Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Persuasion (not about the book) (09/01/11)
TITLE: Changing the Channel Won't Change His Message
By Joanne Cordaro
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After showing initial progress after her stroke, Graceís mother had a sudden and severe decline in health. With each subsequent hospitalization her momís will to live eroded until there seemed none left.
Mom was a good woman, a loving wife and mother. Like St. Francis of Assisi, she was an animal lover. A believer in her youth, she seemed angry at God for as long as Grace could remember. Faith was the cornerstone of Graceís life, and she believed with all her heart that accepting Christ into her heart would bring her mother a sense of peace and hope.
Graceís prayers had taken on a desperate tone recently. She worried that time would run out before her mother received Christ. It was easy to give mom over to the loving arms of Jesus, to trust Him to do what was right for her. It was harder for Grace to give accept her momís lack of belief.
On that day, Grace lit a candle and knelt in deep prayer before the Blessed Mother statue. Her mom still had some reverence for the Blessed Mother. Grace implored the Holy Mother to lead her mother to Christ. After giving everything she had to her prayer, Grace wiped the tears from her eyes and left the church.
The next morning, Grace awakened early. She often listened to a local news show while getting ready for work. This day she sat on the bed and tuned into an inspirational channel.
She immediately recognized the preacher on the screen. She had even read a few of his books. He was generally shown preaching enthusiastically to his congregation. However, this day he was in a studio sitting on a sofa. He turned toward the camera and paused, as if waiting for Graceís full attention. Then, in an uncharacteristically soft voice said, ďYou canít make someone accept Jesus into their life. Each person must open the door to Him by themselves. They alone can let Him in.Ē Grace got a shiver through her body and quickly changed the channel.
On the next channel was a preacher Grace liked very much and watched often. The preacher was usually shown in film clips taken at her large services. Grace had traveled 200 miles to attend some of those services. This day, though, the preacher was sitting in a studio that looked like a living room. The camera moved in for a close up. The preacher looked into the camera and said gently, ďItís not your job to get someone to believe in Christ. They have to come to it on their own. You canít make them. Itís not up to you. Itís not your job!Ē
Goose bumps instantly populated Graceís body. She snapped the television off. Reflecting on what just happened, she looked across the room at her favorite picture of Jesus where He is lovingly cradling a baby lamb in His arms. She often felt as comforted by that picture, as the lamb looked in it. One lone tear slid slowly down her cheek. Her shoulders dropped and her body finally relaxed. She said aloud, ďOK, OK, I get it. Itís not up to me! I canít make Mom believe. I canít make her love Jesus. Itís up to her.Ē
A day or two later, on one of her last visits, Grace asked her mom if she could have a priest to come to the house to give a blessing. Her mother weakly nodded her approval. A priest arrived within minutes and gave a beautiful blessing. Mom had a peaceful look on her face and then drifted back into sleep.
Grace never knew if her mom accepted Jesus into her heart. Mom never spoke again and was gone a few weeks later. After her death, Grace prayed, ďI truly hope Mom received Your gift of faith. I know You never stopped knocking, but she had to make the decision to open the door and let You in. You showed me that. You provided me relief from a responsibility that didnít belong to me. I prayed so many times for You to enter Momís heart in order to bring her peace, but in Your infinite wisdom, You lightened my burden and filled my own heart with peace. Thank you Jesus.Ē
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