Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Gifts (of the Spirit or service) (11/22/07)
TITLE: Bread of Life
By Allison Egley
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The prisoner chuckled. "You're telling me. Thanks. I owe you one."
"No you don't. I owe you my life. It's the least I can do," the guard insisted.
The prisoner shrugged his shoulders. "Hey, I was put in prison for preaching the gospel. What made them think I'd stop once I got here? Besides, you were a captive audience."
"Right," the guard replied sarcastically. "I'd hardly call heckling you and hitting you with my club while you were talking a 'captive audience,'" The guard winked at him. "Besides, you're the one who's captive."
The prisoner groaned. "Well, you couldn't exactly leave your guard duty, so in effect, you were captive too."
The guard laughed. "True. Very true. There's just one thing I don't get. Why? Why did you keep preaching the gospel when you know I wouldnâ€™t beat you if you stopped?"
"Well, it's like I said before. You couldn't leave. When I was out in the streets preaching, people could just walk away. There's another thing too. I knew you were listening. I could have talked about anything else and you wouldn't have cared less. But the moment I mentioned 'Jesus' you were right there."
The guard stepped closer to the prisoner. "You know, I wanted to believe the whole time. I wanted to believe it was genuine. When you didn't cave in when I was giving you such a hard time, I knew. I knew for the first time in my life that it was genuine. Oh, sure, there are other prisoners who would try to tell me the gospel, but the moment I laid my hand on my club they stopped. But you didn't. I knew that a God who could give you that kind of courage and protect you wouldn't let me down either."
The prisoner shook his head as he smiled. "You see, I knew it was a test. God has given me the gift of discernment. I don't think you know this, but you are the only guard I ever bothered to preach to. I knew the others had given their hearts to the enemy. But God wasn't finished with you yet. I've seen a change in you since you gave your life to Him. Well, I mean, besides the obvious change of you not beating me anymore," he replied with a wink.
"Really? What's that?" the guard intrigued.
"Well, for starters, you've shown mercy and compassion not just to me, but also to my fellow prisoners. The whole attitude of this cellblock changes when you come on duty. Even those who are in here for violent crimes are calmer when you're here. It's like we know weâ€™re among friends. I can't quite explain it."
"Huh," The guard replied with a sudden realization. "Now that you mention it, I have noticed a difference since I came to know the Lord. The other guards seem to think this is the worst cellblock, but I haven't had many problems. It's strange, isn't it?"
"Maybe to us, but not to God. God gives each of us gifts to use to build each other up. He gave me discernment, so I knew you were an open heart. And I think you have the gift of mercy and compassion. Not all guards, even if they are believes, would give away their bread to a prisoner. They seem to think we deserve the week-old stuff."
"Oh, thanks for reminding me," the guard replied. "I'd love to chat some more, but I've got to go bless some more prisoners before this gets cold," he replied, holding up a fresh loaf of bread. "But before I go, I need to give you this," he said, handing the prisoner a piece of paper. "I realize you already know this, but not all of your fellow prisoners do, so I thought I'd help get the word out."
The prisoner looked at the slip of paper and let out a hearty laugh, as he praised the Lord for another soul saved. John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." (NASB)
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