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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Barbeque/Cookout (09/06/12)

TITLE: Over the Coals
By Timothy Klingerman


My guests would be arriving shortly for our annual Bible class cookout. I had just spent the last few hours purchasing and assembling my new charcoal grill. It resembled a small washtub set atop a precarious tripod. When in operation, it would contain a mass of burning hot coals and take its place on the patio, where my family, pets and guests would then crowd together and bustle about. It seemed to me that a fourth leg would make it a much safer device.

Despite my reservations, I fired the coals and placed them in the belly of my new man-toy. I was preparing the meats for the grill when I noticed my next door neighbor’s car appear in his driveway and then disappear into his garage. Jim was home.

Often, when Jim sees me working in the yard he comes over to talk, knowing that I am a captive audience. After work, he generally likes to vent about things his religious coworker, Bill, has said to him. The ritual was now engaged. Jim was going inside to change clothes, retrieve a beer from his refrigerator, and head straight for my patio.

In anticipation of his arrival, I loaded the meat on the grill: burgers, brats, and chicken (for those watching their fat). I ran inside, washed my hands, and was standing grill-side before Jim broke from the darkness of his garage.

“New grill, neighbor?” he asked as he stepped onto the patio.

“Hey, Jim! Yeah, I just bought it today. We’re having our Bible class cookout tonight, so I took the afternoon off to replace the old one that rusted out. I went with a higher-end model this time.”

“Good choice,” he said. “Speaking of Bible class, I had another chat with Bill today.”

“Oh? How did that go?”

“Not well. When I told him I believed in God, I thought he would be pleased. But he says I don’t even know who God is, because I don’t understand the Trinity. And the truth is – I don’t. I’m no Bible scholar, like you, but if the Bible says there is only one God, how can there be three?”

“The Trinity is a fairly involved discussion, Jim. I’m not sure I could do it justice before my guests arrive. You know, if you’d come to my Bible class on Sundays, you’d find we discuss most of the same issues you and I discuss in the backyard.”

“Yeah, but without the beer. Right?”

“That’s true,” I replied.

Then a moment of divine inspiration occurred, and the conversation turned.

“Say, Jim. You’re an engineer, aren’t you?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Well, maybe you can explain to me how this grill can be safe with only three legs.”

“I sure can. A lot of engineering went into your grill. A three-point stand can be just as stable as a four-point, as long as you properly position the legs and keep the center of gravity low. And three feet will always provide a sturdy foundation between the ground and your grill, so it will never wobble like a shopping cart with a bad fourth wheel. Does that reassure you?”

“Actually, it does. It’s good to have the opinion of an expert. You know, I think you just provided a good analogy for the Trinity.”

“How so?” Jim quizzed.

“The three persons of the Trinity are like the three legs of the grill. They provide the foundation of our relationship to God through the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father is where all things originate and the source of all authority. The Son is the incarnation of God – the way God represents himself to us in the flesh. The Spirit is the life-giving power of God – the part of God that animates and empowers all living things. God has established a relationship between himself and his creation on those three legs, and a life centered on him will never be wobbly.”

“Hey. I like that! I’m going to blow Bill’s mind with that on Monday.”

A whiff of smoke reminded me of the grill. I raised the lid and began turning the sizzling, whistling meats over the red-hot coals. As Jim watched, I asked, “By the way, do you want to continue the conversation we started last week about heaven and hell?”

Fearing another analogy from the grill, Jim answered, “Maybe later. I don’t want to distract you from your work.” Then he excused himself and retreated to the cool shadows of his garage.

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This article has been read 262 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 09/13/12
I liked how you drew the reader in to the story and then slipped in a lesson about the trinity. Only one tiny thing stood out as being awkward and that was the line "for those watching their fat". Maybe saying watching their weight or fat grams might sound better to readers. This is an excellent story.
Laura Hawbaker09/14/12
Very well written. Conversation flowed well and sounded natural. Good way to get a little doctrine taught without preaching! Good writing here!
C D Swanson 09/14/12
Good job with the topic and a well written entry, nicely done. Thank you.

God Bless~
Theresa Santy 09/15/12
Yes, I think you masterfully slipped in a lesson without it sounding like a lesson. I got a kick out of the MC getting his neighbor to answer his own question. I also liked the subtle layers of symbolism you slipped in, like how Jim came and went from 'the darkness' of his garage.

Very well done.