Chapter 11 – At the Thief’s

They set out once more, following the track until they came to the village of the two young men, Hamu the Beard and his friend Hamu the Thief. They found them in the fields, digging out the mud and debris from an irrigation channel. The two young men were happy to see Amsiggel and Tazzwit and their companions, and they all sat together in an orchard talking about the events of the past few days. Then the Blacksmith addressed them, “We’ve heard,” he said, “that you are both called Hamu, but we can’t tell which of you is Hamu the Beard because neither of you has a beard.” They all laughed. Then they asked the Beard, “Why have you shaved it off?” “That’s simple,” he replied, “I happened to find a razor beside the channel.” They all laughed again. Then the one called the Thief stared at him saying, “Look, you’ve changed your appearance simply with a razor costing two ryals. Can’t I change too?”

Turning to Amsiggel, they said, “Do you remember our conversation? We asked if a bad person can become good in the eyes of God and in the eyes of other people?” They all looked then at Faithful to see if he knew the answer. He said to the two lads (both called Hamu), “When we got here, we found you digging out the channel. Tell me, where does this water come from? Does it flow from a spring or from the river?” “From a spring,” they replied. “Okay, and when the water flows from the spring, what’s it like?” he enquired. “It’s pure and clean and sweet,” they said. “So, where does the mud and debris come from?” he asked. “It just falls in,” they replied, “whenever animals or children walk along beside the channel.” Then Faithful said to them, “You see, this water comes from the spring perfectly pure, but the further it goes the muddier it gets with the dirt and rubbish that fall into it, until finally it reaches the plain where it expires among the stones and sand and disappears completely.” “That’s right,” they agreed. “Listen then,” he said, “and I’ll show you what this signifies, because it happens to us all just like that. When a person is born his heart is clean and his mind is pure, but from that point on he goes downhill, winding his way amidst the crooked tricks and the satanic wiles of this world until he grows old and weak and finally dies. For as long as he’s in the world, dirt keeps on falling into him and making him more and more muddy.” Faithful paused, then said, “And what about this mud and rubbish? Some of it floats along in full view but some flows beneath the surface and isn’t so easily seen. Some people show how filthy they are, but others hide their uncleanness. The sins of some people are so obvious that you can easily foresee the judgment that will fall upon them. But others, it’s only later that their sins will show.”

“Listen, all of you” continued Faithful, “and I’ll tell you a story. Once there was a man who smoked fifty cigarettes a day. His clothes and his hands and his body were completely permeated by cigarette smoke. When he got home, his wife complained to him about the stench. So he went and had a thorough wash in the public baths; he changed his clothes and he came back clean from the stink of cigarettes. But it wasn’t really that simple. On the outside he was fine, but what was he like inside? What about all the smoke that had gone inside him? The smoke that had fouled up his lungs: that’s what was killing him. And man is in just this condition. He can wash his skin; he can wash his clothes; but his heart is still full of all kinds of evil. And how can it be made clean?”

“O Faithful, you know exactly what we’re like!” said the other Hamu, “It’s very difficult to get ourselves clean from all the pollution deep inside us. It’s not easy to avoid evil talking and wicked thoughts, because man is weak. Although we want to do what pleases God, we can’t manage it. We all know we fail in this!”

“But is it possible for a bad person become good in the sight of God and man?” asked the Thief, “Can we dig out the mud and debris of sin from our hearts?” “There is someone,” replied Faithful gently, “who is able to make your heart clean. He can remove all the uncleanness and all the evil and fill your heart with the Spirit of love and peace. If you truly regret the wrong things you’ve done and turn away from all that makes you unclean, there’s only one thing more you need to do.” “And what’s that?” asked the Thief intently. “You need to hold onto our Saviour,” said Faithful, “Believe in him and lean on him because he gave himself to set us free from all evil and cleanse us to become his people. In this way you can start a new life, and God will forgive you and willingly forget what you’ve done in the past. In fact, he’ll do a miracle in you – he’ll purify you from within and fill your heart with the beauty and goodness of heaven.”

They were all thinking about this when Faithful continued, “But don’t forget how the women sift lentils day by day and remove the grit and the vetch seeds that have found their way into it. If you enter into new life, God will help you every day to sift within you all that is evil, be it words or deeds or thoughts. He’ll help you eliminate wicked words from honourable speech, to keep lies out of sincere conversation. He’ll help you avoid all that would entice you to satanic deeds, and he’ll keep you away from those who’ve accustomed themselves to the filth of this world. He’ll be with you – the one who can save you from all that pollutes the heart of man. Believe in him, hold onto him, lean on him. If you do, you’ll always be good in the sight of God.”

“But how can we be good in the sight of man?” asked the Thief, “How can people forgive us? They can never forget what we’ve done in the past!” “No longer,” replied Faithful, “do we see anyone as other people see them. Because we know that if someone has entered into new life, then God has transformed him. The old has gone from him and he’s become new, because God has made peace with him through our Saviour. God no longer counts his sins. Anyone who’s become new will find acceptance with us as he has with God. We’ll love him and appreciate him, and we won’t think about the past at all. If someone used to be a thief, we’ll no longer call him a thief, because we must forget what he did in the past.” “If that’s so,” said the one called the Thief, “what name will you give me now?” “We’ll call you Hamu the New,” replied Faithful, “because the old Hamu has died within you.”

Then the other Hamu spoke up. “Thank you, Faithful,” he said, “for telling us all this.” “We should thank God,” replied Faithful, “because it’s he who’s forgiven us all the wrong things we’ve done.” Then Hamu the New said, “Let us come with you on your journey and hear more about these things.” “Come on then,” replied Faithful, “There’s still time for us to see the Nomad today.” Immediately, they started up the track.