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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)

TITLE: A Woman's Instinct is (Almost) Never Wrong
By Sally Hanan


It was a rainy day—the kind of sky that drops chunks of wet chips onto faces and ears--it hovered overhead, stubborn, unyielding.

The church ground had been broken. Pastor Jeff handed the newly sodded shovel to the assistant pastor at his right and knelt at the edge of the wet soil.
“Lord, thank-you for this land, for this home for your love to flow. We dedicate this first cut to you, and may we all be willing to break ground every day with you.” The assenting crowd then began to talk freely among each other until each member set his heart for home and moved accordingly.

Beth-Ann stirred her tea later that day and poured in the honey. Her mind was a pot of thoughts, all competing for exactly the right words to present to Pastor Jeff, her husband.
“It’s not the land, it’s not the cost of the new building; it’s about this feeling I can’t push away any longer,” she said, for the umpteenth time.
Jeff wiped away the cheese sauce at the edge of his lip. “I know you keep saying it, but you’re driving me crazy. Where are your facts to back this “feeling” up? Where is the exact reason as to why we should not move forward? It’s too late to change our minds. We’ve paid church members’ money to do all of the soil tests; we’ve had the architects draw up plans, and that wasn’t cheap either; we’ve driven around the neighborhood … those families need God! I’m sorry Beth-Ann, but nothing you say can convince me that we’re not doing the right thing.
“It’s more than a feeling. I’ve been hesitant to say this before, but after a lot of prayer, I can’t help but know that this is God trying to tell us to stop. It’s not about the money Jeff; it’s about whether or not we are going to obey that still small voice. Can we at least hold off on moving forward until you get a definite word from him too?”
“You think I haven’t prayed about this a million times? You think that as a board we haven’t prayed about each step we’ve taken? Beth dear, I can’t walk into the church tomorrow and tell everyone to quit giving to the building campaign because my wife has a gut feeling that God is talking!” Beth turned away, silently asking God to forgive her.

The church members stood in their new building after church three years later. The mortgage was in arrears. The new members had not come as expected, expectations based on the prediction charts that had been rolled out so easily in the conference room. The mortgage had been taken out in Jeff’s name, and he was liable for full payment. Outside, a “for sale” sign shook in the gust of wind that raced past the front door. They all walked out in unison, the ones who had been members the longest wiping away tear tracks. They would be meeting in homes for a while, until the building was sold, at which point they would have enough money for a rental deposit on something small.

Jeff put his arm out to his wife’s shoulder as they drove away. “Beth? I know God said that Lot’s wife couldn’t look back, but I have to. I constantly remember you trying to tell me one last time that this was all a mistake, and I wouldn’t listen. I appreciate how you never said another word about it, and you haven’t once said the words, “I told you so.” I want you to know that I have an even deeper love and respect for you for seeing this through and not giving up on me in spite of my stubbornness. Your name, house of grace, stands out in stark contrast to mine, God’s peace. I don’t think I’ve ever really had God’s peace the way you have, but I want you to know that your quiet and gentle support is helping me to get there.” He eyes swiveled back to the road, which was a pity as he totally missed Beth-Ann’s tiny chug of her arm in victory.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 12/13/07
Hmm, wow. I picked this piece for the title and was surprised at how 'right' Beth was. The contrast between what they were expecting and what really happened is really too true with what happens today. The last line held the bit of humor with Beth's little display of 'victory'. Nice job.
Peter Stone12/14/07
Good reminder of how important it is to listen to God's gentle promptings. So many churches get so heavily into debt when they really don't need to.
Joanne Sher 12/15/07
What a wonderfully humble man (in the end, anyway!), and a wonderfully submissive wife. Gotta admit, though, that last line is my favorite. Good stuff.
Jan Ackerson 12/18/07
That last line just cracked me up! Thanks for this little bit of humor in a mostly very serious week!
Betty Castleberry12/18/07
Beth is a better person than me. I probably would have said I told you so. The writing was excellent. This was a good read.
Temple Miller12/19/07
I enjoyed this too-often-true story. Well-written and descriptive, it flowed from beginning to end.
Temple Miller12/19/07
I said, "too-often-true story," which is different than "too true!"

I hesitated to put this comment in, after reading other comments, and then decided to go for it anyway.

I was just a tad disappointed in the wife's gesture of victory. Although it made her very human and real, it seemed a little at odds with the character presented earlier. Just a thought.

But, I loved the story!