Sam – Chapter 3

Later that evening Sam went into the garage to see if the old train set was in need of setting up or cleaning. Long ago he and his boys had mounted the tracks on a large piece of plywood and after he unwrapped it and set it on a pair of sawhorses he saw that it was in good shape and because they had covered it, it didn’t even need to be dusted, a few of the smaller buildings in the tiny town had broken loose, but he soon had them glued back down with very little hassle. ‘Well,’ he thought, ‘I have come this far I might as well run a quick freight around the track.’ Sam found the box that held the miniature steam engine and a couple of freight cars then, he realized that the transformer was missing. He got up on his stepladder and eventually found the box with the transformer in it, but as he pulled the box down it caught the box next to it and a shower of old letters was unleashed on his head. ‘Rats!’ He thought, ‘Now I’ll have to clean all of this up.’ Sam bent over to pick up the letters, but the return address and the handwriting stopped him cold, he held a few letters in his hand and sat down on the stepladder. Sam thought ‘I never thought I’d see these dang things again.’
You see the letters had come from Sam’s father, and even at this late date with his father long gone, Sam could not help the feeling of sadness that washed over him. His father had been a good dad by most everyone else’s reckoning, but Sam had known him as a chameleon who became sullen and cruel, even violent at the drop of a hat and always out of the public eye. Sam was surprised at the power of his own feelings, he felt hollow and small as if his father were still sizing him up, Sam had always wilted under his father’s critical gaze. He took a deep breath, and started to gather up the spilled letters. “Well it’s not as if I could have done anything to please him, he was nasty to me whether I did well or not,” Sam said aloud to himself. He wished it were not true but in the end he had to lock those feelings back in their accustomed place in his mind just as he put the letters back in their box on the shelf.
Sam took the transformer out of the box and hooked it up to the tracks. He also connected the switches to their connections so that they would be able to send the train around all of the side tracks. he plugged the transformer in and heard it’s familiar hum. He placed the locomotive and it’s tender carefully on the track. Sam slowly moved the speed control on the transformer up from the stop position and was pleased to see the locomotive start to move, he let it run around the track once, then he threw the switch to send the loco onto the side track in the little town, he put it in reverse and the little engine backed into the town nicely. ‘Good,’ he thought, ‘we don’t need to spend our first day fixing things do we.’
Sam put the lightweight dust cover over the train table so he could whip it off and surprise the children tomorrow. When he walked over and turned off the light he realized that he still had a feeling of heaviness since he had seen the letters. ‘Oh well,’ he thought. ‘ Angela has a knack for cheering me up.’
When Sam walked into the living room and saw Angela on the couch reading he was truly glad to see her, for he knew she was the only person who had ever really loved him.
Angela asked, “What’s the matter Sam?”
“Oh, I found those old letters from my dad, you know the ones from the last couple of months before he died. It put me in a sad mood. You know I don’t know what it is but, I am always depressed when I think of my father, it is like a weight on my shoulders and I feel I had unfinished business with him.”
“You know Sam, he was kind of irrational and continually angry, for the last six months of his life.” Angela said sympathetically.
“Yes but, somehow I feel guilty about the whole thing, I couldn’t stand to be around him when I thought he needed me most.” Sam said.
“Well, he didn’t exactly make it easy to be around even when he was in his right mind,” Angela observed.
“Yes it’s true, he would explode at the slightest hint that you might disagree with him, and having to keep him happy made me very unhappy,” Sam said.
At this point Sam seemed to be in a sort of brown study, then Ralph walked over in his tail-wagging doggish way and gave Sam’s hand a lick. Sam started a little and when he saw who had greeted him in this fashion, he chuckled and rubbed Ralph’s ears. In the time-honored fashion of dogdom Ralph soaked up this attention like he was starving for it.
When Angela saw the mood he had been in she was worried about Sam, but when Ralph decided to intercede and got a positive response Angela knew that Sam had turned the corner rather quickly.
“Sam lots of people are affected by their father’s or mother’s overbearing attitudes some people never get over it, allowing the bad opinions of their fathers to effect their lives. I heard of a way to push past these feelings of guilt, these feelings of inadequacy, to lay them to rest. It is simple, ask God to be your father, ask him to re-shape the attitudes about yourself which your own father branded you with,”  She said, hoping he was ready for it.
Sam was curious, a lot more curious than Angela thought he would be.
“Where did you hear about that? Was that covered in your bible study?” Sam asked.
“We studied about how our parents have shaped us, sometimes negatively, in the study before this last one.” Angela explained.
“Man, I need to get in on this stuff,” Sam said with a twinkle in his eye, “but seriously I think I’ll try it because, you see how my father’s hateful attitude effects me, even after he’s been long gone. That’s it, I’ve had it, I don’t want any more of his bad influence on me, I am going to ask God to deal with it.”
Angela thought she may have heard him wrong, “You mean you are ready to take the leap?” She asked.
“You know, I am ready, I’ve been at bat long enough on this problem, and tonight convinced me that I haven’t made any headway at all, God knows a lot more than I do, He’s a lot more experienced at this kind of thing too, and you know what, I don’t have to explain it to Him, like I would a human counselor.”
Angela said, “Do you want to ask Him to do it now?”
“Sure,” Sam took Angela’s hand, and said “Lord, I’ve been hacking at this problem with my dad for far too long. Would You be my Dad and sort this out? You know Lord, I did the best I could with my dad and it was never enough. I am sure You know how to deal with this, the overwhelming feelings it gives me, the way it paralyzes me, I give up and I give the whole mess to you. Thank You that You care for me enough to do this. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Angela was floored, she couldn’t remember ever hearing Sam pray in such a heartfelt manner, and she could see that what had just happened lifted a heavy load off of Sam’s back. Sam just grinned at her.
“You know it really helps to be at the end of your rope.” He smiled with an ease she had not seen since he was young, and foolish. “Well let’s hit the sack, those kids will be here very early in the morning.”
They chatted happily about Carly and Mac as they got ready for bed, as soon as they had laid down Sam gave Angela a hug and said “I know that some of my moods have been hard on you, but I felt God doing something tonight, and this seems to be the start of something good. Goodnight sweetie.”
“Goodnight,” Angela sighed and gratefully stretched out, fully prepared to have the best night’s sleep she had had for a long time.
Sam woke up in the middle of the night, he looked at the clock on the night stand. It said 2:30 am in that imperturbable way that clocks do, ticking quietly to itself. Then again he heard what had awakened him, “Sam.”  Who was calling him? It wasn’t Angela’s voice, he looked around in the dark, no one was there,”yes” he said timidly.
“Sam, I am the Lord, Sam. The one you were speaking to earlier”
Sam’s mind started racing but something was rushing to the forefront out of his memory, the story of Samuel as a little boy. “Go ahead Lord I’m listening,” he said straining hard not to say thee or thou.
“Sam, I want you to know that I am pleased that you gave up, and handed Me your problem. I also want to tell you that, oh yes indeed, I do speak to My people and I will be speaking to you often, don’t be afraid just listen.”
“OK, Lord, thank you,” Sam said feeling only slightly more at ease.
“You are welcome Sam, I thought you’d like to know that I am already healing the parts of your heart that were damaged by your father’s hatefulness. I think you will notice the difference in the morning. Alright, goodnight my son, I love you and I am always with you.”
“Thanks, and uh, amen.” Sam said. He settled back into his pillow, just then he noticed the sound of rain falling, Sam loved falling to sleep to the sound of rain, “Thank You again, Lord,” he said sleepily.
As he fell asleep, he was smiling.

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