Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Staff (01/31/13)
TITLE: Throw it down
By Doug Spurling
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“N—nothing…or, um, ah—a staff—a shepherd’s staff—mine.”
“Throw it down.”
He pulls it close then, hides it behind his back. “Th…th…thr—ow?” Why? Why would He want me to throw it down—my staff? I’ve found comfort in carrying this. I know it’s just a stick, but—it’s mine. I’ve used it to rescue lambs from briars and rivers. I’ve carried it so long it’s worn smooth to my grip. I lean on it when I’m tired. I’ve grown accustomed to having it near when I sleep in the wild. With it I’ve killed snakes and disciplined sheep. He raises the staff. “You don’t mean th-th-this…do you?”
“Throw it down.”
“No…please no. Not this. Not my—not my, my staff. I. I need. I lean. I use—this. It protects me. It’s what I do. It’s who I am…a shepherd—this is my sssstaff. You, you, you don’t understand, this is what I use to carry out my daily—”
“B-b-but—” he starts and stalls and stammers, then thinks. Lord, I remember you. I haven’t forgotten that once, a long time ago, I thought you would use me to deliver your people. I thought I would do something great. But, that was a long time ago, and I was wrong. Now, I’ve made too many mistakes, it’s too late. I’m too old, too tired, I have nothing left to give. Where were you back then, when I tried, when I failed, when my own people rejected me? Why are you asking me now to throw down my staff—the thing that represents my livelihood—my life? I’ve accepted my lot. I’ve gotten comfortable living out here, in the back side of this dusty desert. I’m nobody. I can’t even talk right—I bleat more like one of these sheep, than talk like a man. “N-n-not me—I can’t. I’m the wrong—”
“THROW IT DOWN MOSES”
The Voice shakes the earth. Moses backpedals bare feet and drops the staff. Forty years of security, identity and the calling card of his career fall to holy ground. And what he once held dear, hisses and slithers and fills with venom.
“Now Moses, take it by the tail.”
“But, but…Lord it’s a—a, I’m af-f-fr—scared”
“Y…y…y yes LORD.” As trembling hand touches slithering snake the tail stiffens and becomes snake-turned-staff. But…it’s not the same. What’s happened? It looks and feels the same, but it’s lost its charm—lost its appeal. It’s just a stick. The staff has changed and so has the man. I am more than this. I ‘m more than what I’ve become—more than a man with a stick, more than a man with a job—a shepherd for sheep. The ember of an old dream ignites. I haven’t been forgotten after-all. My God has found me. I’m not alone. He kneels and lifts the scepter to his King. “I lay down this shepherds staff at your command, and I take it up again at your command, and behold it has become the rod-of-God.
And nothing—but nothing can quench the burning-bush-passion to hear, to follow, to know, The Voice, that commands the man, to lay down his staff.
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