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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)

TITLE: Before Dinner
By JJ Jones
01/29/07


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The dry heat that had chased the wind all day was quickly giving way to the cold chill of evening. The sun melted into the western horizon, setting the sky and clouds ablaze in fiery shades of red and orange and making the desert sand around the mountain shimmer like water in the fading light. A lone figure stood halfway up the mountain, staring off into this sandy sea. His right hand held a long, beaten, and gnarled staff.

“How will I ever do this?” he muttered to himself. “Why me? I am not exceptional.” He paused a moment. “Or capable.”

The faint cries of his flock of sheep emanated from the bottom of the mountain, and the figure let his gaze wander in the direction of his homeland. “I am just a shepherd now. How could I be of any use?”

“Hey Moses. Man, that was some big stuff that just happened, huh?” came a voice from behind him. The man turned around, and a small boy of nine walked up behind him. The child was dressed in a simple brown robe and held a small staff of his own. His dark brown hair tossed about in the wind, and every few seconds he had to brush the hair out of his eyes.

“Hello Thomas,” Moses said, grinning at seeing his friend. “Yes, that was a lot.”

“I mean, wow, God turning your staff into a snake. . . and your hand, lemme look at it.”

Moses smiled and showed Thomas his left hand. The boy gazed in wonder, scrutinizing the palm and then turning it over to look at the back of the hand. “See,” Moses said. “No disease.”

“Whoa. Lemme see your staff.” Moses handed the staff to Thomas who immediately threw it on the ground. When it remained just a staff, the boy frowned and picked it up again.

“I think it only works when the Lord needs people to believe,” Moses said as Thomas handed the staff back to him.

“Yeah, had to check, though. So, what are you going to do now?”

The smile left Moses’s face, and he gazed once more toward his homeland. “The Lord wants me to go to Egypt, so I have to ask my father-in-law’s permission to go. But….” Moses sighed.

“What’s wrong?” Thomas asked.

“I do not know why the Lord wants ME to go. I am not very gifted with speech, and I have never done anything like this.”

“Didn’t the Lord say your brother could go and speak with you?”

“Yes, He did. But even still, how will someone such as the Pharaoh listen to lowly people such as us?”

Thomas put his hand up to his chin and scrunched his face as he thought a moment. “My Mom always says that the Lord uses small people to do big things, ‘cause if He used the big, high important people, then no one would really know it was the Lord and not that person.”

“Such as Jacob was raised from bondage to rule over Egypt…”

“Yeah. Now, I know you’re scared, but just think about it. I mean, the Lord made the whole planet and universe and stars and stuff.” Thomas pointed out toward the desert and then over to the setting sun. “He made all this, and He’s on YOUR side.”

Moses stared at the desert sky, watching a puffy reddish-orange cloud glide off toward the west. He smiled again.

“You are right. If the Lord and Creator of all things is on my side, what do I, the created, have to fear?” He looked down at Thomas and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Thank you, Thomas. I guess I just needed someone to tell me that.”

“Ah, anytime, Moses.”

In the distance, a loud, yet almost detached female voice echoed through the air, and the smell of fried chicken and mashed potatoes danced on the wind. “Tommy, dinner!”

Thomas glanced in the voice’s direction. “That’s my Mom, Moses. I have to go. But stay right there, I’ll be back soon.”

“Alright, my young friend. I will wait for your return.”

Thomas laid a bright, multi-colored bookmark between the pages and closed his children’s Bible. Tucking it beneath his arm, he left his bedroom and hurried down the stairs to the dining table.

“Hey Tommy,” said his mom as he sat down. “Whatcha been up to?”

“Oh, just readin’ Mom. Just readin’.”


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Member Comments
Member Date
Ruth Neilson02/02/07
took me a long time to figure out where you were leading me as a reader--but the ending is the clincher. Great job.
Marilyn Schnepp 02/03/07
Thought I'd never get to the "reading" topic...but yes, you clinched it in the last sentence. (by the way, it was Joseph, not Jacob that ruled Egypt) perhaps Thomas read the wrong chapter (smile). But this was a fun read...an interesting read, and an enlightening read. Liked the "stay right there, Moses, I'll be back"...part; neat! Good job.
Jan Ackerson 02/03/07
Nicely done! Children do interact with characters in their imaginations, and you expressed it well. Don't feel bad about the Jacob/Joseph thing, I mixed up Solomon and Samson in my last entry! I really enjoyed this, and felt like I got to know Tommy in just a few words. Good job.
Jacquelyn Horne02/04/07
I enjoyed this. For a while there, I thought the story was about Moses. But you really captured the reading category and the child's ability to place himself into the story. Being called to a dinner of chicken and mashed potatoes brought me directly home to the present. Good job.