By Peggikaye Eagler
Sitting in my living room, is my family with me, Samuel on the couch, Benjamin on the floor and my husband Don in the recliner, but not reclining. I’m sitting on the love seat sideways so that I can see the television head on. The local news is on, and Benjamin is asking if they can "do that". I’m sitting there, shaking my head and telling him that it isn’t a matter of "can" but they are and we have to trust God. Before anymore conversation can take place, there is a loud, firm knock at the door. Just one knock.
I got up to answer the door and two Tulsa Police officers enter the house, shutting the door themselves, standing in the front of it they say "Is this the house of Donald and Peggikaye Eagler?" We tell them it is. By now, Don and the boys have stood up and are standing near me. They seem to all be right behind me, but I can see each of them. The police become even more stern as they say, "We have you listed as active, participating members of Southpark Community Church, do you deny this?"
Don stepped a bit to the side as the boys stood a bit straighter. I stood up straighter, crossing my arms and said "We most certainly are."
The first policeman wrote something in his book. I closed my eyes to say a quick prayer and when I opened them, the uniforms on the police were no longer the olive green of the Tulsa Police Department, but black, blacker than I had ever seen before. There was no color anywhere on the uniform. The second policeman spoke up and said, "We are here to ensure that you will deny your faith. Before we leave your house, you will have either admitted that Christ was a hoax or you will be arrested."
The first policeman opened the door. There was a moving truck on the driveway. More men in black uniforms stood ready. The first thing they removed was the food, leaving only beverages and cups. Then they started removing my books. Each time they would start to go out the door, they would stop long enough to ask, "Will you admit Christ is a hoax?" Before they’d step out the door, the first officer would say, "You may keep your belongings if you admit the bible is a lie." Each time I would shake my head no, and sometimes say "Jesus is Lord."
At some point I became aware my family was no longer there. I wasn’t worried or scared for them, I wasn’t even curious. It was just that it was myself alone, with God, and the policemen. There were very few belongings left, but everyone of them was important. They had already removed my clothes, my food, pots, pans and most of the dishes. Gone were my books by Agatha Christi, Robin Cook and John Grisham. My bed, my TV and computer were removed without my even caring. All that was left was the things I hold
as dear. The police seemed to instinctively know what my precious things were.
The police seemed to get excited as they came to what they knew was going to be the key to my caving in. They started with silverware. To someone who didn’t know, they’d have thought it was just garage sale junk. The reality, it had been a wedding present to my step fathers’ mother. It is one of the only things I have that belonged to Grandma Pearson. She gave it to my mother after my step-dad died, on the condition we use them not store them. Tears welled up slightly as they showed them to me, but I quickly said "Jesus is Lord."
Then they started to remove my elephant collection. One by one they removed each one. Memories of people who have gone on to be with God passed by me. The elephants given to me by my pastors wife, Judy, when I was a teenager, ones they had collected while on the mission field. The ceramic and gold that my mother bought on a mission trip to Russia, and another given to me by a child from church. Each one, instead of causing me to desire my belongings reminded me of serving God and helped to strengthen my resolve. The policeman with an angry smile held the last of my elephants in my face. A green ceramic, one of the first I had gotten after deciding to collect elephants. The memory of the day I got it came back in full color. My mother took me to see our pastor Leonard and his wife Elaine. I wanted Elaine to see it. When she took it from me, I jumped and grabbed, as if I thought she would break it. Instead of being offended, Elaine set it down gently to look at it. Standing before the policeman, I wondered "Do I trust God more than I trusted Elaine?" I stood straighter and said louder "Jesus is the Lord of my life."
The policeman in anger slammed the ceramic elephant down. As fragile as it was, it did not break. My determination grew stronger. They removed the piano I inherited from my grandmother. They removed my children’s bunk beds and the clarinet I always loved (but could not play).
One by one they removed the books by Max Lucado. When I try to describe the books to someone who has never read one, I generally will say "They are like getting a hug from God." Seeing them removed was somewhat scary, but I knew that the author, Max Lucado, would be the last one who would want me to save his books in this situation.
Very few things were left. My couch and love seat set that was given to me by my friend Michelle, were taken out. The policeman gave me six chances while removing it from my home. Each time, he became more angry. Each time I said a bit louder "Jesus is Lord."
Finally, my house was empty except the first two policemen and me, my coffee table and my Bible. The policeman said "Take the table" and the one man handed me my Bible. My heart started pounding. After all this, they were going to let me keep my Bible.
Through my tears, I could see the paperback pink cover. The bended corner and worn
cover was more precious to me than I had imagined.
The second policeman took out my coffee table as I hugged God’s word close to me. The first policeman yelled "That is a book of fairy tales!" He reached out to take it from me. He grabbed it with force and I fell to my knees and cried out "one day EVERY knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord."
The second policeman grabbed me and yanked me up cuffing my arms behind me.
Both men were furious that nothing had worked and it meant they had to tell their superiors they’d failed. They took me to a concentration camp that looked every bit as dark and dank as any picture of a Nazi camp from World War II. Once inside the gate I was given one more chance to deny Jesus Christ. I simply shook my head "no" as they pushed me through the door into the "court yard." In the camp, were most, if not all my friends from church.
We were gathered in a central place and told that we would have no books, no paper, no pens or pencils. If somehow someone figured out a way to write and save something and we were caught with the "written words from that vile book" we would be put immediately to death.
As we went to our barracks we realized that we would have to use our memories of scripture to survive. We gathered in groups on the bunks, each one taking a turn to quote a verse they could remember. I woke up from this dream just as it came to me and I was saying again "Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."
I woke up realizing it was a dream and felt a desperation I had never felt before. The panicked feeling of the moment they grabbed my Bible was overwhelming to me. I knew almost immediately that this had been a dream, however, I also knew that the message I needed was loud and clear.
While my childhood and teen years were filled with opportunities to memorize scripture, my adult life had not continued the pattern of my youth. Every week in Sunday School, every Friday in Bible club I had a memory verse I was responsible for. My mother made sure that I knew the verses. In high school, I went to a Christian school where every week I had to learn at least seven to ten verses. Throughout my childhood years I literally memorized hundreds of verses and passages in the King James Version. Shortly after graduation, I got my first New American Standard Version. Then came the New International Version.
In addition to the versions that differed from the one I had memorized, I did not challenge myself to continue learning more verses. I still have parts of most, if not all of
the verses memorized and can quickly find in a Strongs’ concordance whatever it is I need. But I can’t tell you where the verses are found or be able to quote them if asked.
God has always brought them to mind when I need them and I have no doubt He will continue to do so. Through the dream I have come to realize that I need to continually hide God’s word in my heart and not depend on my childhood to get me through.
I am not trying to say that our country would ever come to that extreme, but am I prepared enough if it does?