in embarrassment. “Oops. I guess you’re right. Sorry for asking a stupid question.”
“Don’t apologize,” he told her. “That glorious red glow on your face might just get this topic mentioned more often.”
“Matt, don’t you dare.” She hit him with a pillow off the couch. She knew she had to distract him with a safer topic. “How about the weather? Do you think it’s going to rain today.”
“Rain? Of course it’s going to rain – this is Louisiana. What else does it do here? Maybe you should tell me something interesting. Have you had many visitors today?”
“You’re the first all day,” she told him truthfully.
“Wow, no one else – no friends, no family, no angels, no demons?”
“No one but you. Which one of those do you consider yourself?” she asked.
“Good question,” he told her thoughtfully. “Certainly not family. I’m no angel. Maybe I’m a demon some days, but not today. I hope we’re more than friends. I guess I’ll have to get back to you on the answer to that question when I get more data.”
“Well, let me know when you figure it out,” she countered.
“Oh, don’t worry. You’ll be the first to know. While I ponder on it, how about going with me for a walk around the block?”
“As much fun as a walk sounds, there is the little problem of a broken leg, don’t forget. So, how are you going to get me out of the house?”
“You’ll see. Besides, I need practice for my ambulatory care class, so you can be the guinea pig today.”
“There’s not really an ambulatory care class, is there? And did you just call me a pig?”
“You’ll never know. Now let me show you the plan.” First he took her wheelchair outside to the carport. Then with him standing on her left side and his arm braced around her back, she could lean on his shoulder, hop on her right foot, and manage to cross the room. It wasn’t walking, but it was better than sitting on the couch all day.
Once they were outside, he pushed her in the wheelchair along the sidewalk. Occasionally there was an uneven area requiring some maneuvering. But for the most part it was an enjoyable ride. He talked about the flowers in the yards, the local New Orleans politics, his instructors at Tulane, the noisy neighbor next door to his apartment, and apparently anything else he could think of.
She found his company to be just what she needed to brighten up an otherwise dull day. He was actually funny and quite charming. He wasn’t bad to look at either. She definitely felt an attraction for him. Too bad he’s not a Christian, she thought. We maybe could have become more than just friends.
As they approached her house, Matt pushed her wheelchair back onto the carport. He walked around to the front to set the brakes on the wheels. As he leaned over her to get the second wheel, he was very close. He smelled good. It was so tempting to reach out and kiss him. Without standing back up, he turned to her and looked in her eyes. She knew he wanted to kiss her too.
She caught her breath and remembered that he wasn’t a Christian.
“Please don’t kiss me, Matt,” she whispered, looking down. With those words the spell was broken.
“Why not? You wanted me to, didn’t you?” he asked.
“It doesn’t matter what I want. We can’t be more than friends right now,” Anna said.
“We already are,” he told her. He hesitated, then asked, “Is it because of Jackson?”
“No, that’s not it. It’s because of me and my beliefs. I believe the Bible tells me to not date non-Christians.”
“Back to religion again. I respect you for telling me the reason, as long as I don’t have to like it or agree with it. But you know, Anna, suppose I’m the one that your God intended for you to end up with? Jackson’s gone – I’m still here. How do you know I’m not the one?”
“Maybe one day you will be, but not today. By faith, I believe that God has a Christian man out there for me to date when He’s ready for me to date again. One day I’ll meet that man, and when I do I’ll know it.”
“So what you’re telling me is that this fellow standing in front of you doesn’t really have a prayer of a chance.” Matt jokingly told her what he was actually thinking.
“Oh, Matt, I pray for you every day. My God desperately wants to be your God too. Don’t you see it? Don’t you hear Him calling you? He physically saved us both from the train wreck. He longs, even more, to spiritually save you for all eternity. All you have to do is invite Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior.”
“I know the mechanics, Anna. It’s the ‘belief by faith’ part that causes me to stumble. I keep looking for proof. Show me the data.”
“Then I’ll pray that God will give you proof.”
“I hope He does,” Matt told her honestly.
“What kind of proof are you looking for, Matt? Does a bright light need to blind you as you walk down the street? Does a cripple have to be healed in your presence? Does God have to speak to you personally?”
“Are you making fun of me, Anna?”
“Actually I’m being totally serious. Those things did happen to people – the Bible tells about it. Would you do something for me?”
“Of course. What do you want me to do?”
“I have an extra Bible in my room. Would you take it and read some of it every day for a week? No commitment, no pressure, just read and tell me what you think at the end of the week.”
“I’m going to be pretty busy this week at school,” he explained.
“If for no other reason, then do it for me,” she asked. “As much as I hate to ask it, and as much as I’ve enjoyed your visits, maybe you can use the time you would have visited me this week to read.”
“You’re asking a lot, Anna, but if it’s that important to you, then I’ll do it. I’ll start at the beginning and read all the way through it this week.”
“No, don’t rush. The Bible contains a combination of sections called ‘books.’ Start about two-thirds of the way through the Bible, in the book of John. If you finish that book, then read Matthew. And if you finish Matthew, then read Acts. There’s an index in the front to tell you the page numbers of the different books.”
“OK, I’ll give it a try for a week. After that the deal’s off. I’ll be at your door every day if that’s what it takes to win your heart and your attention.”
He took her back inside her house. She directed him where to find her older Bible in the drawer beside her bed. After again agreeing to read every day, he told her goodbye, and left for the week.
Anna prayed that God would reveal Himself to Matt in a personal and believable way. She also prayed that Matt would come to a saving knowledge of God during this coming week, or whenever the time was right. Through faith, she gave Matt into God’s hands to win him over to Jesus.