When Calls the Heart(6)

By: Janette Oke

I was willing to consider being Jonathan's love-packagefrom-home. for Mother's sake. Yes, I was even willing to consider teaching out West. But as for marrying some uncouth, unkempt man out of the frontier, there I drew a definite, solid line. Never!

Later that evening, Papa knocked quietly at my door. I had been trying to read in bed, a luxury that I normally enjoyed, but somehow Jane Austen's young women had failed to intrigue me.

He walked to my window and stood looking out at the quietness of the city. The street lamps flickered softly against the gathering darkness. I waited for him to speak; but when he said nothing, I laid aside my book, pushed myself up to a sitting position, and asked softly, "You've talked to Mother?"

He cleared his throat and turned from the window. He still didn't speak just nodded his head.

"And what do you think?" I asked, secretly hoping that he would exclaim that the whole, idea was outrageous and unthinkable. He didn't.

"Well-," he said, pulling up a chair beside my bed, "at first it was a bit of a shock. But after I thought it through for a while, I began to understand why your mother is rather excited about the whole thing. I guess it could be an adventure for you, Elizabeth, and, it would seem, not too risky a one."

"Then you think I should-"

"Consider it? Yes, consider it. Go? Not necessarily. Only you will be able to decide that. You know that you are loved and wanted here, but should you want this-this new experience, we will not hold you back."

"I don't know, Papa. It's all so-so new. I don't know what to think about it."

"Elizabeth, we trust you to make the right decision, for You. Your mother and I have agreed to abide by it. Whatever you decide, we want it to be what you feel you should do. Your mother, as much as she would love to see you go to Jonathan, does not want you to feel pressured to do so if it's not what you want. She asked me to tell you that, Elizabeth. She is afraid that your loyalty and desire to please her might lead you to go for her sake. That's not enough reason to make such a lifechanging decision, Elizabeth."

"Oh, Papa! Right now I'm all butterflies. I never dreamed-"

"Don't hurry. my dear. Such a decision needs much careful thinking and praying. Your mother and I will be standing behind you."

"Thank you, Papa."

He kissed my forehead and squeezed my hand.

"Whatever you decide... he whispered as he left my room.

I didn't pick up Jane Austen's book again. I knew that now for certain I couldn't concentrate on the words. So I pulled the chain to put out the lamp and punched my pillows into what I hoped would be a sleep-inducing position. With the covers tucked carefully about me, I settled down for the night. It didn't work. It was a long time until I was able to fall asleep.

Chapter TWo

The First Step

The next few days were full of soul searching. I was so preoccupied that I sometimes wondered if I were actually teaching my students. They didn't seem to notice any difference in me, so I guess that I was at least going through the proper motions.

As she promised, Mother didn't press me; but I could sense that she was anxiously waiting for my decision. I knew that she was praying too. I did hope that she truly was leaving it to the Father's will and not merely pleading for Him to "send me forth."

I wavered-which was unusual for me. One moment I would think of all those that I loved: my family, my students, my church friends: and I would inwardly cry out, "I can't go, I just can't!" The next instant I would think of that part of my family in the West. Something invisible was drawing me to the older brother whom I had never really known. I also thought of all those children without a teacher, and I knew that they, too, wished to learn. I even considered the great adventure that this new opportunity held, and I would find myself reasoning, Why not? Maybe this is the answer to the restlessness within me. Maybe I should go....

Back and forth my feelings swung, like the pendulum on our grandfather clock.

After considerable debate and prayer and thought., I felt directed to Joshua 1:9: "Be strong and of a good courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

I repeated the passage out loud and felt my anxieties relax into peace. I would go.

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