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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)

TITLE: Raging Fires and Shattered Hearts
By Ruth Neilson


Angry tears threaten to fall as you sink into a plush, velvety chair in the foyer of a small church. The words spoken by the pastor, who is supposed to lead you, have wounded you deeply. You know that you’re not athletic; in fact, ninety-nine percent of the time, you are an awkward, pimple face teenage girl who is still trying to learn to control the raging hormones. The four words that he slung at you, so simple, so easy to do, tear deeply at your very being.

“Get out of band.”

That wasn’t the worst part though. As you sit there, watching, listening, he turns to another pimply-faced teen and tells him six words that threaten to end your world.

“Join wrestling. It’s good for you.”

Numbly with those ten words racing through your mind, you have to wonder what the difference is between band and wrestling. There are quite a few. For one thing, it is only during the springtime, when band is a sit down occasion.

During the autumn, you work just as hard as any team. You marinate in sweat. Suffer with first and second-degree sunburns. Injuries are a way of life on the marching field, until you learn to start stretching. That doesn’t even begin to include the torments of the metronome named “Dr. Beat” and his friend “The Lone Ranger.”

Trembling fingers fumble through onionskin pages of your Bible. There has to be comfort somewhere in there to ease the heartache. It’s odd, really, to think that your pastor would say one thing to your face, and then something very different behind it. Didn’t sports take up just as much time as band—if not more? Your fingers cause the pages to rustle and flutter around until everything stops.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Maybe some people didn’t understand that despite your uncoordinated moments and the occasional awkward pauses in conversation, in band, you’re not gangly or socially inept—you’re part of a family.

In reality, it shouldn’t matter what group you hang out with because in the family of God, what is meant to happen is that your family is supposed to uplift you.

In Ephesians 4:29, Paul admonishes other believers to be careful of what comes out of their mouths. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” In addition, James warns believers of what can and will happen when words go awry. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.”

Sadly, I have seen people, young and old alike, who have been hung over a fire because of a misplaced word. I look around the church today and see the crippled runners. We’re supposed to be running towards the same goal, instead of trying to beat each other to the prize. We need to help each other out. So, keep running the race, but don’t be afraid to bend down and help someone along the way.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
James 3:6 (NIV)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Martha Ford02/22/07
Your descriptive language brought back feelings from my own high school days. I was sure no one understood how physical band could be. My hope is that the story finally ended on a happier note (no pun intended). I still play, 43 years later. Few "jocks" can say that! Thanks for your story.
Allison Egley 02/22/07
This was good. I remember my youth leader didn't like me being in band either. I wonder if it's written into the job description somewhere? "Must dislike marching band." Hehe Only kidding. I too, hope this had a better ending than beginning. Keep up the good work!
Allison Egley 02/22/07
Ok, one more quick comment.... I still cringe when I heard "Dr. Beat." But we called him "The Mouth" in my band.
Sara Harricharan 02/22/07
Definitely something to relate to. I liked the emotions and the reaction of the teen, thinking about band and then turning to the bible for comfort. Great work. ^_^
Marilyn Schnepp 02/24/07
Neat job on a difficult topic.
Amy Michelle Wiley 02/24/07
There were parts of this I didn't quite get, but it sounds like that's just me. ;-) Overall this was written well. good job and good message.
Jacquelyn Horne02/24/07
I didn't quite understand either. If the first teen was a girl as stated, wrestling would not be a thinkable option (though not impossible). What was the pastor's purpose in no band?

The writing, however, was very well done.
Betty Castleberry02/25/07
It's so true that words can be harmful. I like the message in this piece. It's well written, too.
Joanne Sher 02/25/07
Excellent message so wonderfully portrayed through this teen.
Joanney Uthe02/25/07
How painful to have a pastor, of all people, judge one activity over another. Thanks for reminding us to be encouragers and not to cripple other believers.
Marilee Alvey02/27/07
I didn't understand the beginning, either. It sounded like the pastor wanted one to quit band and the other to join wrestling. I couldn't see how they were related. That having been said, I could still feel the pain the words inflicted and got the idea. I have heard people say things like this before...but it hurts, particularly, for it to come from a pastor...who SHOULD know better. Don't you wish you were able to go back to him now with your quote? People disappoint. God doesn't. At 55, I still have to remind myself of that when people let me down...even those who are closest to me. That pastor....was just a man. Sometimes we..and he...need reminding. Thanks for this poignant reminder.
Loren T. Lowery02/27/07
It is so nice to read someone's heart and see the goodness God wants all of us to hear. You've written an important article!
Tiffany Secula02/27/07
Amazing! The last paragraph really got to me!! Teriffic Job!
Jen Davis02/28/07
A wonderful way to use a real-life story to share an important message. There are also some very good descriptions: “…marinate in sweat.” “Trembling fingers fumble through onionskin pages of your Bible.” One suggestion would be to write this in first person throughout. The beginning paragraph was very good, but I think it would be even more powerful in first person. “Angry tears threaten to fall as I sink into a plush, velvety chair…” Or if you wanted to distance yourself from the piece, write it in third person but give her a name: “Angry tears threaten to fall as Katie sinks into a plush, velvety chair." I also loved the message in the last line. I think your story is wonderful, and I hope you will continue to work on it and find a place to share this message.