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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “Don’t Try to Walk before You Can Crawl” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/17/08)

TITLE: Too Much Too Soon
By LaNaye Perkins


Amber was a new convert. Having received Christ as her personal Savior, she sought to serve Him. Her motives were good, but she lacked experience. Her pastor, Clarence McDougle, tried repeatedly to encourage her to join the new converts study group. He assured her that she needed some time to grow in her spiritual strength. She needed to study the scriptures to give her wisdom on how to live a successful Christian life. She felt her time could be spent more effectively by teaching one of the Sunday School classes.

Without realizing her error, Amber persisted until the kindly pastor agreed to allow her to assist Mrs. Flannery. Her job would be to assist in children’s Sunday school. For the first few weeks all seemed well. Amber’s enthusiasm was undeniable, and it was obvious to all that she had the heart to serve God.

The pastor silently watched and prayed for Amber. As the months passed by, he could see the telltale signs of stress furrowing her brow. Her enthusiasm seemed to wane, and the joy of her salvation was beginning to leave her. She was coming to the end of her own strength, although she didn’t realize what was happening.

One Sunday after services had ended, the kindly pastor came across Amber sitting alone in her class room. He heard her soft sobbing and went to her side to inquire what was wrong.

“It’s everything! I have nothing inside to give anymore Pastor! What is wrong with me?” she sobbed on his shoulder.

Pastor Clarence gently sat her back and looked her in the eye. “There, there, my child. Come on and settle yer wee self. Yer just discovering that we can not walk this walk of faith on our own strength. It‘s what I was tryin‘ to tell ye all along. Ye just had to learn it on yer own, ‘tis all.”

“I - I don’t understand what you mean.” she stammered.

“Tell me now, have ye been a reading yer Bible each day? Do ye pray and ask the Lord to guide yer mind and thoughts, to help ye act and think more like Him each day?” he asked.

“Well, no pastor,” she paused. “Not every day. Actually, I have only been reading my Sunday school lessons to teach the little children.”

“Ah, there now, that explains it then, doesn’t it?” he smiled with just a hint of mischief in his voice. “Ye have been going on yer own strength girl. The Lord loves ye too much to let ye continue this way. So He just let ye come to the end of yer self now, didn’t he?”

“I guess so pastor.” Truth began to enlighten her through the kindly pastor’s words.

“So tell me now, what do ye think might be yer answer now?”

“ I think I better start reading my Bible every day and get a good study guide . And, pastor do you think it is too late for me to join the new converts group?”

“Not at all, not at all my girl.” he said with true pleasure. “I know they will be glad to see ye there. And don‘t ye worry none about Mrs. Flannery, we can always find some kind soul to help her out. Now, are ye feeling a mite better there girl?”
“Yes pastor, I am. I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. I just can’t thank you enough.” she said, then squeezed the stuffing out of Pastor Clarence before she left.

As he watched her go, Clarence said a silent prayer for her. Then as he turned to head toward his study, he lifted his eyes toward heaven. “Ye were right about that one Lord. She is a mite strong willed but definitely has the heart to serve Ye. But I might be asking ye Lord why it is that Ye keep on sending me the ones that have such a strong will? Is it a bit of payback from when I was a wee babe in Ye, Lord? I know I was a mite stubborn those many years ago, and a bit of a handful to those around me, …….” You could hear him chuckle from time to time as he continued to pray out loud. There was no denying he was talking to his dearest friend.

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Sara Harricharan 01/24/08
I like that Pastor Clarence! He is certainly a favorite character! I liked how he prayed in the end out loud and especially the bit with the "strong will" That was just the right touch of humor! I like the dialouge too, the touches of "yer" and "wee" spin a whole different tone on this piece. ^_^
Joy Faire Stewart01/29/08
Excellent example for this week's topic, great advise. I like the last paragraph and especially the last two sentences. I also talk to my "best friend" aloud.
william price01/29/08
Way to nail the topic! Enjoyed the dialogue and characterization, two of my fav things. And you always deliver your message with with such conviction and truth of heart. Great job!
God bless.
LauraLee Shaw01/30/08
What a great message for all of us as believers!
Jan Ackerson 01/30/08
This story has a lot of heart, and two very endearing characters.

Two small things: I didn't understand why the pastor had an Irish brogue, so that threw me off a bit. And the first two sentences weren't much of a "hook", being a bit too much "Christianese."

I love the pastor's wisdom and compassion.
Temple Miller01/30/08
I loved the dialogue and the characterizations. The "pay back" ending was great.
Loren T. Lowery01/30/08
I enjoyed the story line and the interaction and development of your character but (red-ink) was a bit confused as to the POV the story was coming from. Also, be carely when using ly words (adverbs) such as the "kindly" pastor. His actions in the story should tell the reader he is kindly.
Overall, however, there is a solid message here delivered with a sincere heart and keen observation of character.
Beth LaBuff 01/30/08
Your story is a beautiful and perfect illustration of our topic. You've done a wonderful job of writing this. I especially liked the warmed of the pastor and the enthusiasm of the girl.
Beth LaBuff 01/30/08
...I meant "warmth" of the pastor in the previous comment... sorry
Catrina Bradley 01/30/08
Great illustration of the topic, and a well told story. An important message - the Lord wants us to serve Him, but we need to let Him help us.