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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: This Is Your Life
By Gail Blackwell


Abigail sighed in frustration and shot her husband an angry look as the pastor took his place behind the pulpit. She had already heard one sermon today and was in no mood to listen to another.

There had been a heated argument earlier that morning when Abigail announced, “I’m not going to church today. It’s such an effort to smile and pretend everything is alright.”

Mark had given her one of those longsuffering looks she had come to dread. “You know you should go to church. I realize you are confused and angry, but you need to trust God.” He went on to point out how much God loved her. “Why don’t you try counting your blessings instead of dwelling on the problems? Besides, what do you want me to tell people when they ask where you are? I’m not going to make excuses for you.”

Abigail had retorted angrily, “Did I ask you to make excuses? I don’t care what people think. They don’t know what I’ve been going through.” Seeing that “look” again, she had turned toward the closet to search for something to wear. “Oh, alright, I’ll go. Guilt is always a great motivator,” she muttered.

Later Abigail tried to ignore the pastor as she thought about how unfair life can be. Everything had gone wrong. Her new supervisor at work was a tyrant, and her relationship with her dad had become almost unbearable. All she could think about was how miserable her life had been lately.

What had happened to all those prayers she had faithfully offered up? Did God even hear them? Abigail had prayed with confident assurance the situations would improve. Instead they had gone from bad to worse.

How could she have been so wrong? Now she found herself in the unhappy position of trying to understand. Her faith had faltered and she began to doubt God’s love. She had repeatedly asked, “God, what are you doing? I don’t understand!”

Wait a minute…what did the pastor just say? He had posed a question that caught her attention, “Have you ever said ‘I want my life back’?”

She wanted to stand up and shout, “That’s exactly how I feel. I want my old life back. There were problems before but I had learned to cope with those.”

Abigail focused on the pastor’s words as he continued, “When we are going through difficult circumstances, we often respond by wanting things to go back to the way they were. The problems of the past seem easier to deal with than the troubles of the present.

“Consider the children of Israel in the book of Exodus. They were enslaved in Egypt and cried out to God. God heard their prayers and moved to implement His plan. But His solution was not what they expected. Their situation got worse, not better.

“Their response is interesting. Instead of praising God for His miraculous deliverance and blessings, the people grumbled and complained. They preferred to go back to Egypt rather than face an uncertain future. Basically what they said is, ‘I want my life back'.

“Every new challenge gave them an opportunity to look back and long for Egypt. They failed to understand that God was not making them uncomfortable because He didn’t love them. His purpose was bigger than their comfort. He was taking them to a new land filled with abundant blessings."

Abigail felt a stirring in her heart as she heard the pastor say, “God’s methods sometimes require making us uncomfortable, but He wants us to trust Him with the results.

In Psalm 66:10, 12 we read, ‘For You, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver…but you brought us to a place of abundance’” (NIV).

“When you are faced with the painful trials of life and cry out to God ‘I want my life back’ listen carefully,” the pastor concluded. “You may just hear Him whisper, ‘This is your life. I love you. Trust Me.’”

Healing tears flowed down her cheeks as Abigail bowed her head and surrendered her confusion and anger to the Lord. Though she still did not understand, she vowed to trust Him. Seeing her tears, Mark handed her a handkerchief and wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders. She smiled up at him, grateful he had encouraged her to join him in church today.

Abigail bowed her head again, “Thank you, Lord. Sometimes it takes more than one sermon to get your message across.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Virginia Gorg06/16/06
Sermons that bring tears are often the best. I like the parallel to the wanderings from Egypt to her problems. Nicely done and well conveyed message.
Amy Nicholson06/19/06
Very nicely done! I can relate. I like how you came full-circle with Abigail and gave her closure at the end. A beauty!
Carrie Sund06/19/06
Well done, I know I have been there before.
Valerie Routhieaux06/21/06
Sometimes it takes more than one sermon to get your point across. How true. This is a very good piece. I found myself in Abigail's place, felt her struggles and want to go back to what was. Then God just reaches down and comforts us with words of understanding and compassion.
Please keep writing.
Trina Courtenay06/22/06
Strong message and well worth your win! Congrats!

Marilee Alvey06/22/06
Excellent piece. Good insight. If this wasn't out of a sermon, it certainly SHOULD be. Isn't that how God works? He sits us down and pins us where we are, to the pew, tenderly. You made an excellent, fresh point about wanting to return to the comfortable instead of holding out for God's best when things get a little bit uncomfortable. We have to go through the forest, with him as our guide. Thanks for the reminder. I believe I'll use this point, sometime, with my kids. You've enriched my life with your writing. In reading your writing and the other winners, I can see that spark that brought the win. You are teaching me, too, how to be an effective, life changing author. Thank you!
Sherry Wendling06/22/06
Congratulations, Gail! Well-deserved recognition! You're on a roll with a highly-charged, descriptive writing style here.

I have one simple suggestion that will be easy for a writer of your caliber to pick up on. If you concentrate on active verb forms rather than passive ones, your reader response will quickly increase.

You started out strong with “shot her husband an angry look.” However, for the next eight paragraphs, you lapsed into an "explanation mode," using all passive verb forms. Examples: “had already heard,” “had been a heated argument,” “had given her one of those longsuffering looks,” “had retorted angrily.” Just keep the verbs fresh, active and sizzling, and you'll be ready to publish!