Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)
TITLE: A Spirit of a Sound Mind
By Jeffrey Snell
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Chris felt a thrill. He noticed something sparkling from the midst of the pines and let out a whoop as he took off sprinting, suspecting water. The sky was a waveless ocean above with occasional puffs of cloud drifting over. Dry sunlight baked browning grasses and jagged slate and the air smelled of lichen and clicked with leaping grasshoppers.
Covering two hundred feet, Chris crested the rise and grinned. A small pond, roughly round and forty feet across cuddled the terrain ahead. Greener grasses, a few cattails and a grove of lightly rustling aspens edged the water. He bounded down and two hand-sized turtles popped their heads under the water at his approach.
<I>Awesome!</I> With brimming joy, he lifted his face and hands to the Lord and thanked Him loudly, having a sense that the creatures around him were watching, approving of their steward giving glory to the Creator, even joining in their own voices. Silent music seemed to rise into the air.
"Sam, isn't this fantastic? Sam?" He opened his eyes. Not seeing Sam, he called out but there was no reply. <I>Uh-oh. He's probably sulking by the woods because I took off. Great.</I>
He frowned. A tint of tentativeness seemed to continually hang over Sam's face. Chris had to drag him everywhere, almost forcing him to experience God's blessing. Was he "railroading" Sam, not really listening to him? But giving in, not pushing back against Sam's fretfulness would just end with both of them missing out.
Joy fading, Chris climbed the rise. He scanned the distant treeline. <I>Lord, what am I supposed to do? Let him talk me out of these things? He's gonna miss so much!</I>
Then a new thought: <I>What if he's hurt? What if he fell off that cliff over there and he's dead?</I> Chris gazed at the distant drop-off and swallowed, a chill coating his skin. Fear hissed: <I>What if he's dead because of </I>you?
Chris felt his heart tighten. Racing down the hill, pond forgotten, he turned toward the cliff at the bottom, nearly tripping over a cluster of fallen branches.
"Sam? Where are you?" He looked again toward the ponderosa woods they had tromped through earlier, hoping to see Sam walk out from behind a tree and give him a "how does it feel" talking-to. Fresh footprints dotted the soil near the cliff. <I>Oh God, Jesus protect him. Don't let him die because of me.</I>
No way down there, Chris saw; way too steep. He moved north thirty feet and found an eight-inch ledge cut into the side of the rocky slope, a kind of natural switchback. Without hesitation, he started down the switchback.
"<I>What</I> are you doing?"
The voice from behind startled Chris so badly he nearly slipped. He turned and, seeing Sam ten feet behind him, leaped toward him.
"Dude! Where were you? I was just about to...." He noticed Sam leaning on a thick branch and wincing slightly. "What happened?"
Hearing of Sam's ankle sprain and his harrowing trip down into the ravine to search for him, Chris felt the lump in his throat grow.
"Oh Sam, I'm so sorry. I caught a glimpse of water, and took off to see it. It's beautiful, you have to see it! But," he stopped, nodding toward Sam's ankle, "next trip. We'd better wrap you up and start heading back." He frowned as Sam let a small chuckle escape. "Wait, how did you get up here?"
Half-grinning, Sam explained, "The ravine-bottom curls around that way and up to a trail. When I didn't find you, I just followed it and--are you ready--it leads right to the north side of the pond! So I forgive you. <I>Again.</I>"
Relief flooded Chris, and he stared. Something in his friend had changed. The tint of fear was gone. Subtly, like a nearly undetected whisper, the Holy Spirit led him.
"What?" Sam peered at him, astonished.
Chris blinked. "Huh?"
"You said something. Sounded like 'sound mind?'"
Chris nodded. "God just brought a verse to me. From one of the Timothys, I think. Paraphrasing, God didn't give us a spirit of fear but power, love--"
"--and a sound mind," Sam finished. Both smiled incredulously, and Chris wrapped a supporting arm around him. His eyes took on that gleam again, like in the coffee shop when this whole trip started.
"Let's get you home, Brother."
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