“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race [is] not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

~*~Ecclesiastes 9:11~*~

Monday, January 7, 2013

Chapter Seventeen, Part Two

         “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.  First Peter, chapter one, verse fourteen.”  The girl who was speaking looked expectantly at Pastor Simon, who nodded in approval.  She breathed a sigh of relief and sat down on the floor again.

            Elizabeth’s stomach rumbled, but she didn’t let herself respond to it.  For the entire day, a whole group of the Level Twos had been assigned to fast.  And now they were sitting uncomfortably in possibly the tiniest room in the church reciting practiced answers to each of Pastor Simon’s questions.  They all sat completely rigid, cross-legged on the floor, their eyes staring directly ahead until they were called upon and stood.  Sandra had told her that today was a test—these were the Level Twos that had been thought ready to move up, and now Pastor Simon needed to make sure.

            “Elizabeth,” Pastor Simon said.  Carefully, Elizabeth stood, but continued to stare at the wall behind the pastor’s head.  “Why must outsiders not be believed?”

            Elizabeth searched her mind for the answer.  Sandra had written down all of the potential questions and their expected answers a couple days ago and had ordered Elizabeth to study this so intently that she could recite any answer to any question at a moment’s notice.  She took a deep breath and recited, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  John, chapter fifteen, verse nineteen.”

            “Very good,” Pastor Simon said.  Elizabeth sat down again as he moved on to the next person, who happened to be Morgan.

            “Why must we memorize the Rose Bible?”

            Morgan pondered this for far longer than Elizabeth had thought about her answer.  Elizabeth could feel her friend struggling, the tension in the room building, and she willed Morgan to speak quicker.  However, she didn’t dare look around at where Morgan was standing.  They had been given very clear instructions—this was an individual exercise.  They were not to look around at their fellow Children, they were to sit tall and not to slouch, they were not allowed to help each other.  They were merely witnesses to each other’s successes…or failures.  There would be no discussion.

            “Morgan, we’re waiting…” Pastor Simon warned.

            “Thy word is very pure: therefore the servant loveth it,” she recited as fast as she possibly could.  Then she took a deep breath and added, “Psalms, chapter one hundred nineteen, verse one hundred forty.”

            It was possibly the longest meeting Elizabeth had ever experienced in the Children.  As usual, she lost all track of time, but she was pretty sure that by the time they were dismissed they had been at it for six hours.  After the quizzing ended, Pastor Simon had led them all in the longest prayer possible before he dismissed them by declaring they had all passed and would be moving up to Level Three.  Morgan and Elizabeth, both in a deep daze, stood outside in the middle of the night, waiting for Sandra and Delia to pick them up and take them home.

            As soon as the two girls pulled up in Sandra’s car (Elizabeth had called when they got dismissed), both of them jumped out and embraced their charges.  “Congratulations!  We’re so happy you passed!”

            “You move up on Friday,” Delia announced.

            “With us and Jacqueline!” Sandra cried.

            Morgan and Elizabeth just smiled and stared at each other.  Neither knew what to say.  They hadn’t been given the answer to this.

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