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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)

TITLE: Today I will be with Him
By darrell darden


Luke 23: 42+43
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

As I lay here contemplating my upcoming trip into eternity a certain feeling of regret began to overtake me. I ask myself what had I actually done with the life I had been given? I look around my dark hospital room and search my memory for some good times to comfort myself with but the bad outweighs the good. The “child of promise” was finally about to reap what he had sown.
I was the “child of promise” because I was the first in my family to graduate from high school and college. My future seemed limitless; I made plenty of money and a New York apartment, what else could a single man want? Companionship! That’s what. Sure I had sexual partners and friends with benefits but there was a big hole where love was supposed to be. I tried to fill that hole with many things but after being introduced to crack cocaine it was crack twenty four seven.
As a child I was dragged to church every Sunday by my mother just like a lot of kids in those days. I sang in the choir and was a member of the “sunbeams”, but I never understood the meaning of the cross and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When I was old enough I left the church without ever getting saved. Not long before I started experimenting with drugs I started to feel the urge to go back to church, that was very odd to me since I had not thought about church in about sixteen years. I began to talk to my mom about it and she encouraged me to follow my heart and every week I promised myself I would go that coming Sunday. After weeks of making promises and not keeping them, I slowly began to lose interest and turned my attention to partying and drugs. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked and lose my job, my beautiful apartment and most of my friends. I soon became homeless and wound up sleeping in the port authority bus terminal. I ate in soup kitchens and whatever I could get from do-gooding Christians who came by with sandwiches and gospel tracts. I still didn’t get the message of the cross and battled drug addiction for years, going into rehab at least 14 times.
Now here I lay with what’s left of my life oozing out into the various tubes sticking out of my body, trying not to feel guilty but knowing full well that I am. As I lay here trying to force down some yucky tasting Jell-O, I looked up and I notice a man standing over me. He appears to be a priest but introduces himself saying “how are you? I am reverend Johnson can I talk with you a minute?” I looked up at him and started to blow him off when a voice says to me, “this is your chance” I’m thinking “my chance to do what? “Your chance to finally find out the truth about the cross and Jesus” the voice answers. Since I expect to “check out” at any time I decide to ask “Rev. tell me about Jesus and the cross”. “Son that’s why I’m here, you see God wishes that none should perish and that all should have a chance to repent and be saved”. “You mean it’s not too late for me to finally get it right?” “No son not as long as you have breath you can repent and accept Christ and be saved.” He went on to tell me about the two thieves on the cross and how one believed and was saved while the other perished in his sin and for the first time I felt like I had hope, I wanted what that thief got. So I said the words God had been waiting all my life to hear “I’m a sinner, what must I do to be saved?”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Juliette Chamberlain-Bond07/24/11
This story recounts the experiences of so many people.
Sometimes we have got to be brought to 'that place' before we truly understand the message of redemption.
Thank God for faithful ministers such as Rev Johnson.
Edmond Ng 07/25/11
An excellent piece that speaks to the heart. If the testimony in this story is a real account, it will serve well for a Christian tract. Even if it is fiction, I think this story can provide a good lead to pre-believers in showing them what our Lord can do for them, even if think they are hopeless or beyond saving.
Linda Goergen07/25/11
I HATE drugs, I think it is one of the most useful tools of Satan used today, as it dulls the conscious and conviction and if it doesn’t bring physical death it certainly brings emotional death and death to sound reason! And few families are untouched today, mine included, as a loved one is pulled deeper and the drug (s) become their reason for living. I have to ask myself too, WHY are we losing the war on drugs, especially with our youth, when Jesus is the answer? Are we Christians and the churches failing to show in a positive way, they can live for something better than drugs?

This story is very realistic and praise God a Rev Johnson came alone to introduce him to Jesus before it was too late...sadly this is not always the case! Maybe we need a lot more Rev Johnsons out there... certainly a lot more prayer to stop this tool of Satan from getting even worse! Well done story and I agree with Edmond, this would make a good tract.
Noel Mitaxa 07/26/11
Normally I would give little attention to a solid mass of print with no paragraph breaks. But this one drew me in, as it opened up more and more of your MC's sense of futility. Your relentless pacing overcomes the natural reluctance of a reader to tackle the work, but that applies to the FW family. To reach the open market you would need to provide some breathing spaces.
Kim Hamlin07/27/11
Please double space between your paragraphs, because your writing is worth reading. This is a giant truth of a story and I love how you ended it with a reminder that God does wait to hear those words from us! Thanks for an excellent read.