Natasha still won’t answer the phone. Mitchell dials her number again for the twenty-seventh time. Or maybe this is the twenty-eighth. He’s lost count. He’s been calling since she left his house last night. He just wants to make sure that she’s alright, that she made it home safely, that she knows he’s not ashamed of her.
But he doesn’t want to lie.
Between phone calls, he gets on his knees and prays. “Father, please forgive me for giving into temptation. And forgive Natasha for the burden I’ve put on her shoulders by letting my flesh take over.” He swallows hard at this, as the memory of her deep mahogany skin, sweaty and pressing against his naked body, resurfaces. “Y-you s-said—” He stutters, shakes his head and tries again. “You said in Your word . . . that if we confess our sins, that You are faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” His eyes closed, he squeezes them tighter, unwilling to let the tears shed. “Lord, I do confess, and I ask You to forgive me and to wash me in your precious blood so that I am again white as snow, for my bride to be this Christmas, the birthday of the Lamb.”
His phone rings, but he doesn’t move. This is his secret place, his time to be alone in communion with the Father, even if the Father doesn’t respond—most times He doesn’t, and Mitchell falls asleep on the floor, waiting at His feet. However, there comes those rare occasions when Mitchell hears Him speak, clear and precise, as if He were kneeling right next to him. Mitchell heard Him when he rededicated his life—rejoicing in Heaven with the angels—and again when he proposed to Natasha. He yearns for that experience tonight.
The chill from the hardwood floor seeps through his jeans. The phone rings again. The thought arises that it could be Natasha, finally returning his calls, but the enemy would want him to think that, have him distracted worrying over Natasha and their one night of weakness when he should be listening for the voice of God, willing and ready to receive spiritual guidance from his Helper on the inside, his Counselor.
“Please, just give me a sign.” But what if the sign is the person on the other end of the phone? Ringing, now, for a third time. He tears himself from the Lord’s presence to answer.
“Tasha, is that you?”
“Antonio,” Mitchell sighs, but this could be a good thing. Antonio has been his assignment for the year. Their pastor, at The Revelation of Jesus Christ Christian Center, Reverend Murphy, has been preaching a series on discipling others for the Kingdom. In January, he instructed each member of the congregation to find someone the Lord draws them to evangelize.
Mitchell tries to remember who Natasha was assigned to disciple. She’s never talked about it, and he hasn’t seen her with anyone outside their group of friends. Maybe it’s Rita, but Renee’s working on Rita. It’s possible they both are. Rita could use all the help and praying power she can get, bless her heart.
“The harvest is ready, but the Lord needs workers,” Mitchell remembers Reverend Murphy saying. “Matthew twenty-eight and nineteens says, ‘Go out and make disciples of all nations.’ This is the one thing we won’t be able to do when we get to Heaven, which is why it is so important that we do it now!”
Antonio’s recent breakup with his son’s mother had him spiraling out of control, down the path toward destruction. All year Mitchell has been ministering to him, his ultimate goal to restore him to the path of righteousness. Antonio finally accepted the call to Christ on Sunday. Now the real work can begin.
“She just makes me so angry sometimes,” Antonio is saying.
“Who?” Mitchell realizes he hasn’t heard a word Antonio has said since answering the phone. Focus, he tells himself, try to get at least one thing right tonight. Maybe that’s what God needs to see.
“Elise, man. I don’t know why I let her get to me.”
“Have you prayed about it?”
“I can’t. I need to cool down.”
“That’s why you pray.”
There’s silence on the other end, and Mitchell checks his screen to make sure they haven’t disconnected. Then Antonio breathes a heavy sigh. “It’s hard, man.”
“Jesus never said it would be easy. In this life you will face trials and tribulations.” This is as much a testament to his own situation.
Antonio sighs again, the sound breaking, cracking, as if he’s blowing directly into the receiver. “Look, I actually didn’t call you to talk about my problems—“
“But I’m glad you did.”
“Have you talked to Tash today?”
Now it’s Mitchell’s turn to be silent over the phone.
“Where is she?”
“Mother Goose’s. She’s on her third drink.”