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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: Before the ...
By Leigh MacKelvey


Before the ....

Paul’s finger’s fumbled, searching for a plump fig inside an open sack of Hebrew delicacies packed for his journey by the believers in Antioch. The sweetness of the fruit in his mouth felt comforting to him as he leaned against several unopened sacks and molded his body into the soft spots. With his head and limbs eased, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to join in with the gradual drift of the ship.

“Paul, are you awake?” Barnabas called from his spot on the deck, "I want to discuss the happenings in Antioch. Oh what a day we had, brother."

Barnabas had bargained with the captain for their fare to Attalia, the port city of Pamphylia. He had traded food for entry onto the ship.

“Come on aboard now, hurry. You better find a spot on the deck to sleep, come down under if the rains start. But I think the weather will hold. She’s a hearty ship if it don’t,” the captain had said as he threw their bags of food on the deck. “Better keep the bags close to you. Rats everywhere. Some as big as dogs.”

Paul, knowing Barnabas would understand his need for rest and prayer, answered only with a small grunt. It had been an exhausting day. Barnabas turned to John Mark for conversation instead.

Paul let the ocean winds caress his face like a mother’s kiss. The salt air cleared away any busyness from his mind and he breathed it in and out until serenity found him.

God of grace, God of all comfort, You are always present. You are with me during the calm and in the storm. Let the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be in our spirit on this passage.

Dusk gave in to the dark and torches were lit around the deck as sailors and journeymen slept or kept watch. All was quiet, with only the muffled prayers of Barnabas and John Mark to lull and sooth Paul into deep sleep. He dreamed.

He was a small boy, skipping stones on the banks of the Jordan. With each stone’s easy plunk, any uneasiness the boy had ever known was disquieted. Although the sky above the boy rumbled and great flashing knives flared down, his heart and mind were at rest. He heard melodies of delight, hymns of praise and joy sung by the believers from Antioch.

Paul, in his sleep, knew the ship to be utterly motionless and he felt nothing of the gentle raindrops that had begun to fall.

But then from the north and the east, the Etesian winds began to blow and the waves would soon became giant walls. The sea swelled.

God of Grace, God of all comfort, You are always present. You are with me during the calm and the storm. Let the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be in our spirit on this passage.

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This article has been read 868 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 09/20/07
This is just lovely. The prayers are especially poignant. You have a wonderful sense of atmosphere here.
Catrina Bradley 09/20/07
Love the deepness of this story, and you've written some beautiful words. I like how you stated that serenity found him, instead of the other way around. Great descriptions of what Paul was experiencing.
julie wood09/22/07
I really enjoyed reading this! Great use of vivid, descriptive verbs such as "fumbled" and "molded his body" made Paul come alive as someone I could see and even feel with, as though I were right there. Great dialogue, too--I especially liked the guy on the ship saying, "Rats everywhere. Some as big as dogs."

The unusual title also sparked my curiosity and drew me in. Great job!
Dee Yoder 09/22/07
I love a good quality retelling and interpretation of a familiar Bible character, and this one. Your story drew me onto the ship with Paul and the others. I enjoyed reading this.
Jan Ackerson 09/24/07
I love your little details--the fig, the captains' exaggeration--things like that elevate your writing above the rest.
Marty Wellington 09/26/07
Wonderful details that gave your story life and breath. Loved this glimpse into Paul's life and what might have happened. The whole journey feels God breathed. Lovely.