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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)

TITLE: A Prisoner of Unforgiveness
By Lisa Harris
04/28/09


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A Prisoner of Unforgiveness

I got a bee in my bonnet….so to speak. I wanted a special kind of garden…like the charming raised-bed gardens that I had seen in magazines with vegetables and herbs growing. They looked very therapeudic and relaxing to me. My husband Tate built a 10x5 raised-bed for me two days ago. He and our son Luke who is on break from seminary school, carried it to the perfect sun-drenched spot and secured it in the soil. I was thrilled with the results.

So this morning, after seeing Tate off to work, I grabbed a cup of coffee and set out to work in my garden. I looked at the red clay with dismay as I put down the cup and replaced it with a spade in my hand. All I had to do was break up this clay, add dirt and fertilizer and presto, I too, would have a charming garden.

It didn’t work that way. With all the strength that I could muster and all the huffing and puffing I did, I could not get this hard, unyielding Georgia clay to budge.

Lord, this clay is like Tate’s heart towards our son….hard, unyielding, unforgiving….how can I reach him?

Tears blurred my already pollinated eyes as I thought of Tate’s heart. Had it been a year? Hunter our 17-year old son had become mixed up with a drug dealer and as a result had been sentenced to 14 months in prison. How can the same parents raise two entirely different children? One is serving God, the other serving man. My heart was aching, but more so for Tate.

I put the spade back down into the clay and with tremendous force I stirred up some hard ground. I leaned over picking up the fork to help loosen its grip.

Lord, Tate is so hurt by Hunter’s actions. Please, please penetrate his heart before it turns black and bitter towards our son.

I continue working the stone-like ground when Luke walks up.

“Mom” he says, “I’m going to go visit Hunter today…do you want to go?”

“Not today Sweetheart,” I replied “tell Hunter I’ll come tomorrow before the Wednesday night service….and give him my love.”

Luke gave me a quick hug and said, “I asked Dad earlier and he said no. He hasn’t spoken to him since the day he was sentenced….Do you think he will come around,” asked Luke.

“I don’t know son,” I replied, “I keep praying that God will soften his heart.”

Luke smiling as he says, “Hang in there mom…I feel a miracle coming!” I smile back…more with my lips than my eyes.

I continue to work the hard clay until my arms begin to ache. “Diligence” that was the word that kept coming to my mind as I worked.

Lord, are you trying to tell me that I need to be more diligent in my prayers for Tate’s heart? I thought I was….but maybe I need to be more like Paul and pray without ceasing?

I work the garden a little bit longer, praying for restoration in our family. I walk over to the water hose and wash the shovels off. I watch as the water cleanses my tools.



Lord, cleanse my family’s heart. I’m so weary of standing in-between my husband and my son. I love them both deeply. Help Tate to see how much Hunter needs his father’s forgiveness…just as we need yours.

I walked to the basement to put the tools up and as I walked back around the house I see Tate’s car pull back into the driveway. Curious, I quickened my pace.

“Tate, are you sick?” I asked.

“Well….yes and no,” Tate’s voice stumbled, “I just can’t continue this broken relationship with Hunter. I want my son back. I want Hunter to know that I forgive him and I pray that he will forgive me for being so hard and unforgiving.”

“What changed…Tate?” I asked.

With heavy emotion he replied, “There’s a man in the next department who lost his son last night in a car accident. I don’t want to lose Hunter, yet that’s what I’m doing. God showed me I was ‘choosing’ to deny him from my heart…so how can I expect God to forgive my sins when I refuse to forgive my son’s?”

I smile… now with my eyes. I’ve got my family back.

Thank you Lord for softening Tate’s heart…now about that Georgia clay….


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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/05/09
Excellent story, well told.

Be careful with your tenses--you flipped from present to past and back a few times.

Your title perfectly captured your message--very good!
Glenda Lagerstedt05/06/09
Love your title. It made me want to read your story, and your opening sentences drew me along.

Good message!