Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)
TITLE: Sleeping Bag Ministries
By Beth Fiedler
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Melissa had bombarded her father with pleadings equal to those of a U.S. Attorney General before the Supreme Court. When that did not work, she changed strategy and intermittently attacked with bouts of brooding, pouting and general malaise. She simply must have this slumber party!
Despite his desire to prevent the invasion of his household by ten screaming teenagers, he relented and granted permission for the sleepover. For him, one night of chaos would be better than suffering through another week of his daughter’s relentless persistence. But, he had one condition, every one who stayed overnight on Saturday would have to accompany them to church on Sunday. Melissa happily conceded.
Plans were set in motion. Her mother Mary ordered sub sandwiches, cakes, and snacks and made ready for the delivery of assorted goodies the following Saturday. Every girl in Melissa’s grade school class had been invited by telephone on the very same day that her father had finally allowed her request. No exceptions to the rule that all were to be invited, Mary had made that very clear to her daughter.
A week of endless chatter and loud whispers that interrupted classroom instruction ensued as the event quickly approached. But, that frenzy of activity was nothing compared to the communication overload that occurred on Saturday morning. Mary and her husband prayed daily for the safety and needs of their soon to be houseguests. Amazingly, one call came through that was not for Melissa that day but for Mary. She had received a call from Grace’s dad indicating the need for a sleeping bag. Since Mary knew that he had been laid off from work for several months and that his wife had been sick, she had said that they had plenty of extra items. Mary heard the sigh of relief on the other end of the receiver.
Later that evening, another sound filled the air- that of a sputtering exhaust system that marked their first guests arrival-that of Grace being escorted by her father. Mary opened the front door of her home and waved to him. From the door, she held up her right index finger to hold him momentarily in the driveway as she allowed Grace to enter. Then, Mary stooped to gather up a large box of items that had been packed to give to Grace’s family. From the door, Grace could see that her father was very happy to speak to Mary and shook her hand.
When Mary stepped back into the house, she pointed out the sleeping bag that was to be used by Grace for the night. It was new. She also noticed a matching duffel bag right next to it. Mary had said that it was hers to take home and that she was sure that it would come in handy again. Grace was speechless and gave Mary a big hug. The next words that came out of Grace’s mouth were an offer to help prepare the snack trays and the table for a buffet style dinner for the girls later that evening. Since Melissa had been busy with phone calls all day, Mary welcomed the assistance. Soon after, Melissa joined them to make sure that everything was ready.
That evening, Mary and her husband prayed with the girls before dinner and believed that God had marvelous plans for them. The girls ate and sang songs like rock stars, played video games and even some old board games that Mary had in her closet from the days of her own slumber parties. Little sleep occurred that night but the girls were not worse for wear.
After breakfast the next morning, Mary and her husband gathered the girls into the two family cars and drove them to church services. On that particular morning, the youth pastor made an announcement that they needed teenagers to help clean the church camp site for under-privileged youth. The only requirement was that you had to have a sleeping bag for use in a tent until the actual camp cabins were made ready. Grace was the first to raise her hand. The rest of the girls who had been invited to the slumber party all raised their hands, too.
And so it began, the Sleeping Bag Ministries. God does indeed work all things to his glory. (Rom 8:28 Inspirational Study Bible by Max Lucado.)
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