Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
TITLE: Taking the Bait
By Marilee Alvey
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Fishing was their common language. Now, as he lay dying, she must find a way to make him understand. She berated herself for waiting so long. Why could she boldly speak up for the accused in a courtroom and yet not find words to seal the most important deal in life?
Carl lay there, a gaunt soldier awaiting the final charge up Death Hill. She grasped his bony coat hangar hand in hers.
“It’s me, daddy. How are you doing?”
“I’m alright. Too mean to die.”
“Daddy, you’re giving death a fight, aren’t you?”
“I’m about outta punches.”
“That’s what I came to talk to you about.”
Bonnie took a deep breath, sent a silent arrow prayer, then continued.
“Daddy, if I knew a great fishing place and didn’t tell you, would you be mad?”
“Bonnie Sue, I’m dyin’ here… I’ve got better to do than yap with you. Don’t you ever shut up?”
Laughter burst forth like a leak in a pipe. Suddenly she was the irritating little girl, interrupting her daddy as he silently monitored his pole…and she felt comfortable. She quietly thanked God for the refreshing oasis, then continued, stronger.
“Dang right I would.”
“That’s what I thought. That’s why I’m here, daddy. It’s like this: there is a God…and He’s got a net, daddy. He draws the net in at the end of your life and sees if you’re a keeper or not.”
“Keeper? What are ya talkin’ about?” he said through a slight whistle in his lungs.
“Daddy, would you make Jambalaya with shrimp and carp?”
Bonnie Sue, you know carp is garbage fish.”
“That’s right. When God pulls in the nets there’s gonna be some fine catfish, some great bass, some fantastic crappie, and, unfortunately, a ton of carp.”
“What’ll He do?”
“The good fish He keeps and the bad fish go to the Lake of Fire.”
He struggled to get more air. “Fish fry? Hope He uses cornmeal and not batter.”
“Daddy, they’re gonna fry forever. They’ll be toast, and I’m not talking hush puppies.”
“Bonnie Sue, get to the point. I’m dyin’ here.”
“Yes, daddy. See, we’re carp. Everybody. You, me, the nurses…”
“The nurses for sure….”
“Daddy, hush! Nobody on this earth is a keeper. We’re all carp. We’ve lied, we’ve stolen, we’ve envied others, we’ve used God’s name as a curse word…all except for One.”
“Don’t tell me it’s your mother. She’s been tellin’ me that for years.”
“No, daddy. It’s Jesus. Do you know what He did?” She pushed his hair away from his forehead. His skin felt as cold as marble.
“He was the only perfect One, God’s only Son. He came down to Earth to save us because he loved us. We’re nasty old carp but, if we ask him, He’ll swim alongside us, and, if we just ask him, He’ll make us clean.”
“Bonnie Sue, you can’t…… make a carp into a striped bass.”
“No, I can’t, but Jesus can and, if I were you, I’d take the bait quickly because you’re running out of time.”
Carl looked toward the window, then signaled with his finger so she would move closer.
“Bonnie Sue, I can…be at bit stubborn…”
“but I’ve laid here in this bed….nine years. I let people do for me things…well, I can’t even say…. I’ve learned to trust, to give up everything…but… don’t ya think it’s too late?”
“Just about, daddy, but you’re not in the frying pan yet, are you?”
“I’m very cold….”
“Okay, then, daddy. Please repeat these words after me.” As the sun began to set, a golden glow lit up the landscape, spilling into the room. It was in that magical moment that her father accepted Jesus.
“Now, daddy, I’m gonna tell you the greatest fish story ever told…and now you’re in it!”
Bonnie sat down beside her father. Taking his hand in hers, she spoke softly to him of rivers, boundless time, forgiveness, grace, love, laughter and joy. Soon, his eyelids were too heavy to keep open. His hand loosened its grip and the lines in his face relaxed. With “all her yappin’” Bonnie talked her daddy right into Heaven.
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