Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Rest (01/17/13)
TITLE: Reporting For Duty
By Catherine Craig
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Even as my already edgy husband hit the brake, I risked his further ire by springing from the still-moving rig tightly clasping the house key. I sprinted up the outside stairway and into the house, scooped up the pile of evangelism leaflets I’d almost forgotten, and raced back.
Winded, I hauled myself up unassisted into the diesel pickup and said simply, “I forgot gospel tracts. Who knows if the Lord won’t have an assignment for me. I need to be ready.”
Beside me in the early-morning darkness, I heard a sigh and then the heavy chug-chug of the diesel. Our silent trip to the Alaska Marine Lines’ ferry dock was too brief. We threaded our way through the busy parking lot around other Whittier-bound vehicles traveling from South-Central Alaska. After pulling to the curb by the brightly lit one-story terminal, Jeff took the key from the ignition. In one fluid motion he pulled his large frame through the door. “I’ll be right back; wait here,” he said.
Neither the prospect of my scheduled exploratory surgery nor the tedious six-hour ferry ride across rain-soaked Prince William Sound thrilled me, but the anticipation of seeing our youngest daughter in Anchorage did. I wearily leaned my head back and rested, watching through the rain-streaked windshield as pre-dawn light fought its way through the clouds and mists hanging over the harbor. “Oh!” I cried, startled when Jeff tapped lightly on my window, tickets in hand.
“Let’s go! Hurry,” he said briskly, helping me down. After a quick hug, I reluctantly joined others in line boarding via a narrow caged walkway onto the ferry. My belongings disappeared out-of-sight, piled onto the baggage cart.
“Bye!” I called, but Jeff had already climbed into his rig, joining the stream of passenger vehicles exiting the lot.
A short while later, sitting sprawled across three side-by-side cushioned seats anchored to the floor, I’d wedged my bunched up jacket to cushion my back against the hard wall. Protected from the chilly air-conditioning by a light blanket spread over my lap, I absently stared out the row of windows opposite me at the familiar gray scenery. In my hand I held a Bible tract, a miniature Gospel of John.
I noticed a woman with a dejected air passing by, and discreetly studied her. With rounded shoulders slumped, she kept her dark eyes downcast toward the floor. Long straight jet-black hair framing her round face indicated at least partial Native American descent, though extra padding from being overweight softened her angular features.
Even her clothes seemed to sag.
I straightened up a bit when she slowed to pause at my table. With eyes averted from mine, she nodded at the small Gospel of John I held in my hands, and commented softly, “I like what you’re reading.” The quietly droning engine and the buzz of voices from around us almost drowned out her words.
Guiltily, I shifted my eyes back to the tract – and then to the Danielle Steele novel to my left on the table. It’d been a mental skirmish over which to take a bite out of first.
“Would you like to sit down?” I asked, and pointed to the row of seats opposite mine on the other side of the table. Remembering my prayer I’d prayed not more than about a half-hour before, God, I’m available if you want to send someone my way. Use me”, I took a chance. I ventured, “You seem troubled; can I help?”
Surprisingly, she said, “Yes, that would be nice. Thank you.”
Searching for something creative to say, I settled upon something exciting like, “Do you read the Bible?”
“Yes. I, and my children, pray all the time,” she answered, and her face brightened. “God helps us,” she said with a glimmer of a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.
As she described the disjointed jagged pieces of her life, my heart broke for her. Thankfully, at the end of two hours, she’d given her heart to the Lord, and the tract, that I had on impulse raced upstairs to get, made the difference. She walked away, feeling loved by God, and I, finally at peace, got the rest I so badly needed.
God had taken me at my word. Lord, use me. I’m available.
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