Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)
TITLE: Making Concentrate
By Betsy Markman
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Father looked at him with one of his unfathomable smiles. "I'm making concentrate."
Asher's eyes widened. He was a newcomer here, and there was much he didn't understand. But he enjoyed the wonder and awe that surrounded everything Father did.
After a while he spoke up again. “Who’s that?”
"Her name is Elizabeth." Father's voice grew a little quieter. "It means, 'Consecrated to God.'”
"Concentrated to God?" Asher asked.
Father laughed, clearly delighted. "That's not what I said, but I love it. It's really the same thing, after all."
Asher nodded, though he didn’t understand.
The most wonderful thing about living in Father's house was how perfect everything was, even the unknown. Curiosity wafted over Asher like the mouth-watering aromas of Thanksgiving mornings, filling him with anticipation. Yet the anticipation itself fed his soul, so that the hunger didn’t hurt. Desire felt as delightful as fulfillment, and fulfillment never disappointed.
“I love Elizabeth,” Father said softly.
"But you're making her cry."
"Yes, Asher. I know all of her tears. I’m keeping them safe with me."
What does he do with them? Asher looked back down into the world where he once lived. "She's through crying already."
Father chuckled. "It seems like 'already' to you, but you're outside of time now. Ten years just passed for her. She doesn't even remember what she was crying about before. But I remember perfectly...both the trial and my beautiful purpose for it." He put his hands on Asher's shoulders and looked into his eyes. “I've kept that safe for her, too."
Father gave Elizabeth many things, and then after a while he took something away from her.
"She cried a little, but not as much," Asher noted.
"She trusts me more now, because she knows me better. Every time I’ve taken something from her, I’ve offered her more of myself in exchange."
"Cool!" Asher exclaimed.
Father's eyes took on a faraway expression. "It’s glorious seeing them learn to love, and trust, and delight in me. When your mother took dangerous things away from you, you would get upset. People often don't understand why I take things from them, especially when I take away good things, in order to replace them with what’s best."
"That's you!" Asher jumped up and down, delighted with his understanding. "You're what’s best for them!"
Father smiled. "Of course."
They looked at Elizabeth again.
"She’s already old!" Asher stared, astonished.
"Yes, it's almost time for her to join us." Father beamed. "I can't wait to give her the joy of fully knowing me!”
"What did you say you were making?"
"It was concentrate. You remember concentrate."
"Yeah. Mom made orange juice out of it."
"That's right. I made 'concentrate' with Elizabeth by taking away unnecessary things that weighed her down. Now she's highly concentrated. Very little left to take away." He took Asher's hand. "Come on."
"We're going to greet Elizabeth. She's about to arrive."
"But there's one thing I don't understand."
"We always add water to concentrate."
Father smiled like Christmas, like gifts about to be given.
"True. I am the Living Water, remember? But I like to add other water, too. Water which isn’t perfected yet. I will perfect it when I perfect her."
"What other water?"
Father smiled his Christmas smile again. "Go and get it for me." He pointed at a vessel that Asher hadn't noticed before.
Asher ran and fetched it, savoring delicious curiosity.
Father carried the vase until they arrived at the great gates.
"There she is!" Asher clapped and pointed.
“Welcome, my beloved!” Father wrapped Elizabeth's withered body in his embrace, pouring life-giving love into her dehydrated soul. Then he added the water from the vase, and as it touched the Living Water, it became just as sparkly and lively.
"See, I make everything new," he said, setting the vase down and gazing on his glorious bride.
"But what’s that other water that you perfected?"
Father smiled wider. "Think about it while I show Elizabeth around."
A wonderful idea began to grow in Asher’s heart. Could it be? He rolled the vase over until he found the inscription.
"YES!" Heaven echoed with his joy.
Father turned and smiled like the sun, only brighter and more beautiful.
Asher couldn't restrain himself. He danced in circles around the empty jar which once held Elizabeth's tears.
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