Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Volunteer (11/23/06)
TITLE: No Greater Love
By Joanne Sher
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She hadn't heard from Marcie Willingston in years. For two decades, they had been neighbors, but Marcie's husband's job had moved them away ten years ago. They had written and called each other for a while, but the friendship had tapered off over time. Sylvia had heard from mutual friends that Marcie was having some chronic back problems, but was getting by all right, by the grace of God. Now here, out of the blue, was a letter from her.
<i> Dearest Sylvia,
It has been so long since I wrote to you, so please forgive me. I want you to know that I have not stopped praying for you, and have missed you terribly.
I really need to see you, dear friend - God has told me it is very important for both of us. Please use the enclosed check to purchase airplane tickets and anything else you may need to get to me, soon if possible. I promise you will not be disappointed if you do.
Your dear friend in Christ,
Sylvia exited the taxicab, surveying the huge assisted living center. So this was where her dear friend was living.
Sylvia's imagination was certainly in high gear. They had spoken on the telephone once final arrangements had been made for the trip, but Marcie had been very elusive about why she wanted to see Sylvia.
Following the directions Sylvia got over the phone, she quickly located the room. The door was open a crack, so Sylvia knocked gently.
"Is that you, Sylvia? Come right in, dear."
Entering the room, she found Marcie lying in bed, absolutely glowing.
"Oh, Marcie! So good to see you!"
The two grasped hands, Sylvia cringing slightly from her aching joints.
Marcie loosened the grip immediately, kissing her friend's hand lightly.
"Oh dear - I had nearly forgotten how painful that must be."
"It's all right, Marcie. I'm starting to get used to it."
Marcie smiled. "Oh, don't worry about that, dear. You won't need to be used to it for long. Have a seat."
Baffled by her friend's words, Sylvia found a chair just to the left of her friend's bed. Marcie closed her eyes briefly and smiled.
"I'm sure you are curious why I asked you here. Well, I have been talking with the Lord a lot lately, and we have decided that I need to do something for you."
"But you already have, Marcie! You paid for this trip here, and I am getting to see you. What else could you possibly do for me?"
Floundering about until she found Sylvia's arms, Marcie placed both of Sylvia's hands in her own.
"Have you been able to do your knitting?"
Sylvia's countenance dropped, and a tear ran down her cheek. "Not for a month or more. It's just too painful."
"Well, dear, God wants to do something about that."
Her brow furrowing, Sylvia sat up straighter, looking questioningly into Marcie's eyes. "What do you mean?"
"Your knitting is your heart's desire; your ministry. So many children have been saved from the cold because of it, and many have come to know Jesus because of those gifts you've made. God wants you to be without arthritis, and he wants me to do it. Sylvia, I want to take your arthritis from you."
"You want to <b>what</b>?"
"Sylvia, you know that my ministry is prayer, and that I have always been faithful to God that way. Yours is making things with your hands. I can pray with arthritis. You can't knit with it."
"Oh, Marcie! What a gift you are willing to offer me. But how can it be - even if I were willing to take it, which I'm not saying I am?"
Marcie smiled. "It can be, dear friend. My son is continuing to build homes in Nicaragua because I took his back pain, and my neighbor Allison has painted several paintings for Him because I took her blindness for her."
Sylvia fell to her knees before the bed and prayed aloud.
"Oh, Lord, what a gracious friend You have given me, given this world! What a heart! How can I thank her enough for all she has done for You?"
<i>Take her up on the offer.</i>
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