A young artist starting out in the demanding advertising world; challenged through trials.
| Jonah opened the red lacquered metal door of his elaborately decorated modern house. It was built with tall windows and high ceilings. The builder used I beams; like those used high rise building, which allowed for sway in the house. Jonah’s house sat on the top of a hill over looking the bay. He flipped on the light in his large starkly black and white with red accents den. He ignored the flat screen TV on the wall, which in the past, he would have flipped on as soon as he entered the room. He walked across the thick white carpet and plopped down on his black leather and chrome chair with ottoman. He quickly opened the Bible Jen had loaned him; carefully turning the pages until he found the book of John. He began to read, “In the beginning was the word and the word was God…” Jonah realized about three hours later that he had not only been reading for quite a while, but also had tears flowing down his rugged cheeks. Jonah loved literature, but had never read anything that moved him like this. He knew he had to call Jen even though it was after midnight.
“Jen, this is Jonah.”
“Jonah, are you alright? she said somewhat sleepily.”
“Yes and No, I have been reading the Bible you gave me and I really need to talk to someone about all of this.”
Just then, the knick-knacks on his shelves began to shake slowly and then more violently.
“Jen, it’s an earthquake!”
Jonah jumped off the chair, still clutching the phone and Bible and ran to the nearest door frame. He wasn’t so concerned for himself because he knew his house had been built to withstand an 8.0 or stronger earthquake.
“Jen, are you there? Jen, Jen, answer me!” Jonah was yelling.
There was nothing but silence and a terrifying feeling gripped his heart. He knew the area where Jen lived was probably not as well built. After what seemed like an eternity, but was only about a minute, the violent shaking stopped. Jonah stumbled his way through the knocked over furniture and other debris lying on the floor and grabbed a flashlight out of the kitchen pantry. He shined the flashlight around the room so he could survey the damage that had been done. After assuring himself that his gas lines were intact, and not worrying about the broken things, which had fallen, he ran to the door. As he started down his street running and jumping over the debris in the streets, the impact of the earthquake quickly set in. There were fires everywhere and people wandering around in the streets, dazed. Buildings had collapsed or fallen over. The pavement had buckled. Even the cable car tracks had been uprooted and twisted. He tried running towards Jen’s apartment, but discovered that there was too much debris from buildings that had collapsed or had exploded because of natural gas lines, in his pathway. Jonah kept trying to make his way to Jen’s apartment by turning down different streets or back alleys. As he did, he began to pray.
“God, I’m Jonah. I know I’m not one of yours, but Jen is. Please make sure she is safe. God, I’ve never prayed to you before and I don’t know how this works, but I care a lot for Jen. Please, God, don’t let her be hurt. Please help me to get to her quickly. Help her God.”
As Jonah neared the streets close to where Jen lived, his fears were being realized. The houses in this area had taken the brunt of the earthquake. There were houses and apartments that had large gaping holes and others that had pancaked down onto themselves. Jonah rounded the corner to find a heart stopping sight. Jen’s apartment had not only pancaked, but the top half had slid into the street.
“Oh...God!” Jonah cried in anguish, “Please let her be alive. Please help me find her!”
Jonah was frantic as he started pulling whatever he could out of the tangled mass and tossed it aside, all the while yelling, “Jennalyn! Jennalyn!”
The darkness only hindered his frantic search, but he kept digging where he thought Jen might be. Other people came running and began digging with him as they could hear screaming and moaning.
“Jennalyn!” Jonah kept yelling, trying to get a response.
After digging for hours, the first rays of sunshine started washing over the destruction with gold and pinks. The warm soothing colors were in dramatic contrast to the harsh tangled sights around Jonah. Those who were digging could finally see the vastness of the destruction. Fear gripped Jonah’s heart as he stood up and surveyed the sight.
Jonah reached in his pocket and tried to call Pastor Martin. All he got was a recording that the lines were either down or over crowed with callers. The recording asked him to try again later. Jonah folded his phone and stuck it back into his back pocket.
By the time the sun was up on this pristine morning, which seemed so bizarre compared to the debris, emergency workers and a team of search dogs had arrived.
Jonah was so exhausted, but couldn’t give up. He had to find Jen.
Soon, Mica and several others from the Bible Study had arrived, including Pastor Martin. They stood there in what seemed like a nightmare as Jonah noticed them and slowly climbed down from the debris and made his way over to them.
“Pastor Martin, I can’t find Jen! I’ve been digging all night and I just can’t find her!” Jonah said in despair as he broke down crying. Pastor Martin put his arm around Jonah and then called the Bible study group together and told them they needed to pray.
“Father, we know you love Jen. We also know she is one of your lambs. Father, we know that when two or more are gathered together in your name, you are there also. Father, we pray that it is your will that we find Jen and the other residents that might be trapped here, alive and well. Father, please guide us to the right spots. Father, we place Jen in your hands and all the others here that might be still buried. We pray for their safe recovery. We thank you for your answers to our prayers. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.” Pastor Martin concluded.
“Jonah, have you called Jen’s parents?” Pastor Martin asked.
“No, I haven’t. I tried to call you, but I only got a recording.” Jonah responded as he turned and moved back to the debris so he could continue to help.
Martin pulled out his cell phone and tried to call Jen’s parents, but likewise received the same recording.
“Pastor Martin, I am going to see if I can find a way to get to Napa Valley, so I can let Jen’s parents know what is happening,” Mica explained, feeling she needed to do something to help. She made her way down the hill with a prayer that she could find a road open to Napa.
The group stood vigil as the search team continued to pull out loose debris and move it aside carefully so as not to hurt anyone; that might be underneath. Hours went by and the sun beat down, as the group continued to watch pieces of debris being moved. Soon, Mica returned, looking very downtrodden. She reported to the group that she had not been able to find a street that she could drive through. She also reported that some of the freeways and bridges had collapsed trapping people.
The search dogs that had been brought in hours earlier had pinpointed several areas where there might be people, but no one had been able to get the debris moved so they could see if anyone was underneath. The search group was still waiting for some large equipment to move into the area where they would be able to remove large pieces of cement. The equipment was not able to reach them yet, because the debris still blocked the streets. All the group could do now was watch and pray throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
As the night dragged on, the search party was able to pull several critically injured people out. By this time some emergency equipment had been able to clear the roads enough to get to some of the more seriously hit areas. An ambulance had made its way to the street at the bottom of the hill. The critically injured were carried down the hill to a waiting ambulance and sent to the nearest hospital, but Jen wasn’t among them.
After three more hours, a large piece of equipment was finally able to move to the spot where Jen’s apartment had collapsed. The search party began hooking up large slabs of concrete with long straps and having the piece of equipment lift the debris off and move it to one side. It was a slow tedious process, but at least they were starting to get farther into the collapsed apartment.
Around four in the morning, a rescue worker yelled, “There is a young woman over here! She is trapped between two slabs of concrete, but she is in an air pocket. She seems to be alive; unconscious and breathing shallowly.”
A feeling of hope surged through Jonah, who had been there for over twenty-four hours; along with the group that had waited and prayed.
After another hour, the rescue workers pulled the slight figure of a woman from the rubble. Jonah ran to her side as the EMT began working on her. It was Jen and even though she was bloody and unconscious, she was alive and breathing...barely. Jonah sent a silent prayer up to God, thanking him for allowing them to find her.
Jonah climbed into the ambulance and rode with her to the hospital. While the doctors were working on Jen in the ER, Jonah finally found a working phone and looked up the name of the B&B, named Cana Inn, and called her parents. Jen’s dad answered the phone.
“Mr. Kingsley, my name is Jonah Stevenson, I am Jen’s boss. I need to let you know that Jen was pulled from her collapsed apartment building and is at San Francisco General Hospital. She is alive, but I’m not sure of her injuries. I will be waiting for you and Mrs. Kingsley to arrive. I’m in the ER waiting room.” Jonah spoke almost breathlessly.
Mr. and Mrs. Kingsley assured him they would be there as soon as they could get there. They knew that roads were blocked and for a while telephone service had been out. They had been frantic, because they had not been able to reach Jen because both their landlines and cell phones had been out of service and then they had been clogged with calls once they were up again. It was a miracle that Jonah had been able to get through at all.
Jonah sat down, looking extremely haggard from his ordeal of looking for Jen. He had feared the worst, but God had answered his prayers. Now he had to pray some more. She just had to live. He realized he was falling in love with her and he pleaded with God to let her live.
An hour and a half later, Mr. and Mrs. Kingsley appeared in the doorway of the ER, looking around frantically for the man who had called them. Jonah got up from where he sat and introduced himself to them. The doctors had not been out yet, so there was still no news, not that the doctors would talk to him anyway, since he wasn’t family.
Soon, Jen’s brothers also filled the room. They all sat huddled together talking quietly with Jonah when the tall thin African-American doctor walked into the room.
The grim look on his face sent a chill through each of them.
“Ms. Kingsley’s family?” he asked.
They nodded in unison.
“Let’s go in here to talk,” the doctor said as he showed them into a nearby conference room. They each filed into a small room and motioned for Jonah to join them.
“Jennalyn is holding her own right now, but I caution you that she is in a drug induced coma. She is very critical. She has a bad concussion and several broken bones; her left arm, left leg and several ribs, on her left side have been broken as well. We operated on her leg and put several pins in to hold the bones together. We were able to set her arm and have wrapped her chest and placed her in a brace to protect her ribs as they mend. She was very lucky that none of the broken ribs punctured a lung. We are waiting and watching to make sure she doesn’t have any swelling on the brain. We’ll have to observe her for the next twenty-four hours. That is the critical time. We should know by then, whether we will have to go in and release the pressure in her brain. All we can do now is to wait and pray. You may see her for a few minutes in the ICU, but only for a few minutes. She will need her rest and may I suggest that you all get some rest, too. It is going to be a long couple of days before we know anything,” that being said, the doctor left.
While the Kingsleys went to see their only daughter, Jonah went to find a phone and call Pastor Martin.
Before he could find a phone, Pastor Martin put his hand on Jonah’s right shoulder.
“How is she doing?” Pastor Martin asked.
Jonah explained to Pastor Martin what the doctor had told them.
Pastor Martin placed his hand on Jonah’s shoulder again and spoke a quick pray. Then, Pastor Martin went to find the Kingsleys.
Jonah decided to go home for a little while and rest. He knew he wanted to be there for her, but he needed to try and get some sleep since he had been up for almost forty-eight hours by this time.
Jonah tried to sleep, once he got home, but all he could do was toss and turn instead. After a couple of hours, he finally gave up and cleaned himself up and his house. He then opened the Bible that Jen had loaned him and read some more. Even though that brought him peace, he was still worried about Jen.
Jonah arrived back at the ICU waiting room where he discovered her parents, brothers and most of the Bible study group holding vigil.
“She is still the same,” Mrs. Kingsley stated, “but we continue to pray.”
“Can I see her?” Jonah asked.
“Certainly, just go on in, she is in room seven.” Mr. Kingsley said quietly.
Jonah walked into the quiet powder blue room. Jen looked so small lying there in the bed, hooked up to all the monitors. Jonah walked over and carefully lifted her frail hand.
“Jen, I don’t know if you can hear me, but I am here for you. I care about you so much. I need you to get well. I’ve been praying for you, Jen.”
Jonah stood there for a short time and then lightly kissed her forehead. He walked back into the waiting room.
“Have the doctors said anything else?” he asked to no one in particular.
“They are still waiting.” Jen’s father answered.
later that day, after the 24-hour period was over and there was still no response, the doctors decided to run some more test. They determined that her brain was swelling. Surgery to release the pressure was scheduled immediately. Mr. Kingsley called Jonah at his office, knowing he would want to know. Jonah quickly dropped what he was doing and went directly over to the hospital.
Hours later, the surgery was completed; Jen was moved back to ICU. The doctors had explained that they had done all they could do for her and she was in God’s hands now. Everyone would have to wait and see if she would come out of the coma. The next couple of days, Jonah, as well as her other friends would pop in to check on her at different times during the day. Jen’s condition didn’t change.
Jonah stood over her bed after her family had been in to see her. Jonah pulled up a chair and sat by her bed holding her hand. This slender, fragile, graceful hand that is so incredibly talented.
“God,” he whispered, “I will do anything if you will just bring Jen back to me. I know I don’t deserve this request and I don’t deserve her, but she is everything I’ve always dreamed of. God, I love her and don’t want to lose her now. Please, God, I’ll do whatever you want; just bring her back to her family and me.”
Jen continued to lie there so still. Jonah bent over and once again kissed her bandaged forehead, as he ached to take her in his arms and whisk her away from this place.
Jonah visited everyday for the next three weeks, every time he had a few minutes to himself. When he wasn’t at work or at the hospital sitting vigil with her family or working, he was at home reading the Bible she gave him and praying.
One night, he called Pastor Martin.
“Pastor Martin, can I come over and talk with you?”
“Sure, Jonah, my door is always open.”
Jonah drove to Pastor Martin’s house with a multitude of questions to ask. Yet knowing there was only one answer.
“Pastor Martin, I have so many questions, but I mostly need to talk to you about Jen and God.”
“What can I help you with Jonah?” Pastor Martin asked with concern.
For the next few hours Jonah related how he and Jen met. He told Pastor Martin about how much he wanted to take Jen out, but being her boss had created a problem. He told him about how he had fallen in love with her and how her witness had made an indelible mark on his life as well as others. He told Pastor Martin about his prayer to God a couple of days before and how he knew that the only way to win Jen’s heart was to become a Christian, but he knew he wasn’t making that decision lightly or because of Jen.
“Jonah, do you remember the sermon I preached the first time you came to church?”
“Do I, I thought you were speaking directly to me. I had been scheming on how to get Jen to date me when you said the words that stopped me dead in my tracks. You said that God sees inside our hearts and he knows when we are pretending or being real. That is when I realized that I needed to learn more about this God, whether I won Jen’s heart or not.”
“Jonah, are you ready to make that decision? Are you ready to accept Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior?”
“Yes, Pastor Martin, I am. I truly am. This whole situation with Jen has made me realize that I need God in my life whether Jen makes it or not,” he choked on the tears forming in his throat.
“Then, let’s pray the sinner’s prayer.”
Jonah got on his knees and prayed as Pastor Martin guided him, “God, I know I am a sinner and need you to be the Savior of my life. I know that Jesus died for my sins. I come to you asking that you would forgive my sins and come into my heart. I’m sorry for all I have done and ask that you forgive me. I’m sorry for my unbelief. I ask you to come into my heart and fill me with your love and forgiveness. I thank you for loving me so much that your son died for me. I love you, Lord. Amen.” Jonah stood up with tears streaming down his face, but he felt a peace wash over him that he had never known before. He felt fulfilled and ready to face anything, even losing Jen if that was God’s will for his life. Jonah spent another hour talking with Pastor Martin. After they had talked more about his new relationship with God in control of his life, Jonah shook hands with Pastor Martin as he left for his own house.
Jonah went home and had the most fitful sleep, that night, he had ever experienced.
The next morning was Saturday. Jonah quickly got cleaned up and drove to the hospital. When he got to Jen’s room in ICU, there was no one there. He felt the old familiar fear grip his heart as he went to the nurse’s station to inquire how Jen was doing and if the nurse had seen any of Jen’s family.
The nurse smiled at him and told him that Jen had awakened during the night unexpectedly. Jen was doing so well, she had been moved to a private room on another floor.
Jonah was so ecstatic that he hugged the nurse and then rushed down to the flower shop on the first floor and bought her the biggest bouquet of yellow tea roses with red edges that he could find. He then, climbed onto the first elevator that came and traveled to the eighth floor. When he got to her room, she was sitting up in bed talking quietly with her family, who, when seeing Jonah got up, said their greetings to him. Jen’s left leg was in traction with several pins in her leg to hold her bones together. Her left arm was in a sling with a hard cast on it. She lay as comfortably as she could in the traction position. Her sunken dark circled eyes lit up when he walked into the room with the huge bouquet.
“Mr. Stevenson, you are going to spoil me if you’re not careful.” Jen teased in a weak and shaky voice.
“Never…nothing I could do, would be too good for you!” Jonah exclaimed with his lopsided grin from ear to ear, “How do you feel?”
Jen’s family got up and slipped quietly out the door, so as to give Jen and Jonah some privacy.
“I’m feeling pretty good, for what they tell me I’ve been through.” Jen stated matter-of-factly, yet in a tired voice, “How are you doing?”
“I feel incredible! You’re doing well and I am at peace for the first time in my life.” Jonah stated with a knowing smile.
Jen considered for a moment, what Jonah had just said; mulling the dream she had while she was in the coma around in her head.
“Jonah,” Jen quietly stated, “I had this wonderful dream, last night. I dreamed that you were talking with Pastor Martin and that you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, but then I woke up around one o’clock and didn’t get to finish my dream.” Jen said with all energy she could muster. She laid there against her pillow feeling wiped out as she waited for Jonah’s response.
“Jen,” Jonah responded with all the caring shining from his eyes, “I spoke with Pastor Martin last night. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior…God truly answers prayers. From what I can determine, from what the nurse told me and what you have said, you had to have awoken about the time I actually prayed the sinner’s prayer…Wow!” Jonah exclaimed in a whispered awe.
“Jonah, that is incredible,” Jen smiled as she savored the moment and rested for a minute. “Are those for me?”
Jonah had forgotten that he was still holding the roses.
“Yes, I would have brought more, but I bought all the roses they had.”
Jen laughed and then winced. She was still sore from the broken ribs that were taped and the experience. Her head was bound up like a Turkish turbine to give it some stability while her skull healed from the surgery.
Jonah set the roses on a side table and pulled up a thickly padded chair. He and Jen talked quietly for a short time as Jen would drift in and out of slumber. Jonah tried to fill in the pieces of what had happened, without giving her too much information. Jen opened her eyes wide with shock when she learned that her apartment had been damaged, but she was more concerned about the other residents from her building. Jonah couldn’t give Jen a lot of details about her neighbors, other than several had been brought to the same hospital.
Jen lay in the bed thinking for a few minutes. “I guess I’ll have to recover at my parents place for a while.” Jen remarked after letting what Jonah had said sink in.
“I know your parents would be quite happy to have you there,” Jonah replied, “You gave them a pretty bad scare.”
Jen closed her eyes for a few minutes because her head still throbbed at times. Jonah sat for a few minutes and then started to quietly get up and leave, thinking Jen had fallen asleep.
“What am I going to do about an apartment and work?” Jen asked quietly with a sobered voice.
Jonah sat slowly back down and sat for a minute to gather his thoughts about how much to tell Jen.
“Jen, don’t you worry about work. You just get better and let your body recover from this. Don’t worry about an apartment, I’ll be more than happy to help you look for one when the time comes. I want to make sure you are living in a better-built place. Okay?” Jonah urged gently.
“Okay!” Jen answered somewhat hesitantly.
“Hey, Jen,” Mica interrupted as she entered the hospital room with a handful of balloons.
“I’d better get going. I’ll be back later to see you.” Jonah stated as he got up, waved and presented his chair for Mica to sit down.
Mica sat on the front of the chair, after she tied off the balloons to Jen’s bed, so she could talk with her best friend.
“So, how are you doing?” Mica asked with concern on her face.
“I’m pretty sore, but I think I am feeling better. I’m just so weak…” Jen trailed off as she realized she hated having her friends fawning over her.
Mica changed the subject when she realized Jen was uncomfortable with the line of questioning. “Jen, do you know Jonah has been here almost day and night since you were hurt?”
“Are you kidding?” Jen asked in awe, that Jonah would do that for her.
“No, he has been so worried about you. I don’t think he slept for the first forty-eight hours after the earthquake.” Mica told her.
“Mica, did you know he accepted Christ as his Savior last night?” Jen asked suddenly.
“No, but I’m not surprised. He has been reading your Bible and praying almost non-stop; when he hasn’t been here.” Mica told her as she shifted and settled back in her chair.
“Mica, I’m so excited about that. God does answer prayer in a mighty way.”
“Jen, do you know that he is smitten with you. I think he has such a crush on you. Have you ever thought about having a relationship with him that is more than just a business relationship?” Mica asked with the ease of being such a close friend.
Jen thought about this for a few minutes as she lay there with her eyes closed. “Do you really think he sees me in that way?” she suddenly asked.
“Jen, trust me, that man was not spending time around you, sitting here in the hospital for hours on end and thinking only about you for the last couple of weeks, if he weren’t interested.” Mica said with a knowing smile on her face.
Jen laid against her pillow thinking about what Mica had just said and pondering on what it would be like to date Jonah.
“I am excited that Jonah accepted Christ,” Mica said; interrupting Jen’s thoughts, “Jen, just be patient and remember to wait on God’s perfect timing. This might put you and Jonah in a strange predicament with him being your boss and all. You will have to keep your relationship outside the office, if he does ask you out. Jen, don’t forget, Jonah might not be whom God has for you. Remember he is a baby Christian like me and will probably have things to work through.” Mica said with concern in her voice.
“Yes, I know what you’re saying is true. I’ll be careful. I don’t want to get hurt, just encase I am reading more into this than what is truly there. I’m so glad you are my best friend. You always help me keep things in perspective and keep myself grounded.” Jen stated.
Mica and Jen continued talking for a few more minutes and then Jen told Mica that she was very tired and would like to rest some. Mica promised to come again and visit as she stood and walked out of the room.