Stolen Water

Stolen water is sweet, And bread eaten in secret is pleasant – Proverbs 9:17

couple-bar

We met at a bar one rainy Saturday evening.  It wasn’t the sort of night or place you would expect to meet someone like her.  I was in Chicago on business.  After having dinner at the hotel, I decided to go for a walk in spite of the rain.  I wanted to check out the Navy Pier but the rain was coming down hard now so I ducked into the first bar I spotted.  The atmosphere was cozy and intimate.  A great place to hang out for a while.  I went over to the bar and sat down.  It felt good to be out of the rain.  I looked around.  This place was ideal for a nightcap or a late night rendezvous.  It reminded me of one of my favorite bars in New York.  I smiled and ordered an El Presidente cocktail.

It was after I took my first sip of the cocktail when she walked in.  I froze.  My heart stopped and everything and everyone in the room faded into nothingness.  All I could see was her.  She was wearing a knee length magenta spandex dress which hugged her in all the right places.  Her thick chestnut hair fell in thick waves down her back.  She closed her umbrella and walked over to where I was.  There was an empty stool right beside me.  She sat there.  The bartender turned around and from the way he acted, I could tell that she had been here before.  After exchanging pleasantries, she ordered a Grasshopper.  When he turned away to fix it, she glanced at me.

Our eyes met and held what seemed like a very long time.  My heart was pounding.  I was nervous and excited at the same time.  It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way.  She smiled at me.  “Hello,” she said.

“Hello.”

“I’ve never noticed you here before.”

“This is my first time here.”

“Are you from out of town?”

I nodded.  “Yes.  I’m from New York.”

Her eyebrows arched.  “The Big Apple.  Hmmm.  What brought you here to the Windy City?”

“Business.”

“What sort of business do you do?”

“I’m a Construction Manager.”

“And what exactly does a Construction Manager do?”

“I oversee the process of new commercial and residential buildings, as well as bridges, tunnels and roads; supervise building deadlines, the progress of workers, and managing the budgets for each project.”

“Sounds interesting.”

“What about you? Are you a model?”

She laughed.  “No, but I’m flattered that you think so.  I work at Bluedog Design.”  The bartender placed her drink in front of her.  He glanced at me and then moved away to serve someone else.

“I’m impressed.”

“So, what do you do for fun?”

“I jog, swim, play Squash and do a lot of reading.”

Her cell rang.  “Excuse me,” she said as she fished it out of her handbag.

I turned my head because I didn’t want to seem as if I were eavesdropping.  I took a couple of sips of my cocktail.

“That was my husband,” she said.  “He’s in Vancouver.”

My head swung around sharply.  “You’re married?”

“Yes.”

I glanced pointedly down at her left hand.  There wasn’t any ring.

She followed my gaze.  “I took it to the jewelry store to have it resized.”

“Oh.”  She’s married.  What a bummer.

“What about you?  Girlfriend? Wife? Both?”

“Neither.”

“What’s your name?”

“Andrew.”

“Tina.” She held out her hand.  I grasped it.  It felt soft and warm.

Her being married put a damper on the evening and I could think of nothing else.  “Doesn’t your husband mind you going to bars alone?”

“This is the first time I’ve been in a bar alone.”

“I know if I were him, I would have a problem with you being here alone in a bar talking to another man.”

“He doesn’t know that I’m here talking to another man.”

“And what if he did, wouldn’t he be upset?”

“Let’s not worry or talk about Sam.  I’d rather talk about you.”

I finished my drink and slid off the stool.  “I have to go.”

Her eyes widened.  “But why?  We were just getting to know each other.”

“You’re married, Tina.”

“I know but you and I click.  The evening is still young.  Still a while longer.”

“I can’t.  We both know where this will lead if I don’t leave right now.  It was a pleasure meeting you, Tina.  My advice to you is that you go home and stop going to bars alone.  Goodnight.”  I turned and walked out of the bar.

It had stopped raining.  I could have gone to the Navy Pier but I decided that I had had enough excitement for one evening.  I headed back to the hotel.

Two years have passed since that night in a Chicago bar and I don’t regret my decision.  I was tempted but I was able to walk away and not look back.  Now, I’m happily married to an amazing woman I met right here in New York.  I believe it that it was my faith that saved me from doing something I would have regretted for the rest of my life.

When faced with temptation, you can either run towards it or away from it.  The more you resist it, however, the more fortified you become.

Sources:  Four Seasons Chicago;Yelp; Sparrow Chicago; Global Business Travel; Bluedog Design

The Encounter

“Drink from your own well, my son—be faithful and true to your wife” – Proverbs 5:15

In all the years he had been married to Ashley, never once had he looked at another woman until that moment when he saw her leaning against the wall in the subway.  She was stunning and looked like a fashion model.  Other people were staring at her too but she seemed oblivious to them.

Although, his gut was warning him not to, he walked over to where she was and stood there, waiting for the train.  He had his head turned away from her as he looked down the tracks but he could feel her eyes on him.  Unable to resist, he glanced over his shoulder.  Their eyes met.  She smiled at him.  He had two choices, smile back or turn away.  He smiled back.  That was his mistake.  Leaving her position against the wall, she sauntered over to him, her gaze traveling slowly and deliberately over his tall frame.  He felt his body respond and his heart began to pound.  He turned around so that he was fully facing her, his eyes practically undressing her as she stood in front of him.

“Do you have the time?” she asked, her head cocked to one side, her eyes riveted to his face which felt hot.

He glanced at his watch.  “It’s a quarter to six,” he replied.  This close she was even more stunning.  Every instinct urged him to run but he stood there staring at her.

She smiled.  “Thank you.”

“Do you work around here?” he asked.  “I’ve never seen you before today.”

“Yes, I work around here.  I was on my way to the Mall to pick up a few items.  I’ve never seen you before either.  I would have remembered.”  Her eyes slipped over him again.  “You’re a fine looking man.  Too bad you’re married.”

He swallowed hard.  “Does that make a difference?” he asked.

“It might to your wife.”

“She doesn’t have to know.”

“She doesn’t have to know what?”

“That you and I are talking to each other.”

“Is that what we’re doing?”  She laughed.  “What’s your name?”

“Silas.”

“Well, Silas, do you want to buy me a Café Latte?  There’s a really great coffee bar near Bryant Park.  We can go there and figure out if talking is all that we want to do.”

Every nerve was screaming that he should say no and walk away but when the train thundered into the station, they got on together.  She stood in front of him, holding on to the overhead metal bar.  The car was crowded so he was standing really close to her.  He could smell her perfume.  It suited her.  Her body was inches from his and a couple of times, he bumped against her when the train stopped abruptly.  He couldn’t hide his reaction to her even if he wanted to.  By the time they got to the 42nd street subway, he knew that he was in big trouble.

They walked to Culture Espresso.  It was a pleasant afternoon, mild and sunny.  While he went to buy the Café Latte for her and a Mocha for himself, she went to find a table.  She found one by the window and was sitting with her back against the wall.  He sat down opposite her and set the Café Latte down in front of her.  “Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome,” he replied.  “You haven’t told me your name.”

“Aretha,” she said, holding out her hand.

He clasped it and blinked when heat coursed through his body at the feel of her slender fingers in his.  When he released her hand, he took a sip of his Mocha, his eyes trained on her.  This is madness, he thought.  He should be on his way home, not sitting here in a coffee bar with her.  For all he knew she could be in a relationship.  “Do you have a boyfriend?” he asked.

She shook her head.  “No.  I’m single, unlike you.”

He withdrew his left hand from the table and placed it on his thigh.  “Does my being married bother you?”

“Well, I’ve never been with a married man.  It complicates things.”

“So, after we finish our coffees, we part ways?”

“I didn’t say that.  Married or not, I want to do more than talk to you, if you know what I’m saying.  I live five minutes from here.  When we’re done here, we can go there.  It’s up to you.  You can walk away or you can come back to my place.”

Silas’s mind was reeling.  This was temptation in its purest and potent form.  Now he had an idea of how Joseph felt when he faced Potiphar’s wife or King David when he saw Bathsheba.  His mind was telling him to do what Joseph did and run but his body was telling him to do what David did.  He had a while to decide what he was going to do.

“So, what type of work do you do?” Aretha asked, breaking the silence.  “From the way you’re dressed, you look corporate.  Are you?”

“I’m a Software Engineering Manager.”

“You look a bit young to be a Manager.  How old are you?”

“Thirty-five.”

“Hmmm.  I’m forty.  So, do you like your job?”

“Yes, I like it very much.  And it doesn’t hurt that it pays very well.  What about you, what is your line of work?”

“I’m a Chief Executive.”

“When I first saw you, I thought you were a model.”

She laughed.  “I’m flattered.”

“You’re a very stunning woman, Aretha.”

“Thank you.  And you’re a very handsome man.  I’m not surprised that you’re already taken.”

“It didn’t stop you from approaching me in the subway.”

“I couldn’t resist.”

He slowly removed his cell from his pocket and dialed the number.  He listened to it ring out and then the answering machine kick in.  “Ashley, something has come up so I’ll be late getting home this evening.  See you later.”  He ended the call and slipped the phone back into his pocket.  He looked at Aretha.

“Are you sure about this?” she asked.

He nodded.

Aretha finished her Latte and got up.  “Let’s go, then.”

He drained his glass and rose to his feet.  He followed her out of the coffee bar.  The sun was beginning to set.  They didn’t say much as they walked to her place.  He was trying to ignore the Bible verses that popped into his head.  He was about to cheat on Ashley, something he never once imagined he would ever do but he couldn’t seem to help himself.  He wanted Aretha.  She aroused such a passion in him.  It was raw and powerful.  It gripped him like a vice, leading him down a path he never thought he would end up on.

He still had time to back out.  With every temptation, there was always the way of escape. Yet, he found himself walking right towards it with both eyes open.  He was throwing wisdom and caution to the winds.  His desire for her was luring him straight into a trap.  Maybe it was true that the only way to get rid of temptation was to yield to it.  Maybe all he needed was this one time with Aretha to get this “thing” for her out of his system and afterwards, they would part ways and never see each other again.

As soon as they got to Aretha’s place and she had locked the door behind them, he reached for her.  His mouth found hers and he devoured it like a mad man, driven by a hunger that couldn’t be held in check.  She kissed him back wildly.  In a matter of minutes, they were naked and making love on the rug in front of the hearth.

Unfortunately, their encounter that afternoon wasn’t their last.  It was the beginning of a long and torrid affair.

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” – Matthew 26:41

Sources: CNBC; Culture Expresso; Latte Art Guide; Eater New York; Brainy Quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Life

“It’s so hard to believe that the child who used to disobey me at every opportunity is the same beautiful young woman standing before me now on her special day,” Mrs. Clark said to her daughter, Karen who looked radiant in her wedding dress.  Tears pricked the older woman’s eyes and she quickly blinked them back.

Karen hugged her tightly.  “Oh, Mom, I’m so sorry for all the trouble I gave you when I was growing up.  I know it wasn’t easy for you to be a single parent.  You struggled to make ends meet and to give me the best.  There were some nights when I heard you crying in your room.  I knew you were missing Dad and wishing he were there to help you to raise a wayward daughter.  I thought of running away so that you didn’t have to deal with me any longer but I knew that would only make things worse.  On the night of my fifteenth birthday, I got down on my knees and asked God to change me.  I didn’t want to be a burden to you anymore.   You were such a good mother to me, so patient and forgiving.  You deserved a better daughter.  So, with God’s help, I changed.  And this is what you see before you now. I’m only sorry that it took so long and so much heartache before I came to my senses.”

Mrs. Clark hugged her and looking heavenward, she mouthed a silent prayer of thanks to God for answering the unceasing prayers she had offered up every day for her daughter.  She had been encouraged by various scriptures and had clung to them when the temptation to give up was particularly strong.  Prayer was the strongest crutch a parent had when it came to protecting a child. For as long as she was alive, she would continue to pray for Karen.

They drew apart and Karen smiled.  “I am trying hard not to cry,” she said.  “Mom, I’m so happy, so blessed.  I am about to marry a terrific man and start a new life with him.  I wish Dad were here.”

“He is,” Mrs. Clark said.  “He’s here.” She pressed her hand against Karen’s heart.

“Yes, he is,” Karen agreed, blinking.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes, I am.”

“I will send your Uncle Jack in.”  Her father’s younger brother had the honor of walking her down the aisle.

“Mom, before you go, will you say a prayer?”

Mrs. Clark smiled.  “Of course, Honey.”  She took Karen’s hands and bowing her head, she prayed.  And the same peace she felt the night before Karen’s transformation filled her and she knew then that all was going to be well.

mother-hugging-bride-1000_0

Illusive Love

Broken heart, broken dreams

Tired of casual relationships.

Walking through life, looking

for that love that seemed so

elusive.  It shimmered in the

distance like a mirage but

disappeared as she got

closer.

 

It was the love she

read about in books.  The love

she longed to experience but

it was beyond her grasp.

Every time she thought she

had found it, it turned out

to be an illusion.

 

She imagined the walks

on the beach, the holding

of hands, gazing into his

eyes, the love emanating

from them and warming

her in its glow.  The sun

casting shadows on their

faces as they stood facing

each other, the gentle breeze

caressing them and their

arms wrapped around each

other.

 

She could almost hear his gentle

laughter, the sound of the

waves rushing onto the

sand which was soft and

squishy between her toes.

And she would look at the

sailboats bobbing in the

water as she and her

love ambled along the

water’s edge, hand in

hand.  Then she would

turn to him but he was

gone.  Instead of

holding his hand, she

was holding her sandals.

She was standing there

alone on the beach.  It had

all been a dream.

 

Tired of the dreams.

She wanted the real

thing.  The temptation

to give up on love was

so powerful and many

times she almost gave

in but…she fought it

with all she had.  She

wanted to find that

one true love that she

would spend the rest

of her life with.  It was

out there somewhere.

 

So, instead of searching

for love, she would let it

find her.

 

young woman pensive

The Good Soil

As she planted the bean seeds in the rich soil, she

thought of the parable Jesus told about the sower.

The sower was sowing seed which was the Word

of God.  The seed fell among different types of places/soil.

Which type of soil was she?  Was she the rocky soil

which represented those who hear the message, receive

it with joy but since they don’t have deep roots, they believe

for a while and then fall away when they face temptation?

 

Or was she the thorns which represented those who hear

the message, but the message is quickly crowded out by

the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they

never grow into maturity?

 

Or was she the good soil which represented honest,

good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to

it, and patiently produce a huge harvest?

 

She did not believe that she was the wayside which

represented those who hear the message, only to have the

devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent

them from believing and being saved.

 

Which soil was she?  There were times when she was

so busy that she didn’t have time to read her Bible

and most of the time she fell asleep while praying.

When things got tough or she was faced with

temptation, she vacillated between going to God

in prayer and trying to handle the problem on

her own.

 

Which soil was she?  She had her moments when

she talked about the Bible with those who cared

to listen.  Was she making a difference, though?

Were the seeds that she planted germinating

in that person’s life?  What about her own

spiritual growth?

 

She knew which soil she wanted to be but, first

she had to let the Word of God take root and

grow in her.  Only then could she bear good fruit.

 

woman planting bean seeds2

 

Source:  Blue Letter Bible

Temptation

She stood on the precipice overlooking the ocean.

Her gaze fixated on the waters as they ebbed and flowed

much like the desires that raged inside her.   The drop to

the foaming waters was long and it made her think of the great

distance that would exist between God and her if she gave into

temptation.  Her feelings were like the rushing waves that threatened

to sweep her away if she gave in…

 

In her mind, she heard wisdom, calling out to her, “Listen to me.  Don’t

ignore what I say.  Turn around and come to me and you will have life.

Ignore me and you will be in danger.”

 

She felt the pull of good judgment but the desires of her heart resisted,

luring her closer to the edge…Why was it wrong if she gave in?  After all,

she and Patrick were engaged.  If they decided that they would go all the

way now instead of waiting until the wedding night, surely, that was ok, right?

They loved each other and waiting was agony…they just wanted to take their

love to another level.

 

Yet…reason seemed to conspire against her, reminding her of

her vow to remain celibate until she was married.  And if

that weren’t enough, she heard Paul’s admonition:  “Do you not know

that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you

have received from God, and that you are not your own?  You were bought

with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit,

which are God’s.”

 

Try as she did, she couldn’t drown out the voices of wisdom, reason

or Paul…With a start, she realized that she was standing a little too close

to the edge.  She quickly backed away, her eyes fixed above and not

below.  Her lips moved in silent prayer.  After a while the tempest that

raged in her quieted.  The momentary lapse of judgment was abated.

Reason had won.  She could wait.  And if that meant not being alone

with Patrick until their wedding in two weeks, so be it.  She knew he would

understand.  They loved each other, yes, but they loved the Lord more.  And

until they were married, their bodies belonged to Him.

 

She found a grassy part and knelt down to thank God for pulling her back

from the edge.

woman on cliff

Source:  1 Corinthians 6:19, 20