Edited April 7, 2020. Estimated reading time: 20 mins
"He's my kind of man," Elle told herself as Victor opened his large, brown Bible on the pulpit. His signature grin was on, and there was a fresh handsomeness to his already eye-catching form.
She'd been crushing on him for a while, and the fondness showed no signs of vanishing soon.
"Good morning, church," Victor said. "I thank the Lord for another opportunity to feed his flock this morning. Thank you, Pastor Stanley, for offering me your pulpit. This morning, we read from John. Somebody say John."
"John," the church chorused.
As he flipped another page of his Bible, Victor said, "Ask your neighbor, 'neighbor, do you love the book of John? 'Cause I love the book of John.'"
Laughing with the rest of the congregation, Elle turned towards her grandpa with the question. But Grandpa wheezed, an act of pretense, for he was old school religion, never acquainted with young and high-spirited preachers like Victor.
Elle sent her hand into her bag for the asthma medicine canister but Grandpa restrained the hand. "I'm okay."
Relieved, Elle turned her attention back to Victor, who was reading the portion from John 15:5-8. "I am the vine; you are the branches…."
When he was through reading, he left the pulpit and descended closer to the congregation. "Turn to your neighbor and say, 'Jesus is the vine. You are the branch'."
With great oratorical ability accompanied by demonstrative hand gestures, and an occasional shout and jerky step, the preacher drew a mental picture of the relationship between a stem, branches, and roots, smoothly applying the illustration to the Christian life.
"How wonderful it would be," Elle thought as she watched his every step and gesture, "to have such a God-fearing man for a husband."
A closet pianist and singer, Elle visualized their dream home – she would play on the instrument and sing, and Victor would deliver a fresh dose from God’s Word while their well-behaved Christian children listened eagerly. An atmosphere of divine awesomeness mingled with Christian romance.
Grandpa wheezed again, waking Elle from her fantasies. Once more, her hand dove into the bag for the asthma medicine, but fortunately, Grandpa wasn't yet having an attack.
Grandpa’s unpredictable attacks were the reason she detested coming to church with him without Grandma. Step-grandma, to be precise, for the biological grandmother had…
The church clapped in whooping laughter. What had Victor just said?
Elle reciprocated the big grin on his face. At the moment, his eyes seemed to stay on her face, causing butterflies to flutter in her stomach.
"I want to be his wife. God, give him to me."
Later in the afternoon, Elle and Grandpa ate lunch by themselves. The other occupant of the house, Grandpa’s wife, had traveled to New Belt the previous week to visit her first newborn grandchild.
"Victor is such a fine Christian gentleman," Elle said, half to herself and to Grandpa.
In a congested voice, Grandpa replied, "What makes you think that way?"
Elle knew Grandpa understood her thinking, but it was good to play the ignorance game, anyway.
"I’ve observed him for some time. He’s different from the others – neat, always happy, and above all, he has a passion for God. And very sound in doctrine."
"Just the kind of man you want, huh?"
Elle nodded, laughing. "If wishes were horses, I would be his bride."
Her mind went to the scene after the service when Pastor Stanley and Victor stood at the door greeting the congregants as they filed out of the church. Elle had noticed Julie Favor smiling lustfully at Victor. It wouldn’t be wrong to imagine that several other girls wanted the vacant post of Mrs. Victor Edwards.
Without sharing in the laughter, Grandpa said, "God grants the desires of our hearts."
The corners of Elle’s lips contoured into an adorable smile. If Victor turned out the only desire God could grant her, she would forever remain grateful to the gracious heavenly Father.
Grandpa munched the last piece of lettuce from his plate and pushed the dish to the center of the table. Shoving his seat backward as he stood with difficulty, he said, "But God isn't obliged to honor our every whim."
Elle almost choked on her food. How could grandpa call such holy desire a whim?
"Grandpa, what's wrong in desiring a godly man? I should be married by now if I wanted any kind of man."
"Nothing wrong, honey. But many young girls crush on hundreds of single men before they get Mr. Right. I'm just saying you shouldn’t hope to get Victor. Desiring a godly man? Great. But Victor specifically? Maybe. God doesn't grant every desire."
A few steps away from the dining table, Grandpa turned and came back. "And my dear, if granted, some desires can turn out to be your worst nightmare."
Grandpa stared at Elle, seeming as though he wanted to say more, but he hesitated for a while and then regained his seat. "How much of Victor do you know outside of the church?"
Elle hadn't imagined the conversation would take on a serious tone from Grandpa. She pursed her lips, squishing her eyes, and when she spoke again, her voice contained doubt.
"Not much. But do you think he could be different in private?"
Grandpa gazed across the room as if he watched a mental movie. Suddenly, he shrugged his shoulders and retired to his bedroom.
"What did he want to say?" Elle wondered aloud.
to be continued
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