Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: STAND UP FOR JESUS (don't write about the song) (04/09/15)
- TITLE: The Cross
By Kristine Baker
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The typical gift for such an exchange is a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, specialty nuts, or a mug. I am not a typical gift giver. I researched on Google and Pinterest for new ideas, but found none. I spent hours walking through the stores in the mall near my home and still, nothing out of the ordinary was revealed.
While running errands early morning on the Saturday before the party, I noticed a sign near a church inviting the public in to shop at an Artisan Arts and Craft sale. Interested, I pulled in and parked. Feeling hopeless, I uttered a little prayer before getting out of the car, “Dear God, please help me to find just the right gifts to give for the work party. Please help me to meet the ten dollar budget as well. May your will be done. Amen.”
The room was full of woven rugs, statues, wall-hangings, and hand-crafted wood carvings. I was instantly drawn to the meticulous detail of the wood carvings, especially the hand-carved crosses. They weren’t the typical squared off edges one may find on a common wooden cross; these crosses were bent on an angle in such a way to fit in either right or left hand. On the vertical and horizontal pieces of the cross, little divots were smoothed in the wood so that while holding the cross, the thumb could caress it back and forth for comfort. This was a perfect meditation piece to hold while praying. I felt like I hit the jackpot and whispered, “Thank you, God” as I read the ten dollar price tag. “Perfect!” I muttered as a smile pulled up the corners of my mouth. I selected two of the most beautifully hand-carved crosses and made my purchase.
Wrapped discreetly, I included the crosses under the Christmas tree at the party. When the game began, numbers were drawn to indicate order and one-by-one my co-workers were selecting gifts from under the tree. As wrapping paper was torn and tissue paper was pulled from gift bags, the typical gender-generic gifts were revealed; a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, specialty nuts, and a mug. I felt confident that my Christian-professing co-workers would appreciate the crosses and waited with excitement for their selection.
When my co-worker, Dan, opened the first cross, inconsiderately he bellowed, “What is it?” In trying to remain anonymous that I brought the gift, my husband retorted, “Read the card that is hanging on it, maybe it will tell you?” Dan did not read the little card, but continued to wonder aloud what he was holding. Jim, another co-worker yelled across the room, “It looks like a new pick for your guitar!” and laughter erupted.
My husband tried feverishly to get the group to understand that it was a cross. Meanwhile, I was devastated at the jokes and irreverence toward Jesus and the cross. Co-worker Al was next and selected his gift and revealed the other cross. He acted like a disappointed child who received a package of underwear, rather than a toy at Christmas, and tossed the cross on the table in front of him.
I was in tears and inconsolable on the way home. During the many interviews for my job with this company, I was fooled into believing that I would be working for a company, and with people, who proclaimed to have the heart of Jesus at the core of their work and lives.
The following morning, I met with each Partner to explain that I purposefully did not purchase the typical gift of a box of chocolates, a bottle of wine, specialty nuts, or a mug for the exchange. I had faith the crosses would be well-received based on the Christ-like work principles and personal disciplines of everyone in the company. I told them that Jesus is my best friend and I would not tolerate such irreverence for what the cross means to me. I gave my two week notice I was quitting. That afternoon, the Partners pulled me aside and suggested I not wait two weeks, and I was asked to leave.
The job loss was worth defending the cross and defending my best friend, Jesus.
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