Prayer for Melissa

By Linda Porter Calyle

MacKenzie Isabelle Evans yanked the car door open and flopped onto the back seat. She slammed the door shut. “I can’t stand that Melissa Gibson!” she exclaimed as she fumbled for the seat belt.

Mom looked at Mac in the rearview mirror. “I don’t want you to talk about people like that,” she said quietly. “But you may tell me what’s bothering you.”

“Melissa thinks she’s so smart!” Mac exclaimed. “And she thinks she has to do everything better than I do! Like today, after we did our math facts speed test; she asked me what I got. I told her I missed four problems, and then she said really loud that she got them all right. And,” Mac complained, “she walked by and bumped my desk on purpose when we were doing cursive with pens, and my ‘T’ went way up on the end and you can’t erase when you’re using a pen!”

“OK,” Mom said. “Take a breath.” She started the car and backed out of the parking space.

“And,” Mac began again.

“Sh!” Mom repeated.

Mac sat stiffly in the car seat. She stared straight ahead. What a rotten day, and now Mom wouldn’t even listen to her!

Mom glanced at Mac. She smiled. “Stop sitting there sulking,” she said. “I’m taking you out for ice cream.”

Mac looked at Mom in astonishment.

“I’m going to sweeten you up,” Mom explained with a straight face.

Mac laughed.

“Oh, good!” Mom said. “It’s working already.” She leaned over and popped a cassette tape into the car’s tape player. Clear, sweet violin music filled the car.

Mom parked at the corner in front of the toy store in Jacksonville. Mac climbed out. She loved looking in the toy store windows. She always had, ever since she was so little that she had needed to be picked up so she could see in. Today a huge stuffed gorilla grinned at her through the glass.

Mac and Mom sat down at one of the little round glass-topped tables in the tiny ice-cream parlor. “What can I get for you ladies today?” the teenage girl behind the counter called.

“We’ll have a hot fudge sundae with peppermint ice cream, and whipped cream, and lots of nuts, and a cherry,” Mom said decisively. “And two spoons,” she added. She looked at Mac. “I don’t think half a hot fudge sundae will ruin our supper just this once, do you?” she whispered.

Mac shook her head. “I’m always hungry!” she said.

“Now,” Mom began, scooting her chair a little closer to the table and getting down to business, “let’s talk about Melissa. It looks to me as if she is the answer to part of your problem.”

Mac stared at Mom. “What problem?” she exclaimed.

“The list you’re supposed to make,” Mom reminded her. “Didn’t Pastor Chuck ask each of you in Sabbath School to make a list of four or five people you know who don’t know Jesus? Four or five people who you can pray for. You didn’t do it yet, did you?”

“No, but I can’t put Melissa on that list!” Mac protested. ‘She knows all about Jesus. We go to a Christian school!”

“Attending a Christian school doesn’t make a person a Christian,” Mom said gently. “Maybe Melissa hasn’t invited Jesus into her heart yet.”

“I can’t put Melissa on the list. I don’t want to pray for her. I don’t like her!” Mac wailed.

“I don’t believe I ever read a text that says you have to like somebody before you can pray for them,” Mom said thoughtfully.

The teenager brought the hot fudge sundae to the table and set it down between Mac and Mom. It looked just like a hot fudge sundae in a magazine picture. The warm chocolate smell filled Mac’s nose. She picked up her spoon and lifted the bright red cherry from its soft whipped cream pillow. She knew the cherry was for her. Mom did not like candied cherries.

Mac and Mom shared their treat in silence for a little while. Then Mac looked at Mom. “Do you have a piece of paper and a pencil?” she asked.

Mom reached for her purse and looked inside. She ripped a page from a tiny notebook and handed Mac a pen. “Will this do?” she asked.

Mac wrote a big number 1 at the top of the little page. Then she wrote Melissa’s name beside the number 1. “I’m only going to pray for Melissa because if Jesus were in my class, He would pray for her,” she said. “But I don’t want to.”

“That’s OK,” Mom replied. She licked warm fudge sauce from her spoon. “Maybe Jesus will change both your hearts.”

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