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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cross (as in the Cross of Christ) (08/17/06)

TITLE: Shadow of the Cross
By Brad Paulson


Two hours to go. Jason looked at the meal in front of him. Roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. It wasn’t quite the way his mother used to make it, but the salty fragrance rising from it served a purpose. He knew he wouldn’t feel like eating when he ordered it, but he hoped that it would help him spend his last moments reminiscing about a better time in his life. The last twenty years had been darkened by alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and incarceration. He thought that if he could focus his mind on happier times, it might soften the impending doom.

For the past couple of years he knew this last meal was coming. His lawyers had exhausted every option in the appeal process. The last meeting he had with them was not to discuss another strategy, it was to say goodbye. God be with you.

God be with you. What a bunch of garbage Jason thought to himself. God had never been with him. From the time he’d been abused by a drunken step dad, to the times he would randomly kill people for the money they had in their wallets, God had never been there. But now that he sat alone in his cell awaiting his execution, there was no other place to turn. The weight of sin and guilt was smothering him. He looked up from his plate, something in the corner of the cell caught his eye. His sight was blurred and he realized his eyes were full of tears. Through his obscured vision he was startled to see a man standing against the grey concrete wall.

“Who are you?” Jason asked. Instinctively clutching his fork, he was ready to defend himself. In Jason’s world, all intruders were enemies. He glanced over to the cell door. The guard had not moved from his position and the cell door was still closed.

“You know who I am,” the man said.

“I’ve never seen you before,” He tightened his grip on his fork. Shifting his eyes to the door, he was puzzled that the guard stood motionless. “Why are you here?”

“I’ve come for you.”

“You can’t,” Jason argued. “I still have two hours.”

“I’m not here to take you, I’m here to go with you.” The compassion in the man’s voice had a calming effect on Jason. He felt safe. Jason stared at the man, their eyes transfixed on each other. Every moment that passed brought a deeper sense of peace.

“You’re Jesus.”

“I am who you say I am.”

“Why now? Why did you wait so long to come to me?”

“It was never a matter of me coming to you, It was always a matter of you being ready to accept and receive me. Now is the right time.”

“You could have saved me from all this, all the pain I caused myself and other people. I feel like I lived my whole life in the darkness and now, with only a few moments left, you’re finally revealing yourself to me?” Jason wasn’t sure what he was feeling. A life of intentionally dulling his senses through drugs and alcohol had erased most of his emotions. But now feelings ranging from fear to anger to joy were re-sharpening his senses. It felt good to feel, and through all of it the most prominent feeling was peace.

“It is true you lived in the darkness, but it is also true that I was always there. That darkness was the shadow of my cross, the cross I endured for you. Shadows only exist if there is a light to cast them. It wasn’t until now that you were ready to look up and see the light of hope that comes from my cross, to receive my love and forgiveness. There were many times when I wanted to come to you, in fact I’ve always wanted to. But you needed to be ready, and today is that glorious day.”

Jason was startled as the cell door slammed open. Four uniformed prison guards stood at the door. The one in front looked at Jason and said with authority, “It’s time Jason.”

“Yes . . . it is time,” Jason said as he stood up.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 08/25/06
The paragraph that begins "It is true..." has some wonderful concepts! Good job.
terri tiffany08/25/06
What I like - I liked when Jesus says Today is that glorious day. That was really a good line. I liked your writing and I thought the opening paragraph was good.
What I might change - I'm not totally convinced about the final line - it left me hanging - did he accept or didn't he? Maybe that feeling is what you wanted the reader to have? If it is - you did a great job!:)
Lynda Schultz 08/26/06
And I thought that last line was terrific! And this line: "Shadows only exist if there is a light to cast them" was priceless. Good work.
Marilyn Schnepp 08/27/06
Having a very short attention span (my fault really), I got bogged down midway through - wanting to skip through all the non-incidentals to get to the meat of the story. However, when I finally did get to the main course...I found a masterful story written extremly well. Kudos.