Punished (Part 3)

by Angela Bierbaum
(Mentor, Ohio)

Charlie screamed again, "Is anyone there?!" She could hear the grass flattening underneath the stranger's feet and searched frantically for a face. Any face to tell her who was nearby. Something moved behind her, she could hear them breathing. They weren't moving fast, but taking their time in getting to her. If that's what they wanted... to get to her. She decided to be silent and let them continue toward her. Worse comes to worse, she would just run.

Charlie turned to see Tom Richards jumping out of a bush to her right.

"Tom!" she screamed out of shock. "Why would you do that?!"

He laughed. Between breaths, he managed to get in, "Your face. Priceless." His smile was so bright and he roared with laughter.

But, Charlie didn't look too pleased. She placed a hand on her forehead, as if trying to soothe a headache or something. Tom quit laughing when he saw this and walked toward her. She held up a hand to shoo him away, but he continuned to approach.

"I'm sorry," he admitted, grabbing hold of the hand. "I'm sorry. I didn't know you would be that scared... It's only me." He pulled her closer and into his masculin arms. Charlie began to breathe easier now. She had overreacted, of course, but she WAS very scared for some reason. Was it her lonliness? She felt empty.

"I know it's ony you." She breathed deeply.

Tom shushed her and held her close. "What's up with you today?"

"I..." Charlie stumbled on her words. She mixed and matched them in her head, but she couldn't figure out how to say it. "I guess I just don't.... I feel really different right now. For some reason, I feel like God is punishing me." She fixed her arms around his torso.

"What?" he asked. "I don't understand."

"I don't either." Charlie thought a moment of how to make this statement clearer. But, she couldn't. "I felt like He was punishing me for something I had or will do by killing Bailey."

Tom extended his arms to look into her somewhat wet eyes. She looked into his and thought, "They are so blue. Piercing blue." His light blonde hair almost covered them completely, but they were still clearly visible.

"It's not your fault," he said. "It's no one's fault. It was just an accident."

Charlie nodded her head and replied, "Yes, it is my fault. I should have been the one going down instead of her. I would have been able to hold my breath longer, and then she wouldn't have had to run out before she could go back up, and--" She couldn't even finish her sentence before breaking down into tears. Warm tears that trickled down her cheeks.

Tom pulled her in once again. His left hand fell over the top of her head and held it. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "God is not punishing you. He would never punish you like this. Don't you see?"

Charlie tried to quit crying to hear the rest of his words. "See what? I see nothing but punishment right now. Punishment for every one of my sins..."

"No, Charlie, no. He does not punish you for every one of your sins!" Tom almost shouted. He looked down to Bailey's grave stone and asked God to help him with his words. "It was his plan. He had a plan for your life and Bailey's life and your brother's life. It was all part of his plan."

"What could he possibly use this for in mine or Dave's life?" she asked. This was a very good question, and Tom wasn't exactly sure how to answer it.

"Dave, your brother. He wants to become a pastor, right?"

Charlie nodded.

"Maybe God wants him to use this story of how Dave grew in his relationship with God because of this tragedy?" Tom continued. "It was his plan."

Charlie couldn't think of anything to say except, "So, it wasn't my fault?"

Tom shook his head and smiled. He still held her close.

Charlie began to think of other reasons why God would have done this. "If He hadn't let her die, then I wouldn't have met you..." she thought. She looked up into Tom's eyes once again. "Thanks, Tom."

"You're welcome, Charlie." He knew exactly what she was thinking. This was the first time in a while that he had seen this woman smile. He was happy for her. He was glad that she finally accepted God's plan for her.

Charlie let go of Tom and asked, "Do you want to come over for dinner? My parents wouldn't mind." She smiled brightly at him, even though there were still tears upon her cheeks.

He whipped them off and gave her a small peck on the lips. "Yes, let's go." Tom Richards and Charlie Mennison walked off, hand in hand, ready for the plan that God had for them together. Ready for their life together. And, they both knew. They had known exactly how Bailey Mennison had died, and now, they both know why.

Comments for Punished (Part 3)

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by: Anna

I love it. i just wish it was done, man there are so many guys after this girl. hey by the way, how old is Tom?

by: me

what?? it IS the end of the short story. did you expect more? lol, well at the beginning of Part 2, it says that Tom is 18, but it's a year later. so, he's 19 when he sees her in the cemetary

by: anna, again.

i read it again and i get it. and now i get the ending. wow, i like this story.

by: me again! =]

haha! that's funny anna =D. that made me laugh. blonde moment! lol, well im glad you get it NOW. was it really that confusing?

by: Guess....

Ish.... I am a blonde.... ok? it just took me awhile.

Angela, this story brings out an important question....why do bad things happen?
by: Shelley

I think many Christians struggle about this question, "Why do bad things happen?" I know I have. I've had abuse in my past as well as cousins that died in their teens from car accidents and my grandma was murdered when I was eight.

When bad things happen, it's easy to start questioning...why?

I think that many times we won't fully understand why things happen on this side of heaven. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to our human understanding.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"

It's kind of like a two year old being able to fully understand everything. They don't have the capability yet and have to trust that their parents have their best interest in mind.

Sometimes, I feel like that two year old....spiritually speaking. Not understanding everything, but choosing to trust that God does see the big picture and is in control, even during the bad times and the pain.

We live in a broken and hurting world where sin has entered and people have free will... which also means that they are able to do some very hurtful things.

I don't believe God plans bad things to happen to us, but until Jesus returns, He chooses to give us free will. He doesn't want to just make us robots and force us to do what He wants to do, and yet, I think He is looking forward to the day when there is no more pain in this world (after Jesus returns).

I don't understand it all, but that's what I do understand right now.

I Cor 13:12 says, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

So right now we can't see the entire picture, but in heaven we will be able to know fully.

This is a tough topic, so if anything didn't make sense or if anyone has any questions, let me know.


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