Marilyn's Tormenter

I heard Major Marilyn Aldrich relate the following at a Salvation Army women's camp. "After Larry, a high school classmate, learned that I attended the Salvation Army Sunday School, he began teasing me during our forty-minute bus ride to school. 'Hey Marilyn, is that a new dress from The Salvation Army store?' and 'Put a nickel on the drum and save another drunken bum' were his favorite jibes."

When Marilyn told her minister, he suggested, "Every time he harasses you, quote a Bible verse to him."

So the next morning when Larry made an irritating comment, she calmly replied, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16 KJV).

His taunts grew louder but Marilyn would not back down. Sometimes she would quote 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (KJV). The more Larry tormented her, the more she poured on Bible verses. "I had to learn more verses," Marilyn laughed, "but I most often quoted John 3:16 or 1 John 1:9."

Twenty years later Marilyn attended her high school reunion. When several told her, "Larry is looking for you," her heart sank. She determined to avoid him.

But Larry found her and Marilyn sat in amazed silence as he told his story. "I became an alcoholic and lost everything-my business, wife, children. One night I drove to the country with a gun determined to commit suicide. I was holding the gun to my head when all of a sudden I began to hear your voice saying, 'For God so loved the world....' The amazing thing was that I had never gone to church and never read a Bible, so hearing the Scripture in my memory got my attention. When I put the gun down I heard the other scripture, 'If you confess your sins....'" Larry drove to town heading for the first church he could find open, went in, knelt down, and found forgiveness.

Dear Jesus, help me to believe that You have a good purpose for not removing troubling situations.

"How great is your goodness which you have stored up for those who fear you" (Psalm 31:19).