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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: The view from the sanctuary
By Suzanne R


The exchange is scheduled for 1pm.

A cool breeze wafts across the water. Boats bob. Seagulls squawk. Salt crystalizes on my lips. Exclusive cafes line the street, their cakes extravagantly large, rich and fluffy, the prices as steep as the mast of that yacht.

A vase is why I’m here. A valuable vase. A vase bought for a song on the internet. Because I’m too tight to pay for postage, I find myself in this fashionable corner of the city to collect it. Besides, it is interesting to stand in a different world, the world of successful business people, television personalities, sports heroes and more.

I know, I know. Money can’t buy happiness. But money can purchase tools for enjoyment. Money can ensure ‘optimum health’, which goes a long way towards happiness. For a brief moment, the ugly green monster of jealousy roars in my ear. Its fiery breath about knocks me down and singes my hair.

I was warned before I accepted this career. ‘You’ll regret it one day.’ ‘It’s all very well while you’re young and idealistic, but one day you’ll wake up and realize that your peers have left you behind.’ ‘Don’t underestimate yourself – you’re worth more than what they pay you.’ Had I reached my earning potential, perhaps I would be a resident of and not just an interloper into this community of wealth and excess.

“This is what the wicked are like – always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure….”
(Psalm 73:12-13a NISV)

Wicked? Perhaps those who get rich by dishonesty might be a bit wicked, but some of these people are kind. Nice. Hard-working. Diligent students in their youth, most likely. No different to me really.

I inhale the salty air. Why, Lord, don’t you transfer some of their excess into my bank account? Just a little. My humble little Toyota parked next to the shining Mercedes Benz looks sadly at me through dirty headlights. A new timing belt they said. $600. Start saving for it, the mechanic said. Yeah, right. How?

It’s not fair.

“When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply…” (Psalm 73:16 NISV)

If you can call the cancer of discontent ‘trouble’, then yes, you could say it ‘troubles me deeply’.

“… it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” (Psalm 73:17 NISV)

Stop muttering.

The sanctuary. I ought to enter it more often. It isn’t like I have to go far to get there … God’s Spirit lives right in me. All it takes is a little focus, a little discipline, a little effort to stop and pray.

Possessions can make the journey through life more comfortable. My journey through life, in contrast, is cosy. Possessions can be used to bless others. Noble indeed. But the destination of these self-made individuals is still unchanged.

I stand by the waterfront, delving deep to find ‘the sanctuary’.

“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.” (Psalm 73:23-24 NISV)

The One who created all that is, who sustains nature itself, He holds me. Not by the scruff of the neck like a dog, dragging me along yelping and whining. Rather, He takes me by my right hand. He guides me. As for glory … I cannot begin to imagine.

“Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.” (Psalm 73:27 NISV)

The well dressed woman strides to the shiny expensive car. Rays of sunlight bounce off the jewel that she wears with poise.

“You must be the lady come for the vase. I’ve another piece you might like. Here – it’s yours if you’d like it.”

This is no stereotypical ‘wicked lady’. Wealthy, most obviously. And kind, generous, hard-working, thoughtful … yet without God. Busy, sweeping off to her next engagement before I’ve adequately thanked her.

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge…..” (Psalm 73:28 NISV)

I point my dirty little car with the worn out timing belt towards the outer suburbs. To the place where God generously provided for me a lovely little home on the wrong side of the tracks. Where I have the perfect spot for the vase. That's a tale for another time.

The view from the sanctuary is good.

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This article has been read 876 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan01/17/08
Amazing writing. When the lady speaks about her being the one who's come for the vase it is not completely clear that it's her, which made me have to go back and read it again. I don't completely get the part about the vase sitting at home either...nevertheless, I love your writing.
Dee Yoder 01/17/08
The writing is very beautiful and I was fully engaged in the story. I had trouble understanding the last bit, too. I'm not sure what happened! Your descriptions of the waterfront and shops, the wealth in contrast to the MC's own lack of wealth is great.
Gregory Kane01/18/08
Delightful imagery and a poignant reminder to keep ourselves grounded in God. I liked the way that you made your rich lady kind and generous rather than opting for the stereotyped arrogant and greedy.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/19/08
Your descriptions are wonderful.
Joanne Sher 01/20/08
Wonderful descriptions and voice.