Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Dead End (02/06/14)
TITLE: When Hope Found Me
By Toni Hammer
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My nephew was being baptized any minute. I had zero desire to attend the service, but it was an obligatory family thing like high school graduation. My presence was expected and yet here I was—angry, lost, and staring at a sign marked “Dead End.”
“Great. Just great. How many more times are you going to screw up my life, God?”
One could say God and I had a falling out a few years ago. I held onto His hand when my longtime boyfriend mercilessly dumped me after I informed him I was pregnant. I even let God console me when I lost the baby at 20 weeks though that’s when the anger started. After all, I did the Christ-like thing, didn’t I? I chose to keep the baby and raise the child alone. It was the right thing to do and yet I was seemingly punished for my decision. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away weeks later, I officially gave up on God. I still believed in His existence--I wasn’t a fool--but I doubted His goodness and good plans for me. It was obvious I was not someone He chose to bless. I was a hopeless cause.
So now I sat in an empty car, in a strange place, talking to myself and trying to figure out what to do next. I wasn’t smart enough to operate a smart phone or GPS. I was relying on directions I thought I could remember. Evidently I was wrong. Just one of my many mistakes. Way to go, Lucy.
I screamed when the dog jumped at my window. The golden retriever barked with joy at its finding. Breathing a sigh of relief, I saw an older woman come into view and yell for the dog to return to her side. “Ruth! Come here!” The animal was quick to respond to its master’s call and joined her as she strolled towards my car. Out of habit, I said a cursory prayer that she wasn’t a serial killer and rolled my window down.
“Lost?” The woman’s voice was jovial with a comforting rasp.
“Yeah. I’m trying to get to Church of the Redeemed but I seem to have made a wrong turn somewhere,” I said, gesturing to the dead end sign.
“Oh I’d be happy to tell you where to go. That’s a wonderful place. What takes you there?”
I wasn’t in the mood for chit chat as I was running so late already, but this woman was kind enough to tell me where to go so I felt it was only polite. “My nephew is being baptized.”
“What a blessed occasion! Glory to God! He is good, indeed.”
“Yes. Well. To some I suppose.” Goodness, Lucy, why are you dragging this conversation out? Just get the directions and go.
“Oh no, sweetheart. Always. To everyone. He is always good. He was good when He brought my Daniel to me and He was good when he took my Daniel to be with Him. He is good as I stand here with leukemia and He is so good to you that He brought me and Ruth this way to help you get to your nephew’s baptism. He is always good, honey. Now you’re going to want to go back up to Pine Road…”
Her directions were simple though it appeared I was pretty far from the church. If I hurried I’d be able to catch the tail end. “Thank you,” I said, “I really appreciate it… um… I’m sorry. I don’t believe I caught your name?”
“Hope. My name’s Hope. And don’t thank me, darling. Thank the good Lord who brought me to you. Enjoy the baptism.” With that she and Ruth walked away.
Mulling over her story as I drove, I arrived at the church and found a seat moments before my nephew was submerged. The church rejoiced and the pastor approached the podium. “We just witnessed this young man publicly dedicate his life to Christ and I ask you to do the same should you choose. Please come to the front if you’d like to commit your life to the one and only God, a God who loves the lost, who is full of compassion and mercy and blessings, a God who brings hope to the hopeless.”
With trembling legs, I stood.
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