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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)

TITLE: A Lesson Learned: True Prosperity
By Caitlynn Lowe
05/17/06


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“...Prosperity.”

The word echoed through her mind, the vague shadow of dreams long since misplaced. Now as she knelt in silent prayer before the little church alter, Nadine reflected on the knowledge she had gained over the years that evaded her in her younger days.

Long ago, she had convinced herself that she could settle for success in the business world. In fact, so much so that she began to believe that it was the only way for her to be truly happy. She had shaken off thoughts like human companionship, friends, family--love--and even her relationship with God, because those things were unpredictable. She could not plan for those goals, nor could she trust herself to be tactful in chasing after them. So instead, she focused solely on the dreams she could create for herself, empty treasures that she could hunt for with her own human capabilities. Yet, now, after having achieved that which she pursued for so long, Nadine realized it was that which she had evaded that she needed most.

She struggled to remember what had first caused her to lose her sense of priority. After careful consideration, she decided that it was after her first brush with heartache when she turned her back on true prosperity. It was true enough that her heart had been broken, but not by the boy who had ended things with her. No, Nadine herself had broken her own heart by disobeying God in the matter all along. It was difficult to explain…And yet, she had always known that the relationship wasn’t what God had wanted for her. When it ended, months’ worth of guilt pounded on her heart’s door, and she had let it in. Without any friends or companions to turn to, Nadine closed herself up even more than before. She tried to make amends with God, but it had been no use; while she knew God would forgive her, she couldn’t forgive herself then for being as dense and naïve as she swore she would never be; still now, she struggled with forgiving herself. As a result, she spoke with God less and less, and when she did say her prayers, they often lacked the sincerity that they once had. The pattern continued until finally, Nadine buried herself in her insecurity completely, and swore off love altogether.

And so, three years later, when the kind man with the deep, understanding, brown eyes and intimate relationship with God, had befriended her, she wouldn’t allow their relationship to pass any further, even when he had pleaded with her to do so. Somewhere deep inside her she had heard God’s voice calling her not to be afraid anymore, that it would be alright this time, but she didn’t listen to Him. In her eagerness not to disobey God as she had done before, she had disobeyed Him once again to the other extreme. After college, the two friends separated and never heard from each other again. Had Nadine not been so busy chasing after false prosperity, she might have looked him up, tried to find him and make amends. She had been too big a fool for that though, and she never made the time.

Then, exactly 27 years from their college graduation, she grabbed at the morning paper and had gawked at the most awful news she had ever read; his obituary.

In that moment, she realized that had completely missed her chance to ever talk to her one true, best friend ever again here on Earth. And yet, it was at that moment of tragedy that Nadine finally made a way for God to come back into her heart and set it beating again.

So, here she was, alone in the church and kneeling before the alter of God. Tears flowed as she finally forfeited to Him her pride, her heartache that had built up over the years. She prayed as hard and sincerely as possible; three and a half hours later, she fell exhausted to the floor. In spite of her weakness, she felt more peace and joy than she had in 30 years. As she pulled herself to her feet and headed out the door of the sacred building, she turned around once more to offer one last prayer:

“Lord, please...help me now to find true prosperity in you.”


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Edy T Johnson 05/19/06
It seems to me your story needs help with editing (which is hard for a writer to do :)-- getting rid of excess words would allow your message to come through with more clarity. For example, your first paragraph could be tightened up to read:
Nadine knelt at the chapel altar rail, praying silently. "Have the past thirty years been a total waste, Lord?"
I like to recommend my favorite: John Hershey's book, Hiroshima, as a model of concise, gripping writing. God bless your work!
Jan Ackerson 05/22/06
I wonder if it would be more effective to tell part of the story in flashback, so that we can have some dialog between Nadine and her righteous boyfriend. That would break up the long narrative passages. Very good writing skills, with a bit of tightening up, you'll be excellent.
Anita Neuman05/23/06
This is a smooth, easy read with some beautiful phrasing. A bit of dialogue or action would help to keep the reader riveted. Keep working at it! You are definitely headed in the right direction.