Well, I'll be!

“My dad’s left arm doesn't work,” the bigger boy said. "That side pains him, though he never complains." Isidore saw the man’s left wrist was tied to his lower leg. The arm remained straight down, his fist clenched around the fashioned cinch. Isidore reached for the fella’s shoulder, squeezed it a bit, repeating the squeezing as he went to the elbow, and the wrist, and then gently released the cinch.

“It seems fine,” Isidore said, his much bigger hand again sliding down the injured man's left arm, squeezing as he went.

The man lightly lifted his left hand straight up into the air, something he hadn’t been able to do in years, and remarked in agreement. “So it does! Well, I’ll be.”

Atlan looked at Isidore with wide-eyes, shocked at the simple solution to the man's problem. “I think it was just out of its socket,” Isidore shrugged.

Filled with the Spirit

2Timothy 4:10-17
Luke 10:1-9

Isidore stood at the back of the crowd with his friend and brother-in-law, Atlan, listening to Jesus give the group its assignments. While the others shuffled about and murmured, Isidore stood still and watched the engaging holy man. He caught Jesus periodically looking at him as he spoke, which wasn’t difficult. Isidore towered a foot above everyone else.

At 30 years old, he had already experienced two careers. Isidore labored in the fields from the age of 12, eating and growing and building upon his already huge frame. He was thought to be slow of mind, because his movements were careful and his speech deliberate. His pondering manner and lumbering movements, however, hid the assured man who eventually built a successful, thriving business. In a few short years he and his wife, Naomi, gathered an extended family reliant upon Isidore's doggedness. Their clan of mixed races and cast offs were attracted by available work, lived out faithfulness to God, and land. 

For the last eight years Isidore single-handedly restored an abandoned copper foundry in the Arabah Valley, a vestige of one of Solomon’s old slave camps. He returned it to a bustling enterprise that employed a dozen craftsmen and a legion of workers. His copper creations ranged from plates sold at festivals for the wealthy to copper and iron mixed to form farming and construction tools. 

For two months, Isidore and his friend Atlan had been following Jesus from afar. They both journeyed from Isidore's smelting lands below Mount Horab with wares to sell. All had sold, and they wandered into the throngs that followed Jesus. 

Their families had arrived only recently to join them for the Jewish feasts. Atlan has set up camp for their families in comfortable tents outside of Jerusalem with the rest of the pilgrim visitors. 

Isidore and Atlan were the last two men recruited by Jesus for a special calling to go out to the countryside. They reluctantly joined after 70 men had already been assigned to far flung destinations. Jesus' convincing manner swayed their hesitations. 

"You will be filled with the Spirit," he told Isidore and Atlan. They felt a distinct tingle through their arms where Jesus touched them. Jesus told them this would be their only duty for him, and they could return to their families when they came back. The task seemed simple. To announce the coming Kingdom to one small village where Jesus would visit following a complete trek around the Sea of Galilee. From this village, Jesus would return to Jerusalem. 

Isidore told Atlan they should bring his empty cart, serving another function to provide a needed respite for their cart steeds. Isidore and Atlan would walk beside the two retired war horses who needed an easy journey and extended time on the road before the burden of returning the family to home. Their days were numbered, and both Isidore and Atlan cared for the animals.

Atlan had rescued the geldings from slaughter by Roman stable hands -- meat for the slaves. The battle injuries suffered by the animals required patience and care, which Atlan had. Yet, the two men fulfilled Jesus' desire that they walk, and they both ambled beside the old grateful horses.  

The village of Nain, their destination, lie West, below the sea of Galilee. That’s where Jesus sent them. They arrived there in three days.

Their first encounter engaged them in conversation with a hefty but friendly man and his two hearty boys. The boys spoke rapidly, telling Isidore and Atlan that they were stonemasons. Their necks were thick and their hands large.

“You in need of mason work?” the man asked. His body leaned to the right. His left side appeared partially paralyzed.

“Are there any among you who are ill?” Isidore asked the man. 

Atlan nodded, agreed that the question was a good way to start, since they weren’t there to hire anyone.

For a moment, the man and the two boys looked at each other. The question had thrown them off. 

“My dad’s left arm doesn't work,” the bigger boy said. "That side pains him, though he never complains." Isidore saw the man’s left wrist was tied to his lower leg. The arm remained straight down, his fist clenched around the fashioned cinch. Isidore reached for the fella’s shoulder, squeezed it a bit, repeating the squeezing as he went to the elbow, and the wrist, and then gently released the cinch.

“It seems fine,” Isidore said, his huge hand again sliding down the injured man's left arm, squeezing as he went.

The man lightly lifted his left hand straight up into the air, something he hadn’t been able to do in years, and remarked in agreement. “So it does! Well, I’ll be.”

Atlan looked at Isidore with wide-eyes, shocked at the simple solution to the man's problem. “I think it was just out of its socket,” Isidore shrugged.

The man looked from his arm to Isidore several times while his boys inspected their father's fixed appendage. “You must join us for supper!” the man said loudly, moving his left arm over and over, with surprising ease, confused at its quick repair. He turned and led the two strangers to his house.

“I’ve got a lispth,” the younger of the boys shouted. He had not moved. They all stopped. Atlan and Isidore returned to him. Atlan looked at the boys upper cleft lip. Isidore reached for the boy's mouth and rubbed it with his thumb. 

“You got something on there,” he said, tossing what looked like a large dead wasp to the ground. The cleft immediately healed over.

They all turned back toward the house, satisfied that the wasp had been removed. No one noticed that the boy's lip and upper teeth, however, had been completely repaired. The boy stood where he was, pulling at his lip. 

“What the heck?” he said as everyone walked away.

Noises and commotion came from the stone home as the others approached it. The old man walked in first, and the rest followed, except for the younger boy who was still back at the road inspecting every inch of his face, and periodically jumping up and down.

“Who are these two?” shouted an annoyed woman as Atlan and Isidore entered the house. When Isidore ducked under the entrance and stood fully upright the woman stepped back, aghast at his size. 

“What in good God is that you’ve brought in?” she shouted at her husband, pointing an arthritic finger at Isidore. She moved in jerky motions. Like a prize fighter sizing up an opponent she jutted her chin at Isidore and scowled.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Isidore said in his low, slow voice. 

Atlan remembered what Jesus had told them to say.

“Oh, and peace to this household,” Atlan said.

As Atlan spoke, Isidore noticed the fear leaving the woman. He smiled as the apparent anger went away from her. Her barging personality immediately abated. Even her clothing seemed to settle down. She smiled back at Isidore, relief replacing her anxiety. Her husband’s jaw dropped wide open at his wife's transformation.

Two young girls then ran wildly into the room, skirts flying, angry shouts flung at each other, and hands swirling. They crashed awkwardly into Isidore. Isidore reached out with both his hands, lightly grabbed each girl before they tumbled to the floor. He set them carefully down, kneeling as he did, and their bodies relaxed as they stared into his face. 

“No harm done,” Isidore said, spreading a wide happy smile. He looked at them thinking lovingly of his own children, and patted them both on their arms. 

The room had gone fully quiet. A calm filled the house, something that had not been there since the walls had been built.

“He fixed my lip, papa!” the younger boy shouted as he finally came bursting into the house.

Atlan looked at his friend, watching the quick turn of the tide in the household’s demeanor and its inhabitants. “Isidore, are you doing this?” he asked, loud enough for all to hear.

“Doing what?” Isidore asked, clearly confused by the question, his dreamy thoughts still on his family.

“Why are you here?” the older of the young men who had walked in with them asked.

Isidore and Atlan paused for a minute. "The Spirit is with you," Atlan quietly said to Isidore. He then scanned the household.

“We’re here to announce the coming of the Kingdom. Jesus sent us,” Atlan said. 

“The Kingdom of God is at hand for you,” Isidore added, still on his knees, the girls holding onto one of his arms.

“Oh,” the woman said, strangely understanding what they both said. The old man went to his wife’s side, whispering to her with questions. She inspected his left arm, amazed at how he easily moved it around her back. Again, she said stringing out in exclamation, "Ooohhh!"

They ate a noon meal there, reclining at table. They were invited to stay at a room near the stable. Atlan inspected their animals and found that by simply touching them he could brush away mange and remove sore spots.

The next day, leaving their cart and horses with their host family, the two of them visited many on the outskirts of Nain. They found that the pattern of healing and removing demons was repeated everywhere they went.

“This is fantastic, Isidore,” Atlan said. 

Isidore told people many stories about Jesus that he had seen in just his few short weeks with him. Healings, removing demons, and teachings from the Torah.

“You are right, Atlan,” Isidore said after they had healed a young boy who could not stop yelling at people. He was hiding in a cave behind his mother’s house. When they left him he sat talking calmly to his mother while she combed out his hair.

“This is what Jesus sent us to do,” Isidore said. “He’ll be coming here soon. Everyone will be so eager to see him.”

A few day’s later, they decided it was time to return to Jesus. They traded the two aging horses, happy in a farmer's field whose wife they had restored from a constant depression, for a single healthy horse, then set out to gather north of Jerusalem where they had left Jesus. Back near their family, they went to report to Jesus. Before they did they heard many similar stories to their adventures, but were shocked by recurring tales of men being attacked, verbally abused, and others who were forcibly chased out of their town. Jesus had said this might happen. No one seemed to have a complete success story, though, like Isidore and Atlan.

“We were not prepared for that kind of reception,” Isidore said to Atlan. “Our visit didn’t include any danger.”

“I don’t know how I would handle such a thing,” Atlan responded.

"Jesus purposely sent us there for that reason, Atlan," Isidore said. He remembered that Jesus said this was all he'd ask of them, and then told them they would return to their families.

The two stood outside of the group, apart, much like they had originally joined it. Jesus nodded to Isidore as he escorted the 70 others to a hillside. Isidore turned and walked away. Atlan went with him. 

They returned to their families, but a pall of dread had overcome them. They spoke in somber voices to each other as they walked to their camp, revisiting Jesus’ words that he would suffer harm from the elders and chief priests, and that even the scribes would join in. Eventually Jesus said he would be killed. But Isidore and Atlan were not to be part of it.

They gathered up their families, short of finishing the feast days, not explaining their early departure to their loved ones, and headed back to the Arabah Valley. 

Some time later they heard that Jesus was crucified. Roman travelers described the day's events, and the darkness that came when he died, a sure sign that Jesus' mission had failed. The disciples, they were told, had dispersed, and were thought to be no more.

A month passed and Isidore and Atlan found that they still had their healing power, a gift they knew had come from the Holy Spirit of Jesus. They murmured that the Kingdom was coming whenever they touched an animal, or soothed the throats or sore hands of their family and employees. Out of deference. Out of respect. Because they didn't want to lose their gifts.

On a clear night, at the end of a smoky day's work, Atlan shared with Isidore an unbelievable rumor he heard from one of their distributors who had recently been to Jerusalem. "He said that Jesus had risen from the dead, and that he'd seen him," Atlan said, staring into the sky. "He ate with Jesus, and just a few days ago he said Jesus left them rising into the clouds."

They discussed whether it could be true.

“The Kingdom of God is at hand for you,” Atlan murmured at a moment of silence between them.

They looked at each other, then stood and made their rounds of attending to their animal's, mending their bodies. They would then retire to their families and hold and hug them, adding a new phrase to their healing touches. 

"Jesus said it is so ..."

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