Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
TITLE: The Unsung Hero
By Frank Parrino
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Many will agree that it is not good to be caught between a rock and a hard place. To most observers, this slender space only yields difficulty or desperation. However, for Andrew Appleton, it was the former intricacy that troubled his heart. It must be understood that the later did not enter into his unpleasant space. There simply was no act of reckless behavior or selfish ambition on his part to bring about this master anxiety. If we fail to remember this, we will be unable to appreciate the rather strange and carefree close to his farewell letter.
Although not a water person by his own admission (rather be near it than in it), beach walks were a most welcome “watery” activity. Not a few important decisions were made during his solitary seaside treks. The sandy stretches of shoreline served as a significant outdoor closet for prayer, meditation, or plain old musing.
In that slim space ruled by difficulty, a concerned musing and earnest meditation had their moments. It was time for them to yield to the throne of grace.
Andrew boarded the 9am ferry. In an hour he would reach his favorite destination, Block Island. Today would be his fifteenth visit to the miniature continent. The pork chop shaped Atlantic jewel is situated about 11 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. Being a tiny “ocean island”, this geological gem was an appropriate appendage to the tiny “Ocean State.” This charming island had 17 miles of lovely beaches which recorded at one time or another, the contemplative footsteps of our dear friend.
For this important ‘near the water’ experience, Andrew chose to walk along the beach which would bring him to the magnificent Mohegan Bluffs. These impressive cliffs rose to a height of 200 feet along the island’s southern end. The locals built a stairway from the beach bottom to bluff top which afforded an awesome view of the surrounding seascape. If we were the proverbial “fly on the wall”, we would have no problem understanding the wavering Andrew Appleton. Following his prayerful steps, the words which resounded amongst the loud swashing waves said, “Mauna Kea Hawaii or inner city Philly.”
As he slowly climbed the seaworthy steps, Andrew called to mind Bunyan’s Pilgrim climbing the Hill Difficulty. O how he could identify with Christian. The ancient lions from the Progress even now were on either side of his pathway, roaring to devour with the teeth of fear and the claws of doubt. Yet Andrew pressed upward leaning on the promises of God. The Lord was his light, salvation, and defense of his life. There was nothing to fear and no one to dread.
He reached the top and like the prophet of old, stationed himself on the rampart to await the Lord’s answer. He took a deep draft of the salty ocean air. The Bluffs overlooked the endless sea, only to be cut off by the thin line that separates sea from the sky. Anyone who witnessed this vibrant vista could easily go adrift in the immenseness of the liquid blue expanse. Such a panorama is fine for musing but not this time.
Andrew prayed. He did so in an unusual way. While most people made supplication with eyes closed, Andrew did so with eyes opened. He was called a rebel by some because of this unorthodox way. But let us be kind and call him by a more a distinguished term: a nonconformist. Why petition with open eyes? As Andrew beheld the wonder and beauty of God’s handiwork, he was reminded of one of God’s names, El Sadday. He is God Almighty who is absolutely sovereign, infinite in wisdom, and perfect in love. This is what motivated Andrew to trust the Lord and commit his way to Him. He smiled. He was not going to take that dream job with the prospects of success, popularity, hefty pay check, and numerous perks. “Hear I am Lord. Send me.” To the inner city with its challenges, difficulties, and needy souls he will go and serve the Lord.
In his own humble and now calm heart, Andrew could hear the Lord say, “Do not fear. From now on you will be catching people.”
The observatory director called the promising young scientist a crazy fool, especially because of the way the letter ended: Gone Fishing,
Go with God Andrew Appleton.
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