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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: A Useful Branch
By Joanne Sher


The white granules of sand burnt the bottoms of his feet. Increasing his pace to a trot, Kevin Small reached the water and knelt into the surf, a small tree branch gripped in his left hand. Slamming the makeshift spear into the water, he stared down at the end of the stick and smirked. A solid hit. He would have a real meal tonight.

Kevin soaked his feet in the ocean water a bit longer, looking out over the horizon. He tried to keep his focus on anything but what his brain was obsessing on. No such luck. He could have a brief respite, but after a minute or two the same images would whirl about in his mind until he felt like tearing his hair out.

The worst part was that Kevin knew exactly what he needed to do to calm his mind. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do it.

A few days ago, he’d been on his boat deep-sea fishing, enjoying a well-deserved respite from the hard work of ministry. A few moments of distraction and the boat capsized and broke apart, dumping all its contents, including Kevin, into the sea. He’d floated on a piece of the hull for hours, until he saw this small island. It had taken all his strength to reach the beach.

Kevin remembered an assignment he’d had in a junior high social studies class. He’d been given a list of a few dozen items and was told to pick five to be his only possessions on a desert island. If only he’d had that luxury a couple days ago; though, even then, he wasn’t sure he’d have picked a pen and a notebook.

“I’m a writer, and I can’t write. I’ve gotta get this story out of my head, or I’m gonna go crazy!”

Kevin paused, realizing he had just spoken aloud for the first time since he’d given up calling out for a rescue the previous morning. It kind of felt good; like he was no longer alone. Still, wary of the old “only crazy people talk to themselves” stereotype, he decided to frame his communication into prayer. He closed his eyes.

“Lord, You told me years ago I was to write a book for You, but I never got around to it. Well, here I am, in the middle of nowhere, and I can feel the story coming together in my head. But Father, the ideas are driving me crazy, and I have no way of writing them down. Tell me what You would have me do!”

He opened his eyes, noticing he was still standing in the water, a branch in one hand and a dead fish in the other. Kevin headed for the fire pit he’d created the day before on the sand, just off the rocky terrain of the island.

Using his best boy scout skills, he got a fire going, placing his fish on it to cook. As he waited for his dinner, he doodled designs in the sand with the branch.

You are holding the tool you need to write your book for Me.

Kevin looked down at the scribbles he’d made, noticing he’d actually written a few words.

“This stick, God? You want me to write my novel in the sand with this stick?”

Why not?

“No one will ever see it, Lord! The waves will wash it away.”

And who did you say you were writing this book for?

Kevin quickly took his dinner off the fire and gobbled it down. Walking further out onto the beach, he got down on his hands and knees and put stick to sand.

For the next two hours, Kevin knelt and wrote the first three chapters of his book, working his way around the perimeter of the island. The darkening sky broke his concentration: a look out into the ocean had him facing due west into the crisp reds, oranges and yellows of the most beautiful sunset he had ever seen.

“Oh thank you, Lord, for this beauty you have put before me. And thank you also, Father, for this wonderful opportunity to bless You, and only You, with my writing.”

The darkening skies made it impossible for Kevin to continue writing. He strolled back to the fire pit, using his branch as a walking stick, making footprints in his sandy novel as he went.

“Just for You, Lord. Just for You.”

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This article has been read 1627 times
Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight01/18/07
Perhaps....this is the only way my novel will ever get completed LOL Great reminder of who we are writing for and a few other things to ponder.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/19/07
Such a delight! It put us all in our place as to Who or Whom we are writing for; but we still have a desire to touch somebody, to give them something to ponder, to bring a lost soul to Him. Mixed feelings, perhaps. Loved the "Useful Branch" title. Used as a fishing rod, a writing tool, and a cane. Great Job. Really enjoyed the read, and very well written.
Jeanette Oestermyer01/20/07
I enjoyed "A Useful Branch." It showed me how God can always find a way to do anything. I'm sure the main character decided that God had read the three chapters, and that he could finish it in any way or fashion.
God Bless
Donna Powers 01/20/07
What a wonderful story! I don't know how I'd feel either, but you remind us that our works are ultimately for Him. You painted a wonderful picture and I really enjoyed reading it. Well done!
Betty Castleberry01/21/07
Great reminder of our real purpose. It's all wrapped up in a good read, besides. Very well done.
Jan Ackerson 01/21/07
This really touched me...and gives me much to ponder. Thank you for writing it.
Marilee Alvey01/21/07
Boy, this would sure be a test for our intent. I hope that I don't get put on a desert island because of that book I haven't written. It sure gives me a charge, though, to think that I am here with my computer and don't need a stick. Thanks for reminding us of what is really important. It was a very creative turn!
Caitlynn Lowe01/21/07
That was great! A wonderful reminder about Who we should be writing for...Though, I must say, OUCH. That would really hurt to write so much only for no one else to ever see it! But, once again, this story serves as a great reminder of the true reasons behind our writings. Great job! I really enjoyed this! ^_^
Crista Darr01/21/07
I'm a fan of your writing :-)
This story slowed a bit when you reverted to "telling" us about the shipwreck. Still an enjoyable read though. You had me examining my motives for writing and that is powerful. Great work!
Pat Guy 01/21/07
Haven't we all dreamed of a deserted island? But without pen and paper? That's a nightmare!

Good job here of taking us along with him during his time of revelation. I could feel the hot sand under my feet and see the palms sway - ahhh ... nice.
Chuck Livermore01/22/07
It may have washed off the beach, but I'm sure there's a copy in heaven's library. What? Of course, there's a library in heaven.
Sandra Petersen 01/22/07
I enjoyed the creativity of having your MC 'write' the novel in the sand just for the Lord's eyes. This story is a wonderful reminder of the main author of all our inspiration.
Helen Paynter01/22/07
A really novel idea for the theme, and a very strong message for all of us who enjoy the applause of others just a little too much. Certainly a rebuke to me - lovingly spoken, of course. Very well done.
Joanney Uthe01/24/07
I like how the MC stuggles with who will read the novel, and yet is still concerned about stereotypes. Great convicting message.
Laurie Glass 01/24/07
Thanks for this piece that speaks to the heart of the writer. It certainly makes one think - a bit convicting actually (which is a good thing) about why we write. Great job on this one.
Trina Courtenay01/24/07
Wow. I got shivers up my spine! Thanks for sharing this. I've added it to my favorites list inorder to come back to it again and again. I needed this message and I'm sure I'll need it again!

Blessings as you write for the Glory of HIM!
Tabiatha Tallent01/24/07
This is a lot to chew on. Convicting words, my friend. Thanks for sharing.
Leigh MacKelvey01/24/07
You gave a true sense of being alone on an island with all your thoughts and emotions building in the solitude of another type of world. I loved His relationship with God and the manner God showed apprecistion for the novel written just for him. This is a keeper!
Loren T. Lowery01/24/07
This made me smile and nod my head in agreement, because what you've expressed is so true. What a gift you have for digging deep and bringing up such treasures as this.
terri tiffany01/24/07
Very creative and a story that makes me think! I loved it - just enough detail to take me to the island. Great writing skills- you really got into his head and described his thoughts well!!
Patty Wysong01/24/07
What a message! I loved reading it and feeling the quandry he was in, and that he did what he knew he should, regardless of who was, or rather, wasn't around. Thank you!!
william price01/25/07
I thought I commented on this already. Excellent job. And congrats Joanne. Job well done. God bless.
Valerie Routhieaux01/25/07
This is really awesome. Congratulations on your level win
Catrina Bradley 01/25/07
Wow, Joanne! You really nailed it! This was the best work you've done, and the win was well deserved. What an AWESOME story!
Jan Ackerson 05/26/07
Joanne, thanks for reminding me of this marvelous piece. Reading it again, I had the same "hmmmm, this is speaking to me" feeling, and again, much food for thought. I'm goind to feature it on the Front Page Showcase for the week of June 11. Look for it on the home page!
Rita Garcia06/11/07
WOW! Thanks for the blessing! “Just for You, Lord. Just for You.”
I think I will crossstitch this on a pillow and keep it near my laptop! An awesome reminder, and it is so easy to forget!
Janice Cartwright06/12/07
The underlying message I took from your wonderful, wonderful story is that the Lord, as a way of life, creates beauty, even for those who don't appreciate it or notice. Yet we rarely are willing to create something for Him alonez: we want human audience, approbation, and honors. For want of space I won't comment on all the good attributes of you story. There are far too many!!!!
Jacquelyn Horne06/13/07
This is so different. A good account of doing something for God. No wonder it was a winner. And congrats on the front page.
Myrna Noyes06/14/07
Awesome story!! It deserves a front page place! What a wonderful message in this extremely well-written piece! :)
Sara Harricharan 06/14/07
A useful branch indeed! This is quite fun to read, I enjoyed the ending best of all.
Gerald Shuler 03/24/09
I hadn't read this one before now. It touches issues I have been dealing with in my own walk with God. I feel like praying "Lord, find me a stick so I can be sure it is for You, and only You."

You have challenged my writer's heart, Joanne.
Rita Garcia04/26/12
Thank you, Jo! I really needed this reminder! Hugs!