Charles Benton. Neighbor.
I remember when the inspiration for this short story came to me. Like usual, I was talking to Vero about something that Paul said in the book of Romans. He said that he was willing to go to hell for the sake of the Jews. Of course, God would never ask him to do that since Jesus already did it and he is the only stumbling block that will be allowed. Still, Paul says in another place, we participate in the sufferings of Christ, even if it has no redemptive value for mankind. So why suffer? In what ways do we suffer with Christ? He suffered the sins of mankind, became weak in order to give us strength. He was willing to suffer pain, mockery, and death for the sake of saving us. Am I willing to do the same?
That´s when I started thinking about a purgatory type experience in which you would have an opportunity to talk with Jesus about your neighbor with your neighbor present. From there…..
The interesting thing about this story is that, at the time, I didn´t really have any neighbors like that. But I did soon after. We moved into a duplex near the Christian school a few months later and the neighbor there was rude, obnoxios, invasive and difficult. He thought that he had rights to enter our house and make decisions regarding how we took care of the outside of the building because he was the original builder. Apparently, he had drafted up a special agreement when he sold the place to the current owner. We were the renters. She was a shy, timid sort, scared of everything and quite intimidated by him. But she had some backbone and took him to court and won. But that didn´t change the fact that he made life hell for us. His wife and two girls would have made great friends for my wife and two girls but there was no way. He was an ex-policeman, used to power and absolutely convinced that he was right about everything. There was a yelling match, cutting flowers that weren´t his, swearing and overall bad blood.
Obviously, the Lord convicted me to treat him as I would treat Charles Benton in my story…..but after the vision. I need to be willing to suffer his difficult nature in order to be a witness to him. In the flesh, there was no way. I needed to pray. I needed the divine help of Almighty God.
I wish that I could say that there was some sort of breakthrough, that he became a Christian or that, at least, we became friends. No way. Not even close. Not in this story or, at least, not yet. That´s not the point, anyway. We don´t do these things because of the guarantee of results but rather because God asks us to do it. It pleases Him. It´s a question of obedience.
I will let you know how it goes, but the miracle is already happening. God has me on the edge of faith, the very place where I need to pray and depend on his help and move forward in obedient faith. That is the message of Charles Benton. Neighbor.
The Desert Warrior
An Adventure of Grace – Our Crowdfunding Journey by Bert A. Amsing
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Charles Benton. Neighbor.