An image of Mrs. Marian Cole came to mind. Funny how the brain works. When I was about seven years old, she had come to talk to Pa. They sat in the wooden pew of the little First Baptist Church in Lampe, Missouri, where Pa was the preacher. Could be he still is. I don’t know.
That day, Marian had cried her poor heart out. Her husband had died some little while before, and she told Pa she always felt sad and so tired.
“I know we all die, and I know my George went home to Our Lord in heaven, so why am I so low all the time?”
My palms stung like a hive full of bees, and I could see what had gotten hold of the widow. Something green and sticky hooked into the grieving woman near her heart. It reminded me of a great big stick bug, maybe a foot long, but it sported a sickly shade of green never seen in nature. Pa never acted like he could see when someone had a bad thing attached to them. Probably, he couldn’t, but I sure could.
Pa quoted scripture and talked to her about how Jesus loved her. When he stopped, I asked a question in that formal way I always had to when we were at church, “Father, may I offer to pray with Mrs. Cole?” I could never call him Pa in front of folks without getting belted for it later.
“I imagine she will agree to that.” He patted me on the shoulder. “You may ask her.”
“Your girl has such perfect manners.”
I had a good reason for those perfect manners. Pa would have beaten me with his big, sharp, silver belt buckle if I ever forgot to ask nicely, but nobody knew that, except for Pa and me. Not even Mama.
She brushed back my long brown hair and gazed into my eyes. “Of course, child, I would welcome your prayers for me.”
I put my palms together with fingers pointed out and felt the stinging sensation change to blue fire that only I could see. I never knew what I would say when I prayed like that, but the words always came to me. Back then I thought I must have an angel helping me say the right thing.
I began, “Lord Jesus, your beloved Marian is hurting, and she needs Your love and protection.”
Marian nodded her head and said, “Yes, sweet Lord Jesus.”
“She is under attack. The enemy wants her to turn from you, Lord, but she will not waver. No power is stronger than Your love.”
Marian sat up a little bit straighter. “Yes, Lord, nothing is stronger than Your love.”
The green thing started to dig a dozen little feet into her and keep hold. I put my hands over Marian’s heart for a moment and pulled the sticky nasty thing off her chest. The creature writhed and screamed in my hands as it melted. I brushed my palms together to get all of it off them, then raised them heavenward. “Lord, I claim Marian under Your divine protection and ask that you keep her safe from evil forever.”
I waited until I saw the golden glow surround Mrs. Cole so I would know nothing bad could stick to her like that again. She was safe now. I dropped my hands to my sides and said, “Praise Jesus. Amen.”
Mrs. Cole and Pa added their “amen.” She brushed away tears and hugged me.
“God surely has given you a special gift,” she professed, stroking my arm.
“Yes, God has indeed blessed her.” Pa gave me a The Look, but he said nothing to me right then. He seldom spoke to me in front of other people. That expression meant I was in big trouble. This was the day I figured out how to spare my bottom that big, sharp silver buckle.
“My father taught me to pray that way.” I meant my father God but looked right into Pa’s eyes, so he would feel like I meant him.
“Of course he did, child,” Mrs. Cole said, patting me on the head. Yuck. I hated when people did that.
A scream shattered my memory into a thousand shards, bringing me gasping back to the present.
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