Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Kingdom of God (03/12/09)
TITLE: A Ticket to Ride
By Diana Smith
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Seated firmly inside, a moment came to satisfy my inquisitive thoughts.
The flap lifted easily and a clean scent wafted out with the contents - a single document resembling a train ticket. Blue, heavy card stock with clipped corners and perforations, it was printed with dark text.
One Way Only - Direct to the Kingdom of God
Departing from Main Station
Lower Platform – accessible from all entrances
Any Date, Any Time
Please see Porter for Boarding Instructions
My name was listed as the passenger.
Time stopped and the enormity of opportunity loomed. This ticket represented my escape from the dreariness of every day, a chance to step off life’s grueling treadmill. The thought of a one-way ticket out of my world tasted like a tall glass of cool water on a scorching summer’s day. Refreshing and reviving.
But why me? And from where did this prospect come? The ticket was silent. Cynicism battled with hope and disbelief wrestled logic until my exhausted mind shut down. Surreal as the offer was, it didn’t seem pressing and would surely wait for another day.
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months.
After coffee with an old friend, the envelope appeared again.
A smile lingered as I swung into my car headed for home. The friend had changed over the years but had just willingly shared much of her life experiences. I was quite surprised to hear such a testimony from her, but the sincerity was unmistakable and almost endearing.
On the seat beside me sat the envelope, still crisp. Memories were triggered and confusion squeezed into a frown. How did that get there?
I opened it without hesitation, anxiety long past and perplexity present. Inside was the identical ticket, with the same residual scent and the print unchanged. An invitation mysteriously extended once more.
I couldn’t recall why I hadn’t checked it out last time.
The drive to Main Station was filled with cascading roadblocks - a funeral procession, two traffic jams and even a toddling flock of geese. Three times I made a wrong turn but doggedly I drove on, thoughts fixated on my paper passenger.
Trotting from a distant parking spot, my excitement began to build. Was this crazy? It may be, but the mediocrity of life felt like heavy links chaining me down. I didn’t know much about God, but if a hero king was necessary to break those chains, perhaps He would fit the bill.
Fear nibbled at my ankles as I pushed through the doors. There was the question about payment. The ticket had omitted any fare details and all I had was an empty wallet. My steps faltered, but still moved forward.
A grey bearded man turned as my feet touched the platform. He tipped a navy cap and accepted my ticket, along with mumbled questions about the price tag.
His snowy head shook. “The fee has been met, dear one.” But how much had it been, and could I ever hope to return it?
Another shake of his head. “The payment cannot be returned. If you must, you are welcome to ask the One who paid – it is in His power to reveal the price.” A feeling of unworthiness settled on me. Apparently a very large cost had been covered on my account and I knew I was undeserving of first class.
“There is only one class and one fare for this trip. Please rest assured that all of those details have been dealt with. Your seat awaits you.”
Did my lack of luggage not matter? I had come unprepared, with nothing necessary for my basic care, not even a tooth brush or a traveler’s cheque.
His palm rested comfortably on my shoulder. “All that you will need is carried within you. Nothing is essential but your own heart, soul and mind.”
I whispered one last, secret worry. “I’m scared and weak. What if I cannot make the trip?”
He pushed me ever so slightly towards the waiting train and whispered back, “Take the step of faith, dear one. Your price is paid, your seat awaits and the Kingdom lies ahead.”
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