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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)

TITLE: The Tough and the Tender
By Helen Murray


There, in his arms, lay the sweetest, most vulnerable and wonderful of all God’s creation, his very own daughter, making faces at him as she tried to deal with the new art of breathing. Her crying had registered her protest at the struggle of being birthed, but now she lay, clean, swathed in softest blankets, pouting, opening her eyes occasionally but not recognizing anything, not yet responsive to his loving gaze, his miracle.

Rob’s eyes forsook her dear little face, to rest upon that of his wife, Elena, now at peace after a long and torturous delivery. In his heart he meditated the scriptures which determined that woman would be saved in childbirth, and was repulsed at the pain he would never comprehend. Yet that very pain had given life to this fruit of their love, this girl child who, herself, might one day face the pain of childbirth from the other side. For men, he reasoned, the fruitful pain was in circumcision, whether the old or new version.

Mentally he rehearsed the scriptures concerning fatherhood, “ Teach the children, (i), spare the rod and spoil the son, (ii) better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck, (iii), unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven, (iv), "the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.(v), Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (Matthew 21:16 NIV). “ His responsibilities were being screened before his mind’s eye as he gave thanks for this miracle of birth.

He surveyed his own life, remembering what had turned his mind towards Jesus over the years, saw again the disasters he had faced, the loss of a drunken brother in a car accident, his own brush with the violent drug trade as a youth. He’d known there must be another way, and had been only too happy to receive Jesus in lieu of the drug addiction that loomed ahead. Coming out of that had been the hardest thing ever he had done, but the new life he’d embraced, with its freedom from fear, and total integrity was worth everything. He felt joyful that he’d been into drugs, as otherwise he may never have met the gracious Lord who created him and was able to rescue him, and to whom he owed every blessing of his life, especially this new one.

What would it take to show this child that Jesus is Lord? Would she trust him from her youngest days, or must she suffer in order to find him? How could he, her father, meet her needs and teach her the ways of Jesus, so that she might enjoy the prosperity and shalom of the Lord all her days?

He’d heard a saying that made sense – “The best thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother.” He thought of Malachi’s tirade over the abuse of wives, (Malachi 2) and reviewed his resolve that his wife should never suffer such. He remembered the reason that God insisted on marriage – because he wanted holy children, not traumatized, struggling young people as he had been. His wife must be free to love unfettered if this child were to grow strong and wise, and the family united as one.

He kissed his wife, and she opened her eyes to meet his gaze.

“You are the most beautiful of women” he told her, “And there are two of you right here,” he chuckled.

“Isn’t she adorable?” whispered his wife.

“She is, but she belongs to God, and she will leave us one day, whereas you and I together are one forever.” With these words he committed himself to her care and greater adoration. “We have the task of teaching and training her to be an instrument of the Lord, and then releasing her to him ready for his service, loved and loving. She is to honour her parents, particularly her mother, and learn obedience at home. She is to experience the warmth of our love preparatory to knowing that of Jesus. She is to know both joy and discipline, work and play. She is our arrow into the future, sharp and clean, fiery and true.”

He needed to embrace both his wife and daughter at once, so, together, they looked at their future lying in their arms, trusting.

(i) Deut 4:9NIV
(ii) Proverbs 13:24KJV
(iii) Matthew 18:6 Message
(iv) Matthew 18:3
(v) Mark 10:14 NIV

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Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 04/30/09
I liked the title of this piece as well as the writing. It flowed smoothly. Good work.
Lollie Hofer05/05/09
What a tender love story. I enjoyed the feel of and the flow of your words throughout the story. Very heart-felt.