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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Time (11/15/12)

TITLE: No Time Like the Present - or the Past, or the Future
By Noel Mitaxa


Downcast, the group shuffled around the blackened, acrid-smelling rubble, peering in through the window-sized gaps in a warped and blistered shell. Their charred vehicle, so painstakingly and prayerfully fitted out for a new life as a soup bus, was now bereft of any joy or hope – for its previously-expectant workers or its prospective clientele.

Numbed by the fire chief’s verdict, the soup bus committee watched the fire crew reboard their truck and drive slowly away.

“Arson? Fire for hire?” they echoed among themselves.

“Pastor Kelvin, why would God let this happen? He knew how much we wanted to help homeless people downtown. Doesn’t he care as much as we do?” Jeff’s voiced their bewildered betrayal, though he had never been a spokesman type. He had always felt inadequate as a witness, for he was more the doer than the talker. Other folks at the church could explain their faith so well, but when this bus idea came up, his confidence responded to their trust in his mechanical skills.

Together they had reshaped a tired, beat-up hulk into a gleaming example of grace: a four-wheeled sermon that expressed hope for anyone who felt left behind by life - especially if they had known the bus beforehand.

“All the time we spent on this, the hard work, all our prayers. We expected so much, but it was all for nothing. God didn’t deliver on his promises!” Jeff’s eyes tinged red in frustration against his ash-smudged cheeks.

“Fellas, this is heartbreaking,” Pastor Kelvin replied. “No question about it. We all thought our work was done, and we were looking forward to great times of service and blessing. But God hasn’t finished yet, and he won’t allow some room-temperature IQ arsonist to have the last say.

“We were sure of what to expect from him, but he has some deeper work to do within us. We can’t see it yet, but he wants us to keep focused on knowing him as much as on working for him.

"Just imagine a family mealtime, when the father breaks the news that a planned holiday won’t be happening. Naturally the kids are disappointed, and they might remind him of his promise, and what they had expected. But, holiday or no holiday, he’s still their father.

“Let’s stay open to him and his bigger picture, because for some time now he may have been speaking to someone we haven’t noticed. We only have twenty-four hours a day, but time never pushes him around, and he sees into everyone’s heart. It’s something like a television newsroom with walls of monitors screening footage from everywhere, as news teams look for footage to match the stories they will run. God answers our prayers like that, for he sees all of our past, present and future thoughts and actions, and he helps us to embrace his bigger picture.”

Reaching over to Jeff, he signalled the others into a circle to link arms before he prayed, “Lord, still our aching hearts, so we may know you. Help us to see how you will be exalted in all the earth, as your word declares in Psalm 46:10.”

A brief group hug embodied an “amen,” before everyone quietly headed for their vehicles.

Later that morning, as he opened his study door, Kelvin heard the concluding beep of a recorded message. An unfamiliar number, but while kneeling on his chair, he reached for the phone…

His introduction was interrupted. “Reverend, I don’t care much about churches, because they only seem to care about themselves. But I heard about your fire this morning and that bus you lost.

“Young Jeff Douglas works for me, and since he got started on that church project he’s changed so much. He used to be hard to spark up about anything, but since he started telling us about how you want to help hungry people, he’s lifted the whole tone around here. The other workers always used to complain, but now it’s like they really care about each other.

“This morning I’ve spoken with some business friends who’d like to help you get another bus, and I’ll pay for all Jeff’s time. I don’t know if we will all suddenly appear at your church, but that bus has got us thinking.”

Pastor Kelvin smiled, for he knew it was time to call Jeff about some promises…

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This article has been read 413 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Danielle King 11/23/12
Your opening paragraph drew me in with its rich detail. You portrayed Jeff's character well along with his frustration and disappointment with God.

Pastor Kelvin talks sense. I like him! Every church should have one.

Overall I think this is a wonderfully descriptive, well crafted piece of writing, that slowly unfolds the message of God's love and answer to prayer in His own perfect timing.
Christina Banks 11/24/12
I really enjoyed this entry. Your opening hooked me. Great job!
Beth LaBuff 11/25/12
My first thought was "It's Friday, Sunday's coming." Your paragraph with the promise from Psalm 46:10 lifts the soul. This well-written entry perfectly illustrates that verse. Your descriptive phrases put the reader right in your story; I could see the burned-out bus and I could feel the despair over what they considered an unkept promise. The end left me smiling.
Loren T. Lowery11/26/12
God does work in mysterious ways, doesn't He? Your phrase "he was more a doer than a talker..." reminds me a great deal of the way I'm left to think of the convictions of the author of this well-written story.
Myrna Noyes11/26/12
God really does "move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform"! :) I loved your title, everything in between, and the positive, hopeful ending! Your descriptions were excellent, the bewildered emotions well-expressed, and the message of hope and trust was inspiring! Great job! :)
C D Swanson 11/27/12
I truly enjoyed this lovely piece. Thank you so much!
God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/27/12
This is a great story. You did a wonderful job of introducing the conflict right away. Your MC's emotions were so real I could almost feel everything buzzing around inside of him. I need these words more than you could ever know right now at this time. Thank you for your obedience to God. Your words will touch more people than you could ever imagine.
Bea Edwards 11/28/12
Great entry, well written and interesting from the start.
Was stuck a bit on the ending...promises?
Hiram Claudio11/28/12
Such a great message and a great lesson. I loved not only Jeff's boss' reaction to the fire and wanted to help but the tesitmony he gave of how different Jeff has been since he got involved with God's work and God's people. That whole section just spoke to me. Excellent work here!
Loren T. Lowery11/29/12
Congratulations, Noel. Nice to see your works being recognized - again : )
Beth LaBuff 11/29/12
It's great to see that "highly commended" bar at the top of this. Super congrats, Noel!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/29/12
Congratulations on your HC and for ranking 20 overall! Happy Dance!
Myrna Noyes11/29/12
CONGRATULATIONS on your "Highly Commended" ranking for this great story, Noel! WAY TO WRITE!! :)