“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3: 13-14
My feet ran faster than ever before. It was then I realized that my sandals were different. I have given you shoes to be ready for the Good news of Peace. I finally caught up with the rest of the group waiting on the outskirts of Minera. From the smiles and laughter, I could tell that everyone was successful in spreading the word about tonight’s show.
“Hello all! I have great news to tell you!” I said with delight. “Oh, I think we have better news,” said Thara with a snicker. My smile froze as my siblings showed me the stolen cash. Paris taught us all long ago how to pickpocket and how to con people for their money. “How much did you get, Mel?” Rick inquired.
“I have nothing,” I mumbled. Thara rolled her eyes with contempt, and Chrys shook her head with disappointment. While Daisy looked shocked, Rick just gave a know-it-all smirk. Paris was not so forgiving. “What is wrong with you? You know the Circus gets the most revenue when we go to the public,” she seethed. “We taught you how to do the family job. You have been great at it, especially for the past few weeks.”
She was right. I was getting really good at it. Paris had even mentioned my progress to Ringmaster who rewarded me with warm bread. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. The Comforter’s gentle words soothed my nerves. Placing my shaking hands into my pockets, I looked resolutely at my siblings. If they knew about Father, they would want to be reborn as well. They would understand that I couldn’t be Mel anymore.
“I met someone today. His name is Great Physician, and He laid me near green pastures after I fainted.” My excitement grew as I recalled what happened next. I told them about how He took my punishment because He loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me. “The best part was when I surrendered my life and chose to be His daughter! I got to see the majesty of the Almighty King, and He called me by my true name, Melody. I am reborn now. ”
Before I could say anymore, Paris lifted her palm up in the air to stop me. “What does that have anything to do with your duty to this family?” she said with a deadpan tone. The others stayed silent, but I could tell that they were all in accordance with Paris. My words had fallen on deaf ears.
“It has everything to do with my duty to my family. I must be about my Father’s business and tell everyone of the Forgotten King who desires us all to join His family.” It was weird hearing those words come out of my mouth, but it still felt right. I smiled at each of them. “You can be in His family.”
“They are already in a family. Mine.”
The smile quickly slipped away as I turned around to face Ringmaster. After being under his thumb for so many years, it was second nature to be submissive to Ringmaster. Something stopped me, rather Someone. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. For a few seconds, I completely forgot about my new identity in my Father as His daughter Melody. Thanks for the reminder, Comforter.
When I tried to look directly at Ringmaster, he looked away. It was so odd. His eyes flickered and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Fear. Sure I could always see his hate for me, but I never dreamed to see a different side of him.
Ringmaster suddenly gave me a side grin. Uh oh. “From what I can tell, Melody thinks she found a better family than ours.” With subtle grace, Ringmaster managed to corral my siblings to stand on either side of him. Ringmaster clasped his long arms around the shoulders of the ones closest to him. Before I knew it, they were all facing me as my enemy. Why couldn’t they see that he was manipulating them?
“No, you don’t understand! We were made for a different purpose,” I pleaded. With a quivering chin, I pointed at Ringmaster. “Just because he calls himself our father does NOT make him our father! Can’t you see that he has been using us for his gain?”
“He’s the only father we have ever known,” said the soft spoken Daisy. It just took one look at my siblings’ faces to know that my words did nothing to persuade them. Ringmaster looked at his prey with smug pride. The longer I watched, the more his hands seemed to look more like claws ready to devour each of them. They were in so much danger, yet they had no clue. His venom had already reached their hearts.
“Well, let’s not waste any more time on this. We have an important show tonight to get ready for!” said Ringmaster. Just like that, everyone was dismissed. Tears pricked at the corner of my eyes as each sister and brother passed by me as if I were a complete alien. Feeling completely defeated, I climbed into the wagon wounded. It wasn’t long before the wheels began to start rolling away from the town of Minera.
With every bump and pothole, the inhabitants of the Lost Circus were gradually approaching base camp. Some rode on horseback and others were riding in carriages. I sat at the back of the wagon with my legs dangling over the edge. I still couldn’t believe what had transpired recently. I went from being a forgotten orphan to adopted princess to prime enemy number one.
The hairs on the back of my neck suddenly stood on end. Looking over my shoulder, my sisters Thara and Daisy averted their eyes. At the corner of my vision, I could tell that Chrys and Paris were whispering excitedly and pointing at me. Even Rick was acting oddly by trying to scoot as far away from me as possible. I was grateful that I didn’t have to deal with Ringmaster who decided to stay in Minera longer for some reason.
This was not normal at all. I tried not to feel hurt, but I didn’t understand why my siblings were treating me this way. As soon as we reached camp, I quickly hopped off from the wagon and ran to the lunch tent. This week, it was my turn to pass out the food. I would have to eat last, but on the bright side I didn’t have to wash the dishes. With a smile, I grabbed a ladle to pass out the vegetable soup and garlic bread that Chef had made for everyone. By the time everyone went through the line, the tension seemed to build. Even when I tried to smile or make chit chat, they all ignored me or made a quick getaway.
I didn’t understand. Why would my family reject me? My appetite was completely gone. I jumped with surprise when I felt someone tap my shoulder. “Come vit me. You need ze melk,” said Chef. “What?” I said confused by the thick accented words. I could only blink before the burly, mustached man grabbed my wrist and whisked me away to the kitchen area behind the tent. No one ever came here except for Ringmaster and Chef.
Chef grabbed a steel cup and gave it to me. “Here you goes!” I mumbled my thanks, but I couldn’t hide the hesitancy from my tone as I accepted the glass. I took a brave sip. If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. My heart skipped a beat as I head the familiar voice. Comforter? I took deeper gulps. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you… I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
By the time I finished the last of the rich liquid, I was laughing! Of course, Chef mistakenly thought I was choking and thumped my back. Then I really started choking for a few seconds before I finally got myself put together. “I don’t know what it was that you made me drink, but I really needed to hear those words,” I smiled thankfully at Chef.
“No mention it. I see you needed some melk,” said Chef.
I had a really hard time understanding the man, but after thinking about it I could only come to one conclusion. “Do you mean milk?”
“Yes, melk. That’s what I say!” Chef’s frustration was more amusing than it should have been. “You met ze King, no? You are made new,” he said with wonder.
“How do you know that?” As if we were conspirators, I sidled in closer. “You know the King?”
Chef continued soberly, “You may not know this, but I am not from this country.”
I shook my head at the older gentleman as I spoke, “Chef, I could tell from your accent that you’re a foreigner.”
“No, I am not saying right.” Chef looked heavenward with brows crinkled. “I am part of ze King’s kingdom. He is my Papa!” Then he gave me a wink.
“So…you’re born again?” I inquired. When Chef nodded his head vigorously, I finally felt like someone was on my side. I wasn’t so alone at the circus after all. Questions popped out one after the other. “When did you meet him? How well do you know him? Why aren’t there more of us? Why can’t I hear Comforter’s voice all the time?” I looked down at my empty cup. “Where in the world did you get milk? The nearest dairy farm is a couple of towns away.”
Chef gave a small huff as he walked over to his personal tent. Turning around, he beckoned me to follow after him. “I met him many years ago when I was soldier fighting in war.” A faraway look came into Chef’s eyes. “In past, I was called Kilik, but I met Lion of Judah and gave me peace that passes all understanding.”
“My true name is Melody.” I said excitedly. “Lion of Judah…That is one of Father’s names isn’t it?” Chef nodded his head in affirmation before the older man continued with his story. “After that, He told me to feed His sheep, and I have thanks to ze recipe book He gave me.” Chef pulled out a worn and stained book, but he cradled it as if it was his most-prized treasure. “As a newborn babe, you need melk since you have tasted ze goodness of ze Lord.” Chef lightly tapped his recipe book. “This is where I got ze melk. These are ze words from the King.”
When Chef handed the book to me, I was so excited my hands were shaking. Then I opened the book, and I deflated like a balloon. “Chef, I can’t read any of this. I don’t understand your native language.” Chef looked between me and the book, and all he could do was give a sheepish smile. “Well, I would not worry. Father has plan. As your brother, I am here for you. Well, I have to clean up.”
Chef ushered me out of the tent, and I left him to do his work. I looked inside the lunch tent, but everyone had left. I began to make my way to my work station for mending clothes. There were a couple of costumes that needed retouching before tonight’s show. I released a sigh wondering how I could convince my siblings about the truth. I needed them to see the King, but how?
A dove suddenly swooped down from the sky and landed on a nearby branch. Normally, I ignored creatures, but something about the white feathered bird caught my attention. Then I noticed the note attached to it. I gently walked over, and somehow extracted the rolled up letter tied to its foot without frightening it away. Then the dove burst into light and vanished. Well, that was NOT a normal bird! Turning my attention, I opened the tiny scroll. It read, “Dear Melody, this is my love letter to you dearest one…” Blinking with excitement, I skipped the body of the letter in search of the author’s name. “Forever redeemed, Your heavenly Father.”
With that, I put everything on hold. I suddenly felt starved to read my Father’s words!