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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bloom (11/22/12)

TITLE: The God who Plays Leapfrog
By Noel Mitaxa


Jeff had sunk into the couch with Mutt’s jaw resting on his knee. With cool drink in hand, he was watching the football on his big-screen. You could almost insert this picture into the dictionary where “relaxed” used to be.

Except that he wasn’t watching the game. He was still reeling from this morning’s discovery. All that work flushed down the toilet. Oh yeah, Pastor Kelvin had prayed for the whole mess. But he knew God’s promises did not include a replacement bus suddenly arriving in the church car park - gift-wrapped with a big silk ribbon tied in a bow and postmarked “Heaven!”

Jeff might have always been a 3D synonym for “shyness,” because he never sought attention. Let the others do the talking. Then somebody suggested the church start a soup bus before winter set its icy fingers around the hopes and self-respect of homeless people downtown. Before he knew it, he had found himself guiding all those talker types, and as they transformed a decrepit hulk into a vehicle that would fulfil this ministry, his confidence had bloomed in their respect for him.

The church had planned to dedicate the team and their bus the next day, but an unknown arsonist had wrecked the dream and denied people the nourishment and acceptance that they needed so desperately.

And what about the guys at work? He’d got so excited about the project that maybe his enthusiasm had rubbed off on them, but now he’d have to tell them it had all gone belly-up. He’d begun to enjoy his new-found easiness with words, but now the right words had emigrated.

Sonorous doorbell chimes launched Mutt into a barked greeting for an unknown but ever-welcome guest.

When Jeff opened the door he found Pastor Kelvin, smiling. But as Mutt’s nostrils and tail approved the visit, Jeff waved him wordlessly towards the lounge.

“Football’s a lot like the church,” observed Kelvin as he sank into a chair and accepted a Coke. “A few who need a rest are watching by thousands who’d benefit from exercise. But I’ve just had some great news about our soup bus, from Dave Christie.”

“Do you mean my boss?” gaped Jeff. “He’s never been interested in church!”

“So he told me, but he’s seen how you've come right out of your shell since the bus project started, and right now he’s trawling with his business contacts to get us another one! How about that?"

“But I don’t understand, Pastor. Couldn’t God have reached Dave without breaking our hearts with that firebug?”

“He could Jeff, but your growth has inspired Dave, and God’s promises aren’t about special effects. He leaves all that stuff to guys like Steven Spielberg, because he prefers to focus on our relationships with him and with each other. Your humility and your new confidence have inspired Dave Christie to see how he can help us, for God wants to make our soup bus ministry more effective by including some up-and-outs along with the down-and-outs!”

Jeff’s lips moved, but only to sip on his Coke, as Kelvin reached across and lightly punched his shoulder.

“Jeff, we were all expecting great things from God, but his dreams were bigger than ours. We knew our timeline, with our imminent launch. We knew when to expect it, but God widened our timeline because he’s immanent.

“That’s spelled with an ‘a’ instead of an ‘i,’ and it simply means that he’s not limited by time. When he answers our prayers, he steps into our needs or our hopes, and we discover that he’s leapfrogged over our hopes and desires. He shows that he’s been working with those around us, or working through us – or even in spite of us - to bring new life to bloom.

"And he’s kept doing all this under our radar and without asking our permission; because if we were aware of everything he was up to, our pride or our fear or our impatience would get in his way.”

Jeff sat back, feeling the blanket of confusion being lifted away, and he grinned with relief and excitement. So the soup bus was not dead, and Dave Christie, of all people, was warming to what God could do in his life. He couldn’t quite imagine that boss’ voice wrapping itself around choruses or hymns in church, but a seed was sprouting, and God would bring the growth to full-bloom in his own time.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 11/29/12
I think your "3D synonym for 'shyness'" is a great descriptive phrase! :) Your football and church comparison gave me a smile. :) And thank you--I learned a new word, "immanent." I needed your message, especially, "His dreams are bigger than ours," and " He's leapfrogged over our hopes and desires." That puts so many things in perspective. And the "working--even in spite of us" - ouch to that, but it's so true.
Danielle King 11/30/12
This is a great message, and one that I certainly need to keep being reminded of, and it's written in a flowing, conversational style.

I like pastor Kelvin even more now I'm getting to know him better. He's in tune with God and knows how to reach the 'doubtfuls and troubled' with God's word.

Your idea of having an episode 2 is good. Please can we have an episode 3 because I'd love to know how Jeff's boss turned out.
Loren T. Lowery11/30/12
Your 3D definition for shyness reminds me of something O'Henry might have penned. This lead into a great story with a moral that was not preachy, but honest and soul searching. Truths rooted out by faith's diligent digging shovel. Your characters are well-rounded, believable and sympathetic to the reader. Great job!
Christina Banks 12/02/12
I agree with the other comments about your "3D synonym" phrase. Nicely done.
Bea Edwards 12/03/12
Just loved the way you wrapped this story up! I recently made a mistaken call on an entry not being on topic, without realizing that allusions to the topic were sometimes what this challenge is all about and you fulfilled that requirement beautifully.
lynn gipson 12/03/12
God is working on things under the radar...I like that one...reminds me He is ever in control no matter how hard we try to change things.

This, as usual, is excellent.
Thanks for sharing your extraordinary talent once again.

God BLess, Lynn
Allison Egley 12/03/12
This is great. And you're right. I DID learn a new word. Also, I agree with the others about the "3-D synonym" phrase. :D
Eddie Snipes12/04/12
Interesting story! I wouldn't have thought about spreading a longer story across several writer challenges. What a novel idea :) I look forward to reading your future installments.
C D Swanson 12/04/12
A very resourceful and profound piece. Nicely done, interesting and clever.

Thank you. God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/06/12
Congratulations for ranking 8th in level three!!