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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)

TITLE: Church Bizarre, or Shopping For Purpose
By Sandra Petersen
03/07/07


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I would not have come if my purpose in life had not lost its attraction. When I first pursued it, it seemed like just the thing for me, like my goals and I were made for each other. But after time, the beauty faded. I no longer found pleasure exploring the depths of what I thought I was created to do.

Time for a change. I decided to shop around.

I have always gone to church. I know that purpose in life somehow is tied up in religious expression. Maybe, I thought, I am focusing on the wrong things. That is why I am here: to find something at this church bazaar that will restore passion and purpose to my life.

The first booth holds some promise. The multitude of programs this group juggles every day of the week would be worth exploring. From the Family Bible Study and Breakfast to youth basketball to the Softball League, a young family would be kept busy and probably happy. The placard promises ‘a seeker-friendly family experience.’ Too bad I’m single and without children.

I wander to the next table.

An attractive display. My eyes sweep the stand-up bulletin board and brochures advertising various social issues this group addresses. They certainly seem to be community-minded with their door-to-door volunteer recycling pick-up program and their ‘Get-Out-the-Vote’ information. No matter how worthwhile the issue, I know my days are too full to take on any of these activities.

A jazzy rock beat beckons me. I listen and walk until I find the group to which the music belongs. ‘Contemporary Worship Services-No Hymns Here’ the banner above the table proclaims. I am tempted to stay and listen, perhaps even dance, but I know from experience this too shall grow old and fade with time.

‘Singles Welcome’ declares the next sign. A drop-dead, good-looking guy with dazzling teeth and a golden tan flashes me a smile.

“Can I help you find what you’re looking for?” he asks.

He seems sincere but I shake my head no. I tried a Christian singles dating service some time ago. From that, I know this, too, will not fulfill me.

I wander past table after table, each ministry promising something, but none offering lasting contentment. A verse from the Bible resounds unbidden in my mind: "Vanities of vanity, all is vanity." *

My head swims with the myriad of choices. In my heart I sense none of these are what I am seeking. Maybe I will leave without finding it.

Then I notice Him. I suppose I have been cognizant of His attentive gaze all along. Until now I chose to ignore it. He beckons me with calloused and scarred hands. The table He stands behind has nothing but a loaf of bread and a cup with wine. No programs, brochures, or music. The simplicity startles me; His smile disarms me. I draw near with a trembling heart.

“I have been waiting for you.” His voice is like the murmur of ancient seas, like a gentle whisper in the midst of a tempest. I know somehow I was searching for this.

“How long?” I ask, my voice shaky.

His eyes pierce me to the marrow of my bones. Every unworthy thought, every wrong deed, comes to the surface. I feel naked. Then, just as quickly, all is washed away.

“Ever since you were formed in your mother’s womb. Until you grew weary of all that does not satisfy.”

This knowledge is too precious for me to bear. He knew of my search and yet He didn’t force me to come to Him. He allowed me to choose.

I swallow and stammer, “How much do I owe you for this?”

He smiles again and shakes his head. “God’s gift is always freely given. Will you accept it?”

I nod, tears filling my eyes.

The loaf is in His hands now and He breaks it and gives some to me. In the same manner, He offers the cup. We commune together and I know my search for purpose is over.

------------
* Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NKJV)


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This article has been read 921 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betty Castleberry03/11/07
This is well written and conveys a great message, too. The table where Jesus was waiting was simple. No jazzy music, etc. It isn't needed. That's such a basic concept, but something we often don't really think about. Thumbs up!
Leigh MacKelvey03/11/07
My thoughts as I read this were about how beautifully it was written. It had an elegant, soft, beautiful feel to it. His voice "like the sound of ancient seas"! Descritions such as this just made this story for me. I felt real emotion when Jesus talked to the MC and invited him to choose truth. A winner in this reader's eyes!
Jan Ackerson 03/12/07
This has two really important messages, seamlessly presented--the first half, a bit of a satirical look at the state of the church today, and the second half a beautiful reminder of grace. You are most assuredly NOT in a slump!
Rita Garcia03/14/07

May we all find our true purpose! I enjoyed the way you presented this reminder of our purpose and His grace.
Great writing!


Jen Davis03/14/07
I loved this! I enjoyed your take on each of the various booths, and the touches of dry humor: “…perhaps even dance.” This was written beautifully. A couple of my favorite lines: “His voice is like the murmur of ancient seas…” “His eyes pierce me to the marrow…” The simple nod at the end was perfect for the piece. Nice work!
Sara Harricharan 03/14/07
Beautiful! This brought a tear to my eyes. How true it is that we shop around for purpose all in vain to know that what we were looking for was always so close by. I really enjoyed the end and the description and dialouge between the two. Awesome writing! ^_^
Joanne Sher 03/14/07
Wow wow WOW!The end of this is absolutely poetic and beautiful, and the beginning works beautifully to lead to it.
Joanne Malley03/14/07
The ending leaves me with such a feeling of peace and contentment. I hope many find the same in life. Well-written with an important message. Blessings, Jo
Julie Arduini03/15/07
If the title doesn't grab you, the story will. This was moving because it was so subtle and sweet. I loved it from title to the end!
valerie chambers03/19/07
AWESOME--What else can be said?