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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Black Sheep of the Family (10/03/13)

TITLE: A New Beginning
By Karen Milkiewicz


Matthew made his way down the well-worn path, his spirits high, matching the glorious sunshine that marked the morning. In the distance, he saw a young lady making her way toward him. As she came closer, he took note of her beauty, smiled, and raised a hand in greeting. Scowling, she glared at him, and as she passed, he heard her mutter “traitor.”

Matthew held his head high, pretending not to care, but the words stung. He silently cursed himself. He should have expected no less. He knew he wasn’t wanted. Wasn’t that always the way? From the time he was a young boy, he was told he didn’t measure up. “Why can’t you be more like your brothers?” his parents would ask. Matthew didn’t mean to cause trouble, but his natural curiosity always got the best of him. He wasn’t like his brothers. They were interested in the family business, but Matthew preferred books and numbers.

As Matthew grew older, he knew he had to do something to make himself stand out. He was clumsy with his hands, and every time he tried to help his father, he failed. He wanted to make something of himself, so he found a new occupation. An occupation that caused everyone he met to hate him. The woman on the path this morning was no exception. Why had he thought today would be different?

Matthew was good at his job, and had become wealthy. He thought he could make his family proud. He wore clothes of the finest quality, and adorned his neck and hands with gold. When he brought gifts to his family, they rejected them, thwarting his attempts to buy their affections.

Disgusted with the memories the young woman’s comment evoked, Matthew made his way to his booth to begin work. At least he held power there. People might not like him, but they had to obey him. There was some solace in that, right?

Pulling out his ledgers, he sighed to himself. Who was he kidding? The money, the power, none of it meant anything. All Matthew really wanted was for someone to accept him. Someone to love him for who he was. All his life he had been aching for it. He shook off the plaguing thoughts and opened up his books.

After a while, Matthew heard a commotion in the distance. A crowd of people was approaching. Matthew stood, craning his neck to get a better look. It was that preacher that was causing such a stir all over town. He was coming closer. With a crowd like that passing by, Matthew could collect a bundle in taxes. As the man came nearer, though, Matthew’s thoughts turned away from money. He looked at the man, dressed as a common peasant. There was nothing special about him that Matthew could see. What was it that drew all these people to him?

As the man approached, Matthew began to feel self-conscious. He pulled the rings off his fingers and stuffed them in his pockets. He couldn’t take his eyes off the preacher. He wasn’t a handsome man, but there was something about his eyes. Before he knew it, the preacher was in front of him. Matthew tried to look away, ashamed. For some reason, he cared what this man thought of him. He couldn’t bear the thought being rejected yet again. But what else could he expect? The preacher was a fellow Jew, and Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans. Of course he would hate him. Everyone else did. Matthew looked up, and to his surprise, the man was standing right in front of him. Matthew looked into his eyes, expecting to find contempt, but what he saw instead was so beautiful it took his breath away. For the first time in his life, he looked into another person’s eyes and saw what he had always dreamed of. Acceptance and love. Suddenly nothing else mattered.

Then the man spoke the words that Matthew would never forget.

“Come, follow me.”

With those three words, Matthew’s life was forever changed. He threw his rings into the crowd, left his stand and money bags behind, and followed Jesus. Walking away from his past, his life was about to truly begin.

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This article has been read 315 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 10/10/13
I liked the internal reflection of Matthew's emotions. It was well done.

Thanks. God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/11/13
This is a great story. You pulled me in right away with the wonderful conflict. I also enjoyed how you built the character and gave him depth. I was about halfway in before it dawned on me who Matthew was. (For me, that's really good and a delightful treat.) I enjoyed every bit of this piece.
Amelia Brown 10/11/13
Wow, very nice and very captivating. You held my attention from the first sentence and kept it right through out the story. I like the the fresh perspective that you gave to an old Bible story. You even took us further into Matthew's life while growing up! I had no idea it was a Bible story until the preacher was introduced. Then you ended the story on a high climax, with him forsaking all and happily skipping off into the sunset. Thank you for sharing.
Larry Whittington10/13/13
I don't know if I could say any more.

This flowed like it only took minutes to write but I would assume then more time in proof reading.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/17/13
Congratulations on placing 1st in your level and 20 overall! (The highest rankings can be found on the message boards)
Amelia Brown 10/19/13
Congrats! you deserved it :-)
Rosey Mucklestone10/20/13
Good job! Nice take on the subject!
C D Swanson 10/21/13
Congratulations! God bless~
Bea Edwards 10/23/13
Nicely written and quite possible perspective into Matthew's world. Congratulations on your level win-write on!
Bonnie Bowden 10/24/13
Very well written. Your story had good flow and conflict resolution. Congratulations on placing 1st in your division and 20th overall.