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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)

TITLE: Let's Make A Big Deal
By Linda Germain
01/15/08


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Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Why was I so deaf to the truth? Hoping to get a little relief from my parents’ incessant preaching, I chose to live with my grandparents.

Nana and Papa were almost as evangelical, except nicer about it. She used to counsel with kindness,
“ Honey, the key to your eternity is in your own hands. Be obedient to God’s Word or suffer in you-know-where.” I do know where as I sit here, waiting for my turn.

“Next,” I hear, booming through some obscure speaker system.

The names are called at five-minute intervals. After awhile the monstrosity of it is numbing. An elderly woman, shaking and whimpering, shuffles to the front and hands her numbered card to the bully in charge. We all know what he’s going to say to her. The same thing has been said to every single person. Things slow down a little at night. That’s when we share our questions and fears with each other, and when the chilling screams make the term blood-curdling all the more real.

In the thousands at this processing center, I found my high school sweetheart – older, but just as deliciously beautiful as years ago. Seeing sweet and gentle Annie again makes this situation easier to bear.

As a young man, I went off into the world to find excitement and sophistication. Now, faced with life or death, I am still unsure exactly what I should do. In the darkest hours, knowing my turn will come, the wisdom and truth that seemed to choke me years before is trying to minister to my confused heart…still, I’m not sure what my answer will be.

Nana talked more about the Rapture business than Grandpa or Mom and Dad did. Academic persuasion and ignorant intolerance convinced me this living for Jesus thing was just a fairy tale that made normal people laugh. That’s a moot subject now. Despite the ridiculous reports I’m hearing, I know why Christians disappeared in a flash.

There will be no food or shelter available without proper identification. With all the upheaval caused from the ones who left so suddenly, it makes sense to institute some kind of order. Most of the ones I hear talking are quite impressed with the brilliant man who came out of nowhere and took over. To them, the obligatory mark is just one more tattoo.

Annie and I snuggle together for warmth and whisper like frightened children. She tells me she married a man who found religion, but it did not interest her. She says she has lived a good life.

I tell her I have not lived such a good life, but I do remember a lot of what my folks tried to make me understand. Baptized as a young teen, I became quite fervent for a time…until my friends convinced me I had free will.

Annie is crying and needs to talk about the here and now.

“Why is there so much horrible shrieking coming from behind that big door?”

I am very blunt as I share what has become crystal clear to me. “If we let them emblazon those numbers on our foreheads, we will be eternally separated from God. If we refuse, we will be killed.”

“But… it’s just a small thing, and we’ll have food. What’s the harm?”

“Nana believed the Bible’s warning about true believers who would be gathered up in the air to meet Jesus and those left would spend seven years in a time called the tribulation. She said a man would rise up as a leader, she called the Antichrist, and people would think he is the answer, for a season, but in reality, he will become Satan personified.”

“I don’t understand any of this!”

I’m talking fast, trying to figure out what to do. The thunderous voice in charge calls the next name. It’s Annie’s. She is terrified. Mine is next. We cling to each other for dear life as we make our way to the reckoning place. A blank-faced, ugly man yells, “ACCEPT to the left – REJECT to the right. Hurry!”

She grabs my face with both hands and kisses me so fast I am thrown off balance, and then she runs through the door to the left. I am stunned.

“Okay, Pal,” The unconcerned henchman roars, “Left or Right?”

Trembling, but knowing there is only one way I can go, I grasp the tiny gold cross of Nana’s a little tighter, say a prayer … and step forward.

___

Revelation 12:11 (NLB)

And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.



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Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 01/18/08
Chilling. I like the verse at the end-it makes clearer the decision he will make. Our whole lives lead to a moment like this one-and we tend to think we'll never reach that point. One way or another, we will have to decide.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/19/08
Your very intense story is, indeed, a chilling reminder of free will and the results of our choice.
Joanne Sher 01/20/08
What an excellent story for the topic! Wish I'd thought of it. I could feel his anxiety.
Yvonne Blake 01/22/08
Chilling! I was a little confused for awhile, not understanding what the numbers were for.
The ending was great.