Miracles, page 1
by TERRI BLACKSTOCK
The Restoration Series
Cape Refuge Series
Newpointe 911 Series
Shadow of Doubt
Word of Honor
Trial By Fire
Line of Duty
SunCoast Chronicles Series
Evidence of Mercy
Presumption of Guilt
The SunCoast Chronicles
Seasons Series with Beverly LaHaye
Seasons Under Heaven
Showers in Season
Times and Seasons
Season of Blessing
Second Chances Series
Never Again Goodbye
When Dreams Cross
The Listener (formerly The Heart Reader)
The Heart Reader of Franklin High
The Gifted Sophomores
Sweet Delights: For Love of Money
Includes Two Complete Novels
THE LISTENER THE GIFTED
The Listener © 2000 Alive Communications
The Gifted © 2002 Terri Blackstock
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Published in association with Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.
Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail [email protected]
Scripture quotations in The Listener are from The Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations in The Gifted are from the New American Standard Bible ® (NASB). © 1960, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, organizations, or locales is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or publisher.
Printed in the United States of America
08 09 10 11 RRD 5 4 3 2 1
At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue
was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
READING GROUP GUIDE
READING GROUP GUIDE
MY FRIEND TERRI BLACKSTOCK HAS WRITTEN A simple yet profound story with a vital message.
First, though, I want to say how I rejoice that The Listener’s royalties all go to a great cause, Samaritan’s Purse, an agency that gives people food, clothes, help, and the good news about Jesus Christ. You can read Terri’s heart by her choice to lay up her treasures in heaven, not on earth. She is living out the book’s vision by recognizing people’s deepest needs and reaching out to help them in the name of Jesus. May the rest of us do the same.
We are all made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place. As Christians our lives and our words should draw others to what they desperately need. As we see in The Listener, we must become more alert to the people around us, realizing the Jesus we have is the Jesus they need.
While reading this book, I thought about how God hears the heart cries of all people everywhere, every moment. Jesus went to the cross to deliver us from our suffering. His eternally scarred hands and feet proclaim how expensive and valuable His gift is. We must first come to grips with this, and only then will others see it through us.
Terri captures the fact that it isn’t just other people who are missing out on what we have to offer them. It’s we who are missing out on the joy of being used by God. We need to share Jesus as much as people need to hear about Him.
If your Christian life is boring, this book offers a cure. Disciples live on the edge, asking, “How can I serve you today, Lord? Who can I touch for you?” And at the end of the day they can pray, “Thanks for using me, Jesus.” They don’t think about the day’s sacrifices. They think about the sheer joy of being used by God to touch the lives of others—to meet their needs, love them and share the truth about Jesus through their actions and their words. When Jesus said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive,” he wasn’t kidding!
As we see in The Listener, every day people with great needs pass beneath our radar. We need to change our radar setting and learn to see those people and their needs. Neighbors, coworkers, parents we sit by at our kids’ games, the mail carrier, bus driver, grocery checker, pizza guy, UPS delivery person . . . they all need Jesus. They need to hear us say, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (I have a friend who regularly says to telemarketers, “I will listen to what you have to say, if when you’re done you’ll listen to something very important I’d like to tell you.” They almost always agree, and he shares the gospel. Even annoying interruptions can be divine appointments!)
I pray that through reading Terri’s book, many will be inspired to listen to the cries—even the silent ones—of people all around us who need to know Jesus. And may we learn to treasure the privilege that’s ours to tell people about the one we love, because he first loved us.
THE DREAM CAME ON A SUNDAY NIGHT, AFTER AN afternoon of golf and an evening of watching politicians debate on cable. Like some divine hand, it seemed to grab Sam Bennett by the collar and pull him under. As if he were trapped in front of a huge movie screen, he saw a woman in a tiny room with a tin roof and a dirt floor, searching desperately for something. She grabbed things down from cupboards, off of shelves, turned things over, removed the cushions from her couch, searched behind doors and under rugs. It was a frustrating dream, one that seemed to have no end, until finally, Sam saw a coin, carelessly dropped in the corner of the room. The woman in the dream saw it at the same time,
One lousy coin? he thought. Why would she be so excited over one lousy coin? Restlessly, Sam turned over in his sleep and buried his face in his pillow. The words of his pastor’s sermon earlier that day played over and over in his mind. Words about reaching a hurting world. About hearing people’s spiritual needs. He hadn’t even listened that hard when the preacher had uttered them, but now they came back to him like recorded phrases that reeled around and around and around in his head, refusing to leave him until they sank in.
And then he heard the voice, the voice that woke him as it reverberated through his mind with holy power. “Ephphatha! Ephphatha!” He sat upright in bed.
The word vibrated through him, though he didn’t know its meaning. It was Hebrew, he thought. Or, perhaps, Greek. And whose was the voice?
He was wide awake now, drenched in a cold sweat, and he was trembling. Kate, his wife, lay next to him, undisturbed. Quietly, he got out of bed and stumbled through the house. He went to the kitchen sink and splashed water on his face, then headed for the comfort and refuge of his recliner. It was four o’clock in the morning, too early to be up, yet he couldn’t go back to sleep. It wasn’t the dream that disturbed him so much, but the voice. It had had such power, such authority.
Ephphatha! What did it mean? Now that he thought of it, he was sure the voice hadn’t been a part of the dream. He had only seen the woman, the coin in his sleep. No, the voice had the authority of God. Could the Lord have spoken to him tonight? But why would he speak in another language? Why would God utter something that so disturbed his spirit, something resonating with importance, but something he wasn’t able to understand? Was it some kind of sign, or was he just losing it?
He took a deep breath and tried to shake the cobwebs out of his brain. The thought of going back to bed and facing more of the same was out of the question, so he finally put on a pot of coffee. After it had brewed, he poured a cup, then sat there sipping on it, trying to decide if the dream was something he should give more thought, or if he should dismiss it altogether.
Did it have something to do with the sermon he had yawned through yesterday? John, the pastor, had been waxing eloquent about the lost sheep. Something about leaving ninety-nine to go after one.
Sam had been more interested in the second hand on his watch. He’d figured if John didn’t wind down soon, there would be a ridiculous line at every restaurant in town.
Was that why he’d had the dream? Did that word, Ephphatha, contain some kind of rebuke about listening in church? Now that he thought about it, John had been on a roll yesterday. By the end of the sermon, his face was reddening and he was leaning over the pulpit, shaking his hands to make his point. Sam hadn’t seen John that worked up since he’d given his life to ministry during their sophomore year of college. Back then, John had often gotten red-faced and loud when he tried to change the hearts of Sam and his friends. Sam had hoped it wouldn’t mean that John would give a long, drawn-out benediction, then have them sing all four verses of the final hymn, while the Presbyterians got to the restaurants first.
“Have you ever considered what God hears in the hearts of people?” the pastor had asked. “What spiritual needs cry out to him? What if we could hear with God’s ears?” Then he had looked around the sanctuary at the faces one by one. His eyes had met Sam’s, and Sam tried to look more awake. He felt guilty when he saw disappointment cross over John’s face.
“Most of you don’t even hear with the ears you have,” the pastor said in a duller voice. “Your ears are clogged up, and you can’t hear the most obvious things. So there are people with needs out there just crying to be met, yet so few of God’s laborers are going out to rescue them. If you want to hear, if you want to truly see, come to the altar now. Get on your knees and ask God to use you.”
If God was mad at him now, Sam thought, it was because of his attitude yesterday. Sam had checked his watch again. He remembered thinking that if anyone went to that altar during the first verse and ripped out a quick prayer of commitment, they might still get out of there by twelve. If no one came, they might wind down after the second verse. But after the second verse, the pastor had nodded to the choir director to keep the song going. He said that he knew there was someone out there who felt the Holy Spirit calling, and he didn’t want to close the service until they did their business with God.
Sam had actually considered going himself, just to wrap things up.
When no one responded, the pastor finally gave up and brought the service to an end. Sam hadn’t wasted any time grabbing his wife’s hand, making his way out of the pew, and pushing through the crowd to the exit door. He hadn’t given the sermon another thought.
Now he tried to sort back through the points in that sermon. Was there something there about lost coins? Had John mentioned that unknown word? Had all of it somehow gotten snagged in his consciousness, even though he couldn’t remember it now?
He was still trying to understand the dream when Kate got up some time later. “You’re up early,” she said.
He sipped his coffee. “Couldn’t sleep.”
“Was I stealing the covers?”
“No. I just had some dreams.”
He shrugged. “No, not really. Just weird stuff. You know the kind. Something’s lost and you can’t find it.”
“I have those dreams,” Kate said, her sleepy eyes widening. “I’m running through the airport to catch a plane, but I can’t seem to make the gate. Or I’m in college and I’m trying to get to my final exam, only I haven’t been to class all semester and don’t know where the room is. Or I have to speak to a room full of people, and I look down and realize I’m still in my pajamas—”
“It wasn’t like that,” he cut in, irritated. “It was a little scarier.”
He frowned. “I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
She considered that for a moment. “I have scary dreams sometimes too. The ones where someone’s about to hurt me, but I can’t scream.” She poured herself a cup of coffee, then remembered another one. “Or the one where someone’s throwing matches at me, but I can’t put them out . . .”
He gazed at his wife. “Kate, have you thought of getting psychiatric help?”
“Hey, you’re the one who couldn’t sleep last night. I slept like a baby.” She brought the cup to her lips.
“I want to be useful.”
He frowned at the out-of-context comment, then decided that she meant it in regard to his dreams. “Don’t worry about me.” He got up and stretched. “Guess I’ll go take my shower.”
By the time he had showered and dressed, he was feeling a little better. The dream was just a dream, he thought, just a collage of images and phrases that he’d heard in the last few days. The preacher’s message, something they’d talked about in Sunday school, maybe something he’d over-heard subconsciously. It didn’t matter. It had all mixed together in some kind of virus of thoughts, and his brain was just coughing it up as he slept. There was nothing to worry about.
AFTER HE’D TAKEN KATE TO WORK AT THE HOSPITAL, he parked in front of the diner across the street. Kate wasn’t a breakfast eater, but he liked the works. Years ago, when they still had children at home, they had settled into a routine of drinking coffee together in the mornings, then going their separate ways. Now, when she headed for the hospital at seven, he headed for the diner to eat breakfast.
Still a little more unsettled than he wanted to admit, he went into the diner and took a seat at the counter. The popular place was loud with barely controlled chaos that always got his adrenaline pumping. In the front, irritable waitresses yelled orders to each other, and occasionally Sam could hear Leon, the cook in the back, let out a stream of curses that made Sam consider swearing the place off. But he always came back. Nowhere else could he get his eggs cooked exactly right.
He picked up the newspa
“Yeah,” he muttered without looking up, “I had trouble sleeping.”
“A little rest could change my whole life.”
Now he looked up at her. She looked tired and had circles under her eyes and wrinkles he hadn’t noticed before. He wondered how old she was. Forty? Forty-five? “Yeah? You can’t sleep, either?” he asked.
She frowned and gazed across the counter. “Huh?”
“What you said about rest.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Sam, all I said is that you’re here early this morning. You sure you’re all right?”
He stared at her for a moment. Hadn’t he heard her say something about rest? He shook his head. “Whatever. I’ll take the usual.”
He watched, perplexed, as she went to yell his order to the angry cook.
The voice of the woman sitting two stools down from him distracted him from Janie. “Gravity’s just gonna let go of me, and I’m gonna go flying out into the universe.”
Amused, Sam glanced over at her. “That’s a new variation on the ‘stop the world I want to get off ’ theme.”
Startled, the woman looked up at him. “What is?”
His grin faded. “I’m sorry. I thought you were talking to me.”
She touched her hair with a shaky hand. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Oh,” he said, “sorry.” He forced himself to look back down at the newspaper. After a second, he heard the voice again.
“I’m gonna hurl out into the universe and no one will notice I’m gone.” He looked at the woman again. She had tears in her eyes, and he knew without a doubt that the hopeless words had come from her.
He cleared his throat and leaned toward her. “That time . . . were you talking to me?”
She looked annoyed. “I wasn’t talking to anyone. I’m just sitting here minding my own business.”
He was getting aggravated. Who was she trying to kid? He was positive he’d heard her. “You didn’t say anything?”
by Terri Blackstock / Religion & Spirituality / Suspense / Romance have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes