Bold

An “I Am the Clay” Vignette*

Bold 1

…the righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1 NIV

“Can I try this one in a size 10?”

“Yes, sir—let me get that for you.”

The Thom McAnn Shoes clerk disappeared through the curtain to the stock room to retrieve a pair of black wingtips for my daddy, while we—my daddy, my mother, and I—sat at the back of the store and waited.

It was 1972, the heyday of the Gateway Shopping Center in Decatur, Alabama, just before the shopping mall explosion. Besides the shoe store, there was a Woolworths, complete with a snack counter that served huge banana splits; a Quick Chek grocery store where they let my granny buy cigarettes with food stamps; a Sears and Roebuck, also in its heyday; and a movie theater with two screens. (A few years later, I saw the original Star Wars there 11 times.)

Decatur was a small town back then and people were, for the most part, respectful.

For the most part…

And now for the rest of the story…

Seedy

From the I Am the Clay “Story” Series

coffee10

A farmer went out to sow his seed… Matthew 13:3-8 NIV

“Ally?”

“Oh my goodness—Jess? Hey!” Ally stood up from her small table and gave her high-school friend a hug. “What are you doing back in town?”

“I’m here for the women’s conference this weekend at the New Life Center at Calvary Memorial.”

“It’s so good to see you!” Ally motioned to an extra chair. “Please—join me.”

Jess sat down. “I thought I might run into you at the conference, but this will give us a chance to catch up.”

“What are you having? Cappuccino? Latte?”

“A cup of tea would be great.”

Ally flagged down the server. “Evie? Can I get a tea for my friend, hon?” She turned to Jess. “How about the mango/peach tea? It’s amazing.”

“Sure.” Jess turned to the server. “Mango/peach it is. Thanks.” She looked around the small restaurant. “This is really cute. I don’t think it was here the last time I was in town. Didn’t it used to be a gas station?”

And now for the rest of the story…

It’s real

From the CLAY “Story” Series

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV

In Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth (4:4), written about 20 years after Jesus died, he warned them about unbelievers being so blinded by Satan that they were unable – or unwilling – to believe the gospel of Christ. It seems little or nothing has changed since then and the “god of this age” is no less busy today – if anything, he’s had almost 2000 years since Jesus’ message of salvation to learn what makes us tick; what will give us a false sense that all we need is ourselves; what will keep unbelievers as…unbelievers.

Even when we encounter an unsettling brush with reality…

• • •

“More coffee, hon?” Erin stuck her head through the door from the kitchen to the dining room where her husband Ryan sat reading his Bible at the table.

“Hmm? Oh, yea – thanks, sweetie.”

She topped off his cup. “Whatcha reading there?” There was that cheery tone in her voice she had begun using when she wanted to feign interest in his new life.

“First Thessalonians. My mid-week Bible group is studying Paul’s letters.”

“Yea? Sounds like fun.” She turned to take the coffee pot back to the kitchen.

And now for the rest of the story…

Adop Me

adop me

From the CLAY “Story” Series

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will… Ephesians 1:4,5

“Why not?”

“Because I said so.”

He stamped his small foot, the volume of his voice increasing. “That’s not a reason!”

“I’m your mother—that’s all the reason I need.”

“You’re not my mother! I hate you!” Tears… Running… A slamming door…

A sigh. One of those days, she thought.

He appeared in the doorway a few minutes later with his favorite stuffed animal, carrying a hand-lettered sign made from a piece of cardboard. She looked up from what she was doing. “Where you going?”

“I’m running away. And Sharky’s going with me.”

“What does your sign say?”

He turned it around without looking up. “‘Adop me.’”

She paused for moment, dashing off a quick, silent prayer for wisdom. “Be sure and zip your jacket up.”

Another slamming door…

Another sigh.

She opened the blinds on the front door just enough to keep an eye on him without being obvious. He sat down on the top step at the end of the walk—small, mad—his toy in his lap and his paper sign propped on his knees in hopes of flagging down a more lenient parent.

After giving him a few minutes to cool off, she slipped on her own jacket and made her way down the walk.

“Your sign is very neat. You have good handwriting. ‘Adopt’ has a ‘t’ at the end, though.”

He turned it around and frowned at it. “It isn’t ‘adop’?”

“Adopt—a-d-o-p-t. Here—I brought a marker so we could fix it.” She sat down beside him, took the piece of cardboard, and corrected his spelling. He watched her write. “If someone drives by, I would hate for them to not stop because you had a misspelled word on your sign.”

She handed it back to him. He sat staring down at it, his brow furrowed.

“How long do you plan to wait?”

“I don’t know. ‘Til somebody stops.”

“What if they’re just as mean as me?”

He shrugged.

“You wanna come back inside?”

He shook his head.

“I don’t want Sharky to catch a cold. Sharks can be really mean when they have the sniffles.”

“Sharks don’t get colds,” he mumbled, tracing the newly-added letter ‘t’ with his finger. After a minute he asked, “Why did you and daddy adopt me? I don’t even look like you.”

“It wasn’t about how you looked.”

“Then why?”

“Because we loved you. We knew before we ever saw you we would love you, that you would be our little boy.”

“I’m not little.”

“Our big boy. We asked God to send us the perfect son. He had a perfect son, so we figured He knew perfect when He saw it.”

“Am I perfect?”

“Not even a little,” she said, chuckling. He looked up at her for the first time. “As it turns out, we didn’t need a perfect son—we just needed you.”

“But what if you didn’t like me? What if I was handle…handed…”

“Handicapped?” He nodded. “It wouldn’t matter. I love you just the way you are and would love you just as much no matter what. There’s nothing you can do to change that—I’ll always love you.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why do you love me?”

“Because God loved me first. Because He adopted me into His family.”

“God adopted you?”

“Umm-hmm. That’s what the Apostle Paul calls it when we become Christians.”

“Why did God adopt you?”

“Well, it wasn’t because I looked like Him, because when He adopted me I wasn’t anything like Him.”

“Then why?”

“Because He promised He would. He said that if I trusted in Jesus He would make me part of His family.”

“Did you?”

“I did. I didn’t even have to do anything to earn it—there was nothing I could do. Jesus did the hard part.”

“What about Mimi and G-Daddy? Were they sad you were going to be adopted?”

“No, baby—they were really happy, because I was going to be part of their family and God’s family. It was the best gift ever.”

“Better than me?”

“God gave me you, too, which was a pretty awesome gift. But, yeah—even better than you.”

He was quiet for a moment. “Do you ever yell at God?”

“Sort of, but not in the same way you yelled at me today. When I don’t do what he wants me to do or do something He doesn’t want me to do, it’s kind of like yelling.”

“But you said you didn’t have to do anything for God to love you.”

“I don’t have to: I want to. He’s given me everything that’s good in my life—His Son, my son. So I want to show Him how much I love Him for that.”

“Does God ever yell at you?”

“No. Sometimes He asks me to do things I don’t want to do, though. When I ask Him why, sometimes His answer is just like mine today: ‘Because I said so.’ He knows what’s best for me even when I don’t understand why.”

“Mama, do you think God would adopt me?”

“Absolutely He would. Daddy’ll be home soon—do you want us both to talk with you about it?”

He nodded. His small hand found hers. “I’m sorry I said I hated you.”

“I know, sweetie. But that didn’t hurt me as much as when you said I wasn’t your mother. Because I am your mother—and you’re my son.”

“For how long?”

“For always.”

“I love you, Mama.”

She squeezed his hand. “I love you, too, baby. Are you ready to go inside now?”

“Yeah.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Is Sharky hungry?”

“He could use some tater tots.”

“How ‘bout peanut butter?”

“He likes jelly on his.”

“Grape?”

“His favorite.”

He gathered his toy shark and hand-made sign as they both stood up. She reached for the sign. “Do you still need this?”

He shook his head. She tore it in half and dropped it in the trash bin on the curb. They made their way up the sidewalk, small hand in large hand.

“Mama?”

“What, hon?”

“Are you sure there’s a ‘t’ in ‘adopt’?”

“I’m sure.”

“‘Cause it doesn’t sound like there’s a ‘t’ there…”

A smile…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

• • •

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