Chapter 18 - A Light Has Dawned!
Ashira sat on the corner of the courtyard wall, drawing her cloak more tightly to herself against the crisp morning air. She squinted out towards the eastern side of the lake. The sky was brightening, but it was still well before daybreak. She looked back into the courtyard. People were sleeping here and there, and no one else inside the house was yet awake. But Ashira was awake…she had hardly slept. So many scenes from the night before kept replaying through her mind. So many miracles! At the time, everything had been happening so fast she couldn’t take it all in. But afterward, when things had finally quieted down, every scene tumbled over in her heart, in her thoughts, like a precious, amazing jewel—and with each facet she turned over came a new wonder. And at the center of it all was Jesus—Messiah! She was beginning to love to think of Him.
Quietly, Ashira hummed a tune for the words that had been slowly forming in her mind during the past hours. The song trailed off into silence as her face sank to her hands. She knew there was mixture in her heart. Zivah. Everything about yesterday was so breathtaking! Everything except what happened with Zivah. Why can’t I accept that SHE has changed? Surely it isn’t right to think less of her than Jesus does. Ashira breathed in deeply and slowly exhaled. Adonai, what’s wrong with me??
She raised her head and again searched the horizon, hoping for a first peek at the rising sun. Footsteps rustled in the courtyard behind her. Ashira turned and saw Jesus, with His cloak and bag in one arm.
He spotted Ashira and came to her. “Good morning,” Jesus said softly.
“Do You—Are You leaving?” She hoped He wasn’t.
He patted her arm, “Soon, but not right now. Many others haven’t yet heard what you’ve heard, or seen what you’ve seen, Ashira. There are many captives to set free.”
Her thoughts racing, Ashira looked down.
Jesus leaned, half sitting on the wall beside her. “What are you thinking?” He cocked His head, trying to see her eyes.
Ashira knew she could not really hide, nor did she want to. She raised her chin, smiling ruefully. “Well, I have been thinking of a lot of things.” She paused, “But maybe You could help me understand something. Zivah—I—I was avoiding her last night. She changed so quickly after she came to You—but I couldn’t seem—” Ashira’s gaze sunk to the ground again. “I couldn’t seem to change that quickly toward her. Jesus, I want to love her…like You do.”
“Do you really?” The question was matter-of-fact, but Jesus’ eyes were soft with understanding and compassion. The truth of His challenge pierced through Ashira. She turned to face Jesus completely. “Part of me wants to love her,” she began. “But another part of me is resistant. I don’t know if I really believe the change in Zivah.” Her whispering grew more intense as her own motives were brought to light. “Or maybe I don’t want to believe it! Maybe I’ve hardened my heart to her so much I don’t even want to change if it means I have to—to actually love her.” Ashira stopped, horrified as her own words began to sink in. “Oh, Yesu!”
Jesus looked at her unflinchingly, “Ashira, you are beginning to see. Hating your sin, and wanting to change—that’s where Zivah has already begun and that’s where you must begin as well.” With unmistakable hope, He continued, “You’ll be free when you stop judging, and turn from your sin and go the other way. Celebrate the miracles Abba has done in Zivah and so many others…and He will do in you…” Nodding at her He added, “…IF you’ll follow Me.”
Ashira stared into Jesus’ eyes. Such straight words, such convicting words. Her heart was laid bare. And yet, He seemed to gift her with the courage to obey Him. “Jesus,” she slipped off the wall and stood before Him declaring, “That IS what I want. I’ve been thinking about this ever since the first time You spoke in our courtyard weeks ago. I thought about it all again last night—everything I’ve seen You do, and all You’ve said about repentance, about freedom, and about the good news of the kingdom. I know it’s all found in You! I want to follow You, and I will. I want to look to You and learn to love like You love and hate whatever You hate.” Ashira paused, realizing she had gotten a bit loud. She looked around at those stirring from their slumber in the courtyard. She leaned toward Jesus and whispered earnestly. “Will You help me?”
Jesus chuckled at her with delight, “Of course, daughter of Simon.” He took her hands in His and looked at her seriously, “You can trust me to help you moment by moment, time by time. I’ll tell you a little secret, okay? If you put your life and heart and future in My hands, I’ll be with you always, until the sky rips open at the trumpet blast of Gabriel, and then forever past that.”
“Yesu!!” Ashira was awed to silence. Trying to take it all in, she thought for a moment and said, a little sheepishly, “Jesus? I’ve been thinking of You all night and…it’s kind of turned into a song for You. Would…would You want to hear it?”
Jesus looked genuinely surprised. “Ashira!” His face lit up, “I’d love to.”
She glanced over her shoulder, hoping not to disturb the few still resting. Some had roused and were listening, but she began to sing anyway, her eyes set firmly on Jesus.
“What can I give
What can I lay down
To show You how grateful I am?
What can I say
What can I do for You
To show You how much I love You?
Here’s my life
It’s all that I have
But maybe somehow through this thing
You’ll see how much You mean to me.”
Ashira’s eyes never left Jesus, so intent was her desire for Him to know that she meant every word, personally. She could see He was filled with pleasure. She would never forget the expression of love on His face.
“Thank you, Ashira.” Jesus was clearly touched. “I will always remember this gift. This faith gives me and my Father so much joy. Will you continue to trust me, however and whatever I do with your life?”
Ashira thought about what He was saying, “I don’t know exactly what that will mean, but I do know I can trust You. And so I will!”
Jesus squeezed her hand gently.
The clop, clop sound of horses was almost at the gate before it caught Ashira’s attention. To her shock, the Roman centurion and the young servant that Jesus had healed the day before stood right outside the courtyard. With radiant faces they whispered to each other as the elder gave instructions to the younger. A large sack of fine flour was pulled off the smaller horse of the servant and placed with a careful thud by the gate of Simon’s courtyard. Ezekiel ran over to the gate from where he had been tending the goats. Ashira could only catch bits and pieces of the brief conversation between the centurion, the servant, and her excited younger brother.
Ashira looked back to speak to Jesus, but He had slipped away. Her heart couldn’t help but continue to talk to Him. Jesus, You are so Faithful. I know we will be continually amazed by who You are and what You reveal to us. Look! Those who were formerly our enemies are caring for us, as if they were family. She looked around as others, awakened by the commotion, eyed the centurion with curiosity. Though many will reject You, how precious are those who do love You. She shook her head in wonder. What a kingdom, what a family this will be!
Her little sisters rushed toward the gate as the horses and riders clopped away. “Thankths!” Kitra called out.
The Roman looked over his shoulder and nodded, “You’re welcome, little lady.”
Simon swooped Kitra up off her feet and they both waved as the horse trotted out of sight. Everyone laughed in astonishment.
The sun was fully breaking the horizon now, casting a hazy early morning glow over the courtyard. Ashira saw Andrew stretching. He jostled awake a couple of the other disciples. Ezra had just arrived and joined Jared and her abba in their conversation at the other side of the courtyard. She laughed out loud as she saw Elizabeth and Jesse coming up as well—Elizabeth beaming as she rushed to keep up with her abba’s strides. Ashira strolled over to her mother. Jedida, with the baby on her hip, was marveling as Ariel not-so-timidly offered fig cakes to the early risers.
Pointing toward Ezekiel, Ashira whispered to her mother, “Look!”
Ezekiel was now energetically whittling off the end of the sword he had carved so many weeks ago, apparently altering it into a tool of some sort. He looked up at his mother and sister, saying, “For the centurion! Do you know he told me to call him Marcus?!”
Meanwhile, Anna was motioning for Rebekah to help her open the sack of flour, “This will make the finest bread we’ve ever had!”
Already, Jesus had turned their entire lives upside down, and had begun to change their hearts in ways they could never have imagined. Ashira recalled His question to her, “Will you trust Me, however and whatever I do with your life?”
She knew that the question was the same for all of them. This is only the beginning! she thought. Jesus would leave Capernaum soon. Her own abba might leave as well, today, in a week, or in a month. Tomorrow was completely unknown. But she knew that if each of them trusted everything to Him, then their pasts were covered, their today had hope, and their futures were absolutely secure. Isaiah’s prophecy was being fulfilled, and it filled their hearts with joy. Upon those living in that land of darkness a Light had truly dawned.
The Promise is for us, for our children, for all of those even far off—as many as would call on the name of the Lord, their God, Behold!—The Lamb of God—who takes away the sins of the world.
A Light has dawned!