In September I published my first novel, Witnesses. It is an imaginative account, based on Scripture, in which unknown personalities share the stories of their encounters with the Son of God, and reveal to us how their lives changed as a result. It is my prayer that through their personal testimonies people may meet Jesus in a fresh way.
One day I will share the story of how the book came to be written. But today, as a Christmas gift, I am posting a chapter that did not make it into the book. The only reason it is not there is because it tells the story of a person in a parable, and so there was no face to face encounter with Jesus. All the other people who tell stories could actually have been there to witness the events as they unfolded.
So this is a longer post than usual – but hopefully sometime over the Christmas break you will find the time to read it and be blessed by it. As a matter of interest I wrote this one on a bus on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, travelling through the very hills that Jonas saw.
God bless you this Christmas time – may you meet Him in a special way as we commemorate His birth.
The day came when I had to make the journey. I felt a certain reluctance to go. My wife, my beloved, was with child for the first time and I was eager to be there when my son was born. Yes, you may think that was strange. What does a man care for womanly things? But second only to Yahweh, Rebekah was the light of my life – and, although she said nothing – I could see the fear in her eyes when I spoke of leaving.
But I had to go. My father insisted that I go personally to deal with the growers of dates and the bee-keepers to purchase the very best quality fruit and honey that we could find. I had travelled with him often as a boy and in recent years as his representative. I knew what I needed to look for – the men I needed to see – and those I needed to avoid.
So I packed my bag with the necessities for my journey, and with funds to pay for my purchases. I bade Rebekah a fond farewell. She clung to me and fought the tears, but she is a strong woman and she held them back. I was proud of her – she would bear me a fine son.
Leaving the cool shelter of my home, I would normally have made a slight detour and gone to the Temple to pray to Yahweh for protection. But this time I was in a hurry and so I prayed as I walked. I slipped into a doorway to avoid two Roman soldiers. I did not want to be waylaid or diverted by being told to carry their packs for them! It was a law that really annoyed me – being used like a beast of burden and having no option – but let me not get into that now! I could keep you here all day!
I had made good progress, leaving the walls of the city as the sun rose, tinting the hills with that special light that I love so much. There is artist in me – I seem to appreciate beauty more than my friends – but there – that’s who I am.
Striding along the familiar road, I sang the old songs of my fathers:
Answer me quickly, Lord. My spirit fails.
Do not hide Your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in You.
Teach me to do Your will for You are my God.
May Your Spirit lead me on level ground.
For Your Name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life in Your righteousness, bring me out of trouble;
In Your unfailing love, silence my enemies destroy all my foes for I am Your servant.
I was singing my heart out to Yahweh – well you do, don’t you, when you’re alone and life is good and your first son is about to be born – when I realized there were men on the hillside above me, coming down to the road – fast. As far as I could see there was no-one else on the road and I panicked and ran. But city life had slowed me down and these fit hill-dwellers gained ground and surrounded me.
I remember thinking ‘Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,’ when the first blow landed and the world went dark.
I woke later in a cool room, completely bewildered. I staggered up from the mat where I lay and went outside. There was a woman – a stranger. She greeted me with a smile when I asked her where I was.
‘You are at the Half-way Inn on the Jericho road,’ she said and told me how I had arrived.
‘You were found lying on the roadside. A Samaritan brought you on his donkey. He has left us money to care for you until you are fit enough to travel.’
Shock after shock!
I was alive!
I was rescued by a Samaritan!
He had paid for my care!
The biggest shock was that my benefactor was a Samaritan. Yes – I can see you are shocked too. The enmity between our peoples has festered for generations. And yet he had stopped to help me – a Jew! And paid my debt even ahead of time so that I was well looked after! Somehow that made me feel very humble. That an enemy of my people should care that much. Even now it gives me a lump in my throat.
I never met him, this kind, compassionate man. Yet I owe my life to him and thank Yahweh daily that he came along. The innkeeper told me that both a priest and a Levite had passed the inn and mentioned ‘a dead man’ on the side of the road – good men of my own faith; but it was the Samaritan who stopped and helped.
No, I never met him, but I try now to pay his kindness forward by helping others whenever I can.
After a day or so, my father, relieved that I was alive, sent more funds and I was able to continue my journey and conclude my business successfully. The crop of dates was abundant that year and we did well, in spite of our financial loss in the robbery.
As I think back to that day on the road to Jericho, I remember my song:
For Your sake, Lord, preserve my life in Your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
In Your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes for I am Your servant.
I have tried to serve Yahweh every day since then.
Oh, and Rebekah and my son? Ha! Well my precious first born arrived a day or so after I returned home. My little Bracha – my blessing – is a child who is truly blessed by Yahweh for the joy she has brought to my family.
Next time, perhaps, there will be a son to carry on the family business and to travel with me and my companions on the road to Jericho.
 Psalm 143
If you enjoyed this story you can find the novel containing the rest of the stories in Witnesses here. I would love to hear what you think of this story. Please leave a comment and let me know.
May you have a happy Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and contentment. God bless you.