"You're tired of sleeping on a soft bed of mud," said the preacher, "and eating salt meat and biscuits. You have been forced to leave furniture, implements, and even excess food supplies by the wayside. Some of you have left loved ones in graves in the desert. After what some of you have been through, you even wonder why you left your nice homes for this.” He paused and smiled. “I know some people who went through something similar. They traveled in the desert for forty years."
Mrs. Thomas was standing outside the group with her hands on her hips. "And now you’re gon’a tell us about some folks that never was, that did so much better than we is doing," she said “Well, I don't have time to sit aroun’ listen’ to your story tales."
"Well, don't listen then," someone said, “because some of us do want to hear.” and Mrs. Thomas turned her back on them and walked off.
They listened to the preacher say the people in the wilderness were no more satisfied with their little wafer than the over-landers were with their salt meat and biscuits, but God had been teaching them that man does not live by bread alone.
He went on to say, "They would know in their hearts God was disciplining them just as a father disciplines his children that he might do well for them in the end. The Psalmist said, 'I know O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness have afflicted me."
Here Julie looked at Evelyn and whispered angrily, "How dare he say what we have been going through is for our own good,” but Evelyn was hanging on to every word and ignored her.
"As Paul told the Hebrews, since we have so great a cloud of witness, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily assaults us and run the race set before us as we keep our eyes on Jesus who is, indeed, the author and perfecter of our faith. He, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, counted the same as nothing, and is set down at the right hand of God."
"Now that is a bit too much," whispered Julie. Evelyn looked at her and scowled. "Listen," she said. Evelyn was drinking it all in. She had never heard this kind of message before.
That night after she had rocked Donna and Eli to sleep and put Larry to bed, she got on her knees and prayed for the first time in her life. She thanked God for revealing himself to her and asked him to forgive her for ignoring him for so long. She also told him she would believe his word and asked him to help her understand more about what Christ's death on the cross meant to her. Then she got her Bible and read Paul's letter to the Romans by the firelight. She had never listened to what she read in the Bible before, but that night she heard the words she was reading as though Paul was speaking directly to her.
He told her the just should live by faith. He said the wrath of God had been her just reward for claiming she was too wise to acknowledge him. She had always known his invisible attributes - his eternal power, and his divine nature - in his creation. Because she neither honored him nor gave him thanks, she was in the same class with murderers. Arrogant and boastful, without understanding - these ugly words described what Evelyn had been. She read on, and there it was again, a person is justified by faith.
But what were these wonderful words? They were words that said God showed his love for her, in that, while she was still a sinner, Christ died for her. More wonderful still was the fact that she was justified by Christ's blood and saved from wrath through him. She, who had been his enemy was reconciled to God through the death of his son, and had the joy of God through Jesus Christ. That morning she had been a condemned sinner, now she sat in the same clothes, no better and no worse, but justified by faith and reconciled to God.
That night Evelyn slept like a baby, resting in the arms of her Savior and God.
The Road West Book 1 of The Baker Family Saga