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"Abusers often try to manipulate their victims into sharing their guilt," explained Dr. Jacoby. "That, coupled with the threat of death or other bodily harm, is a very powerful weapon."

"Thank you, God," breathed Jake, the realization of it slowly sinking in. "About a week ago, I read a passage in Romans for the first time. 'Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.' Those words, along with the rest of chapter one, would sink my heart every time I read it. How could I be right with God, when it says these things about me?"

"God wasn't talking about you," confirmed Abby.

The mental stress of the burden he had been carrying, slowly began to melt away. Jake remembered what Abby had said about sin, and that it had to be his choice, otherwise it wasn't sin after all. A big smile crossed his face, and he could feel the weight dropping from his heart. He saw his past in a whole new light-- the light of Truth. The Truth had set him free from the shackles of guilt that his abusers had bound him in, when he was just a small boy. How long had this fear tormented him, and how miraculous did it vanish, when God revealed the Truth to his heart! Jake knew God wasn't angry with him, and at that moment, he had the complete saving confidence of knowing that Christ's salvation truly belonged to him! No abuser could take that away from him-- it was HIS! There was nothing to separate him from the love of God, and it filled Jake with a joy and peace that flooded every pore of his being.

The peaceful look on Jake's face stunned Abby. Surely, Jake would have known better than to believe his tormentors, but she quickly reminded herself that from his childhood, Jake was repeatedly told that he was just as bad as the people that were hurting him. What an awful thing to do to any person, let alone to a child! What a cruel burden to place on innocence!

Jake went to the door and stepped outside, readily embracing the cool breeze that greeted him. Abby watched from the house as the ex-convict walked along the shore, smiling at the gulls gliding on the air currents above him.

"I've thought this before, but especially lately," mused Abby, "that God prepared the way for Jake, through Uncle Terry. Sometimes, I see a little of Uncle Terry in him, and it helps me to better understand Jake."

"It sounds like God, doesn't it?" grinned the therapist. "You're good for him, Abby. When I was driving Jake down here, I prayed to God you wouldn't take what Jake was going to tell you, the wrong way. I knew Jake was confused, but he was so busy beating himself up, that I couldn't get through to him. The way you handled the situation today, validates my confidence in your judgment. He's a very blessed man."

Abby smiled gratefully.

"Well," Dr. Jacoby sighed contentedly, "I've got to get running. It's been a good day, Abigail!"

The elderly man went outside and got into his car, returning Jake's wave as he drove away.

A few minutes later, Jake returned to the house and found Abby at work on her easel in the living room. Though she had presently stopped trying to earn a living at being an artist, Abby had never given up the dream completely. However, her painting of the heron had become a running joke with Terry, for Abby continued to work on the poor creature, giving it highlights one day, and removing them the next. Foregrounds came and went, but the heron continued to remain its uninspired self.

"You're making it worse," Jake pointed out, in a helpful voice.

"It's a work in progress," defended Abby, knowing full well that he was right.

"When you're done with it, could I have it?" he requested.

"If you want it so much, take it," she sighed. "What do you want it for?"

Jake shrugged, and took the painting down from the easel.

"It's a little like your roll cast," he reflected.

"What is?" she asked.
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