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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Vines (11/21/05)

TITLE: Ouch! That's Good Preachin'!
By Donna Haug


“Well, if it isn’t Mr. Saul O’Mann! I’m so glad you came by to check out your land today! I’ve got so much to show you. It’s been a while since you’ve been around.”

“I know. I’ve been busy. Kingdom business, you know.” Saul reached down to pick a daisy, avoiding the direct gaze he knew his gardener, Emman Nuel, was sending his way. They had a very unique arrangement. There were only certain things that Emman would deal with in Saul’s garden without Saul’s direct supervision. Emman was the best gardener in the world. Yet, he insisted that the owner of any land he worked on should be intricately involved in the developing and caring of his own land. Saul appreciated so much the fact that Emman was willing to help him out, but he sure wished he would work without Saul always having to be there!

“Come over here, Saul. First I want to show you something I just know you’ll enjoy. Isn’t this the most exquisite flower you have ever seen? It has been growing over here in the corner where the mist from the waterfall constantly dampens the soil. I don’t know that I’ve seen this particular variety anywhere in the neighborhood. It is a true treasure.”

Saul bent over to admire the delicate purple petals and took a whiff of the heady aroma. “That is lovely, Emman! It’s a shame it’s hidden over here in the corner though. Could we not transplant it over there by the pathway so that anyone walking by could admire it?”

“We could do that, but then you would have to come by every day to water it, Saul. It requires lots of moisture.”

Saul’s feet shuffled a little as he turned away from the flower. He didn’t have time to be there every day! There were so many other pressing things on his schedule, things that just couldn’t wait while he came over to tend flowers!

“Can you show me the vineyard, Emman? How is it going?” Saul had been coming on a regular basis to tend his garden together with Emman until the palace social season had started. He had been assisting with the careful pruning and cleaning of the vineyard that spring. The trellis had been fixed up and the dainty tendrils of the vines had been starting to twine their way around the supporting poles and wires. It had been a lovely sight. But lately life had just gotten too busy. He hadn’t visited the garden in quite a while.

“Saul, I’m afraid you won’t be thrilled with that part of your garden. I’ll show you.” He led Saul down the path towards the rear of the garden. The vineyard was green all right. As a matter of fact, Saul couldn’t see through to the other side. The center section of the trellis had caved in under the weight of the untrimmed vines. Birds had been eating at the grapes, and the ground was littered with dead leaves and rotting fruit. The weeds had grown up so tall, they seemed to be choking the poor plants.

Anger and frustration welled up in Saul’s chest. How could Emman have allowed his vineyard to get into such a mess? He reached out to grab at a handful of weeds blocking his way and cried out. “Ouch! Man! Emman, what is going on here? The thistles have taken over.”

“Saul, you know our agreement. I am willing to make your garden the most beautiful, fruitful garden in the valley. But we had agreed that we would work together on his project. If you take the time to invest in your vineyard, you will have the most bountiful crop imaginable. But if you don’t take time out of your frenetic pursuit of business and pleasure to tend your garden, this will be the result. It doesn’t take much effort for thorns and thistles to take over. I have been waiting for you to come by and work with me.”

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I remembered my zeal when we had planted this vineyard. We had such lovely dreams. Through my own laziness and skewed priorities I had allowed my garden to become a sorry mess. “Emman, you’re right. I’m so sorry. Let’s get to work. Do you have an extra pair of gloves? These thorns kill!”

“…I took a long look and pondered what I saw; the fields preached me a sermon and I listened...”
(Prov. 24:30-34)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 11/28/05
The first time I read it I got the Solomon and Emmanuel message...and thought it should be the "other" way around; however, a second read I realized We are here to take care of our Earth...and we're neglecting it. Very well said, and takes a deep mind to write such wisdom! Thank you.
Marilyn Schnepp 11/28/05
I'm sorry, a thunderstorm came up and I had to unplug comp. - but I wanted to say that the verse from Proverbs says it in a nutshell; and in my humble opinion..your story tells of mankinds negligence so well. Thank you for sharing.
Anita Neuman11/28/05
I think this is even deeper than tending the earth - it's tending the gardens of our lives, weeding out the bad (with the Gardener's help) and allowing His fruit to grow in us. I love it! The only problem was the POV switch in the last paragraph. Overall, you did a GREAT job on this!
Garnet Miller 12/01/05
I like this story. God can only do so much in our lives. We have been given free will so that we can cultivate our relationship with Him if we choose to. Many people wish that God would work in their lives without their actually having to become Christians even! If any relationship is to be fruitful, it takes both parties to be present and committed!
I agree about the POV shift: throughout the story it was told in third person and in the past paragraph the pronouns used suggested first person.
If you already know what POV shift means, then I apologize for explaining it. Some have expressed confusion because the person commenting does not explain what they mean when they say certain things are wrong with the piece. Great story:)
Phyllis Inniss12/02/05
Thanks for the messsage. We have to take care of what God has given us or we would end up in a tangled mess just like the untended vines.
Sandra Petersen 12/05/05
Yes, indeed, good preaching! Aren't we all like Solomon (oops, I mean Saul O'Mann) too many times? Wonderful analogy! I think I would make what the two speakers say stand out by separating the quotations from the rest of the paragraph.
OOh, isn't it like us to blame Him for not taking care of things when we are supposed to be intimately involved with our own "garden"? This lesson spoke to me; I have been too busy with non-essential, doesn't-matter-in-eternity things!
At the very end, there is a POV shift where you move from third person to first person. Best left in one POV or the other (I'm curious how this would sound written in first person "I" throughout.) I just read the other comments and realize that others have said this as well. I try to always read the comments of others last so I can be moved by the article and not what others say about it.