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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Foreign Language (12/09/10)

TITLE: Life Isn't Always Fair
By Lollie Hofer


Life isn't always fair. Simeon remembered his mother speaking those words a multitude of times when he was a child. He could picture his stern, no-nonsense momma even in this moment. She was standing over him, the index finger of her right hand shaking, lecturing him because he had been complaining again.

Yeah, Momma, life isn't always fair and right now I'm drowning in the unfairness of it all.

Simeon hadn't always been crippled. Two years earlier he owned a carpenter shop with a growing reputation in Jerusalem. An accident with some runaway donkeys left him with mangled legs and hands. Realizing he wouldn't be able to take care of a family, he broke up with his fiancé. He felt the life of a beggar wouldn't be fair to her.

Momma, at least you're not alive to see this…you would be ashamed of me.

Simeon arose from his beggar's spot by the main gate into the temple. Swaying back and forth until he could get his legs under his wooden crutches, he painfully stood to his feet. His white knuckles gave evidence to the grip he had on the basket of fruits and vegetables he held in one hand, along with a crutch. Stumbling on the dirt road, Simeon was determined to get the basket home.

"Thank you, Lord, for the food," he prayed. "It's made for a short work day. Still early morning and I have a bountiful harvest already. Not to mention the several coins jingling in my pocket. Life may be unfair, Lord, but You are always faithful."

The Harvest Festival of Shavuot was one of his favorite times of year. When people brought offerings of their first fruits to the Lord, they were generous in their giving and some of the produce found its way into many a beggar's basket. The feast was also a celebration of the day God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, fifty days after their exodus from Egypt.

The roads of Jerusalem had been crowded since before sunrise. Jews came from every region of Israel for the festival, along with numerous foreign countries being represented.

"Hey, watch where you're going," a man shouted as Simeon tripped over someone's foot and fell to the ground. Spitting dirt from his mouth, he pulled himself up onto his hands and knees. Crawling around, Simeon was able to gather most of the fruits and vegetables which spilled from his basket.

Finally on his way once again, he continued to be pushed and shoved by the throngs of people. On one narrow street, Simeon was caught up in a sea of humanity so tightly woven together it seemed the people moved and breathed as one. Although the crowd kept him from falling, it also caused him to move with the flow in a direction he didn't want to go.

"Please, someone help me," Simeon cried into the den of voices. "God, why is this happening to me? I can't take any more. Have mercy on my soul."

The throng pushed its way onto a broader road, and with one huge sigh, became individuals once again. Yet a second time, he tumbled onto the hard ground. Although folks completely ignored him, they did notice his fruits and vegetables. Scrambling for the food, adults and children thanked God for their special morning snack.

The discouraged, broken young man crawled out of the way. Leaning against a wall, the tears fell. His body raggedly rose and fell with each heart-wrenching sob.

"God, where are you?" he screamed to the heavens.

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled an upper room directly across the road from where Simeon was sitting. He could see several people standing at an open window with what seemed to be like tongues of fire resting on each of them.*

The noise from the room was chaotic. It sounded like the people were speaking various foreign languages. The commotion drew a large crowd. All were amazed to indeed hear voices praising God in various dialects. After the mob of people passed judgment on those in the upper room proclaiming them possible drunkards, a man named Peter walked out onto a balcony.

"Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…"*

As Peter continued to talk on that Day of Pentecost, for the first time in two years, hope began to rise up within Simeon.

*Acts 2:1-41 (NIV)

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This article has been read 535 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lizzy Ainsworth12/17/10
fresh and new take on the topic of tongues from the perspective of one who was there
Jim McWhinnie 12/18/10
Such an entertaining way to learn so much Biblical history and culture.

Well-imagined and well=crafted.

Top notch - magazine quality.
Henry Clemmons12/18/10
I loved this story. I had no idea which Biblical direction it was heading and was truely blessed when I found out. What a great perspective to tell this story from. Great job.
Gregory Kane12/18/10
Life certainly isn't always fair. That's one of the often untold lessons from the Christmas story. I liked your unusual setting.
Amy Michelle Wiley 12/18/10
I love Biblical fiction, and this one didn't disapoint.
Cheryl Harrison12/21/10
Wow. I loved your take on the topic. Great descriptions.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/21/10
Great story from a Biblical context. I loved the pictures you painted of Simeon.
Catrina Bradley 12/21/10
Very good! I wanted to cry tears of rage when his precious days "wages" were scattered and stolen. Great job putting us into the person of Simeon. Loved it.
Amanda Brogan12/21/10
Your opening sentence does a great job of drawing the reader in.

The part about him breaking up with his fiancé because of his illness seemed a bit contemporary, but other than that you really pulled us into the ancient streets of Jerusalem.

I really like how you described the crowds. And tying it all in to Pentecost was awesome! Very good writing.

diana kay12/22/10
great story and i love the way you really got into the characters shoes (:-) metaphorically speaking as i guess he may have been barefoot)
Sarah Elisabeth 12/22/10
Very nicely done piece of Biblical fiction!
Lollie Hofer12/22/10
Amanda - Thanks for pointing that out. :) I wasn't going to comment on it unless someone noticed it. Now that the hinting has started, I'll comment here. You're right - it really is too contemporary. I was way over the word count...in the original story I explained how being engaged took on a more serious note in Biblical times...engagements were binding and needed divorcement. However, I really wanted to get more into the character of Simeon than Biblical customs so I deleted that part of the story.
Noel Mitaxa 12/22/10
I like how you have set the scene - externally and internally - with great insights into the emotions, the energy, and the adventure of the whole event.
Your ending is very strong, because it invites any reader to join the hope instead of trying to explain what the hope is. Top stuff.
Edmond Ng 12/23/10
A lovely and well expressed written work! I was so captivated by the story from start to the end. I like the way you brought out the MC's agony and end the story with a promise of hope. Excellent job!
Amanda Brogan12/23/10
Yay, Lollie! Congrats for getting Highly Commended on a great story. :) Well done!