Jake needed to get out of the men’s dorm. It was crowded, and most of the guys who lived there were half his age and would often come in late at night, talking and singing at the top of their lungs. This was a little more than he could take, and even though it had been over a year since he had kicked his 30 years of opiate addiction, his nerves were still raw, and he had a hard time sleeping.
It was just before dawn when he got up and pulled on his new jogging pants. Everyone else was sound asleep, but hard as he tried, he couldn’t go back to sleep, so he would often jog around the town hoping to get back into shape. He had even managed to throw away those nasty cigarettes, with the encouragement from an older roommate. So when Retta got on her ‘no sugar’ kick, and tried to convince Jake of the ill affects of sugar, Jake laughed and said, “I think I’ve given up enough things to last me for a while!”
He jogged steadily up the hill past Retta’s dormitory. Somehow he still had a lot of physical strength despite all his body had been through. He was sure everyone in her dorm was still asleep at this hour. He wished he could see her. He loved her gentleness and her resolve; even her vulnerability He wanted to protect her and care for her, but he was terrified at the responsibility that it entailed. He had tried to pick up the pieces from the past, but he couldn’t find them. He almost couldn’t bear the thought of starting over ever again. He continued jogging across Walnut St. past the old Convoy Hotel stopping only for a brief rest.
He felt like a dead man come to life in a very short time. All the feelings and emotions that had been suppressed for so long had emerged. He noticed the sky getting lighter, and the birds starting to chirp. In the quietness, a large hawk flew overhead. He was stirred inside, like a child noticing its surroundings for the first time. Gratitude welled up in him for his new life, and he prayed a simple direct prayer of thanksgiving. He really wanted to make it, and to do right.
Heads were clear, hearts were free, Spirits clean; For you see, Jesus Christ Had shed His light, Sweet Supreme.
This is an excerpt from “Retta’s Promise”, a story about a single mother of two who meets an ex-con/addict on a Bible College campus. Their improbable marriage takes them through adventures and trials to ultimate victory.