Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Importance of Being Earnest (not about the play) (08/04/11)
TITLE: The Debate
By Ennis Smith
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“So let me get this straight then, Rob.” Tony started. The disdain in his voice was thick. “You Christians actually believe Jesus performed all types of miracles. You believe he raised the dead and healed the sick, with a single touch. You believe he fed 5,000 people with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. You personally believe in all that mumbo-jumbo.”
Rob whimsically smiled. His laughing brown eyes unsettled Tony. Was he mocking the question, if there was an actual question presented.
“Maybe I didn’t make my point clear,” Tony objected.
“Oh no, you’ve made your point perfectly clear, Tony. You don’t believe. And it sounds…forgive me if I’m mistaken… as if you have a lack of genuine respect for believers. Am I wrong in that assumption?”
“Well, I don’t want you to think I hate you people, if that’s what you’re getting at. I just don’t understand how you all can put stock in a book clearly written by men over the course of a few thousand years. What makes you so sure it’s all true?”
There was an awkward silence at the little corner table, as Tony intently waited for an answer to his question. As the silence lingered, he figured Rob had finally conceded defeat in this impromptu debate. The hint of a smirk lit the corners of his mouth. His blue steel gaze narrowed, the longer he waited. Rob was had. There was no defense for his sham of a religion.
Rob sat quietly smiling at Tony. He’d absorbed the question and now found himself listening to God whisper words into his own heart. Although the sneer on Tony’s face became increasingly prideful, Rob’s confidence in the Lord never waivered.
“Well, I guess our little discussion is over then, eh Rob?” Tony beamed. As he began to stand up and remove his tray from the table top, Rob spoke.
“Tony, when did you lose faith in God brother? When did you decide he abandoned you?”
Tony’s legs lost strength. The lunch tray slipped from his fingers, landing on the little table top. Before he realized it, he was back in his chair, staring at a pocket sized copy of the New Testament Rob was now clutching.
“Yeah…I believed for some time, Rob. I read your precious Bible. I know all about your Jesus, Peter, and Paul; the fakes! I read that book every night for years, and my life never got any better, Rob! I waited for the promised blessings.”
Rob could see the anguish in Tony’s blue eyes.
“Why did my wife still leave me, Rob? How come my finances never increased? Why was I still passed over for promotions? The joy Jesus spoke so passionately about; I never saw an inkling of it!”
Rob stretched out to touch Tony’s hand, but he jerked it out of reach.
“Brother, the key to God’s mystery is earnest prayer and faith.”
“Earnest prayer? What’s the importance of being earnest, Rob?” Tony yelled. “I tried to understand the scriptures. They didn’t make any sense to me! Nothing more than a bunch of stories.”
“Tony…brother, you approached God with a fastidious attitude to begin with. He couldn’t fill you because you were already full. Your heart was filled with anger. Did you ever once ask God to remove your anger, and grant you the heart of understanding?” Rob watched as Tony slowly shook his head.
“Brother, he never abandoned you. He just wanted you to come to a place in your life when you were ready to accept him for who he truly is.”
“I wanted him to help me.” Tony whispered. “I waited for him, Rob. But he never showed up.”
“He never left you, brother-Tony. He brought you here today. Remember, you started this conversation. You want answers don’t you?”
“Ya know,” Tony started. “I was baptized once. I figured, back then, God would always be with me. How do I earnestly seek him, Rob.”
“By asking for his forgiveness. Pray with me brother?” Rob asked.
Tony sighed. “Sure, brother.”
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