Yesterday’s Promise by Vanessa Miller

ISBN: 9781603742078
Whitaker House
Paperback
Copyright © 2010 by Vanessa Miller

ONE

Standing before the congregation at Omega Christian Church Melinda Johnson preached a message on God’s precious gift of salvation. Her mission in life was to tell as many people as possible about a man named Jesus. Preaching the gospel had become her greatest joy. “Don’t wait until it’s too late,” she told the congregation. “The Lord, Jesus wants to fellowship with you right now. He loves you and only desires good things for you. “
Melinda continued on in that vain until her voice cracked and tears ran down her cocoa cream face. She never tired of talking about God’s ability to do the impossible. Or how God could take nothing and make something miraculous out of it. She didn’t like public displays of emotion, but this was more important than her image. As the tears continued to fall, she made an altar call and watched as countless men and women left their seats and rushed toward the altar. Repented souls stood around the altar weeping as they raised their hands in surrender to God. Melinda prayed to God on behalf of each and everyone of them.
After service, Melinda stood by the sanctuary door and shook hands with the people as they left the church. This was something her father did every Sunday. Since he couldn’t be there today, Melinda wanted to make sure the job was still done.
“Thanks for your wonderful message, Sister Melinda. My son was one of the people who came down to the altar today,” Janet Hillman said.
Janet had spent her lunch hours in noon day prayer for the past three years. Melinda had joined Janet in prayer for her son on numerous occasions, so she was aware of the addictions and the incarcerations that Janet’s son had been through. However, Janet had kept the faith, she believed that her son would one day serve the Lord. Melinda smiled as she said, “You prayed him through, Janet. I need to give you my prayer list, because I know you’ll stay on the job until it’s done.”
When Janet walked away, Elder Helms, the head elder, walked over to her and said, “You brought the house down with that sermon.”
“Thank you, sir. Hey, do you know why the elders weren’t at prayer this morning?” The first Sunday of every month, the leadership met for prayer. But, Melinda had noticed that none of the elders were in attendance this morning.
“Your father asked that all the elders meet with him this morning,” Elder Helms told her.
“Oh,” was all Melinda said. She had been with her father last night and he hadn’t mentioned anything about meeting with the elders this morning. The situation seemed odd to Melinda because she had always been included in his meetings with the elders. It was understood by all the leadership that she would take over for Bishop Johnson once he retired. Her father was in the hospital recuperating from what he’d thought was a heart attack, but turned out to be more of an anxiety attack. He had been given strict instructions to rest, which now that Melinda thought about it; that was probably the reason he hadn’t told her about the meeting. He knew she wouldn’t want him worrying about church business right now.
“Bishop Langston told me to make sure that you left church right after preaching the message. He wants to see you immediately,” Elder Helms said.
It felt as if Elder Helms knew something she didn’t and it scared her. “Did something happen to Daddy this morning?”
Shaking his head, Elder Helms reassured her, “No, no. Nothing like that. Bishop Langston is doing fine. He just wants to see you.”
“Thanks for letting me know, Elder Helms, I’ll head out there now.”

***

Rushing down the hospital corridor, Melinda was anxious to see her father so she could make sure he was all right. Her father had been admitted to the hospital three days ago after complaining of chest pains. After several tests, the doctor confirmed that no sign of a heart attack had been detected. Melinda was thankful that her father was recuperating and doing well. She was also excited to tell her father the wonderfully unexpected news she had just received that morning.
Bishop Langston Johnson’s eyes were closed when she walked into the room. As Melinda stood by the side of his bed she noticed that his hair was no longer salt and pepper, but completely white. The wrinkles beneath his eyes that had served to make him look distinguished were now more aggressive and intrusive. When did all of this happen, Melinda wondered as she picked up her father’s frail hand and pressed it to her cheek.
Bishop Langston’s eyes fluttered as he turned toward his daughter. “Hey baby girl, when’d you get here?”
“Not too long ago. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get here earlier.”
“You had to handle my responsibilities at the church. Don’t worry about it. I had plenty of visitors this morning.”
Melinda sat down in the chair next to her father’s bed and hung her purse on the arm of the chair. “I have some good news, Daddy. I’ve been asked to speak at the Women on the Move For God conference in August.”
“That’s great, baby girl, but I have even better news.”
Melinda smiled. “What? The doctor gave you a clean bill of health… said that you’ll live to be a hundred?”
Bishop shook his head and then blurted out, “I found you a husband.”
“Excuse me,” Melinda said in as even a tone as she could manage under the circumstances. After all, she was a thirty-seven year old woman, living in the twenty-first century. Father’s didn’t go out and find husbands for their daughter’s in this day and age. “Please tell me you’re joking, Daddy.”
“No joke to it,” Bishop Langston Johnson said as he lifted himself into an upright position. “I’m an old man, Melinda. I haven’t got many years left. So I’d like to see at least one of my grandchildren before I die?”
Melinda couldn’t deny that her father was showing signs of aging. But that didn’t mean death would sneak into his hospital room and suck out his last breath while she stood there and watched. “You act as if you’re dying tomorrow.”
“I could. The next heart attack could be my last.”
Melinda rolled her eyes. “It was an anxiety attack. Stop being such a baby. The doctor says you’re fine.”
Bishop Langston shook a shaky finger in Melinda’s face. “Now you listen to me. I’m eighty-two years old. I know what’s best for you and that’s why I called Steven Marks.”
Melinda stood up and backed away from her father’s bed. She put her hand to her mouth and shut her eyes, trying to block out the same feeling of humiliation she’d experienced when Steven dumped her ten years ago. This had to be some kind of horrible joke, but Melinda’s father was a serious man who rarely joked with anyone.
“Calm down, it’s not as bad as you think. I didn’t come right out and tell Steven I wanted him to marry you. He’s a smart young man… he’ll come to that decision on his own.”
“Why are you even talking to me about Steven, Daddy? That man walked out on me and married someone else. Do you really think I want him back now that his wife is dead?”
“Pride goes before a fall, Melinda.”
She really hated when her father tried to rein her in by quoting Bible scriptures. “What does being prideful have to do with not wanting to marry a man who rejected me in the first place? No thank you.”
“I have more to tell you. Would you please sit back down?”
Slowly Melinda inched back to her seat. If this marrying Steven Marks thing was supposed to be a buffer for the rest of his message, then Melinda was truly petrified. She sat down and trepidly glanced toward her father.
“This last hospital stay has convinced me that I need to retire.”
“I’ve been telling you to retire for years now. I’m able to pastor Omega and Pastor Lakes can take over as bishop for you.”
“Let me finish,” Bishop Langston said as he held up a hand to stifle Melinda. “I know the ministry goals that you have. I also believe there is a way for you to do God’s will and also have a family. Plus Steven’s church did not support him during his grieving process. They want him to leave, Melinda. So, I asked him to take over for me as bishop.”
She didn’t hear her father right. He couldn’t have just said that Steven Marks, the man who called off their wedding because she refused to give up her dreams of preaching the gospel was going to be the new bishop. In Melinda’s mind, this could only mean one thing; her sin had finally caught up with her.❖
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Buy Vanessa’s Yesterday’s Promise at:
Amazon

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Vanessa Miller is a best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. Her stage productions include Get You Some Business, Don’t Turn Your Back on God, and Can’t You Hear Them Crying. Vanessa holds a degree in organizational communication from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. She is a dedicated Christian and a devoted mother who also serves in her church as an ordained exhorter.

Website:  vanessamiller.com

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About Vicki Hinze
USA Today Bestselling and Award-Winning Author of 40+ books, short stories/novellas and hundreds of articles. Published in as many as 63 countries. Featured Columnist for Social N Worldwide Network and Book Fun Magazine. Sponsor/Founder of ChristiansRead.com & CleanReadBooks.com. FMI visit www.vickihinze.com.

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