Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: At Wit’s End (02/13/14)
By Jim Newton
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"I know, sweetheart. It has been such tough going this past year and a half. But, with the money from my Mom's will, we can pay off the back bills and I've got a job starting in two weeks. I know it doesn't pay as much as my old job, but times are tough all over and, at my age, I'm lucky to have it. We have enough left over to put a little in the bank and…" Terrance was interrupted by Lisa.
"And what? All four of the kids need clothes and school starts soon. They need school supplies…"
"I know, but the Lord will provide. Our faith has been tested. Please, don't give up, now. We have enough to take a week at Whit's Bend Lodge…the place the Pastor insisted we visit. Uh, actually, He made reservations for us. He said the spare money would be more than ample, and we all need it so much. Please, let's take this week to rejuvenate our spirits."
"Sure, what else can go wrong…like we're made of money."
Lisa and Terrance Sterling were experiencing a family and faith threatening episode in their life. No doubt about it, they were being tested. Contrary to appearances, their marriage was faith based. Their four children were tested as well: Mary, eleven; Sarah, nine; Jacob, seven; Jeremiah, four. The family was being overwhelmed.
At the trip's beginning, Lisa and Terrance were chirpy and talkative for the first time in several weeks. The children were enjoying Car Bingo.
Events began to unravel at the two hour mark of the normal six hour journey to Whit's Bend Lodge. First, a flat tire conspired with low fuel to keep them without air conditioning in the July heat in the middle of nowhere for an hour and a half. Tempers quickly exploded like a volcano. Stress and its temper had become a reflex reaction over the last one and a half year descent.
Next, from the children came the "I'm hungry where are we going to eat" tempest. The path to the lodge was over barren back roads offering little in the style of a city's convenience stores and restaurants. The meal and gas were from a sparsely stocked so-called store; a glorified shack to their city appetites.
Back on the road and over two hours behind, Terrance interrupted everyone's scowl with, "I suggest we say a prayer of thanks for the food and gas."
"Seriously?" smirked Lisa staring blankly out the window.
It grew dark and the roads, difficult to navigate in daylight, became almost impossible with directions like; go one mile past the first curve after the left and turn right after the third house. They backed up, turned around, went sideways…till, at last, they saw the two chainsaw carved owls at the dirt road entrance to Whit's Bend.
"It's only one mile up this winding road!" shouted Terrance.
That's when steam began to spew and hiss from the front of the car. A radiator hose had broken. The "shut down the motor before the engine explodes" light flashed.
"Lord, we are only a mile from the lodge." Terrance's chin fell to his chest.
Lisa shouted, "I can't take anymore of this."
Six people grudgingly started out carrying only the essential luggage. The sight was one of a caravan in the jungle. Grumbling was their chant. The evening was sultry. Bugs swarmed around their sweaty bodies.
"It can't be much farther." Terrance puffed after a time.
"I can't go on." Lisa snapped as they trudged around a sharp corner in the road through the thick forest. "I'm at my wits…end?"
Up ahead was a large and rustic log lodge with a sign over the entrance that stood out in the dark night: WITS END. The lights on the H and the B were not working. Lisa was stunned by the sight.
As the Sterlings walked through the entrance to the massive and grand old lodge, a woman, standing in front of a large group of people, was reading from the Bible: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." (James 1:2-3 NIV)
Lisa took Terrance's hand, whispering, "Father, forgive me."
The woman reading from the Bible paused. Turning to the Sterlings, she said, "We have been praying for your arrival. Forget your troubles. You are in the Lord's house."
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