Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)
TITLE: Time Changers
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge
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Reminders were everywhere, newspapers, Internet homepage, and now an e-mail.
Esther tried to think if she’d ever forgotten the autumn ritual. Smiling, she vaguely recalled a pastor arriving an hour early at their hotel room. Sighing, she thought, what a difference an hour makes. Rubbing her eyes, Esther turned off the PC. When’s the last time I sat on the porch at sunset?
Lately she was too busy to indulge in even the simplest pleasures of life. Stepping outside, goose bumps appeared on her arms. “Guess I’d better grab a sweater,” she muttered, stepping back inside. “When did the weather start getting chilly?”
Settling into her rocker, Esther noticed another change she had missed. Vibrant bursts of color surrounded the lake like a jeweled necklace. Green foliage had traded it’s heartiness for spectacular hues of ginger, crimson, pumpkin, gold, and honey. Grassy areas became home to piles of fallen leaves and scattered pinecones. “Spectacular,” she sighed, then inhaled the brisk dusk air filled with the aroma of fireplaces burning.
Watching the sun perform its final curtain call on the rippling water inspired Esther. Tonight though, she watched with a heavy heart. “If only…” the words stumbled over trembling lips… “What a difference an hour makes.”
Tears slipped down her cheeks as the sun slipped passed the horizon. Nature no longer displayed its autumn wonder, nor the sky its grandiose palette. Engulfed in total darkness, silence, and dropping temperatures, Esther felt externally what she was battling internally. Lost in her sullen mood, she only allowed time to move.
Her breathing became shallow and slow, eyelids heavy. The phone’s ring startled her. Confused and uncertain of the time, she rose from the rocker. Bet I know who it is, she yawned.
“Oh Mom, sorry that happened but... No, I don’t know why… I understand… but… this is difficult for everyone… sure it’s hardest on you… yes, but…. a-ha, I know… and what would dad say?”
As the words came out, Esther already knew her mother-in-law would not receive them. Shrugging, she glanced at the ceiling, why do I bother.
Turning to the phone, Esther interrupted, “Okay Mom, I’m on my way… yes, before 8:00, I know… I promise… gotta go, bye.” Since her father-in-law’s death last year, her mother-in-law kept regressing.
“Lord, I’m trying, really, but she’s trying me today! She acts as if she’s the only one who’s had their life taken away, or that misses Henry. From the day he appeared at the center with that tract, didn’t I always thank you for ordaining that moment? If he hadn’t taken an hour to explain the gospel to me, I wouldn’t be alive, or serving you… yet you couldn’t keep him alive for one more hour until I got there? Everyone said their good-byes, except me. Henry was the closest thing to a dad I ever had. I miss him… and my old life… traveling, ministering with Ben... I hate being stuck here! Betty’s consuming me. I gave-up choir, then the women’s group… now the outreach ministry too? What does she want from me? God, what do you want from me? I’m an evangelist’s wife, not a nursemaid! I need to be in the ministry, touching lives.”
Flopping on the couch, Esther’s soul mourned. Eventually, exhaustion lulled her to sleep.
At 7 a.m., the phone rang. When Ben traveled, he called at 6 a.m. to pray with Esther. Today he was late.
“Morning Ben, what’d ya do? Turn your clock ahead an hour?” Smirking, she sat-up.
“Esther, I’m flying home this morning.”
“What’s up Benny-boy?”
“Well, Mom passed away last night. They found her in her chair, the phone on her lap.”
“I’m so sorry. No one called me. Do they know when she died?”
“Around 9 p.m., maybe waiting for someone...”
“Oh, Ben, I said I’d be there before 8:00, but fell asleep. This time God was giving me an hour but I blew it.”
Weeks later, Esther went to collect Betty’s belongings.
“We miss you ‘round here girlfriend! Bring goodies?” asked a nurse.
“Gonna sing or read a Psalm?” asked a near-by patient.
“Sorry, just have an hour. I’m leaving with Ben tonight.”
“Well, hope ya know ya had quite a ministry here, these folks don’t get to revivals. You blessed Betty, and us too.”
Hmm, never saw Betty as a ministry… was it*? Is that what you wanted from me Lord?
That hour made a difference… in ESTHER.
* 35)For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36) I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me…” Matthew 25:35-36 (NIV)
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