Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Banquet - deadline 8-16-12 10 am NY time (08/09/12)
TITLE: Mysterious Ways
By Ruth Brown
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"How can I count it all joy when people mistreat me?"
<i>Lord this is a tough one, my heart pounded, tears welled up.
You've lived the answer my child, share the truth.</i>
I looked into the hurt in Jane's eyes and watched it repeat in other faces.
"We have to forgive them." I walked around my classroom, seeking eye contact.
" Forgiveness takes time, the offense will replay daily in your mind, and daily you give it back to the Lord.
You give forgiveness as the Father has forgiven you.
The joy steps in, the day you realize there is no more bitterness or pain in you. He replaces it with joy. God's remarkable grace has set you free "
Tears dripped down my nose as God's truth humbled me.
My students uttered Amen's, gave silent nods, or sat with heads bowed.
Others wiped tears.
The buzzer sounded.
"Don't forget the awards banquet tonight. I hear the food rocks, it's totally free. And you could be honored."
Students scurried out the door. Jane, brushed bangs from her eyes,and inched toward me.
"Thank you. Knowing it's a process helps so much," She gave me a hopeful smile, hugged me, and hurried out.
<i>Their understanding had given worth and credence to my pain. Every harsh word, every unanswered letter, every day of alienation, served a higher purpose. It brought me joy.</i>
Later that evening, Carol, knocked and peeked in my door.
" Are you ready?" She quirked an eyebrow.
" What's with you? Banquets and long winded speeches don't excite you."
She curtsied, "Why nothing, Madame. Your carriage awaits."
I didn't trust her. My best friend had that, <i>I know something you don't know </i> look.
Carol and I simultaneously skidded to a stop as the gym door opened. Our jaws dropped in sync as our eyes widened.
The transformation began with the ceiling, crisscrossed with iridescent fabric. Five chandeliers with thousands of dangling prisms sent tiny rainbows dancing around the room. Twinkle lights shimmered under baby blue tulle, covered tables. Bouquets of red roses, baby's breath, and ivy and place settings of silver, with crystal goblets, sparkled a welcome.
White suited waiters circled the room offering lavish trays of lobster stuffed croissants, finger sandwiches, and rumaki.
"Is this a wedding? We're in the wrong place." I looked at Carol with raised brows.
"Fabulous isn't it?"
"But how? Our school can't afford this?"
" God and His mysterious ways." She avoided my eyes and snickered.
The surprises continued. The food screamed expensive. Filet mingnon, pepper wrapped asparagus bundles, red potatoes in fresh parsley butter, prepared the way for dessert. Luscious, Bananas Foster was prepared table side and flamed, bringing, <i>Oohs and Aahs </i> from all of us.
The night hummed along smoothly bringing applause and laughter.
Near the end of the evening, Carol took the stage and grinned down on us.
"Our final presenter is a first time guest, and a new benefactor of Cornerstone Missionary College. May I present Dr. Graham Wright, Professor of Law, from Harvard University."
My mouth opened.<i> Can't be. But there he was, my father, his hair snow white now. I knew that smile, the one I craved for so long.
I hadn't heard its sound in a decade, but I knew my father's voice.</i>
I clutched my chest, feeling my heart might burst.
He began, "Ten years ago, I screamed, 'Get out, I can't stand the sight of you!' The recipient of that rage was my only child. My beautiful, Harvard educated, daughter was throwing her life away to teach natives, in Third World countries a gospel that to me didn't work.
Recently I suffered a stroke, I began to pray to the God of my childhood. I accepted Him as my Savior, and received His forgiveness. I come tonight seeking that same forgiveness from my beautiful daughter, Amy. "
I flung my chair and raced to the stage.
" I forgave you every day, Daddy. " I said into his shoulder, and felt the warmth of his embrace.
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