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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: Akiva's Assignment
By Joanne Sher


It is a dry, dreary spring day as I watch the scene from my perch above the crowd. My focus is not on the people who have congregated, however, but on a pair of men who are, for lack of a better phrase, part of the show.

I can see all three of them quite clearly from my vantage point. I am certain that I am invisible to the two of them; whether the third can see me, I am unsure. Besides, their ability to recognize me is not the issue.

While my heart and soul are with the One in the center, it is the men on either side of Him that are my reason for being here. They are my assignment, if you will. Enemies of the Master, and He has sent me as their one last chance to reconcile with Him before their destinies are forever sealed.

"Akiva," the Lord said to me just this morning, "I need you to attend at Golgotha's cross today."

"It is my pleasure, my Lord," I had said to the Most High. "I am honored to have been chosen to minister to Your Son in his most distressing hours."

"No, dear Akiva. It is to the others, my children Raphael and Peder, that you are to minister. They must hear of My love once more before they are doomed to an eternity separated from Me."

So here I am, planning out a strategy, if you will, to turn the hearts of these two evil men toward the center--toward the heavens.

"Look at Him there," I whisper to Raphael. "He is your Messiah, giving up His sinless life so you can be with God, if you will just believe."

Suddenly I wonder if he can in fact see me. Raphael looks my way, pain in his eyes. His glance quickly shifts to the Christ. "If you are God's chosen, get down of your own accord. Why should we believe you if you cannot even help yourself?"

I lower my head. Not even a crack in his sinful armor. To make it worse, he defamed the Son in the process. I am ready to head back home to heaven.

You are not done yet, Akiva.

I sigh. "Yes, Lord."

This time, I glide over to Peder. "He is the Christ, the Son of God, Peder. If you believe, He can save you," I whisper.

Peder' eyes gleam with a look of anger I recognize too well.

"Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"* Peder practically spit out the words.

Tears stream down my face. Why, Lord? Why did I have to come on this thankless assignment, and in the presence of Your suffering Son? Must I watch His agony, while not bringing another to Your Kingdom as well?

The Lord speaks to my heart. My word that comes out of my mouth: it will not return empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.* Watch and listen, dear Akiva.

I lift my head to see Raphael glaring across the scene to Peder. "Don't you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."*

I smile. Perhaps Raphael was listening after all. Some of them are a bit slower to grasp than others.

"Jesus, remember me when you come to your kingdom."* Raphael's words make me gasp. I look to the Man to whom he is speaking. The Lord winks at me (It appears I am visible to Him), then looks into Raphael' eyes.

"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."*

And, somehow, I know the Son of God is speaking to me as well. In His perfect timing--not a moment too early or a second too late--Raphael, Jesus, and I will be together with the Father.

References, from NIV, in order:
Luke 23:39
Isaiah 55:11
Luke 23:41
Luke 23:42
Luke 23:43

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This article has been read 1198 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan03/13/08
Very very creative. The ending I found a tad strange because angels are always in and out of heaven, but otherwise this was very clever.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/14/08
This story is excellently told. Each time I take communion, I am once again remembering Jesus and His anguish at Golgotha.
Lyn Churchyard03/16/08
A very different, but very, very well told story. I really never thought before what might have caused the man on the cross to turn to Jesus. Good job Joanne! Right on target too.
Lynda Lee Schab 03/16/08
I absolutely LOVE this. What a creative and wonderful perspective. And so appropriate too with Easter only a week away.
Not much to nit-pick here. Bravo! Bravo!
jodie banner03/16/08
This drew me in and held me to the end. It was very original.One of my favorites this week.
Jan Ackerson 03/16/08
Joanne, this is beyond creative--just outstanding in every way.

I'll admit that the line about the Lord winking at Akiva while He was on the cross doesn't quite work for me, but that's purely subjective on my part.

This was very visual, very stunning--awesome!
Shelley Ledfors 03/16/08
This is wonderful! What a beautiful and very creative illustration of the topic. I agree with Jan on the "wink"...think perhaps I would have made it a hint of a smile or something like that, but that is only a very tiny mark of red ink on an otherwise fabulous entry! Very well done!
Debbie Roome 03/16/08
This was really powerful and thought provoking.
Dee Yoder 03/16/08
When we get to Heaven, we'll know what caused the two thieves to make their choices and maybe this story is illustrative of the reason! Wonderfully descriptive and powerful.
william price03/16/08
I didn't make the connection right away, but when I did, and had to start reading it over again, I thought it was very kool and creative, and maybe very creative on some parts, but none the less, your point was well communicated. God bless.
Betty Castleberry03/16/08
SOOOO creative. I like the ideas of angels being at the crucifixion. You've outdone yourself, Joanne!
Leigh MacKelvey03/17/08
This was ... and we all said Amen! ... very diffrent and unique. Great job. I just watched The Passion of Jesus last night and I think the "wink" from Jesus doesn't quite fit his anguish and suffering. But the rest ... Wow!... I loved!
Yvonne Blake 03/17/08
Wonderful! I love your POV. Even though I guessed at the beginning who the 3 men might be, I liked that you didn't reveal it immediately. It also was a little while before I was sure who Akiva was.
I don't know how much breathing room you had with the word count, but a little more description would have been nice.
I'm enjoying your interesting views of familiar Bible stories.
Thank you for writing this.
Joshua Janoski03/17/08
Wow this was such a unique way of telling this story. I always get emotional when I think about the thief on the cross and what Jesus said to him.

I like your creativity with this Joanne. Very well done. :)
Debbie Wistrom03/17/08
I felt sorry for poor Akiva, I wouldn't have wanted that job. Subtle but perfect for the topic. Thanks for another Bible story retold so well.
Patrick Whalen03/18/08
The patient suffering of the Savior and the uncompromising service of a disheartened witness all wrapped up in such a descriptive and passionate setting! Wonderful!
Mandy White03/18/08
Another beautiful job, Joanne. I love what you have done with Bible stories this quarter.
Catrina Bradley 03/18/08
A totally different outlook on the thief's repentance. Your imagination continues to astound me. Wonderful job, Jo!
Shayne Catoe03/18/08
I had no idea where you were going at first, and I mean this in a good way. You surprised me with the angel's task. What a great idea for your story.
Patty Wysong03/18/08
Oh, WOW!
How did you Ever come up with this idea? Sooooooo good! (and so timely!) I love the twinkle of humor that Akiva has--it's just enough to off-set that terrible event (physically speaking). Super-duper job! I love it!!
Henry Clemmons03/18/08
And the Level Four creativity Award goes to.... Joanne Sher. (Great name by the way). Brave, crisp, imaginative writing with a Master's skill. Loved the title as well.
Loren T. Lowery03/19/08
Perfect timing for this piece at Easter Tide. And the reference to Isaiah is one I hold onto faithfully. Great job, Joanne.
Sara Harricharan 03/19/08
Oh I do like Akiva. What does the name mean? It's very nice. I really like how you showed this-from a really new point of view and made it personal. Often it's so broad in rewrites that there's not a whole lot to relate to, but this, this was down to earth! One of my favorites this week! Really well done. ^_^
Celeste Ammirata03/24/08
What an original, creative, powerful story! It was expertly written. You truly show the depths of God's love for every one of us. Great job. :-)
HQ Creston09/22/08
Very well told story. I really enjoyed it thanks for sharing.