Saturday, June 3, 2017

(ToM) As a Memorial Unto Her

Life is beautiful for Pastor Marshall 

Tucker as he and his wife are spending

the weekend camping in the great

Rocky Mountains. But when an

unexpected Stranger arrives at their

campsite followed by an untimely

crisis, Marshall is met with situations

that are both peculiar and painful as he

faces recent loss and questions that he

may or may not have answers to. But

with Resurrection Day on

the horizon, he is reminded that

no matter what his circumstances are,

there is nothing that can separate him

from the love of God that conquered

death and rose to give victory to all

who trust in Jesus Christ.


It's Saturday and dawn. And the rise of the sun slowly makes its 

way up the Rocky Mountains and brings light to the campsite

of Marshall and Miranda Tucker. Their RV and car sit in the 

middle of a secluded spot nestled deep within the mountain's

range. For the onset of the spring season, it's a cold morning.

And with this being their last day before returning to the city

of Rock Springs, Colorado to celebrate Easter with their fellowship

, Miranda and Marshall are grateful for the time they have had 

together to get away to the woods and celebrate their 40th wedding


The timing for their trip could not have been better. It was coming 

close to a year since Marshall resigned his position as Pastor of 

their church after he felt God calling him to pass the pulpit on to 

the next generation. Despite stepping down from his office,

Marshall's zeal and love for the Lord remained intact. His fervency

and devotion at age 70 were growing deeper every day. And 

though he was far from perfect as he sensed each time he made

a failure or shortcoming, Marshall knew who he belonged to

and was grateful for God's mercy and grace in his life.

So it began as Marshall sat up in bed at the sound of the alarm

clock going off. He hazily looked at the time which he barely made

out to read, "6:00". Reaching over his wife and to the clock placed

on a little pull-out nightstand next to their bed, he shut the ringer 

off and whispered in Miranda's ear, "I love you."
Just being rustled awake herself, she whispered to her husband with

eyes still closed, "I love you too."

Marshall sat up on his side of the bed and put his slippers on.

Pulling open the nightstand drawer, he reached to get Miranda's

heart medication and placed two of the pills on the

nightstand's surface and said, "Here are your pills, sweetheart.

Whenever you're ready for breakfast, I'll be in the kitchen.

Miranda didn't say anything as Marshall quietly got up and walked

out of their living space and into their RV's kitchenette. Stretching

his body as he walked, he went to the RV's cooler and took out a

plate of scrambled eggs and bacon that was left over from the day

before, put it into the nearby microwave that was on the shelf, and

turned it on to begin heating. Marshall then walked back to the

refrigerator and took out a carton of milk, went to the cupboard for

a box of cereal, and made himself a bowl of Cheerios. After he had 

made himself the bowl of cereal, he took it to the table and sat it


Passing the table, Marshall went to the RV's cabin to get his Bible.

He returned with his Bible and seated himself. Marshall pushed the

bowl of cereal to the side of the table and placed the Bible before 

him. Closing his eyes, he gave a prayer of thanks for the day and

what it meant. Marshall also blessed the food and asked the Holy 

Spirit to open his eyes to behold something wondrous from His
Word. Opening his Bible, he turned to the account of Mary 

Magdalene and the other Mary visiting the empty tomb in Luke 24.

He slowly began to read the narrative to himself:

"Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn,

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And

behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord 

descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from 

the door and sat on it."

His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as

snow. And the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead 

men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be

afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not

here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the

Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from

the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you

will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”So they went out quickly 

from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples

word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met


As soon as Marshall got to the end of reading the portion of 

scripture, there came a loud banging sound against the door of the

RV. Marshall looked up from his reading alarmed. He then stood up

and made his way to the entrance of the RV and opened the door to

find what was going to change his life.

What he found was a man lying a few feet from the door, and he

was bleeding badly and hardly moving. Marshall quickly made his 

way to the man on the ground to check him.

Are you alright?"

"I am now." the man replied.

The man was covered with blood from what looked to be from

head to toe. Marshall couldn't tell where or from what wounds the

blood was coming from, but as he inspected the man's body, the 

stranger slowly sat up from his fetal position and looked intently 

into Marshall's eyes and said, "I need help."

Marshall helped the man up off the ground and walked beside him 

with his arm over him as the stranger limped up and inside the RV

along with Marshall. When they got inside the RV, Marshall pulled

out the chair usually reserved for Miranda at the dining table and 

gestured for the guest to sit down.

"What happened to you out there? How did you get up here?" 

Marshall had a ton of questions at the top of his mind, but managed

to get these two out and waited expectantly as the stranger seemed 

to take a lot longer than Marshall thought anyone under his

circumstances would take considering what situation He was in.

The stranger took a deep breath and said, "You didn't see the bus


"What bus!?" exclaimed Marshall incredulously

"The church bus." the man continued somberly

"No..." Marshall half stuttered. He wanted to say more. He wanted

 to tell the man there hadn't been any church bus around. And even 

if there had been a church bus outside, why would they drive 

dozens of miles out to the middle of nowhere. And, if they had, 

who was responsible for His condition?

What did they do to him? Why did they do it?

The stranger spoke again solemnly. "What's most important is that 

the people who did this to me are long gone away from here, and 

you have nothing to be fearful about."

"Well, are you in any pain?"

"Yes, quite excruciating in fact. I believe I will have to go to a 

hospital soon."

"There isn't a hospital around here for miles. The nearest one is at 

the base of the mountain and in the city limits. I will take you 

there. We don't have cell phone coverage

up here, so there's no use in trying to call for help. "

"Is there anything I can do for you right now before we go 

though?", asked Marshall

The stranger raised his eyes from the table. The blood had already 

begun to dry around his nose and mouth. Smiling, he said, "May I 

have a cup of water?"

"Sure!" Marshall raised up out of his seat and quickly went over to

the sink and ran out a glass of water, returned, and gave it to his

new guest. Starring in astonishment at the stranger as he drank the

water, Marshall glanced over at the bowl of cereal he had made for

himself earlier and asked the guest if He cared to eat it himself.

Looking straight ahead, the guest who wasn't acting like He was in 

any extreme trauma other than a taking deep breaths and letting

out the occasional groan said, "Yes please."

Marshall, who was growing more perplexed and excited by the 

minute, scooted the bowl over to the man. Strangely enough, there 

was an air of calm in Marshall that he never thought would have 

been there considering what was going on. Collected, Marshall told

the stranger that he would be back in a second, that he had to 

excuse himself for a moment. Marshall, standing behind the man 

as he sat at the table, watched the guest nod his head. Marshall 

stood there for a brief moment not knowing what he was thinking 

or wanted to think, but finally turned back and walked to the hind 

quarters of the RV where he and his wife's bedroom was.

Entering the room, he saw his wife laying up in bed, reading a

book. "Honey, we have a guest."

Putting down the book on her chest, she looked up at her husband 

inquisitively. "I don't know who he is or how he got up here, but

he's pretty banged up and bloody. I'm going to have to drive him to

the hospital."

"Do you think it's safe to be alone with him?

"Yes, I believe so."

"Marshall, be careful."

"I'll tell you about it when I get back. I'll leave your breakfast in the

microwave. All you have to do is reheat it when you're ready."

"Marshall, be careful. I love you.", Miranda said again

"I will. And I love you too."

Marshall closed the door behind him and walked back to the 

kitchenette area of the RV. As Marshall walked back in the 

kitchenette, the stranger stood up from the table, and

said, "If you're ready to go, I'm ready."

"Yes. I am ready.", said Marshall.

Limping to the door, the stranger said, "Thank you for your 

hospitality. The Lord bless you." And then he opened the door and 

walked out.

Marshall, glancing at his Bible that was sitting on the table, went 

over to pick it up. He then went over to the key peg that was on the 

side of the RV, beside the door, grabbed the key to the car and

walked out to the waiting man who was standing by the car.

When they settled in the car and drove off the campsite a few yards,

the man spoke up. "I realize you have many questions you want to

ask me, but if you don't mind, I would rather travel in silence.

Putting his finger on Marshall's Bible that was sitting on the

dashboard, he continued. "Besides, I want to take the time to pray 

to my ABBA. I'm sure you understand." The stranger's eyes never 

left Marshall.

"Sure," said Marshall apprehensively. By this, he was disappointed

but wanted to respect the man. After a few minutes, he asked, "Do 

you mind if we listen to music during the ride though."

"Not at all. That would be good.", said the stranger.

Marshall took out a CD of mixed music related to the theme of the 

resurrection and put it on. They drove the rest of the way in silence.

When they arrived at the hospital, Marshall helped the man check 

in. He stood a few feet away from the receptionist and the stranger 

but overheard the man give the same account of the church bus 

dropping him off at Marshall's campsite. The only new information

Marshall learned by listening to the man tell the receptionist was

that He sustained His damage by "friends" and that His name was

Jamiel. He told the receptionist his last name, but Marshall didn't

catch it. 

When the check-in process was over, Marshall went up to him and

patted him on the shoulder and asked, "Are you going to be 


"Yes," said the man.

"Okay, well I need to go back up the mountain to check on my 

wife. But I will be back after a while to check on you."

"Goodbye," the stranger said as he turned from Marshall and 

walked off to find a seat in the waiting room.

Marshall's drove back up the mountain with prayer and worship. He

was excited to get back and tell Miranda, the story of the stranger

and spend the remaining time they had together perhaps walking

through trails and enjoying the bright warmer weather that was

radiating through the trees as the sun had come out since that

morning. When he got  back to the campsite and stepped into the 

RV, he found a shocking sight. Miranda, his beloved wife, was 

sitting in the chair at the dinner table with her head laying flat on 

the surface of the table. Frantically, Marshall checked her pulse. 

She was dead.

It seemed like it took hours and hours on end until Marshall was 

able to drive down the mountain enough to finally get a cell phone 

signal. And by the time an ambulance arrived at where he was

parked, he was exhausted. He had managed to carry his wife's

body out of the RV and place her in the car. The EMT's took 

control of her body and transferred her over to the ambulance

while trying to resuscitate her, but there was no response. 

Marshall felt devastated. He asked the paramedics if he should

follow the ambulance, but they told him that he should wait for the 

police who would arrive at his RV shortly to take a report. 

When the police got to the campsite, they asked Marshall question

while investigating the scene. 

Marshall told them everything that transpired that morning. 

Everything from the stranger, to leaving the campsite with 

his wife in the bedroom who from last seeing her seemed to be 

doing fine and in good health. It was at the kitchen table, 

however, that something appeared to be peculiar. Marshall hadn't

noticed it before when he was in the RV and removing his wife,

but along with the plate of breakfast, he spotted beside were he 

he found his wife, a small bottle of what appeared to be anointing 

oil. It sat directly across from her on the table. Under observation,

the bottle had on it an emblem of a cross and a dove. When the 

investigator asked Marshall about it, he said that he didn't know

where it had come from. As far as he knew they had not owned it,

and Marshall couldn't think of where it might have come

from. The investigator then asked if it could have possibly come 

from the man who was in the room with him that morning, and 

Marshall couldn't say for sure, but from the best of his knowledge,

the stranger hadn't left it there. The police decided to take the bottle

anyway for evidence, pending an autopsy of his wife. They assured

him that it looked as if his wife died from natural causes, but they 

told Marshall they would return the small bottle if nothing 

conclusive turned up from testing it. 

Later that evening, Marshall couldn't rest even though he was 

exasperated. He laid in bed, tossing and turning. The only one

Marshall could think of was his dear wife who had just died.

Then he remembered the last time he had seen her. She was reading

her devotional. Marshall got up and went over to Miranda's 

nightstand, pulled it open and found it. 

He turned the book to where she had bookmarked it from her last 

reading. It was Matthew 26 - The Anointing at Bethany:

"And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a

woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly 

fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.

But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why

this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and 

given to the poor.” But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to 

them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good 

work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you 

do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body,

she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this

gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done 

will also be told as a memorial to her."

Marshall closed the book. Since the moment he left Miranda that 

morning, he longed to get back with her and meditate on God's

Word together. It was never going to happen. Tears fell down 

Marshall's face as he pondered the scripture he had just read. His

mind also went back to the mysterious bottle of anointing oil that 

he found across from where his wife died earlier that day. Standing

up from the bed, he knew in his heart what he needed to do.

When Marshall walked into the hospital he had been in the same 

day to deliver the stranger,  he walked up to the woman at the

information desk and asked, "Excuse me. Can you tell me the status

of a patient named, Jamiel?"

The woman started typing on her keyboard and a few seconds later 

said, "We have no record of any patient by that name."

"Okay," said Marshall. Maybe He wasn't admitted to the hospital 

but just got treated in the ER and was discharged?"

"I'm sorry sir, but our records show both people who get admitted 

and who just come through the Emergency Room. There hasn't 

been anyone here by that name."

Astonished and bewildered, Marshall walked out of the hospital. It

had been a day! Earlier that afternoon, Marshall had contacted

some friends from his church and was planning on making the 

drive back to Rock Springs later that evening. He latched his car

back to the rear of his RV later that day and took off. As he made 

his way through the city and veered on the highway on-ramp

that led him back home, his head filled with both sadness and 

wonder of all the things that had happened that day. 

Suddenly, he spotted a man on the ramp who was sitting on the

ground strumming an acoustic guitar. It looked like the stranger!

Marshall pulled off the road with his RV and car and walked back  

to where the man was playing. From a distance Marshall was

walking at, he still thought this was the same man he had been with

earlier that day. Getting out of the RV, Marshall walked back 

toward the man who was sitting on the ground. Now standing right

in front of him he wasn't sure. The man was picking his 

instrument while sitting on a purple blanket. He had a combat

helmet beside him which contained differing denominations of 

bills. There was a sign that read, "Deaf Iraqi War Veteran" in front

of Him. He was dressed up in fatigues and seemed to be in His mid 

to late 30's. There was a faint resemblance of the stranger, but this

guy had a beard with long hair down to his shoulders whereas the

stranger before had short hair and no facial hair.

Marshall stood there staring at him. The man avoided eye contact

with Marshall and kept playing random chords on His acoustic.

There was something about this man that Marshall couldn't fathom.

While not dismissing the notion it might or could be the stranger,

he was without words. The second Marshall was about to open his 

mouth and say something; the man started singing. There was no

clue as to whether it was the voice of the stranger or not.

It was a beautiful and sounding voice. The type of voice that loses

all characteristics of speech when in musical harmony. As the 

man sounded out loud notes with His singing that seemed to rise

higher than the noise of the wind that passing cars were causing 

as they sped by, He quickly glanced at Marshall and looked away. 

The song the singer started next was one that Marshall recognized

earlier that day as he was driving to the hospital listening to Easter


All those circumstances were lost to him though when the lyrics 

came to him: 

"God sent His Son, they called Him, Jesus;

He came to love, heal and forgive;

He lived and died to buy my pardon,

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!"

As the song got to the chorus, the man on the ground flew his head 

back and sung with as much gusto Marshall had ever heard. It

caused him to raise his head up to the sky as well. When he did,

he saw a formation of seagulls flying in unison. Marshall stood, lost

in something entirely apart from himself. There, he waited for the 

next stanza and chorus as the man continued. Somewhere in 

between, Marshall reached into his wallet and took out a ten dollar

bill and placed it in the Warrior's helmet and walked away

compelled by something beyond himself. As the Spirit of love

moved him back into his RV, he kept hearing the fading words of 

the singer behind him which now Marshall replaced with his 

own words within his soul being lifted up to God in Heaven.


And then one day, I'll cross the river,

I'll fight life's final war with pain;

And then, as death gives way to victory,

I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,

Because He lives, all fear is gone;

Because I know He holds the future,

And life is worth the living,

Just because He lives!

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