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Restore thou them that are penitent;

According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ


Jesus our Lord.

Chapter 37
Lincoln hurried out the door past his father, down the steps, and
through the gate. Turning left, he sped past the line of houses not
knowing exactly where to go.
One thing I do know, and that is, I am not going back, he
muttered to himself as he glanced up at the night sky. Im a grown
man and I can do for myself. Ill show him I dont need him now and I
wont be needing him going forward.
Lincoln forced himself not to look back; he knew his father was
watching him, and would watch him until he was out of sight. Having
reached the end of the housing complex, he stopped by the main
street trying to decide which way to go. If I hurry I can make it to the
convenience store before it closes and give Bruce a call from
there, he thought glancing at his watch. He stepped inside the
convenience store just as the attendant was getting ready to lock the
door. The attendant was kind enough to allow him to use the store
phone.

Bruce, Lincoln here. Can you come pick me up? I need a place
to stay for the nightmaybe for the weekend.

What do you mean a place to stay? I just dropped you off about
an hour ago at your house. Where are you? Bruce asked.
Lincoln told Bruce what had happened. Im just tired of him
controlling my life. I want to live my own life now, Lincoln said as he

and Bruce drove to Bruces apartment which he shared with one


other roommateManny.

Youre welcome to stay here until you decide what youre going
to do, Bruce offered. I dont want to put any ideas into your head,
but we have enough space for you to move in with us. Weve talked
before about you moving in with us after graduation.

Bruce was wrapping up his first year at the Community College


majoring in physics. He had graduated from the same high school
that Lincoln was attending and the two knew each other quite well
having played on the schools soccer team together. Bruce was able
to secure a job at the financial aid office at the college on one of the
student work programs to help take care of a portion of his tuition.
The other part his parents took care of. Bruce also did volunteer work
on the weekends at the hospital.
Manny should have been graduating with Lincoln, but he dropped
out of high school and opted to take a job. His family was well off
financially, but he had had several run-ins with them as well as with
the law stemming from spraying graffiti on the school walls more than
once and speaking disrespectfully to some of his teachers. Taking the
savings that his father had set up for him, he moved in with Bruce. He
started his own lawn business and was doing quite well.
A third friend, Duke, would be moving in with them after
graduation. Duke was a prankster and loved to see what he could get
away with. Once he walked into Radio Shack, picked up a pair of
expensive headphones, and calmly walked out. He later called and
spoke with the manager telling him what he had done and told the
manager they needed a better security system. He was interested in
law enforcement and did volunteer work at the local police station. He

was enrolled in the colleges six month training program to work as a


security officer.
Lincoln was able to secure a job working the evening shift at the
convenience store, stocking shelves, running the register, and
cleaning up after closing at one in the morning. It did not pay as much
as he would have liked, but it did cover his portion of the apartment
expenses with a little change to jiggle around in his pocket.

Three weeks after moving in with Bruce, Manny, and Duke, it was
time for Lincoln to graduate. I wonder if they are coming. I mean they
have no reason to, he thought as he glanced around hoping to catch
a glimpse of his parents sitting among the other attendees at the
ceremony.
As soon as the Clarke family took their seats in the auditorium on
the evening of the graduation, Laverne scanned the program moving
her eyes down to the C listing of names. Her heart rejoiced to see
her sons name: Lincoln Benjamin Clarke. She eagerly showed it to
her husband. Thats my son, she said proudly to the lady sitting next
to her when the president called her sons name for him to receive his
diploma. At the end of the graduation ceremony she eagerly made
her way toward the graduates.

Feeling a tap on his shoulder, Lincoln swung around to see LaJoi


smiling at him. She was standing next to a young lady whom she
introduced as Denise. His parents were standing behind them.

Congratulations, Lincoln, they all greeted him. His sister and


mother gave him a hug, and his father shook his hand. Were proud
of you. Are you coming home? Laverne asked her son.

Lincolns heart started to soften, but he was determined to show


his father that he could make it on his own. No, Mom. I wont be
coming home. And you do not have to worry about me. Im making it.

Are you sure you wont be needing anything? his mother asked.
I mean, you left all your clothes and everything. Are you going to
come and get them? Do you have a number where we can reach you
in case there is an emergency?
Lincoln reluctantly gave his mother his number to his new cell
phone. He hated that she was caught in the middle of this fiasco with
him and his father.

Well, if you need anything, let us know, his father said. Pulling
an envelope out of his inside jacket pocket, Larron handed it to
Lincoln. We had this set aside as part of your graduation gift. We
also wanted to take you down to the car lot and have you pick out
your car, but things did not work out for that to happen. Anyway, we
hope that this will help.
Lincoln did not know what to say as he stared at the envelope.

Do you want to go out to eat with us? his mother asked. And I
promise it wont be at Marjories.

Sorry, Mom, but I already have plans with my friends. Thanks


again, he said as he quickly walked away.

You dont have to act like a stranger, LaJoi called after him.

It was so good to see him again, Laverne said to her husband


once they got home and were in the privacy of their bedroom.
Larron saw the hurt in his wifes eyes. He heard and felt the
heaviness in her heart for her son. Giving her a hug, he said, Dont

worry about him. God is watching over him, and Hes not going to let
anything happen to him that is not for his own good. I do not believe
God ignores the prayers of parents for their children. Lets pray for
him right now.
Heavenly Father, we come before You asking that You would
answer our many prayers for our son, Lincoln. Lord, You know where
he is at this time. You know whats going on in his heart right now.
You know what will happen to him on tomorrow. Whatever life lesson
You want him to learn, I pray that You would bring about
circumstances in his life to teach him that lesson. And, Lord, I ask
You to do it quickly so he will not waste too many of the years of his
life wandering around aimlessly and full of bitterness. In Jesus name
I pray. Amen.
Laverne shuddered at her husbands last request, but knew it was
made out of love for their son.

I cant believe they still want to do things for me. A car? I missed
out on a car. My own car. Man, that stinks! Lincolns fathers last
words to him before he had walked out kept resonating in his ears
throughout the evening and dampened his celebration:
You may want to think long and hard before you make a rash
decision.
You think youre ready but youre not ready especially when you
are irresponsible, when you dont think of others, when you dont
respect authority, and when youre acting like a child.
Youre an overgrown, immature child and youre acting like one.
Well, this day was sure to come, Lincoln thought.
The words stung deep within his soul and as much as he tried to

block them out of his mind, he was unsuccessful.

Chapter 38
You seem to be a million miles away, Bruce said slapping
Lincoln on the back when they arrived home after ending their
graduation celebration at a burger joint. The foursome stayed up until
the wee hours of the morning talking and discussing their plans for
the future. Does this have something to do with your parents? I saw
them talking with you after the ceremony.

Yeah. I was surprised they even cameconsidering my father


and I hadnt been getting along too well. Things just got so bad I
walked out. It seemed every direction I turned he was blocking my
path. I felt so suffocated I had to remind him that I was no longer a
boy and that according to state laws I am a grown man.

Its amazing how soon our parents forget, Manny said. I got
tired of my mother wrapping her apron strings around me. She was
boo-hooing and carrying on when I told her I was getting my own
place. She begged me to give her the address, but I know better than
to do that; she would be over here every day. I have to control that
relationship so I call her when I feel up to it just to let her know I am
still in the land of the living. You saw how she was crying at the
graduation. Man, that was embarrassing!
The boys chuckled.

Whats getting to me is that my father gave me some money


$1500.00, Lincoln said. I was not expecting anything. He told me
they had already planned on giving it to me as part of my graduation
gift and that just because I left that was no reason for them to go
back on their original plans.

I sure wish I had a father to do that for me, Duke said matter-offactly. Sometimes, I feel a little guilty leaving my mother like that; but
I could not take being treated like a little boy anymore.

I know that feeling, Manny said.


What your parents did for you is true love right there, Bruce
said. What was the other part of their graduation gift?

You guys wouldnt believe ita car. He was going to take me


down to the dealer and let me pick out my own car.

Oh, man, thats a bummer, Duke said.


Bruce spoke after a few seconds of silence. If I were you, Id go
and apologize to your father. You know, make things right. Hear me
out first before you cut me off, Bruce said when Lincoln started to
protest. You dont have to go back to living with your family, but I
think you should apologize to your father; thats the right thing to do. I
know you feel guilty whenever you think about it. What if you need
him further down the road?

What are you getting at? Lincoln asked.


Yes, why would you say something like that? His father was
stifling him just like my mother tried to do me, Manny said. My
mother was stifling me, and now that I walked out shes reaching out
for me. I dont know how many times shes apologized to me begging
me to come back home.

This is different. Take it from me: a father is different, Bruce


said. I had my run-ins with my father. He gave me the option: get
myself together and stay, or not change and leave. My mother took
me aside and told me the best thing to do is to get myself together
and stay if for no other reason but for the free room and board. She
told me that they did want me to go out and learn to live life on my

own, to be a man and to take on some responsibilities, but they just


wanted me to leave on good terms. She also told me that if I left right
and not in anger they would have my back whenever the need arose.
One day, I asked my father why he was so hard on me and he told
me he did it because he wanted me to be a responsible and
disciplined man; he wanted me to be responsible for myself, and if I
planned on being a husband and father one day that I needed to
begin acting like that now.

Well, how did you end up getting your own place? Duke asked.
Oh, I shared with my Dad that I wanted to go out on my own to
start learning how to be a man like he said. Those words were music
to his ears, Bruce said. He helped me get in here and he told me if
I ever run into any financial problems to just give him a call but only
after Ive looked at all my options. He pretty much told me to act as
though I had no family but at the same time to know that he would be
there for me as a last resort. He also told me that whatever I decided
to do to do it honestly.

Thats because you have a good father, Manny said. I have no


father.

Well I believe you can work with your mother by respecting


her, Bruce said. I just dont think any good parent would desire evil
for their children. Your parents may handle you differently from how
my parents handled me but it all boils down to the same.

That sounds like something your father said, Duke said with a
laugh.

Yep, you got that right, Bruce said. Lincoln, you should
consider fixing things between you and your father; it will work in your
favor in the long run. For them to go ahead and still give you the
fifteen hundred dollars says they have no hard feelings toward you

and are willing to forgive. The balls in your court.


Lincoln went to bed thinking on Bruces words. I appreciate the
money, but I just dont feel I should apologize for anything. I still feel
he was being too hard on me. Plus, I got my own life to live. Knowing
him, he would probably come dropping by every evening on his way
home from work to try to tell me what to do. Ill just leave things as
they are for right now.

Chapter 39
Laverne and Denise had a quiet ride home from the zoo.
Thats what life is all about: loving and caring for one another,
and not always putting yourself before others, Laverne thought. Lord,
just help me to love Denise and help her to feel that love.
The Clarke family welcomed Denise into their home.

You know, Lavernes husband said to her as they climbed into


bed that night, I believe God sent her here to remind us that we need
to get out of ourselves and begin thinking of others. When we have to
share our things with others, it teaches us to be more appreciative of
what we have.

Youre right, Laverne said. Larron, Ive been acting like a nut
giving you a hard time about the financial and spiritual changes you
are leading this family to make. Im sorry about that. The Lord used
Mrs. Whitaker and Denise to show me that life is not all about getting,
and neither is it all about me; it is all about God and giving.

Thats a lesson we all need to learn, Larron said. LaJoi seems


to be getting it. I heard her and Denise giggling and carrying on in the
room like old friends, and thats a good sign.
Laverne smiled. I guess when God takes someone or something
away from you, He replaces it with another person or thing of equal
or greater value.
Larron placed his hand on top of his wifes hand. Dont worry
about Lincoln. God is watching over him.

I just wish I knew where he wasyou knowhow hes doing. I

fear for him.

Well just have to continue praying for him. Sometimes love


means letting a person go, Larron said. Some of us just have to
learn things the hard way.

The family attended church on Sunday, and everyone was glad


they did especially for Denises sake. She seemed more cheerful and
at peace after hearing Pastor Tourneaus sermon from Psalm 139.

If the thought ever crosses your mind that nobody loves you,
dont believe that lie, Pastor Tourneau said. If you begin to think that
youre a nobody, dont believe that lie; if you think that others are out
to get you, dont believe that lie. All those are lies from the devil to
make you begin to doubt Gods love for you. The Bible tells us that
God is love. It goes on to say that the love of God constraineth us in
that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. That is true love.
And because Christ died for us we dont have to believe the devils
lies.
Denises face lit up at those words. She thought of how Mrs.
Whitaker loved her and sacrificed for her; and now, it seemed the
Clarke family was showing her that same love. If that is what Gods
love is like, then I want it in my life, she thought as she listened to
more of the preaching.

Ladies and gentlemen, Pastor Tourneau continued, God is


always watching over you because He cares for you. He knows all
about you. We can say the same words as David: I will praise thee;
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works;
and that my soul knoweth well. My substance was not hid from thee,
when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts
of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect;

and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance


were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious
also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!
God loves you so much that He not only took the time to make us in
His image, but He took the time to make each of us a unique
individual.
My substance being yet imperfect, thought Denise over and
over. Yet, He still loves me with my imperfect leg. God still loves
me. A cheerfulness that she could not contain seemed to overtake
her.

I believe that Mrs. Whitakers God loves me, she told the Clark
family at the dinner table, and I love Him too. Now I do not have to
wish I was like other people. I no longer have to worry about what
people are saying about me or even thinking about me.

And so the Clark family continued with Denise as a joyful new


member. They prayed for Lincolns safety everyday. Laverne looked
around as she drove to and from work hoping to catch a glimpse of
her son hoping today would be the day he would return home.