Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Employment (01/26/12)
TITLE: Solitary Confinement
By Debbie Roome
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“God!” The cry is guttural, wrenched from my soul. “I’m here because I serve you. Help me!”
The loneliness is intense. I yearn for the touch of a human hand, a conversation with friends, the bustle of a city street. I even miss the menial tasks my job as a pastor involved: cleaning the church toilets, scrubbing the kitchen, washing the communion cloths, shovelling fragrant soil in the garden. It’s almost a physical ache, this longing for something to do.
In the silence, God drops a thought into my mind. “I have work for you, William.”
For the first time in days, a tremble of hope flutters. “What must I do, Lord?”
“Pray as I give you inspiration.”
That’s not what I expected!
“Inspiration? In here?”
“Let me open your eyes?”
“There’s nothing to see, Lord.” I gaze around my cell although I’m intimately acquainted with each inch of space. Rough concrete blocks, cracked floor, stained toilet, my faded blue cup.
“Start with the walls, William.”
I stand and pace. “They’re grey and hard, God. Like stone, unyielding. Designed to keep me from human contact.”
A picture forms and I see the guards who dragged me in here – grey uniforms, hard faces, cold hearts, rough manners.
“You want me to pray for them?” My voice floods with disbelief.
The heavens fall silent and I know God has answered my question.
Three hours later, I feel like I’ve done a full day’s work. I prayed for every prison guard in the country. Prayed against hardened hearts and rough exteriors. Prayed for God’s grace and mercy to change lives.
As I drift off to sleep, I feel God whisper deep inside. “Look at your blanket, William.”
I touch it, fibrous, stiff with dirt, prickly and uncomfortable. “It’s filthy, God.”
“And what do see in it?”
I lie quietly for a moment and then a picture surfaces. Lost people, hearts filled with sin, stained with life, unlovable and undesirable. I smile as I whisper a prayer of thanks. I know what I’ll be busy with in the morning.
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