Ewart Handel

IMG_0502“I don’t want this one,” Jared said, holding the sugary, green gummy worm in his outstretched fingers. “Can we put it back in the bag?”

“No!” We chorused together. I clutched the bag, protecting the unsoiled gummies, and took a step backward out of the train compartment.

“Do you want it?” Jared asked our companion sitting next to him. She shook her head apologetically.

“Just eat it,” Aijalon told him, encouragingly nodding him on.

“I just can’t,” Jared said. “Sorry guys.”

We had reached a stale-mate. So I held out my hand, cupping my fingers slightly, and motioned for the little guy.

“Give him here, Jared. We’ll plant him.”

He dropped the green gummy worm into my palm and Aijalon and I transitioned to the open window in the walkway. We were stopped at Hlavní Nádraží – the main train station in Prague. It was the last stop till home, sweet home and the big sky over the city was blushing pink and yellow. There is nothing as nice as a beautiful sky to end a beautiful day.

I held the little sugar-worm out the window and let him fall to the gravely tracks below us.

“He looks a little lonely down there,” said Aijalon.

Aijalon was one of our team leaders for the last American mission’s group this summer. I’m sure he felt a certain amount of responsibility for the welfare of that gummy worm.

“Yeah, he’s probably the only green gummy worm in this whole train station.” I paused. “Except for all the ones in this bag…Obviously.”

Poor little guy.

“I think he needs a name,” I said. Of course he needs a name. You can’t drop a gummy worm out of a window and not give him a name.

“Jim-Bob.”

“Eh, I was thinking something a little more ‘Henry Townsend’-like,” I clarified. “Something missionary and purposeful.”

“Ewart,” he said.

“Ewart Handel,” I said.

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

We looked at Ewart Handel, the gummy worm. He seemed very small in that very big train station.

“Alright, Ewart,” Aijalon said, leaning out the window and giving the gummy worm a firm look. “We only have a few minutes left with you, so we’re going to give you some life-advice. Mary, take it away.”

I cleared my throat. What do you say to a gummy worm who’s all alone in the world?

“Ice-cream after 2 a.m. is always, always a good idea.”

Aijalon nodded and then added, “Stay out of the rain. You’ll just get sticky.”

“But look for adventure!” I added.

“Don’t care about what people think of you,” Aijalon said.

“But try to make friends,” I said. “Friends are important.”

“Yeah, friends are okay,” agreed Aijalon.

We were both quiet for a while.

“Do you think he’s going to be okay?” Aijalon asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “We’ve done all we can do. We’ve sent him off as best we can. It’s all up to him now.”

“Him and God,” Aijalon corrected.

That’s true. Sometimes I forget that even when friends pull away from us in the train station, when we’re left on the platform (or in the gravel below), we’re not really alone. God never leaves us.

Sometimes I feel like a gummy worm in a train station. People can tell you encouraging things and tell you to keep your chin up and it doesn’t make any difference. You still feel half an inch long, powerless to move and soluble in rainwater. You still find yourself looking up at a sky that seems bigger than life, lying between metal tracks that speed rushing trains on their way. And the noise, the shaking and the hugeness of it all seems overwhelming.

Sometimes I feel like a gummy worm because I don’t understand what my purpose is, what my future is, what my point is. Why am I in a train station? Is this not an odd place to put me, God? Did you have a reason for this? Do you have a plan for me?

And God doesn’t always answer right away. Sometimes I have to lay there a long, long time before I hear His gentle voice whispering to me.

The train gave a small jolt and we slowly pulled away from the platform. Ewart Handel lay stretched out on the gravel, a lingering sliver of green in the muddy, dark train station.

“He sure brightens the place up, doesn’t he?” Aijalon said. I nodded.

The clouds above us put on their golden halos and the moon began its early ascent into the gloaming, and we watched our little friend until he was out of sight from everyone but God.

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