Denise lay there on the pavement edge, for what seemed to her like hours. Shocked into disbelief, staring after the black sportscar, which was no longer in sight.
He’ll be back, any minute now, he’ll be back, she reassured herself. She began to look around for a house nearby, where maybe she could use the phone, if it turned out that she needed it. But, she saw only open fields, and in the darkness, she could hardly see the fields. The occasional, far-away lightening in the west offered 1ittle help. So she waited.
There had been no cars on the road since Jon had driven off. Denise felt totally isolated, and it was starting to get a little chilly! Finally, she rose up, brushed off her white outfit, and tried to decide what to do if Jon didn”t get back soon.
What time is it, anyway, she wondered. She looked at her watch, but it was to dark to see the tiny hands. Would Mom and Dad come looking for her if she was late? Of course, no one knew where she was, except Jon! Was he too drunk to care?
In the darkness, the stillness of the night she heard the coyotes began to howl in the distance. She recognized the sounds but, still, she responded in fear. She had never been alone with this sound, this darkness, and cold, before.
Oh, please, Jon, please, hurry back! Denise cried out in the night. Suddenly, off in the distance, in the opposite lane, and just above the hill. she saw a light. Coming closer, she identified two headlights moving toward her. At last! Jon had returned for her. She had known he would! It was all that beer he had drank at the party that had caused him to to go crazy, but now he had come to his senses. Relief flooded over her, as she made her way across the highway to meet his car. Yes, it was slowing down. It had to be Jon! But, as the vehicle neared, she realized this was not Jon’s sleek little sports car! This was a pickup truck! Now what? Terror seized Denise, and she started to run, looking for some place, any place to hide. Everything she had ever seen on television about rape, violence, and murder played havoc in her mind. But, there was no place to hide, no time to cross the fence, and the mud was deep, and sticky when she veered off the pavement. The truck was driving slowly behind her as she ran with all her might!
“God. help me. Oh, God! Please help me!” Denise screamed in panic. There was nowhere else to turn! As her hysteria took its toll, her weak legs began to refuse to run further without hope of refuge. She finally gave way to the oblivion that was beckoning her.
The pickup came to a halt, the headlights still shining on the figure just ahead, clothed in white, which had just collapsed on the side of the road. Slowly, deliberately, the man climbed out of the truck, and, looking around in the darkness, cautiously, walked over to the still form, calling to the girl softly. “It’s all right. It’s O.K., I’m not going to hurt you. Don’t be afraid.” But, there was no response from the young girl. He couldn’t just leave her out here. What should he do? He was so tired. He had been fighting sleep for several hours, now, as he had been driving back from that Conference in Dallas. He looked around for help. But. there was no one in sight. He drew a deep breath, reached down, and picked up the young girl in his arms. Looking down at her face, recognition flickered in his head. This was Denise! Denise Whitaker, he realized! With little difficulty, he made his way to the truck with the limp body in his arms, and somehow, managed to get the pickup door opened. He deposited her gently on the seat, still with no response. His mind full of questions, he went around, and got into the driver’s seat.
Well, regardless of why she was out here, alone, at this time of night, he had to take her somewhere! She couldn’t be left out here! It wouldn’t take long to get to town, and somehow. he’d have to get her home. But, where in this small town did she live? Well, surely, he could find someone who knew! Or. perhaps, he should take her to the hospital, or to the police station. Was she running away from home? But, no. she had been running toward home! Remembering, he knew he had not seen a vehicle parked on the side of the road before spotting the girl. He had seen no wreck. How did she get way off out here, anyway?
Puzzled, he glanced over at her. trying to decide what situation had put her in his charge. She didn’t appear to be injured, he decided. Just a slight movement of her hand on the seat next to him told him she was coming around.
Again, he began to speak to her, softly, “It’s alright, Denise, you’re safe, now. Don’t be afraid. It’s gonna be OK.” In the dim light from the dash, he saw her slowly, fearfully, open her eyes, and look up at him. Relief showed in her face, as she recognized her captor!
“Denise, are you OK? Are you hurt in any way? He asked in a gentle, caring voice.
Those words must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, thought Roger, as a seeming dam of tears broke loose in loud sobs, racking her entire body.
He tried to comfort her. saying, “It’s OK. Denise, just go ahead and cry. Get it all out. It’s gonna be alright. We’re almost home, now.”
The lights of town were now clearly visible. Her loud sobs continued, as he reached out. and put his hand over hers to comfort her. She grabbed hold of it, and it was as if she were holding on for dear life, Roger thought to himself. Roger’s heart flooded with compassion for this poor child. Inwardly, he prayed for guidance. “Lord, please show me how to help her. Let your love flow through me, let your words comfort her. help her, through me. I need your wisdom. Lord, to help this child. Thank you. Lord.”
He pulled up to a small convenience store, just on the edge of town. thanking God it was still open, and parked in the well- lit parking area. Turning off the ignition, he turned toward Denise, patiently waiting for her sobs to subside.
He thought about all he knew of this young girl. Well. she wasn’t that much younger than him. but he felt ages older! She had been coming to Sunday School even before he had started teaching it, he supposed, and she usually came quite regularly. But, she had never seemed really interested, it was more like she was performing a duty. He had tried to reach her heart with the good news of the Gospel, but, seemingly, to no avail. She was always very cooperative with his requests, but there had never been the sparkle of understanding in her eyes.
“Denise, can you tell me what happened out there? You don’t have to, you know. But. I’d really like to know.” He waited.
Wiping her eyes with the back of her hands, like a little child, she said with a trembling voice, “Oh. Mr. Thompson, it’s been awful!” I was so scared!” Then the loud sobs started coming again.
He leaned over to the glove compartment, took out a small box of tissues, and handed it to her. “Call me Roger, OK?” Again, he waited, patiently, for Denise to regain her composure.
“Do you want to tell me where you live, so I can take you home? Or, should you call home, first? How can I help you, Denise?’
‘Oh, if you wouldn’t mind. I live at 2204 Walnut, on the east side of town. I’m afraid my folks are going to be terribly worried! You see, I was supposed to have been home by midnight. What time is it?”
“Only a quarter to one. You’re not too late,” Roger said, smiling.
“I went with my boyfriend to a graduation party here in town, and he had too much to drink, and there was a big fight at the party, and we left, and he was driving too fast. Reckless, too. And we had an argument about that, and he left me out there on the side of the road!” Her words came between sobs, as she related the story.
“Where do you think he is now?” questioned Roger, with concern in his voice.
“He said he was going to the county line to get more beer,” Denise answered quietly, the tears continuing down her cheeks. “The way he was driving, I’m afraid he’ll wreck his car, maybe even kill himself!”
“Do you mind if I pray for him? Will you agree with me, according to Matthew 18:19? It says that if any two agree as touching anything on earth, it will be done by the Father which is in Heaven.”
Denise nodded her head, with a doubtful look on her face.
Roger didn’t worry about that, though, as he had confidence in his God! Perhaps, Roger thought, the Lord was going to be able to work something really good out of this terrible circumstance! He reached out for her hand, and with a questioning look on her face, she allowed him to take it. He bowed his head.
“Father, we agree according to Matthew 18:19 for your protection over Denise’s boyfriend tonight. Surround him with your angels, Lord, and bring him home safely. Reveal your love to him. Lord, because I know you love him.
“And Father, I ask that you reveal to Denise how very much you love her! Heal her hurts. Lord, and bless her. And if it should be that she’s not ever really accepted the sacrifice of your son, Jesus, for her sins, I pray that she will be drawn by your Holy Spirit to do so, that she may be adopted into the family of God, just as I have been. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
He immediately loosed her hands, and started the car. “Now, I’d better get you home, before your parents get really do get worried. Don’t you worry about your boyfriend, though. He’s in the Lord’s hands, now!”
Denise stood at the door of her house and watched Roger drive away. The porch light was on. Apparently, everybody was sleeping.
Glancing over to Jon’s driveway, she noted his car was still not there. With a heavy sigh, she unlocked the door, and silently crept in, feeling so glad to be home. Safe at last. As she quickly, and silently undressed, and climbed into her big, soft bed, she meditated on the things she had heard and experienced.
Hardly knowing what to make of it all, she allowed the things Roger had said to roll over and over in her mind. Was he right? Was there really a God? Could you really ask for things like protection, and really put your trust in it?
Denise was aware of a great tiredness from the strain and anxiety of the whole day. And still she hadn’t resolved the questions inside her head. Well. she would try to sort it out tomorrow, she decided, drowsily.
It Continues Still