The "war" became more and more bitter. There was no winning—only fighting.

One day I told my mother about these recess battles and my conflict with Fray. Mother's response shocked me. She told me I had to love my enemy: I must love Fray. Mother told me it was wrong to hate and that my actions were not acceptable to God.

I understood the basic principle—that love is good and hate is bad—but I did not understand why in the world I had to love Fray. Mother had never given me any reason to doubt that she was truthful, but in this instance I did not believe that what my mother said was true. I did not believe that love could win a war.

God gave me wise parents. My wise mother did not offer this solution as a suggestion; it was a command. Mother said we needed to believe God's Word, and God's Word said to love our enemies, and she wanted me to love Fray and see what God would do.

At that point I had a choice: obey or disobey my mother. I chose to obey . . . reluctantly. I believe that was my first lesson in faith: obedience. I didn't agree with the concept of loving my enemy, and I definitely did not believe that a decision to love my enemy would make any difference at all (except that Fray would get to gloat and declare "victory"), but I took a step forward in my journey of faith: I obeyed my mother. And my mother was obeying God's Word, so indirectly I, too, was obeying God's Word.

The next day at school, I wasn't mean to Fray. I told my fellow warriors that I was disbanding our army; the war was over for me. I didn't feel any differently about Fray, but I did my best to love her, which at that point meant simply to stop despising her.

I still begin to cry when I picture the scene that took place a few weeks later. I was sitting alone on the concrete steps outside my classroom, at recess, watching the other children run and play. Fray came up to me. She smiled at me. I smiled back. We were no longer enemies.

I can't explain what God did in that situation, but He did it slowly, gently, and thoroughly. Love did win the war. I had passed my first milestone in faith: obedience. When Mother came to pick me up after school that afternoon, I remember running to the car to tell her about it as fast as I could get the words out: "Mother! Mother! Fray came up and talked to me today at recess! Mother, she's not mad at me any more! Isn't it wonderful?! Mother, you were right!"

Oswald Chambers puts it this way: "The promises of God are of no value to us until by obedience we understand the nature of God. We read some things in the Bible three hundred and sixty-five times and they mean nothing to us, then all of a sudden we see what God means, because in some particular we have obeyed God, and instantly His nature is opened up. . . . "

Belief

We all know that seeing is believing, but the Bible says that faith is believing—sometimes without seeing: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) A second milestone along the journey of faith is belief, and I have a distinct memory of the first time I remember passing it. One year when my family was on furlough, we lived with my grandmother for a few months. Her attic had no source of heat, and remember, I was used to tropical weather. So, one wintry night when I could still see my breath hanging in the air in front of me when I was inside—I got worried!