Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)
TITLE: Grace in the Blink of an Eye
By Joey Parker
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Those words play through Abby’s mind as she sits by her father’s bed looking at his still form. She can’t reconcile the man lying before her to the man from her memories. Her father was always so healthy and full of life that, to see him helpless, just doesn’t make sense.
Jack Dorian was always a big man with an easy smile. Abby had grown up with him towering over her as an eternal protector that would never break. Never fail. Never quit. Now, he couldn’t even move his head or speak. The stroke had broken him. She couldn’t help but ask herself why God would let him suffer like this instead of giving him a clean death.
The doctor said the trauma was so severe it was shocking he was still alive. It was a testament to his strength and determination that her father could even draw breath on his own anymore. That was little consolation to her. Jack Dorian couldn’t do anything but stare up at the ceiling while listening to the beep of a heart monitor and the quiet breathing of his daughter.
Abby has soft tears resting in the corner of her eyes that she won’t let fall. She wants him to see her strength and maybe draw some of it for himself. She’s burdened because she doesn’t want him to leave her but she can’t stand to see him suffering like this. She’s been silently praying for healing but doesn’t expect an answer. Deep down Abby knows that her father, as she knew him, is gone forever. He’s now closer to the next life than he is to this one.
That thought brings an urgency to her mind. She became a Christian while in college but had never spoken to her father about it. He was a good man and he knew about salvation. She knew he’d gone to church as a boy because he’d spoken of it. She’d always assumed he was saved but, sitting in this dim hospital room, she found that she could never recall hearing him pray or speak of his relationship with God. He’d never done anything to show that he’d accepted the gift of Jesus. Her heart quickened in her chest as she reached out to take his hand and quietly spoke to him.
“Daddy? Can you hear me?” She waited for a moment. “I want you to blink if you can hear me.”
Her father’s eyes slowly closed and opened once. Her heart beat faster. She couldn’t describe why but she knew that she couldn’t waste time here.
“Daddy. You went to church as a boy and you heard about Jesus.” She paused for a moment. “Didn’t you?”
His eyes blinked once more.
“Daddy. Were you ever saved?” He didn’t respond. She waited as long as she could. “Blink if you were.” He still didn’t respond and she felt the hairs on her arms stand up as she urgently asked the next question, praying a silent prayer as she did so. “Daddy. Do you want to be saved and go to Heaven?”
She couldn’t hide the emotion in her voice. She waited and intently watched her father’s blue eyes for what seemed like hours. When she was about to give up hope, he slowly blinked again.
Abby released the breath she didn’t know she was holding and gave his hand a light squeeze. “OK, Daddy. I know you can’t talk so I’m going to say the words and, if you agree, just blink for me. You do that and I know you heard and believed.”
She then started the sinner’s prayer for her father. She asked him if Jesus was God’s Son who lived a sinless life but chose to die for his sins and he blinked. She asked if he was a sinner who needed to accept Jesus’s sacrifice to go to Heaven and he blinked. She asked if he knew he was a sinner and that Christ died for him and he blinked. She then asked if he wanted Christ to forgive him for those sins and be his Savior.
Abby was openly crying when she finished and leaned forward to kiss her father’s cheek. She was thanking God so earnestly for giving her this chance to pray with him that she didn’t notice the heart monitor was no longer rhythmically beeping.
Jack Dorian had just stepped into paradise.
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