Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)
TITLE: A Matter of Life from Death
By Beth Muehlhausen
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For as long as I can remember, everyone described my physical appearance as decidedly plain - painfully so. And unfortunately, I was never given opportunity to discover or develop any hidden talents. In fact, as one of those small and oh-so-ordinary, unassuming types, I was hardly noticeable in the everyday scheme of things. Still, it was hard to accept each day’s disappointment founded in some sort of endless dormancy. My life seemed worthless. I was going nowhere fast.
What was the object of my continual waiting? I didn’t know, but surely God wouldn’t have called me into existence for nothing. He must have given me some sort of excellent quality or ability, I reasoned - some way to bear His likeness and serve Him uniquely. I intuitively knew this was the case, for I trusted my Maker and realized He’d instilled in me a creative passion for expression in the area of growth and internal development. I longed for that passion to become a reality somehow, but also knew I must be patient. My day would come in God’s own time.
Even so, realities were hard. Family life was non-existent. I got pushed and shoved around in social circles, and often ended up feeling bruised and scarred. My peers and colleagues could care less about me, and those in authority only rubbed my nose in the dirt. It seemed I never had a chance to become anything more than what I was: a lowly, overlooked nothing-and-nobody.
Eventually I felt so very isolated, as if living out the excruciating loneliness of an Alcatraz-like form of solitary confinement. What had I done to deserve this? I was aware of nothing, no overt evil or maliciousness. Why was I shunned and even surrounded by such utter and obvious darkness? My questions found no voice, but remained muffled and unanswered.
The rainy season finally came to melt the snow and ice after a brutally cold winter, and with it a measure of anxiety’s chill lifted. As the sun shone and temperatures rose, I became encouraged. After all, spring was a hopeful time of year. Perhaps I might end this dysfunctional lifestyle once and for all, and seek a new beginning. But what could possibly happen - and when, and how? I felt stuck.
One day I sensed an odd stirring deep inside, as if something at my very core quickened. The feeling grew into a definite pressure that could only be the result of some sort of bizarre, inner heart-level swelling. I felt as if I might burst.
“Oh God! What is this? What are You doing?”
“It is time to die,” He replied, matter-of-factly.
Die? Now? “But … I haven’t even lived. Not really.”
“You will. For it is in dying that life begins.”
“What must I do, Lord?”
“To do what?”
“You must be willing to release everything you know and are and have; willing to die to yourself, and let Me make of you what I will. You must agree to allow Me to transform you; reshape you; redefine you from the inside-out; make you into a new creation entirely. Your only other option is rot and decay – and permanent death.”
Taken aback, I paused for a moment to let this reality sink in – but then replied with the only answer faith would allow. “I am willing! Have Your way with me, Lord!”
The internal swelling compounded almost hourly, and I ached until I thought I WOULD burst. I could hardly stand the excruciating pain, and thought perhaps a cancer or other growth of some kind had invaded me – one threatening to consume my flesh and determine my earthly fate. But no matter what, I had only one choice: to trust in God’s sovereignty and faithfulness.
Then one warm, spring afternoon, not-so-subtle changes suddenly manifested. My skin literally ruptured - split apart - and a gaping wound opened. With absolutely no warning, my identity ended forever in that moment. Death was truly upon me.
A tentative, slender, white root pushed out into the soil surrounding me. Not long after, a pale green stem shot upward, in search of sunlight. I – a humble seed – lay destroyed, my shell rent in two. But I had given birth to new life from within: a plant that would grow and bear flowers, fruit, and many more seeds to the glory of my Creator, God the Father Almighty.
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