Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)
TITLE: The Devil's Dare
By Arlene Showalter
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A flurry swept through the crowd as God approached his throne. Once seated, he allowed his keen eye to scan the celestial assemblage.
“Hey, Luc,” he called, spotting the grumpy angel. “What are you doing here?”
Lucifer shrugged. “Wandering around the world, watching your precious creation make fools of themselves. What a pack of lying, thieving losers.”
“What about my good buddy, Job? Now there’s a good man.”
“O yeah,” Lucifer sneered. “You’ve got him protected with some sort of mystical wall so nothing can touch him. He’s got it all: gorgeous wife, seven sons and three beautiful daughters. And wealth beyond measure—what’s not to love?”
“Are you saying Job loves me just because he’s rich?” God asked.
“Bingo. Lift that wall and I promise he’ll curse you to your face. I dare you,” he challenged.
“Okay, you’re on. Do whatever you want, but don’t touch his body.”
Lucifer let out a hellish whoop as he danced out of God’s presence. Back in his iniquitous den, he labored long over the perfect plan of destruction, rubbing his oily hands together with evil anticipation.
Job awakened to another flawless day. His lovely wife smiled over the breakfast fire. The compound hummed with prosperous activity. Suddenly a courier arrived.
“Sire,” his panicked voice alarmed Job. “Sabeans stole all your stock, killing the handlers. I’m the only one who escaped to tell you!”
Even as he stammered out his news, a second messenger ran up, panting.
“Sire,” he gasped. “Freak lightening shot from the heavens, and set the grassland on fire. All your sheep and shepherds got trapped and burned. I was off fetching our drinking water, or I would have died with them!”
“Sire, Chaldeans swooped down from three directions, killed all your drivers and drove off all your camels. I ran before they spotted me or I’d be dead too.”
“Sire, all your children were partying when a tornado came and flattened the house. I was outside tending the roasting calf, or I’d be as dead as the rest.”
Job stood in shocked silence. Grasping his robe, he tore it to his waist. Woodenly he picked up a razor to shave his head. Then his knees buckled as he fell to the ground—in worship.
“I left my mother’s womb naked and I will be buried naked in the womb of earth. God gives, God takes. Praise his holy Name.”
A few days later, the angels gathered again to report to God. Settling himself on his throne, God spied Lucifer scowling blackly, arms tightly folded across his chest.
“Hey Luc,” God grinned. “What about my buddy, Job? Didn’t I tell you he would stay faithful to me? You lost the dare!”
“Huh!” Lucifer snorted. “The most precious thing to man is health. Take that away and he’ll spit curses at you.”
“Hmm,” God appeared to be thinking it over.
“Ha! You’re scared,” Lucifer crowed. “You know I’m right. I dare you to take his health. I double-dare you.”
“Ok,” God agreed. “Just don’t kill him.”
Again Lucifer holed up in his black den, conjuring up a strategy for Job’s misery.
“Itching!” he shrieked. “Itching irritates more than pain.” Immediately he smote Job with boils. As the itching intensified, Job grabbed a piece of broken pottery and scratched himself bloody.
“Husband,” cried Job’s distraught wife. “What good is integrity to you now? What has it brought you but pain? Curse God and die. Let death relieve you!”
“My dear,” Job responded gently. “You are speaking as the godless do. Think about it. How is it humanly possible to have raids from two different tribes, lightening and a tornado all in one day? Those events were divinely orchestrated. We found it easy to trust God in the good times, why should we stop trusting him in the bad? We must humbly trust him to see us through our present sorrow.”
At that moment, a devilish howl rent heaven’s serenity, while God merely smiled. After all, he did try to tell Lucifer he knew his buddy could be trusted. He knew Job wouldn’t let him down.
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