Leaves rustled in the breeze and the old man rocked back and forth in his hickory chair. The porch boards creaked beneath the shifting weight of the rocking chair. The young man watched intently from his chair a few feet away. The old man stared out across the dusty plain beyond his dirt driveway.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," the old man began in a shaking voice, "though it was over sixty years ago." He paused to sigh deeply. The young man didn't move.
"When I was a little boy, Sunday school teachers used to tell Bible stories by reading them printed off the back of big pictures. There'd be two or three pictures per story. I don't remember any other pictures from those Bible stories. Just the one.
"I was about ten years old, and the family was struggling quite a lot. My mom in particular was taking it pretty rough. I was just an extra mouth to feed, and I used to hear my mom cry a lot because she couldn't feed us well enough. We had plenty of money coming in - enough at least - but she didn't ever think so. I don't know why she thought she needed more, or if that was the problem at all. Anyways, I was just another mouth to feed. I'd hear her cry day and night, and think it was over me because I was just one too many kids in the house. I tried to keep out of the way, but that didn't seem like enough.
"I didn't know what else to do, so I went into the kitchen one day when my mom was out getting groceries. I stood just a few feet from the knife block and reached my hand out. It was one of those cinematic moments when I planned to walk forward with my arm out, but I couldn’t move my feet any closer and I felt something holding my arm.
"That's when I saw it - the Bible picture. It was all I could see. The knife block wasn't there; I wasn't in the kitchen. I wasn't anywhere, I just saw the picture of Abraham raising a knife to kill Isaac on the altar. A flaming angel held his hand back from killing the promised son. I shook my head. I knew it wasn't real. I knew what I was seeing wasn't real, but I knew what I was feeling was. Something was holding my wrist the same way the angel held Abraham's.
"I don’t know for sure, but I think my jaw dropped. I knew that moment that I needed to stick around. God had placed me on the earth for a purpose, and I was more than an extra mouth to feed."