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

TITLE: The Way it Was
By Sally Hanan
01/17/07


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Timothy’s dusty feet appeared through the old cistern’s hole first. His sandal fell to the floor with a thump and woke Paul’s constant companion – the guard whose wrist was chained to his own. Paul struggled to stand, but his sleepy custodian tugged back on the chain in protest and Paul’s rear fell back against the prison wall. His eyes closed for a moment before he smiled at his visitor.

“Timothy! I am so glad to see you! Do you have news?”

A scroll was placed carefully into his hands in response.

“Bad news I believe. Epaphras gave it to me yesterday - told me that there’s trouble in Colosse, and he needs your help and prayers.”

Paul rearranged his spine so that it rested in the groove of some rocks. The wax seal lifted noiselessly off the papyrus, and the scroll’s form instantly expanded to three times its original size. His gnarled fingers pulled its rolled sides apart, and his eyes began to read. At times he paused, shut his eyes as if pondering the words, and then continued.

Timothy stood on alternate feet to shift the circulation in his legs. The prison, an entry level room to an old cistern, was damp. The roof was domed, so it was impossible to walk around and hold one’s head up – probably a purposeful builder’s act.

After what seemed like half an hour, Paul’s fingers curled around to carefully re-roll the scroll. “Wait for a while Timothy – I must pray.”

Passing time, Timothy tried to hold his breath - a pot in the corner gave off a fetid stink of the previous day’s eliminations – but when he held it, he invariably had to take a deeper breath back in to make up for the oxygen he had just deprived himself of. The ensuing gag was not worth it.

Paul’s back was facing him now. Timothy kicked little mounds of rat poop around the edges of the floor. Some sort of foreign language erupted from the corner and continued for a long time. Feeling sorry for Paul's guardian, Timothy began to pray in tongues too … under his breath.

An hour later found Timothy on the floor, eyes closed as the Spirit ministered peace. A bony finger poked his shoulder. “Time to write! I know what Holy Spirit wants.” Timothy looked up into a pair of blazing eyes.

“Timothy, I want them to be blessed. They need to know that our love and prayers go to them all the time, but they desperately need teaching so that they won’t go astray again.”

BAM! Paul’s fist hit the floor, making the guard start. He was used to the tongues, but he wasn’t used to Paul’s outbursts of righteous anger.

“These Gentiles are taking a piece from every religious group traveling through the city and passing it off as their own brand of The Way. They’ve got Greek speculation, Jewish legalism, and they even have Oriental mysticism! One of the worst parts of this is that they are thinking about worshiping angels – God’s servants that are sent to work with us for the glory of God! All they need is in Christ!” Paul pushed his fingers through what was left of his hair.

“I want them to know that it is all about Jesus – HE did everything that was necessary for their salvation. These men are undoing all of the work that Epaphrus put into them, and the flock is listening to strangers rather than their spiritual father. It’s reprehensible.

“Jesus, be the center. Be the head, be the crowning glory of this church, and don’t let any man take that glory from you.” Paul was back on his knees before his Father, dragging the guard with him.

He jumped up again. “I must have the words of Holy Spirit to counteract the damage done, Timothy, or else it will just be a letter from an old man in prison. The words of the Spirit bring life, and they need new, fresh life in Colosse. CHRIST is their new nature, HE is their holiness, HE is their gateway to the Father. HE has done everything needed to bring them into prefect relationship with the Godhead, and now they are doing things to try to earn that??”

“Timothy, write this down!”

Timothy stretched out the fresh papyrus on the driest part of the moldy floor and plunged his reed into the ink.

“This letter is from Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle…..” *


*Colossians 1:1



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This article has been read 799 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lori Othouse 01/18/07
Wow, you paint such a vivid picture! This really drew me in and it preaches, too! Excellent!
Amy Michelle Wiley 01/20/07
I love Biblical fiction and this one did not disappoint. Well done! Heh, that poor guard. ;-)
janet rubin01/21/07
Oh Sally, I love this. We've been studying the epistles in ladies bible study. Paul was amazing. This really brings him to life. God was so good to inspire these men to pen the words that still teach, comfort, and bless us today.
Jan Ackerson 01/21/07
What a marvelous job you did in giving us the atmosphere--the rat poop, the smells, etc. We're right THERE. Super!
T. F. Chezum01/21/07
Very vivid, and well written. I surprised you haven't received more comments. Great job.
Betty Castleberry01/21/07
You had me hooked from the first sentence. The descriptions were wonderful. Very good work.
Marty Wellington 01/21/07
Definitely held my attention and drew me into the setting. I think your title could have been stronger, but this was a captivating read. Bravo!
Joanne Sher 01/22/07
Oh, Sally, this is SO vivid and engaging and engrossing. Absolutely the work of a master. Your detail absolutely made the story - the descriptions of EVERYTHING were amazing.
Sara Harricharan 01/22/07
Wow! This is some powerful reading here! I love the vivid descriptions and the 'you are there' atmostphere from Timothy's POV. Very realistic in the characters of Paul and I liked how you described his passion and his reactions in spite of being chained to the guard. A most excellent job! Thank you for sharing, this is a refreshing view on a familiar character (paul).
Crista Darr01/23/07
Awesome! I was reading a warning in Corinthians today, "If any of them preach another Jesus whom we have not preached..." This is happening in churches everywhere - mixing the gospel with legalism, grace with earned salvation - a witches brew! I wish your story would have elaborated on the warning signs in churches today, but you lifted up Christ as the only Way and that's what counts. I wanted to shout for joy after reading this.
Donna Emery01/24/07
I felt as though I were watching a movie of this scene. I knew Paul had written in prison, but this story gave the experience a new perspective, and it was one which seemed like blessed truth. Thanks for sharing it.
william price01/24/07
I love stories based on Bible accounts. Very expertly done. Loved this. God bless.
Venice Kichura01/24/07
Beautifully written entry on a much-loved Bible story of Paul in prison writing to the church.
Loren T. Lowery01/24/07
Historical fiction - some of my favorite genres to read.

Your presentations of the truths from the Bible came alive for me; and, reminded me of books such as "Dear and Glorius Physician." by Taylor Caldwell.