Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)
TITLE: Together We Will Find Him
By Marty Wellington
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Eli Ratliff walked into the sunlight, facing a new and glorious world unlike anything the earth had seen before. His wavy, shoulder length gray hair was the only thing that betrayed his advanced age. He was one of but a handful of elderly to survive the planet’s devastation. With gray patched robes billowing around him, he resembled a prophet of old and he smiled at the absurd thought. A prophet? No, he was just a man who remembered the “old words” and knew the children deserved to hear them once more. They needed to learn; the ancient words should be spoken once more. The truth burned in his very soul.
Eli approached a makeshift podium stacked precariously with old bricks and rubble and spoke again in a loud voice, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
“I will now read the ancient words from a book we discovered in the library. This passage tell us we should read for all to hear.”
Scores of young people stood amidst the ruins of a nearly extinct civilization and cheered--their tattered clothes stark in contrast to the noon day light. Healing was taking place. You could see it etched upon their faces. Eli was certain the words would prevail, teach, and provide wisdom.
Eli looked upon the crowd of young people stretched out before him. Filled with expectation, their faces glowed.
“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:5-6 NKJV)
The smallest children in the front lifted their hands, bowed their heads, then lay on the ground. “Amen, Amen.” Their chorus rang out through the broken city. Eli marveled at their gentle spirits and their remarkable unity. He continued his recitation.
“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.’ For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for . . .’” But Eli could not continue. His mouth moved; no words came forth.
A strange light spiraled down from the sky, seeming to emanate from the sun. It flashed, spreading wide, encompassing Eli and the open book from which he read.
And then a voice, not Eli’s, reverberated through the crowd, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”
A strange stillness overcame the crowd. Fear and wonderment joined forces in the minds of the people. Again, the voice, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Eli stretched his arms heavenward, holding the frayed book open as if in offering. The light retracted revealing a whorl of smoke smoldering over the stone podium--words blazing across it. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
“Who is this Lord?” came from all corners of the city.
“We do not as yet know. I, Eli, am the reader and you, my children, are to listen to these words with care and together we will find Him.”
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