The Book of Life

Woman reading a book while sitting with happy grandmother drinking tea

Mrs. Haller lived with her little dog in a beautiful, large house. However, the children who walked past it to school every day rarely got to see her. If, for once, she was in the garden and the children called out a greeting to her, she never returned it.

Only Verena, who shopped twice a week for her, knew her a little. And because Verena’s mother was Mrs. Haller’s cleaning lady, she had heard many things about her.

Sometimes, Verena had to wait in Mrs. Haller’s living room for the shopping list. Then she would sneak a look at the two large photos on the piano. One showed a radiant bridal couple and the other a pretty young woman with a small child. Verena almost couldn’t believe that that was Mrs. Haller, and yet she knew that it was. Her mother had told her that Mr. Haller and little Peter had died in a terrible accident and that the poor woman had acted so strangely ever since.

Yes, Mother had taken pity on her. Verena had often heard her pray, “Dear Savior, please open poor Mrs. Haller’s heart so that you can enter with Your light!”

Verena could not understand this. What, she was poor? No, she was rich, really rich! She had the most beautiful house on her street! And she could scold you for every little thing.

Verena continued to make an effort to be nice to Mrs. Haller because that was what her mother wanted. It certainly wasn’t easy, because she became more demanding and quarrelsome with each passing year. 

Verena was also getting older, and the last day of school was coming closer. But before that, something special happened to her. While reading the Bible, she realized that until now she had left Jesus outside of the door of her heart. Now she wanted to open it for Him. Because Jesus now entered her heart with His light, Verena slowly began to see what was in there. Oh, not only beautiful things! She now gradually realized that. She had really only loved herself, hardly anyone else. Especially not Mrs. Haller! How that must have saddened the Savior! Verena was sorry. She asked Jesus to forgive her and to govern her life.

Soon after, Verena moved to another place where she began training to be a nurse. When she came home on vacation, she heard nothing good about Mrs. Haller. She was suffering from a terrible disease and now had to have help around her all the time, but no one had ever stayed with her for longer than a month. It was hardly bearable with her. Once, Mrs. Haller’s sister had wanted to come to her but had been turned away with nasty words.

“Poor Mrs. Haller,” Verena thought. “Savior, help her!” she pleaded from the bottom of her heart. He really did help, but He used Verena to do it. 

Just when she was on vacation again, Mrs. Haller’s help ran away, and simply no one could be found who wanted to take care of her. That’s when Verena agreed to take over. The longer she was with her, the more compassion she had on her. In the evenings, when she gave her her medicine, she often thought, “Oh, if only I could give her some medicine for her hard, unhappy heart!”

While she was once again counting the drops, it suddenly occurred to her that there was a medicine that could probably make very sick hearts well. Hadn’t even Verena’s heart been changed by the Word of God? She fetched the Bible, sat down at the bedside, and began to read, loudly and slowly, words that the Savior Himself had shown her. Mrs. Haller was too surprised to protest.

One evening, Verena read of the great, holy God who sat on the throne and of the many people who stood before it, while books were opened in which everything about each person was written down. She also read about the Book of Life in which was written the name of every person who belonged to the Lord Jesus. Mrs. Haller’s face was like stone. Was she even listening at all? Did she understand anything? Verena was sad. The thought that Mrs. Haller might die without being saved plagued her.

The next morning, when Verena wanted to say “Good day” to her, the sick woman cried. Startled, Verena took her hand, sat on the edge of the bed, and stroked her hair. The love of Jesus flowed through Verena to Mrs. Haller, and there the ice melted.

“I dreamt,” she said. “There were books, the ones you read about yesterday. One was open where my name was. Ida Haller was written large across both pages. On one side there was room for good, on the other for evil. O Verena, one side was almost empty. But the other, the guilt side! What was all written there! How I hate my sister, how I am jealous of her because she has children and a dear husband. And the resentment I have in my heart against God! How I always rejected everyone who asked me for help. Once, when my sister was in need of money, I laughed at her and scoffed: ‘Let your God help you; you are His favorite! He never cared about me!’ There was still so much written about the employees I plagued. O Verena! This record of debt!”

How good that Verena already knew what to do with this record of debt. Even as Mrs. Haller was speaking, she was looking for the passage in the Bible where it says: “God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13b-14, ESV).

How much the two women now had to talk to each other about! The apartment was not cleaned that morning, and the mailman wondered why the snow on the garden path had not been cleared away. But much more important things were happening in the big house on Carnation Street. Someone brought the Savior all her burden of sin, and He tore up the record of debt and inscribed Mrs. Haller’s name in His Book of Life.

Mrs. Haller did not live much longer. When Verena had to leave again, Mrs. Haller’s sister came to take care of her. The Lord Jesus gave grace to the two sisters to reconcile and to love each other from then on. Peace had come to 27 Carnation Street.

When Mrs. Haller had to leave the world, she knew: I am going to Jesus and will abide with Him, because I am registered in the Book of Life.

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