Chapter 26

“And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

It was later than Jonathan had realized as he sat at the foot of one of Mark’s older brother’s bed. It was definitely a room that had been shared by two brothers. One brother was obviously into sports, mostly BYU, from the posters on his side of the room. Several football trophies lined the dresser. Also on the dresser was a name carved out of wood, TIM. The other brother, PAUL, was apparently more into sci-fi. His side of the room had a large collection of books and movie posters about aliens and space travel.

Jonathan was never much into science fiction. He had always enjoyed religious fiction, but the closest thing in the books that he read to aliens were angels. He supposed they could be considered alien to this world, but still the creepy alien figure on the nightstand beside Paul’s bed made Jonathan decide to sleep on Tim’s side of the room instead.

Despite the obvious differences, Jonathan noticed one thing they both had in common. Both sides of the room showed signs of religion. Each brother had a picture on his dresser of a large church building that Jonathan assumed was the temple he had heard about. They each also had a copy of the Book of Mormon on their nightstands. He reached over and picked up Tim’s book. It was well worn and was full of colored marking over important passages.

Jonathan wasn’t sure if there was any rhyme or reason between the different colors or if there even was one. He also, wondered why they had each left their copy behind instead of taking them on their missions. Perhaps he would ask them when they got back. Perhaps he would still be sleeping in their room when they got back.

Jonathan sat on the bed staring at the Book of Mormon in his hands. He knew he had followed the truth, but at a great price. The pain in his chest was more than sadness; he could physically feel the pain of missing his family. His heart hurt, but his soul had comfort. Given an ultimatum, you choose what you know is right and let the consequences come. Ultimately, though, everyone loses something. He lost his family and they lost a son.

He hoped that wasn’t true. Tears started to form in his eyes and he rubbed them away with the back of his hand. Perhaps once everyone calmed down his father would have a change of heart. He’d lived under Pastor Mike Moore’s roof long enough to know that it would take a miracle. His father was a good man and he loved him, but stubbornness was a Moore family trait that ran deep in the soul.

But the days of miracles had returned. Prophets on the Earth, the church restored, and ancient writings brought forth by the hand of God. Anything was possible. He thought of the lesson earlier that night with the missionaries. The Plan of Salvation was what the missionaries called it. He knew the basic principles, but had never heard it called that before.

Where we came from, why we’re here, and where we’re going were the main questions answered by the plan, the Elders had said. Jonathan had already had a good understanding of why we were on the Earth and the tests we needed to endure. We walk by faith and try to do what Jesus would do in every situation. He also had an understanding of where we were going. At least as good an understanding as he could have without actually going there, he supposed.

But where we came from was a bit of a new concept for him. He had heard many times that when we die we would return to the God that gave us life. “I guess if we’re returning we had to have been there at some point,” he thought. But no one ever spoke of a pre-existence in any of the sermons he could recall.

And another new concept for him was what the Elders had said about Adam and Eve’s fall as being part of God’s plan. They put it in a way he’d never thought of before, but it made sense. If we are here to choose between good and evil, and God, being perfect, could not create anything evil, He would have to create the garden and let man mess it up for Him.

“And boy have we ever messed it up,” Jonathan thought. That’s when the missionaries went into the most important part of the Plan of Salvation, Jesus is the Savior. Again, this was a familiar concept for him. Even as a preacher’s son, Jonathan knew the world was a hard place. Everyone is tempted, everyone sins. It is only through Jesus Christ that anyone can make it back.

A distant church bell chimed, bringing him back to the present and to the realization of how late it was. Mrs. Roche was kind enough to say he could sleep in as long as he wanted. He was thankful the Roche’s had asked him to stay here. He had told them several times, but felt like he should say it one more time before bed and to assure them he was O.K.

The hall was dark, as was Mark’s room as he passed. A light on the end table by their large couch was the only thing that lit the hallway. Quietly, so he wouldn’t disturb Mark, he made his way down the stairs. The steps were lined with pictures of the Roche family. A picture of each kid descended the steps and flowed into a larger grouping of pictures, including the picture that had started all of this.

The first two were girls, Mark’s older sisters. They both had the Roche look about them. Next were two boys that must be Tim and Paul, followed by Mark. It was nice to have faces to put with names. They were definitely all related. As the steps ended there was a large family picture and one of Jesus praying. And then there was the picture of Joseph Smith.

Jonathan stopped and stared at it. The boy in the picture was young and surrounded by light. “So, this is how it began?” Jonathan whispered to himself. He thought of the things he would love to ask Joseph right now. “What was it like? What trials did you have to suffer through? What all did it cost you? Was it worth it?”

Then his eyes drifted across the family picture. The pain surged within him again. He thought of his brothers and sisters and wondered when he would see them next. His eyes continued to drift until they lit upon the Savior. He knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane upon a tree praying the great prayer that would be shortly followed by His death. Jonathan found comfort in the image. Jesus had made the ultimate sacrifice, one that affected every person that ever lived. All He asked in return was to “take up your cross and follow me.” Jonathan felt renewed in his knowing that following Jesus was exactly what he was doing.

The sound of voices came from the kitchen. Mrs. Roche was talking to someone. From the one sided conversation, Jonathan could tell she was on the phone. He froze as he started to make out what was being said. He felt as though he was eavesdropping, but since the conversation was about him it didn’t seem wrong to press forward to hear more clearly.

“I thought you would want to know he was safe,” Mrs. Roche spoke into the phone. Her voice seemed upset, but not elevated. “It sounds like your husband is still very upset. I just knew as a mother that you would rest a little better knowing where he was.” There was a brief pause as the other replied. “You’re welcome.”

Jonathan heard the phone return to the receiver. Suddenly, he felt the urge to run back upstairs before he was found out. Before he could, Mark’s dad’s voice now came from the kitchen. “You did the right thing, honey. If we were in the Morris’ place, no matter how angry we might be, deep down we’d want to know he was safe.”

“I know, I just can’t imagine ever being that mad at one of the kids,” came Mrs. Roche’s voice in reply. “All I could hear was him shouting at his wife about being betrayed.”

“Now, in all fairness, we’ve both been pretty upset with Mark over the past couple of years and his attitude towards church. His attitude overall for that matter,” Mr. Roche said, trying to comfort his wife. “All we can do tonight is try to get some rest and see how everyone feels tomorrow.”

“Rest? It’s going to take awhile to calm down before I can rest,” Mrs. Roche sighed.

Jonathan didn’t feel like seeing anyone now as his earlier pain again filled his eyes with fresh tears. He really wanted to let the Roches know how much he appreciated them, but just couldn’t be seen like this. He quietly made his way back up stairs and cried himself to sleep.

********

It felt much later than it actually was. Everyone had left right after the lesson. Now Elijah sat in his dark room in front of the Young Prophet’s website. It was hard for him to discern his feelings. The lesson was great and everyone seemed to be interested, but the news of Jonathan’s fight with his parents loomed over them. If he hadn’t seemed so set on going on with the lesson, they would have probably rescheduled for another day.

Few of their friends could know what Jonathan was going through right now. Elijah knew the pain of being separated from a parent. His eyes welled with tears at the thought. He missed his mother and wished she were alive to be part of everything that was going on. How much worse it must be for Jonathan, unsure of when he would be with his family again. It was a tough but brave choice he had made.

Placing his hands on the computer keyboard, Elijah began adding a new posting. He titled it “Hope for a friend.”

“NoVoice was right on the money with his reply to the question of the week. Following Jesus sometimes does put children against their parents. I have a friend that left home because he believed in the Mormon Church. His father’s a preacher. My friend didn’t say what happened - whether he bolted or his parents o.d.’ed and kicked him out - didn’t feel right askin:( He knows he’s following the truth, but it’s still tough. What do you say to someone in that situation? - Elijah.”

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