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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Singing (10/31/05)

TITLE: If Ever I Loved Thee...
By Lori Othouse
11/06/05


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Water dripped down the concrete wall of the tiny cell. It was raining again. Alana rubbed her hands together, shivering in the cold. She had been here two weeks now, but it seemed more like two months. They called it ‘The Cave’, the place where all professing Christians were kept.

Alana never dreamed the persecution would go this far. Her pastor had warned and tried to prepare them, but what could prepare a congregation for men with machine guns demanding they renounce Christ or be taken captive? She had remained strong in her confession and so here she sat.

They were kept in separate cells and every day led to an open field where they watched as one was executed. The pastor would be last, after he had witnessed the death of each member of his congregation. That’s how they were…sadistic, heartless, lost.

When the thought of her fate became almost unbearable, a peace came to Alana through the words of a familiar hymn by William Featherston. Closing her eyes, she sang them quietly to herself:

“My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”

A sharp clang jarred her as the door to her cell was opened. She was pulled out to line up with everyone else, to begin the march out to the field. Their faces held a mixture of fear, pain and weariness that grew more intensified every day. Trying to distract herself, Alana thought back to happier times. She remembered when she first accepted Christ and the tremendous love she felt. It was that love that had drawn her to Him and kept her serving Him, even until now. As she stumbled along the hard ground, the second verse of the hymn formed on her lips:

“I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”

Alana trembled as she stood side by side with her dwindling church family. The one responsible for choosing who would die walked slowly back and forth in front of them with an evil grin. She avoided his eyes, but suddenly felt a strong grasp on her wrist. Her heart raced as she was pulled over to face a firing squad. Bound in chains next to them was her pastor, tears streaming down his anguished face.

She was given one more chance to deny Christ and go free but, though she looked longingly at the distant hills, she stood her ground. He asked if she had any last words. Of all she could say at that moment, the third verse of her hymn resonated through her mind. Everyone fell silent as she sang it through her tears:

“I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”

She took a final deep breath and closed her eyes. The shots rang out, piercing the frigid air and echoing through the hills.

**************

The air was filled with peace like a sweet fragrance. Joy seemed to spring forth out of nothing and freshen spirits like a soft rain. There was a continual song of praise from every side being lifted up by countless voices in perfect harmony to their Lord. Yet above it all, in the newest corner of Heaven, a beautiful melody was heard. Alana gazed into the loving eyes of her Savior as she finished her love song to Him from her new Heavenly home:

“In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in Heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.”


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This article has been read 1197 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lucian Thompson11/07/05
Loved the use of the song to tell a soon coming event for those who waited too long to stand up for Jesus. Thank God for a second chance to proclaim our Lord, though it will be so difficult during the Tribulation. My prayer is that all will sing this song before the Rapture. Great job!
Suzanne R11/09/05
Oooh, this piece gave me goosebumps. You really brought to life the words to a hymn I already loved ... and now will love even more.
terri tiffany11/10/05
loved your song choice!! I got chills too.
Alexandra Wilkin11/11/05
You have woven the words of the hymn through this beautifully told story with great skill. This is extremely good, so well paced and left me with shivers too. A powerful testamont to courage in Christ and the beauty of faith. God bless.
Val Clark11/14/05
I'm with Alexandra. Well done. You have allowed every verse to make perfect sense in the context of the story.
Scott Hesch11/14/05
This was one of the most touching stories I have ever read. I felt as if I were right there. Dont stop writing!
Marilyn Schnepp 11/14/05
I can hardly type through my tears - but it is so beautiful, and well written. Congratulations!
Debbie OConnor11/14/05
Searingly beautiful story. A joy to read! Congratulations on a much deserved win.
Dan Louise Mann11/14/05
This is story-telling extraordinare! I could not stop reading. The use of each verse of the hymn was masterful. Well-deserved win this week!
B Brenton11/14/05
Wow. I mean... uh... wow.
It was always a pet peeve of mine, lyrics in songs, but you made it beautiful. Heart wrenching.
Oh, Jesus... If I Ever Loved Thee...
I've got to check out some more stuff from you Lori, cause you're a talent not to be ignored.
Karen Treharne11/17/05
This is beautifully written, Lori. I'm sure it was very difficult for the judges to pick the winners this time around. Congratulations and blessings to you as you continue writing for God's glory.
Julianne Jones11/18/05
Wonderful the way you used the song to tell the story. Congrats on placing. Well done.
Christl Boyd11/18/05
This is annointed. Please continue being used of the Lord in this way....you have an incredible ministry of words. Thank you.