Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Singing (10/31/05)
TITLE: Sacred Concert
By Dan Louise Mann
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Depression has finally replaced many days of anger. I’ve taken to ignoring the other prisoners, from whom I hear only moans and curses that grow weaker each day…or are those coming from me? Don’t know anymore. My skin crawls with vermin, real and imagined, and shudders wrack my body. In the darkness I wince from sores on my ankles and wrists. You’re in a bad way Sergius, I tell myself.
Today I wake up thinking about Liberius, my jailor, whose name, ironically, means “freedom.” Circumstances threw us together. Dare I call him friend? Well, I’ve known him long enough to think he qualifies. If I ever get my freedom again, will “Freedom” be my friend? I’d like to think so.
“New… new prisoners!” Excited whispers echo along the corridors. “Who, who…?” the whisperers ask. I’m past caring. These newcomers being ushered past my cell are just an annoying interruption to my sleep.
Irritation! Something is pulling me to wakefulness. As I swim to consciousness, I hear loud voices. Not just voices, it’s… singing! HERE? But as I listen, my spirit begins to lift. Something stirs within me, and I feel an unexplainable desire to join that unseen choir.
A trembling begins and grows steadily. I feel the rocks behind my head shift, bulge inward. The floor bucks and heaves. Fear grips my bowels when my cell door crashes open. Instinctively I struggle to sit up as chains crash to the ground around me, and that’s when I realize the weight on my shackled limbs is gone. Should I flee? “No, find the singers,” a voice quietly urges me. I crawl slowly to the doorway and pull myself to a shaky stand. Keep singing so I can find you, I plead silently.
My fingers grope along the corridor wall, helping to guide unsteady steps. Squinting and shielding eyes unaccustomed to light, I see two men standing in a dimly lit cell, with Liberius at their feet! With quavering voice he says, “Men, what must I do to be saved?” One of the men responds, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”
Sliding down the wall to the stone floor, I listen as the man tells Liberius about Jesus, God’s son, how he was crucified and rose from the dead to pay men’s sin debt. Ahhh…debt. I can identify with that. “I believe,” I hear Liberius say with certainty. I glance at his face. What is it I see there?
Then the man—he says his name is Paul--fixes his gaze on me. “You, too, just heard the Good News. What say you?” he says with boldness. I hesitate, but suddenly I’m filled with a “knowing,” and I hear myself saying, “Yes! I DO believe!” Suddenly I understand that expression I saw on Liberius’ face moments before. Feelings of happiness, peace, hope, health all flood my being, and I cry out with the wonder of it!
Paul’s strong hands pull me to my feet, and we’re laughing, crying, embracing one another. Paul tells me that just as Jesus paid my sin debt, so my monetary debts would soon be paid. “Go back to your cell and wait on the Lord,” he instructs me. “I tell you this, before two days have passed, God will deliver you from this prison. When you are free, make your way to the river. God will show you the way.”
Well, it happened just as Paul said. The next day an unknown benefactor comes forward and pays my debt. Slightly dazed at the rapidity of events; nevertheless, when offered my freedom, I don’t hesitate. With determined steps, I leave prison darkness behind. Shortly thereafter I am at the riverbank where Paul and the brethren have gathered. And now here I stand, shoulder to shoulder with my friend Liberius, my voice raised in song to my new Lord and Savior.
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