Nothing Better

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Trevor Paul Monroe took the toothbrush out of his mouth and carefully ran his tongue around his teeth. Good. They felt nice and smooth, each one of them. He smiled a huge, fake smile at himself in the bathroom mirror and studied his reflection. Sure enough. His teeth sparkled. Trevor ran clean water over his brush and stuck it in the toothbrush holder. He wiped his mouth.

“It was nice of you to join us,” Dad said as Trevor came into the living room. Dad’s voice was serious, but his eyes twinkled.

Trevor grinned at him and looked around. Mom sat in her favorite chair. She was knitting. Dad sat on one end of the couch. Brad filled the rest of the couch, leaning against a fat pillow at the opposite end with his long legs stretched out toward Dad. And Ben lay sprawled on the floor.

Trevor considered where to sit. Then he sat down next to Dad—on top of Brad’s feet.

“Hey! Watch what you’re doing!” Brad shouted, pulling his feet out from under Trevor.

“Oops! Sorry!” Trevor muttered from his safety zone. Brad wouldn’t dare get him back when he was sitting next to Dad.

Trevor looked at Dad. “I was brushing my teeth,” he explained. “I was doing a good job.”

“Well, that’s great!” Dad replied. “I hope I’m impressed when you come to the office next week for your exam.”

“You can look at them and be impressed right now!” Trevor exclaimed. He grinned his big, fake smile at Dad.

Dad pretended to seriously study Trevor’s teeth. “They look pretty good,” he said. “But the light’s a lot better in my office above my dental chair. That’s when we’ll know the true story.”

Dad picked up his Bible. He rubbed his hand over the leather cover. “Trevor, have you learned your memory verse yet this week?” he asked.

Trevor nodded. “‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,’” he recited.

“I remember when Brad and I learned that verse,” Ben said sleepily from the floor. “We always said our memory verses together in Sabbath School.”

Brad poked his brother’s leg with his foot. “That was because you couldn’t ever remember the words unless I helped you!” he teased.

“Huh!” Ben retorted. He rolled over and grabbed Brad’s foot and tried to yank him off the couch.

“That’s enough fooling around, guys,” Dad said. “Let’s get back to our worship. Tonight I want to talk about Jesus dying on the cross. Lots of time we say those words, ‘Jesus died on the cross for us,’ and we don’t really think about what they truly mean. Can any of you think of a way to help us understand more clearly what Jesus did?” he asked.

Mom stopped knitting and looked up. “I read a story once,” she said, “about a farmer whose barn burned up one night. The next day when he was examining the damages, he saw a pile of burned feathers. He knew it was all that was left of one of his hens. He nudged the pile of feathers with his foot, and little chicks ran out, peeping. The mother hen had covered her babies with her own body and died to protect them from heat and fire.”

“That’s a good illustration,” Dad said. “A mother’s love is always impressive. I think it always helps us understand God’s love better. What would you think of a mother who was willing to die to save the life of someone who had killed her entire family?”

“I’d think she was crazy!” Brad exclaimed. “How could you want to die to save someone who killed your family?”

Dad smiled. “What would you think of a father who let his son die to save the life of someone who hated them?”

“It wouldn’t make sense,” Ben said.

“But that’s what God did,” Dad pointed out. He opened up his Bible. “Listen to this verse in the book of Romans. ‘We were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still His enemies,’” he read. “Jesus died on the cross for His enemies, for the very people who hated Him and wanted to kill Him. Can you imagine dying to save someone who wanted to kill you?”

“Wow!” Brad breathed. “That’s pretty amazing!”

“God’s love is totally and absolutely amazing!” Dad agreed. “It’s so amazing that we will study about it in heaven forever, and we’ll still shake our heads in wonder.”

“God couldn’t do anything more to let people know He loves them, could He?” Ben asked from the floor.

“No,” Dad answered softly. “He couldn’t do anything more. Or anything better. He gave His very life. He gave Himself.”

It was quiet in the living room for a moment. Trevor thought big thoughts. “I don’t see how anybody can not love Jesus!” he exclaimed.

Dad put his arm around Trevor’s shoulders. “Me either,” he agreed.

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