Martha walked into the compound solemn. She held her bag tight, still wondering what to say to Antonia, her friend, family, and former boss.
Antonia lived in an old red brick bungalow. Those houses that are old, but never out of style.
Martha looked up and around the house, still wishing that she owned such a beautiful home after so many years. The cleaner must have just swept the compound clean of leaves from the mango and orange trees. The broom marks were still visible. The whole place was empty and quiet as if no one was home.
“Martha, is that you?” Antonia’s sing-song voice sounded from the living room window, in the center of the house.
Martha smiled. “Yes, but I can’t see you.”
“I’m coming, dear.”
Martha’s smile remained. Antonia opened the front door on the house’s left side, and Martha heard her walk to the front before seeing her. Antonia had a big smile and outstretched arms.
“Hello dear, come here.” She said.
Martha went to her feeling like a daughter who had come home. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay. It’s only money.”
Martha raised her head and looked at Antonia with wide eyes. “Only money? Ten years of work and your retirement funds? You call that only money?”
Antonia smiled at the younger woman. “Come, let’s have cold drinks and talk. The heat is excessive this time of the year.”
They walked back into the house, the older leading. That was how they had always been—one the boss, and later the mentor. Antonia had taken the once rebellious orphan, Martha, under her wings and taught her everything she knew about the job and God.
Martha looked around the once boisterous house, now quiet, with warmth. The draped windows, the rugged centers, and their pieces, the cushioned seats in different colors. Entering Antonia’s home reminded one of the Arabian Nights stories.
Martha followed her mentor to the living room where she sat, as Antonia opened the drapes to allow the light filter through. She must have been reading in the dark with the lampstand by her side. Martha noted the heavy volume on the next chair.
Antonia turned to her with a smile. “What can I get you?”
Martha shook her head. “Nothing, please sit. How is uncle Dave?”
Antonia’s smile remained. “He is fine. Don’t look so serious. I didn’t die.”
“Yes, but…” Martha knew the source of Antonia’s strength. He was her source as well, but how could this happen? “How did it happen?”She asked.
Antonia sat. “Well, Tony, you remember him, the manager I hired, called me on Monday that he was at the shop, and it was on fire.”
“Like that? How did it start?”
“I don’t know. It’s been three days, and the Police are still investigating. It is well, Martha.”
“What’s the Insurance company saying?”
“Well, they are also investigating and will conclude soon, I suppose.”
“Thank God for the way you are taking this. I don’t know what I would have done if such a thing happened to me.”
Antonia rubbed her hands together the way she did when lost in deep thought. Martha waited, knowing the action was for her.
“Martha, what do you think happened to me?” Antonia asked, not smiling.
“Well, you lost a heavy investment.”
“Yes, that’s true. I lost money and a lot of the products that I sell, but what happened to me?”
Martha sat forward with narrowed eyes. “I don’t understand.”
Antonia smiled. “On the morning of the incident, I was reading Hebrews 11. I believe the Holy Spirit led me there because out of the blues, the chapter dropped into my heart as I woke up. I opened it and read, and a small line stayed in my mind. It said that out of weakness, they were made strong. I meditated on it and discussed it with Dave, and thirty minutes later, Tony called. At the end of that call, I asked myself, what is faith? Is it a belief in me, my abilities, and possessions, or in God and His manifold wisdom?
“You see, dear, He saw all sides of what happened before it did. He saw the end from the beginning and prepared me for it. He is preparing us, not just for good, but His strength manifests in our weakness for times like this. Martha, I’d rather rejoice in my weak state for God’s strength to show up. Can you hold onto money? It comes, and it goes, and I will not fall prey to fear of a temporary necessity.”
Martha nodded, looking down, as understanding flowed through her. Tears filled her eyes as she thought of how she had worried about this woman whom she loved. She stood in gratitude and raised her hand in worship to the Father, the keeper of all men. Antonia joined her, smiling as she noted the other woman’s tears.
When they finished worshipping, Antonia went to her side and sat.
“Why worry, Martha?”
Martha was still dabbing at the sides of her eyes with tissues. “I didn’t know if you would be okay. I didn’t know how you would take it, with none of your children in the country and with your strong independent spirit, stubborn more like.” She said and smiled as Antonia laughed.
“But you know there is God, right?”
“Yes, but how do you survive?” Martha asked holding Antonia’s hand.
Antonia sat forward and looked into her eyes. “That’s where you allow God to be God. I have become weak that the excellence of His glory may be made known in and through my life. I am waiting on Him for instructions on my next steps and looking onto Jesus, the author and finisher of the race I’m on. I have humbled myself before my Father as I wait for Him to save as He sees fit. I am happy you came; I believe you needed to hear this.”
“Yes, I am so relieved that you are fine and your faith intact.”
“No, not that. My problem is the reason for your worry and the words you spoke some minutes ago. What if it had been you? What would have happened, Martha?”
Martha looked down. “I would have been devastated, not as strong as you.”
“Because you have started depending on the temporary and not the eternal, my daughter.” She turned Martha to her and tilted her head up so she could look into her eyes again. “Retrace your steps. Nothing is worth losing the joy set before us, nothing.”
Antonia held onto Martha’s face and kept looking until the other woman managed a nod. Antonia nodded as well, as she knelt in prayer, and Martha joined.
Both prayed to the same Father. The one who had suffered the physical loss for the one who seemed to have lost her spiritual way. When they stood, the peace in the older passed to the younger.
Till next time, be transformed!!!