“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” — Galatians 6:9 NKJV

The old preacher wearily settled his bones at last on a wooden pew, harder than the harsh land that had grown this church. Years had bent and burdened him, years of reaching out his once strong, now gnarled hands to a people with ears stiff from not hearing, mouths folded in grim lines, and jaws set each one against their neighbor.

The Allens who hated the Luther boys with their pesky cattle. The Westfields who could never forget the Allens had married their pretty Adelaide and been unable to fetch a doctor or midwife in time to spare her life in childbirth. The Johnstons who despised the Westfields’ small and almost barren property, forgetting that God is no respecter of wealth.

You cannot love your God and hate your brother. You cannot hate your brother and love your God.

So the old preacher’s back was weary as he was, his old head bowed, his heart aching to grow weary too. “What have I done for You, Father?” he cried out, demanding of his God. What heart had softened under his care? He should leave these hardened hearts and shake the dust from his feet.

Struggling to stand, he scrabbled those gnarled hands against the armrest of his pew, but then stopped.

Unnoticed beside him, a little girl in her soft pink sabbath dress had settled quietly with folded hands and sat smiling at him. The sincere sweetness in that smile set him back down.

“Josabel Allen,” he said abruptly. “You’re Adelaide Westfield’s little girl.”

Josie nodded, still smiling, perhaps even smiling wider now that he had recognized her. He had cherished such hopes for that wedding, that perhaps it might bring some peace to a valley filled with bickering families and feuding clans.

“Yes,” he repeated. “Josabel.” He had forgotten the little girl.

“Are you sad?” she asked in the soft voice of a child. Four, was she?

The old preacher nodded. “Yes, Josie.” His memory bore him up. Yes, that is what he heard her father call her in the church porch. “I have been weeping over Jerusalem.” He doubted she would understand his meaning, and that was well. She was too young for such burdens.

But the little girl nodded solemnly, curls bobbing, then reached out her fresh, young hand and patted his cheek. “Granma Westfield told me God keeps all our tears.”

Granma Wes… His thoughts stuttered to silence. He looked at her. Granma Westfield. A thin, spare, grim-faced woman who had once vowed to never look upon the baby who caused her daughter’s death. “Does she now?”

Josie nodded and smiled again. “I wanted to tell you, but you never saw me smiling at you.”

Until weary and resigned, he had sat upon a pew and demanded his God to speak. Tears brimmed in his eyes and he patted the sweet child’s head with his gnarled hands. How often had the Lord wanted to show him but he never saw Him smiling?

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