Mary had broken off with Tim. She wasn’t sure she could deal with his wanting more from their friendship. Tim had been devastated by their parting because he had fallen in love with her. She had helped him to grow in his Christian life, but he now realised that he would have to stand alone – after all he had been a Christian for almost two years.
As he reclined on the park grass musing about his life changes since becoming a Christian he suddenly froze. His eyes closed automatically to block out the danger. Tim had been badly stung on his cheek by a bee when he was only five years old; it had left him quite fearful of wasps and bees and now the wasp hovering and buzzing around his face was terrifying him.
He felt the wasp’s whirring wings around his nose. The creature decided to explore the left nostril. Tim stopped breathing, thinking it would strike out if he breathed on it. It buzzed a little away and then returned, this time exploring around his lips, walking around as if trying to gain access to his tightly shut mouth. It eventually flew off, much to Tim’s relief.
He wondered why he was so afraid of such a small insect. He had been called Timid Tim at school but now he was a Christian and should be brave in Christ. What comparison was a wasp’s sting to nails being hammered through your body? What if he was called on to suffer real persecution like the early Christians, some of whom were thrown to the lions? Would he retract his faith under torture? He thought that he must give some time to answering these questions.
His musing took him to some of the probabilities that could be suffered during a time of persecution. He shuddered at the thought of being tortured by being flung amongst a nest full of wasps. Even worse to be thrown into a snake pit – he thought he wouldn’t be able to suffer that!
He recalled how he’d fainted in Madam Tussauds’ Chamber of Horrors. Seeing a man badly mauled by a bear had made him feel queasy, but when he saw the man on the upright wrack with weights on his feet pulling down on his groin area and blood seeping through his trousers he had passed out.
He remembered how Jesus said that he would always be with us – surely Jesus would hold the hand of someone about to be tortured. He had stood with the three friends in the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lions’ den. But then, he had not delivered the early Christians from being mauled to death!
When recently studying early church history Tim had discovered that all but one of the early disciples had been martyred. Peter had even been crucified upside down. He thought he wouldn’t be able to go through with that either.
He had also come across a record from some oral traditions that fitted in with Hebrews where it stated that some saints had been sawn in two because of their faith. This recorded how the prophet Isaiah was one of them and that whilst being sawn in two had miraculously borne it through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Tim’s heart was thumping at the thought of himself being sawn in two and then he remembered how the Lord had been with Stephen at the time of his death, and must have been with the early Christian martyrs. Surely he was there holding their hands – that would make all the difference!
Tim felt a presence. When he opened his eyes to his amazement Mary had sought him out and was now sitting by his side. He shared with her his fearful mind struggles about torture and persecution and how he felt he could only cope with it if Jesus was there to hold his hand.
She told him how much she had missed him and would love to be there to hold his hand as well. She slipped her hand into his, and a lovely warm feeling surged through his whole body pushing out all those fearful thoughts that had been bombarding his mind. He thought to himself that life was wonderful.
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