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Tough Love In Christ's Millennium

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Excerpt from Book Two, Chapter Ten

In Chapter 10, "Rejoicing and Reproofs" Saul is forced to review an embarrassing scene he made.

Before the eyes of Saul and Prince Daniel appeared a scene of recent conflict in the Savage home. A conflict simmering under a loose lid of surly civility.

Governor Lucas, who, under Prince Daniel, governed five burgeoning municipalities, had made an official visit to Saul’s home, accompanied by Lord Stephen, Royal Mayor of Joystar.

“What is this evil report I hear about you, Saul?” rebuked Governor Lucas. Lord Stephen tells me that you have disobeyed his direct orders. I hear that Clint Savage’s rattlesnakes get bigger and more poisonous with each passing day. And those bears he shot for supper now have teeth as long as daggers. You tell the children that you are descended from a man with the “Midas touch”. But worst of all, you tell them that Clint lived like King Solomon in a big mansion while more honest folks lived in hovels. What are you trying to teach your children, disobedient one?”

“About our heritage as a family who overcame great adversity and prospered in this world,” replied Saul icily.

“Beware of what you teach them!” said Lord Stephen sternly . “I have warned you before about this.”

“Sirs, I do not wish to offend you,” replied Saul, in a conciliatory tone. “And I am fully aware that the Lord has the power to silence me forever if He so chooses.
Therefore in all humility I entreat my lords. Why is God so grieved with me? Am I not faithful to render tribute to the Tabernacle? Do I not have the liberty to choose the way wherein I shall walk, free of constraint or coercion?”

Governor Lucas replied, “Would you call it coercion if Lord Stephen and I plucked you and your family from a raging inferno to save all your skins? How much worse will be that eternal fire which shall never be quenched?

“As for your money, God would be no poorer if you withheld it from Him. And if you give it with a grudging heart, then it gives Him no pleasure to receive it from your hand. And you cannot purchase immunity from His chastisement when it descends upon you.”

“You are free to make choices, but you are not free to choose the consequences of those choices!” added Lord Stephen emphatically.

Lydia, Saul’s wife, entered the sitting room where the conversation was being held. She was bringing beverages for the guests. “My lord,” she said to Governor Lucas, “please enjoy one of my cherry cordials. They’re completely non-alcoholic. I made them myself.”

“Thank you, Lydia,” said the Governor, accepting one of the fruit drinks. He looked at her with profound pity. He groaned because of the heaviness which the sight of this ungodly woman brought to his sanctified heart.

“Is something wrong, Governor Lucas?” queried Lydia. “You look as if something is worrying you.”

“Lydia, Lord Stephen and I have come to bring a wonderful blessing to this house. Would you receive it?”

“What blessing, my lord?”

“Would you accept our Lord’s free gift of salvation?”

Lydia looked like a bone was stuck in her throat. “Well...ah...I...uh...I’ve got some things to work out in my mind , first. Maybe another time. But thanks for your thoughtfulness!” she stammered, grinning uneasily. “My heavens! Where are my manners? Lord Stephen, you must try my cherry cordial too. And welcome to our home,” she gushed. “It’s a great honor to see you again!”

Lord Stephen remembered a problem she’d had earlier. “Why,” he inquired, “did you not appear before me at the Judgment Hall? Did you not feel the need?”

“Uh...NO!” she sputtered. “Why bother you when the problem’s already been fixed? You’re a very busy official, aren’t you?”

Lord Stephen gave her a stern look, shifting it from her to Saul, who in turn, lowered his own eyes. “You know full well, Lydia, that your need has not yet been met. You also know your time is rapidly running out. Further delay is a path to certain fiery judgment.”

After Lydia muttered excuses and made a hasty exit, Governor Lucas turned to Saul. “Saul, you are also in need of warning. If you persist in disobedience, you shall surely perish!”

“But surely my lord has no inclination to put me to death for that trivial shortcoming!” protested Saul. “Three hundred years ago, gross violence, foul language, and filth were freely portrayed on television. And yet you rebuke me for my tales of rattlesnakes and bears?”

“You know you’re sweeping aside the issues of life and death!” scolded Lord Stephen. “Are you too blind to see the sinfulness of how Clint earned his living?”
“And who am I, who live in such a Paradise as this, to judge that miserable man who lived in the God-forsaken earth that was?” countered Saul. “The poor man had to survive, and a drowning man will grab at any rope.”

“And a sinner drowning in sin will seize any excuse to justify his sin!” reproved Governor Lucas. “It was so in my day. Only the Lord gave me the will to continue faithful in the face of continual resistance from rejectors of the Gospel of Grace!”

“Saul,” said Lord Stephen, “the Word speaks of the little foxes which spoil the vines. But at every opportunity you throw open the garden gate to Leviathans of sin.

Saul snorted. “Leviathans! Hardly! Sirs, is the Lord so bored with the quietude of this Paradise earth that He must strain at little gnats to amuse Himself?”

“Saul, cried Lord Stephen, the celebration of sin more than merits our Lord’s concern! And you would do well to comprehend that you are treading much too close to the precipice of hell!”

Governor Lucas put his arm around Lord Stephen and said: “My brother Stephen, it is evident that Saul’s soul is sick, nigh unto death, and yet he refuses the services of the Lord’s physicians!”

“Saul,” inquired the Governor, “where are Ramera and Nabal this evening?”
Glad of the change of subject Saul said, “Ramera is visiting with her best friend Julia Marcus, and Nabal is passing the evening with Lot Campbell.”

“Julia Marcus,” sighed Lord Stephen. “Saul, are you aware that she is a bad influence on your daughter? We shall have to deal very soon with her. She is rebellious toward divinely appointed authority.”

“Rebellious! That’s all I ever hear!” grumbled Saul. “Forgive me, my lords, but must we poor mortals have our every move monitored, our every thought screened, by our rulers? Did God not grant me authority over my own house?”

“Authority is a privilege, not an irrevocable right,” warned Governor Lucas. “If you don’t consider your ways and repent, you will soon lose your God-given authority.”
“Saul,” said Lord Stephen mildly, “You have shown great patience and mercy toward the transgressor who dwells beneath your roof. It is written: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. You have not exposed the sins of this erring soul to others, and you have returned good for evil. Therefore has the Lord shown great forbearance toward you in the rebellion of your infirm soul.”

“Sir,” protested Saul, “you imply that if I had not done so, then I could have lost my life for defending my right to teach our family traditions to my children?”

“Our God never gave anyone the right to tell lies, and embellish them with more lies!” objected Governor Lucas. He proceeded to upbraid Saul for one particularly outrageous rumor which had been circulating among all his kinfolk for the past few months.

“What else could I have done?” Saul wailed. “I can’t turn my back on my own flesh and blood!”

The two rulers sighed. Saul seemed to have built a wall of granite around his heart. But they had been instructed by the Lord to spare him from death. Saul was very sick spiritually. It would take strong measures to bring him to repentance.
Turning to Lord Stephen, Governor Lucas said: “It will take the hammer of God’s Word, applied with wisdom tempered by love, to break through the hardness of this backsliding heart.”

The two rulers arose from their seats. Governor Lucas’ shining face emanated both love and pity. “We must depart from you awhile, Saul,” he said. “But I leave you with a stern warning: If you allow the wretched condition of your soul to deteriorate, then the cure will be that much more bitter for you to swallow, and a sword shall pierce through your soul.”

The two rulers vanished before Saul’s eyes.

Mortified, Saul squirmed. “My Prince, I was in an ill humor on that particular day. Please...”

“Silence, Saul,” said Prince Daniel. “We must now view the second part of the same presentation.”

In that scene, Lydia was rejoining Saul in the sitting room after the two rulers had departed
.
She giggled, for Saul was behaving like a silly clown, hoping his levity would lighten her mood. In a deliberately high-pitched, off-key voice he sang: “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty , I’m free at last!”

“You’re horrible!” Lydia mocked. “Saul, have you flipped ? That’s the worst caterwauling I’ve ever heard in all my life!”

“No, honey! While it was a great honor to have those distinguished dignitaries under our roof for a few minutes, it’s a great relief to see those fellows tire of my dull company and leave. My word, I’ve never seen such grim faces in all my life! They looked like they’d sucked on sour lemons before they came over here!”

Prince Daniel could hear Saul weeping in humiliation from reviewing his own irreverent, slipshod regard for the Lord’s authorities. The ruler sighed as he intently perused the video.

Saul carried on whingeing to Lydia about the stern rebukes he had received from the two rulers. “I swear, Lydia, those chaps sure do get a kick out of raking a poor sap like me over the coals!”

The Regent's expression stiffened, and his lips were drawn tight in indignation. But he remained silent as the wretched episode continued to unfold before his eyes.

Lydia relished Saul’s discomfiture. “What’s the matter, big boy?” she purred. “Wish you could have run out of the room to escape them, like I did?”

Saul did a little jig and chanted: “Yeah, woman! You beat a retreat, and let poor me take all the heat!”

Lydia burst into a loud, ringing laugh, falling backward into Saul’s waiting arms. They stood there awhile, laughing and joking about being on the Prince’s “most wanted list”.

Returning to a more sober frame of mind, Saul complained: “I can’t take all their silly nitpicking anymore! Those are my kids, and by gosh, I’ll raise ‘em as I see fit! And if those rulers don’t like the bears and the rattlesnakes, I’ll resurrect the dinosaurs and bring them into the story!”

“Shut up, you silly stooge!” Lydia baited him with a hint of a smile. “We have no choice. We’ve got to live with our supernatural overlords, whether we like it or not! And what are you going to do, Saul, if Governor Lucas goes crying to Prince Daniel? He won’t let you waffle your way out of a charge of insurrection!”

“No way!” blustered Saul. “The big boss has more important things to do than police the Savage residence for relics of bears, snakes, and 300-year-old crooks. He’ll go after bigger fish before he sinks his hooks into me!”

Prince Daniel rolled up his eyes, his disgust betrayed by a deep shuddering sigh. Saul wept himself, as he saw a tear roll down the gentle ruler’s face.

“I’m so sorry I hurt you, Sir!” wailed Saul, twisting the corner of his blanket up in his tight fist. “I would give everything I own in this world to undo the pain I have caused you! I love you, my lord!”

“Peace, Saul,” said the Prince patiently. “I know the great infirmity of your backslidden soul. But you must be diligent to repent of the sorrow which you have caused our Blessed One. Let us continue to review these scenes, that you might profit from them and turn from your wicked ways.”

“You big clown!” Lydia retorted to Saul’s earlier remark. “You’re pushing your luck! Remember how Cousin Blake got the ax for getting too far out of line? You see here now, funny boy. You ‘d better mind your P’s and Q’s, or I’ll be a rich widow!”

“You’ve got hopes!” rejoined Saul, grinning and giving her a playful pinch.

“You naughty boy!” she squealed. “Straying from the straight and narrow!”

“Now look who’s preaching at me!” teased Saul. “Miss Goody Two-Shoes! You’re so holy you wouldn’t even let Governor Lucas lead you to salvation!”

“Lydia,” drawled Saul piously, “your problem is that you need to stop a moment and count your blessings. Even God deserves a little gratitude every now and then.”

“What blessings?” she mocked, with a pert uplift of her nose. She did not relish being preached to.

“What about our four kids? I know they don’t always act like blessings, but have you ever once stopped to thank the good Lord for them?”

“Really, big boy,” purred Lydia, fluttering her long eyelashes. “I think you had more to do with giving me those kids than the Lord did, or", she giggled. "your buddies!"

"What buddies, you delicious little devil?"

"You know, the guys who picked your brain!"

"Lydia," said Saul, "they're nobody's buddies, and certainly not mine!"

"but when they come you do your brightest halo for the occasion, don't you?"

Saul broke into a big grin. "But now it's off, sugar babe, just for you! Hey, don’t we have better things to do than argue about religion?”

“You bet!” giggled Lydia, breaking into a graceful run, with Saul in hot pursuit. “Last one up the stairs is a big bad bear!”