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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)

TITLE: Greatness by a Sparkly Bowl
By Marie Fieldman
11/24/06


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“We can always use more volunteers. I don’t mean to compel you, but if you feel led to help us out, contact any church staff about the notices in the bulletin.”

Marty unfolded the pamphlet and found the list. “Help remodeling? Can’t build. Pastry bakers for the ladies’ tea? Dee’s department…” He paused on the last request. “Restroom maintenance? What happened to the janitor?” Visions of a sour-faced person with a bucket and a bottle of sparkly bowl came up. “Is the church broke?” He gave extra for the offering.
~


“Hey, Pastor Jim!”

“Oh hi, Marty.” Jim walked over. “Listen , I’m sorry to keep you waiting.” He smirked apologetically, “We’ve been praying hard, but we just aren’t sure that you are the choice this time…”

The blunt statement hit him like a baseball bat. “Oh?”

“Don’t feel bad. If God doesn’t want you here-now- there will be another time.”

“Of Course.” Marty feared his voice would crack. “You keep praying…”

“Sure.” The two said their goodbyes.

“Those bathrooms...Yuck!” A lady stepped in front of Marty. Her eyes widened as she laid a hand on his arm. “You okay?”

“I must look pathetic.” He forced a smile. “Yeah. Let’s go, Dee. We have to talk.”

~

“That’s so off-the-wall for Jim.”

“I was so sure of this!” Marty pulled the keys out of the front door. “What could be wrong?”

“Maybe this just isn’t the time, like he said.” Dee pulled the open curtain over the back window. Staring out at the reddening maple, she let out a sigh.

Marty joined her, wrapping his arms around her tiny shoulders.

“Four years of seminary, a cross-country move…sorry.” Her last few words came out in a sob.

Marty felt a wave of pity and guilt. “I wonder, if we shouldn’t put this on hold, for a while, and have some life…”

“No.” Dee looked up , aggressively swiping her tears. “Take a rest, yes, but don’t put off God’s call because I’m sad. I shouldn’t have said what I just did, and I’m sorry.” She smiled. “I’ll wait for Him to tell us where to stop.”

“She is ironically strong.” With her, the looming rejection didn’t seem so devastating. “I guess we’ll just stay tuned in, huh?” He kissed her gently.

~

Marty spent extra time reading his Bible before bed. His half-asleep mind tossed half-thoughts and memories around his like socks in a dryer.

“... Whoever wants to become great among you must first be your servant.* So the last will be first, and the first will be last**”

“Dee, there’s a church on the east coast,” he’d announced once, “It’s a great opportunity.”

“Disgusting bathrooms, Why did I read the list? It applies to the congregation not me…” His eyes opened. “That sounded bad.”

Sitting up, he turned on the light. “God, I’m confused, but I’m your servant in any situation.”

“What’s going on, Marty?”

“I think God is calling me to scrub toilets.”

“Am I awake?” Dee raised an eyebrow.

“Yes.”

“My prayers have been answered! Now, answer that call, or sleep.”

“No, I mean…” He smiled. “Oh, well.”

~

“Good Morning.”

“You’re up early!” Dee hugged him.

“Yeah. I scrubbed our porcelains. I’m calling the church about the restroom maintenance.”

“What?”

“I told you last night, I wasn’t sure you understood.”

She stared at him. “Okay, I’ll get ready. Tell me what came over you in the car.”

~

The couple walked to the restrooms, buckets, mops, squeegees and sparkly bowl in tow. The only sound was the receptionist on the phone.

They propped the doors open with ‘caution’ boards so that they could talk.

“You know, this is as rewarding as any day preaching.”

“More. I can do this with you.” Her answer sounded angelic with the acoustics.

“Dee? Marty?”

“Pastor Jim!” The reverb was gone. Marty stepped to the door to see the pastor offering her a handshake. She declined, twiddling her dirty yellow glove.

“The receptionist said there was a couple for the restrooms here.”

“Yep. Want to take us on full time?”

“Actually, I discussed your situation with the board. They left it up to me…”

“Yes?”

“A junior pastor desperately needs a servant’s heart. I wasn’t sure I was seeing it in you.”

“That’s sad.”

“A sad misjudgment! Are you two ready for the next step? Can we try an evening service?”

“Are you kidding?” Dee laughed.

Beaming, Marty impulsively offered his gloved hand. Pastor Jim shook it unflinchingly.
~

* Matt20:26b&**20:16


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Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood11/30/06
I really enjoyed this story and the message conveyed--though I found the middle section a little confusing. It came clear to me in the end, though, how Marty was applying for a pastor's job as well as considering scrubbing toilets--how this all tied together. Great concept!
Catrina Bradley 11/30/06
Great story, great message!!
A little rough in parts to my "ears". I like the comparison of his thoughts to "socks in a dryer" but I think you may have an extra word or a missing word in that sentence. Your message came through wonderfully!!
Esther Phillips12/01/06
I, too, like the story and I, too, found it to be a little confusing in the middle. It came out good in the end. It might work better if the middle were re-worked a little.
Good job.
Donna Emery12/01/06
I enjoyed this and the very real emotions of this man of God. Good work!
Michelle Burkhardt12/06/06
Nice story and interesting title. Good job.
Joanne Sher 12/06/06
A GREAT message, and your beginning and end were great. I also had trouble following in the middle, but you definitely pulled it together, and it all made sense by the time I was through! Nice job.