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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write an INSPIRATIONAL or DEVOTIONAL piece (04/26/07)

TITLE: Choose Ye This Day...
By Cheri Hardaway


The ringing phone shattered the stillness, as I fought my way from a deep slumber.

“Hello?” I shook my groggy head, while trying to comprehend what my caller was saying.

Hanging up, I sat in a daze. I’d thought he’d be okay spending the night at his friend’s house.

I glanced to where my husband should be and knew I needed to call him. Why did these things always happen when he was away on business?

Another call completed, someone else’s sleep disturbed, I waited for my son to get home. I’d built up a good head of steam by the time I heard his car on our gravel driveway.

“You were held at gunpoint?” I shrieked, waking both my sleeping daughters to my nightmare.

I really tried to listen to his side of things. I was so beside myself that it took the better part of an hour for our angry exchange to settle into an intelligible conversation.

“Son, don’t you see what’s happening? The enemy is trying to take you out. He wants you dead, and it’s only by God’s grace that you aren’t. Tonight was another wake-up call.”

Though he listened, his dull stare made it clear he wasn’t hearing me.

Jacob had been on a bad path for the past year, and this was just one more futile attempt on my part to reconnect. Talking, yelling, pleading, threatening – all were equally ineffective. He’d been grounded, had things taken away, and performed various demanded behaviors, but all were pointless. Our dance on the altar of PC (politically Christian) child training was over. We prayed endlessly, yet we’d managed to raise a heathen. What had gone wrong? What kind of parents were we anyhow? That’s the unspoken question we saw in so many eyes.

Three months later, on Mother’s Day, Jacob’s car wasn’t home when I woke up.

“Did Jacob say he was spending the night at Mark’s?”

“No,” came my husband’s sleepy voice.

I fought back tears. “He didn’t come home last night.”

Both contrite and defensive, Jacob showed up that afternoon with a bouquet and a card. It was a hollow sentiment.

We were losing him. He was a drowning boy/man, yet he repeatedly refused the life preserver we tossed to him. We were left to stand by and watch him drown.

A few days later, I entered Jacob’s room to put away some laundry. The notebook lay open, facedown, on the floor. I stepped over it, put the clothes away, and turned with intent to leave.

The words blurred as I read them. That’s what you get for snooping, I chastised myself, trying to swallow past the boulder in my throat. Anguished, I prayed.

God, what now? What do I do? This confirms what we already suspected, but… Do I confront him? Pretend I didn’t see it? Just pray? What?

We’ve talked until we’re blue. We’ve tried to control him, tried to change him… Sometimes it seems we’ve bludgeoned him to death with the Bible.

Nothing works. I give up, Lord. You’ll have to change his course, because I can’t. I’ve tried. He’s yours. I can’t do this anymore. I’ve failed. I can’t see how he’ll ever make it out of this wilderness he’s chosen.


My tears stopped.




God told me to write this note and leave it in your Bible. I have no idea when you’ll get it, as I doubt you open your Bible much these days. But I believe when you do, you’ll be at a crossroads in your life…

As I wrote, I surrendered my son to his Creator. And I surrendered myself. Jacob wasn’t the only one in the wilderness. I’d been lost in the desert of performance and self-sufficiency, trying to prove my worth to the One who gave me worth in the first place.

The crossroads came sooner than we expected. Six weeks later, Jacob totaled his sister’s car while under the influence. We gave him an ultimatum: Get help; or get out.

Miraculously, he chose to get help. As a family, we drove him to Teen Challenge, a faith-based drug recovery program, where he made a voluntary commitment to stay for one year.

The first night there, he opened his Bible…

Author’s note: This is a true story. Our son “Jacob” surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, in November 2006, and was baptized. He is still completing his time at Teen Challenge.


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This article has been read 1365 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Arduini05/03/07
The title is inspiring and so is the story. I know so many close to me who share your story. You give hope, realism, and inspiration. I can't think of a thing to change, except issue a tissue alert before reading! Well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/03/07
What a precious story of God's grace to Jacob and to you and your husband. This is truly a wonderful testimony to the goodness of God. Your inpirational story is told well and is truly inspiring.
Jennifer Wetter05/03/07
Beautiful writing, reminds me of the hardships and suffering my parents went throught with six adopted children. The journey often is lonely but God continually reminds that He's the best life perserver available.
Bob Zoellner05/04/07
Whether we can relate to something very similar, or if the circumstances are totally different, the feelings and heartache is the same for all parents.

You captured the grief, anger, doubts, and uncertainty of raising chilren, especially wayward teenagers.

Great job of telling what I'm sure was a painful chapter in your life.
Joanne Sher 05/04/07
I was SO there with you. Your description of this situation is so realistic (because it is real, I suppose!) - I was agonizing with you, and will pray. Excellent.
Betty Castleberry05/04/07
What a heart-wrenching story. This is my favorite line:
"That’s what you get for snooping, I chastised myself, trying to swallow past the boulder in my throat."
Well done.
Jacquelyn Horne05/04/07
A heartrending story. How we hurt when we've done all we know to do and still seemingly fail. But God steps in if we let him.
Mo 05/04/07
Wow, definitely inspirational.
Jan Ackerson 05/07/07
Very moving! I'm so thankful to have read this story. Blessings on you and your family.
Sheri Gordon05/07/07
Wow. This gave me goosebumps. Thank you for sharing so honestly.

This reminded me of our struggle not so long ago with our teenage son -- not drugs/alcohol, but other issues. We tried everything you did -- and then finally gave him back to God.

This story is a great reminder that God is always with us, and our kids. Super writing and wonderful inspirational piece!
Catrina Bradley 05/07/07
It's amazing how God begins to work when we step back and let Him. Great story of letting go and surrendering.
Myrna Noyes05/08/07
This is a heart-wrenching, very touching story that will no doubt be a great encouragement to other parents of wayward children. It is so hard to let go of control of our kids and let God deal with them, and many parents struggle with the same questions and feelings of guilt as you did--What did we do wrong? What should we do now? Thank you for sharing your experience with us and for bringing such a message of hope!
Venice Kichura05/08/07
A great inspirational piece, giving hope to anyone who's walked in your shoes. Masterfully written & full of promise!
Mariane Holbrook 05/09/07
This was definitely a two-box tissue read. It was so sensitively written that I almost felt I should whisper. Thank you for writing such a fine piece.
Loren T. Lowery05/09/07
What I particularly like about this article is the honesty in which it is written. Such truth will touch those in similar circumstances and help to show them the way. People don't change people - God does. God bless you and your family and thank-you for sharing.
Sara Harricharan 05/09/07
LOVE this! You told it honestly and straight to the point without being too 'pushy' or confusing. It must have taken something extra to write-God bless! ^_^
Donna Powers 05/09/07
Wonderful, wonderful. I can relate to this on many levels. Very well written. Thanks so much for sharing it.
Rita Garcia05/09/07
Thank you for sharing! I was moved and inspired!
Cassie Memmer05/10/07
Wonderful. May God heal all the hurts from this situation. I've been there with a brother. My favorite line is: "...trying to prove my worth to the One who gave me worth in the first place." How many times have I tried doing that very thing? Thanks for sharing, so that others might be helped and know hope.
Debbie OConnor05/10/07
Cheri, I don't know how you do it, but you manage to get me every time I read this story. I'm crying again. This was so well-written it sears the reader. A knockout that deserves a wider audience. You might want to check into submitting it to Guideposts or another Christian magazine/ezine.