It was on this very day, under Jamie’s tutelage, that things began to click in Sadie’s occasionally befuddled brain.
The previous week, he had wrapped up his long but fascinating “tour of truth,” as he called it. He had spent several weeks on science. (Whoever would have guessed that the Bible made scores of scientific statements in passing, millennia before secular scientists made the same discoveries about everything from the sun’s own orbit to the mountains and valleys of the ocean floor? And whoever would have guessed that little ol’ Sadie Sparrow would manage to follow a fair portion of it?)
Next Jamie had walked the little class—Beulah, Charles, and Elise were now permanent fixtures, she was a little sorry to say—through the Good Book’s prophetic accuracy, focusing heavily on Israel’s rebirth as a nation in 1948. Not that she had noticed it back then, but Sadie vaguely recalled Ed talking about the situation in the Middle East with great excitement. So now at last she understood what the fuss was all about, and she regretted not paying more attention to him at the time. What fun they might have had discussing these things!
But what fun it was to learn about it now. It wasn’t that she really needed proof of the Bible’s authenticity as the word of God; she’d always respected Ed’s opinion on the matter. But this proof, confirmed continually by Charles’ enthusiastic “Amen!”, was making a difference in her attitude towards scripture. She was taking it very seriously now, and it was making her look at her life differently, reflect more on her blessed past, and see God’s hand in shepherding her along every step of the way.
And today a major piece of the puzzle would fall into place for her at last.
“So,” Jamie had said after they’d all exchanged happy greetings, “we’ve covered a lot of ground, especially in terms of science and history. What I’d like to talk about today is the gospel itself, and how confident you’re each feeling that heaven is your eternal destination.”
For some reason he was looking right at Sadie.
Am I supposed to go first?
“Why don’t we start with you, Sadie?” Jamie said cheerfully when she didn’t respond.
“Are you confident that you’re headed for heaven?”
“Oh yes, I think so. I believe in Jesus, and I’ve led a good life.”
Jamie cocked his head and looked at her expectantly, like a dog that didn’t quite understand his master’s command. She smiled at him and rubbed her hands together nervously. Of course, it was the wrong answer, and she knew it. She was just nervous about being quizzed in front of these other people, all of whom obviously knew a lot more about the Bible than she did. She racked her brain looking for the right phrase to rescue herself, but it was too late.
“So you’re a good person, are you, Sadie Sparrow?”
That question she could handle.
“I try,” she said, smiling at the others. “I’ve learned from the best, after all—my parents, my husband, and now you!”
Jamie’s response was totally unexpected. “How many lies have you told in your life?”
“Lies?” She was aghast. How could one even count? “Too many,” she replied, after an embarrassingly long delay.
“So you’re a liar.” Jamie nodded thoughtfully. “How about this—have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain?”
“Used it as an expression of dismay or anger or just as a casual exclamation?”
“Oh. Well, I suppose I have.”
So you’re a blasphemer, too. What about this: Have you ever hated anyone?”
“Oh no,” Sadie said, shaking her head. But immediately the image of Elsie Teckel popped into her mind—Elsie, the busybody neighbor who had repeatedly called the police on the Sparrows because of dear little Cappy’s barking. One yip was enough to send Elsie shuffling to her phone. And more often than not, the old bat had sparked the barking herself by letting her cat out when Cappy was outside with Ed.
“I take it back,” she admitted. “I guess I have hated.”
"And yet Jesus said that hating another is committing murder in your heart. So what does that make you?”
“A murderer?” She looked at Jamie hopefully, awaiting some reassurance. Surely a kind word was on the way.
“So you, Sadie Sparrow, are a liar, a blasphemer, a murderer at heart,” Jamie said softly. “Just like the rest of us. You’re not such a good person after all, are you?”
“No,” she said in a small voice, studying her hands. She felt thoroughly ashamed of herself, and hurt that Jamie was being so unkind to her.
But wait: He said “Just like the rest of us.” What does that mean?
“And this,” Jamie said, rising and stretching his arms out dramatically, “is why the gospel is such good news. Do you all see? When God the Son died on the cross, He died bearing all the sin this world has ever committed, and will ever commit. He took the full punishment for your sin, in other words, as well as mine—the punishment that would have landed us in hell for all eternity. And all we have to do to get our personal sins expunged is to repent of them and trust in Him instead of in our own goodness.”
“Amen,” said Charles, as Beulah and Elise nodded in agreement.
At first, Sadie couldn’t quite grasp it—it seemed almost too easy. But then something clicked in her heart.
“So my goodness doesn’t matter?” she asked.
“Not a bit, at least from the standpoint of getting into heaven.”
“Jesus paid it all,” Elise added, “just like the song says.”
“And goodness really doesn’t matter?” Sadie thought of all the hypocrites she’d known in church over the years and found herself vaguely disappointed that they might well be heaven-bound themselves.
Jamie sat down again and explained it all again—how repentance and trust result in being born again, and the indwelling of the Lord in the human heart, and how the new Christian then experiences growing love for, and obedience to, Jesus Christ.
“It just blows me away every time I think about it,” Jamie said. “It’s so simple, and yet so transforming. It was the only way the Lord could create a people for Himself, loving and obedient by their own choice. No robots needed or allowed!”
Sadie sat quietly, her heart pounding. It all sounded both familiar and totally new to her. On the one hand, it was pretty much what Ed had always told her. But on the other hand, Jamie’s harshness with her seemed to have opened a door somewhere deep inside, as if his explanation had finally reached beyond her brain and into her heart. If it was true—and she had to admit that it made some sort of crazy sense—then it changed everything.
“You’ve given me a great deal to consider, Jamie,” she said finally. “I need to spend some time thinking about it.”
She was uncomfortably aware that she was probably the only one in the room who hadn’t understood these things. But no one else seemed to mind; they were all smiling at her, and Elise came over to give her a big hug.
“I guess maybe it’s a bit of information overload, isn’t it?” Jamie pulled a couple of little brochures out of his briefcase. “Here are some tracts to help you digest it all—you can look up the verses they cite in your Bible, okay?”
For the first time in her life, Sadie couldn’t wait to crack open the books.
--From The Song of Sadie Sparrow, pages 190-192