Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)
TITLE: Live In The Light
By Pat Sipperly
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The somber pastor sipped his fourth cup of coffee while watching nothing in particular outside his window. He had just finished lunch, an apple and a meatloaf sandwich lovingly prepared by his wife, Mary. The phone remained quiet. The only emails came from professional spamers and his last flash of anything inspirational happened two weeks ago when he presided over the funeral of a complete stranger. It was a typical Thursday afternoon for a small town preacher.
“How did I end up here?” he muttered while thinking about a couple of buddies from Bible school. Goofy kids back then. But today they were both well-known Senior Pastors in mega churches coordinating full-time staffs and regularly televised services. By contrast, Pastor Fletcher was known as “Jed” to only a handful of people who met irregularly in his living room. And most didn't have televisions. Another depressing stroll down memory lane.
His personal misery was broken by a familiar voice. “You seem down today.”
Jed looked at the floor then back out the window where it had momentarily stopped raining. “I am a little down, Lord,” he said.
“Why? Want a list?” Jed thought. He tried to sum it all up into a justifiable sentence. “Well, I thought things would be different by now, I guess.” The pastor of nearly ten years moved to his chair, carefully avoiding the sticky duct tape repair on the cushion and sat quietly.
“May I show you something?” the Voice asked.
Jed nodded in quiet expectation as the clouds thinned over Hayden. The sun poured through a narrow crevice in the thick overcast, through the window in Jed's office and onto the dark paneled wall opposite his desk. A swath of light appeared with a perfectly straight, diagonal line cutting off the bottom. The upper portion of the wall was bathed in sunshine, while the lower half remained shaded.
“What do you see in the light?”
Jed looked up to an American Flag and three framed pictures. One was of him and his wife Mary, another of his two daughters, Susan and Sarah, and the third was of the congregation during a potluck celebrating their first full year in Hayden. There were six people in the photo.
“Do you like where you live?”
The brightly colored stars and stripes also appeared to be interested in his response.
“Yes, Lord. I love my country very much.”
The Voice replied, “You're welcome.”
Jed was silent.
“Are you happy with your wife? She loves you very much.”
The pastor fidgeted uncomfortably. He was now receiving the familiar message he had given out to others. “Yes, Lord, I'm very blessed to have Mary. Thank you.” Jed's eyes began to water.
“How do you feel about your daughter's health problem?
He quickly sat up. “What health problem?” he demanded.
“You're welcome,” came the reply.
Getting the point, Jed nervously chuckled then sat back in his chair relieved.
He studied the remaining photo of the small congregation gathered around an old park bench. It was sunny that day. Some of the faces were smiling, some were frowning. If another photo of the church was taken today the same number of people would be in it.
“We measure success differently. Man sees the outward appearance, numbers and activities. I see hearts, obedience to my word and things done in secret.”
The heavy words sunk into his soul. Then he looked down to the darker part of the wall, below
the neatly framed pieces of his life. The contrast was obvious. In the shade there was nothing.
He glanced back up to the images of his family and the congregation.
“How much room is there in the light?”
Jed's eyes ran over the large, open portion of the wall catching the sun then answered, “There is much room, Lord”
The Voice concluded, “Live in the light.”
A moment later the the sun was gone but the quiet message echoed loud and clear.
The rest of the afternoon was wet and uneventful, but a grateful Jed Fletcher walked home that day wearing a smile not even the rain could wash off.
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