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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)

TITLE: At Last
By Tim George


The aging man took a labored breath, coughed violently and then flexed his arthritic hands as he slowly picked up his writing instrument once again. Over the last 30 odd years of his life the he had been beaten, imprisoned, ridiculed, and misrepresented. He had stood before commoners and kings alike. And now, here he sat in a prison house awaiting certain death. His body was worn out but his soul was not.

A grinding wheel somewhere outside droned on with the sound of metal on stone. No one would have understood, but the den of noise outside his barred window was beautiful music to him. A faint smile crossed the man's leathery brown face as he thought of words he had once been led by the Master to write.

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

No longer ink spots on animal skins those words had taken a life of their own through many miles and even more trials.

Outside the man's window, a rabid crowd had gathered to witness the deed about to happen. They thought the axe man held the writer's fate in his hands. Not so! He knew that no one could take his life until the One who was his strength was ready. He was ready to be face to face with that One. How the old man longed to be there.

Realizing his mind was wandering, the time worn fellow lowered his writing instrument to the animal skins. As he wrote the voice spoke as it always did. He couldn't see it, but hovering over him with sword drawn was an invisible warrior. Whenever the One who was his strength was about to speak the warrior was always present.

It was a marvelous and amazing thing to behold. The old man's hand and the voice moved in tandem like skilled dancers. Each was totally in tune with the other. And as they gracefully moved across the animal skins, ink spots became the living words of the One who gave him strength. Calmly, the man wrote what was given to him. Around him, other darker unseen forces sought entry to prevent him from writing. But the warrior's sword moved in such a great arch and so swiftly that it was as though a great shield covered the man hunched over his writings.

At last the drama ended. In the dim light the old journeyman looked at what the voice had moved him to write. As he read, he knew. At last his journey was coming to an end.

The words were, “Speak the truth, when you see the harvest and when you do not. There will be a time when people will not endure truth, but because of their passions, because they have ears that only want to hear what is pleasing to them, they will gather to themselves false-speakers. And they will turn away from the truth, and trust in fairy tales. But you keep your eyes open, endure what hardships come, do the work of a truth speaker, finish your journey.”

The man wrote a little more, folded the pages, slipped them between the window bars and handed them to a trusted friend who carried them off to safety. Who would read them he did not know, but it didn't matter. Everything was in the hands of the One who gave him strength. It was time to go home. His journey was finished.

The door swung open to the hands of foul smelling guards. They grabbed the ancient writer by the shoulders and drug him into the courtyard where they laid his head on a block. A hooded ax man raised his razor sharp instrument of death and with a single swoop ended the earthly journey of the ancient pilgrim.

He was finally home and he was neither old nor battered any more. He no longer needed inner strength to finish the journey because the journey was ended. And the Strength that had been within him and led him home now stood before him.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter04/27/06
Great writing, and I loved the last line.
Jan Ackerson 04/29/06
Love your title, and you made this character very real and very inspiring.
Lynda Schultz 05/01/06
Me too! That last line was the capstone on a lovely tribute to Paul. Well done.
darlene hight05/02/06
This is an awesome entry! You have really captured the moment and painted a brilliant scene with words if this isn't a winner it should be. Great work. I especially enjoyed the imagery of ink drops on animal skins.