The autumn winds were picking up across the now barren cornfields, as Jamin traveled anxiously atop his uncle’s lone riding horse, Cowboy. It seemed his pulse quickened with each new chilling gust. He found himself wishing he wore more over his ears than his brimmed Sunday hat, but he didn’t regret getting all slicked up for this night. Dressed in his finest, he journeyed anxiously along the forty minute trail into town.
The harvest was finally over, and the first frost was expected tomorrow. He’d worked hard all summer for his uncle, never asking for any time off. What he’d wanted to do was leave the farm behind and run away with the girl of his dreams, but he’d remained. Now the time had arrived to tell her just how he felt. Regardless of the outcome of this night, he knew it was going to be a defining moment in his life.
He couldn’t remember the last time he’d taken a pleasure trip into town. A year had passed since his life had changed, and he knew he was still changing. Every day, he seemed to take one more step forward–toward hope. He could feel the ways God was shaping him, making him better. A year ago, he was entertaining thoughts of suicide. Today he was utterly smitten by life, by God’s love. It was nice to be doing something just because he desired to do it.
The wind carried Jamin and Cowboy along the dirt path, and the sight of the openness of the landscape surrounding him struck Jamin with a churning sense of awe he was unable to shirk. This world was inconceivably vast, yet he was allowed to experience only a small glimpse of it, and even that filled him with overwhelming awe. He was simultaneously lost in the love he’d been given, and reminded of how much he truly belonged in it.
As he approached a familiar tree-sheltered bend in the road, Jamin observed the steeple shooting up just above the tops of the trees. His heart warmed with the new memories he’d acquired in the one-room country church and school beneath that steeple. He’d attended with his mother each weekend since his life had changed.
The cool, shallow creek trickling beside the church was where he was baptized. It happened last May, when the chilling spring rains provided enough depth to allow a full-grown man to be submerged without having to lie flat on the pebbled creek bed. What an image it had painted in his mind of the way Jesus had washed away his sin on the day he’d given him his life.
Jamin’s niece, Bonnie, and two nephews, Joram and Clyne, attended school each week in this same building. One day, Jamin dreamed, he would walk down the center aisle arm in arm with Nina as husband and wife. He caught himself grinning then, and chided himself for being such a sap. It was all just a dream and he knew it.
Now, he remembered how slim his chances of success were tonight. He and Nina always found each other in the market, but they’d never spent enough time together to actually get to know one another. Nina wasn’t going to be expecting him, and he had no idea what her parents would think of a strange boy showing up at their doorstep. Had Nina told them about him?
Like a fly through a broken screen, a feeling of insecurity buzzed into his thoughts. He should just turn around now. Nina probably didn’t like him as much as he thought. Their attraction was probably all in his imagination. What if he showed up at the door–if he was even able to find where she lived–and she chased him away? Worse yet, what if her father got involved? Jamin didn’t know what he would do if a man tried to use force against him like his father used to do. He didn’t want to think about that.
Just as Jamin was about to give up and turn around, a loving reminder popped into his mind that brought him back to the present. With renewed peace, he remembered that he didn’t have to give in to his fears anymore. Whatever happened to him wouldn’t define him, because he was defined by the one who had saved him from himself. He could choose to say no to his fears and insecurities, and he did just that–this time.
With a prayer for continued strength, Jamin gave Cowboy a gentle nudge, and they moved forward at a slow gallop toward town. He was done wondering what was about to happen. It was time to experience it in real time.