Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)
- TITLE: One Lonely Night
By Dolores Stohler
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Instantly she felt ashamed and reached for the leather-bound Bible by her side. Flipping through the pages, she searched for words of comfort. The Psalms had soothed her moody spells in the past. But tonight she could find nothing that would ease this spell of depression that engulfed her like the blanket of fog that often hung over the bay at Brighton. How the fog disturbed her! She often complained to her brother that he had no business moving her to this seaside city where the fog could move in like a dark cloud, filling her mind with thoughts of depression. The damp air caused her joints to ache until she wanted to scream with rage.
Now her glance fell upon her gnarled hands, once smooth and lovely. Good thing I never married, she reflected. I’d have brought nothing but misery to the poor soul who took me on. But I was beautiful once--a pretty face in a weak body. When she looked in a mirror these days, she saw nothing but the cruel lines her illness had etched in her face.
Her thoughts turned to her family who’d left her here alone while they attended a bazaar at St. Mary’s Hall. The bazaar was to raise money for the school that provided a higher education for the daughters of clergymen. Why could I not take part?, she asked herself. I could have done a reading of my poetry as part of the program.
Then that little, annoying voice that dwelt in the back of her head spoke up. “Who would want to hear your tragic poems? They speak only of grief and this is a happy occasion.”
“Yes, yes, you’re right,” she spoke out loud. “But it’s lonely here without them. How I wish that I could fall asleep and stop these disturbing thoughts. I took the sleeping drought they left but it hasn’t done a thing.”
And so the night wore on. She heard the voices of her brother Henry and the others as they returned from church. And she closed her eyes pretending to be asleep when her brother looked in on her. She didn’t want to be a bother to him; he was so good to her. A sob escaped her when he left. She felt the tears course down in salty streams until her pillowcase was soaked in grief. Raising herself with effort, she grabbed the pillow, turned it around, then reached for the bottom pillow and moved it to a place beneath her head.
Sniffling still, she began to pray to the Jesus she’d learned to love only a short time ago. It was the Swiss evangelist Cesar Malan who’d brought her to the Lord. He’d rocked the very foundations of her soul when he’d asked her whether she was a Christian. Athough her father and brother were both in the ministry, she’d resisted the Lord until she met this remarkable man.
In the early morning hours, Charlotte recalled Malan’s response when she’d asked him how she could come into the presence of God, imperfect as she was.
His reply was simple. “Come just as you are.”
Alert now, she caught her breath as the words of a poem began to form in her head. She must write it down before it left her. Ignoring the pain that shot through her body once more, she snatched a notepad from her bedside table and began to write: “Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
Charlotte Elliott wrote on and on as the verses came to her, one by one, until at last she fell into an exhausted sleep. It would be the best of the 150 hymns she completed in her lifetime of 82 years.
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