Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Like a Red Rag to a Bull (11/28/13)
TITLE: Stay Inside The Boundary
By Pauline Carruthers
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It was happening again. The thundering hooves stampeding in his heart, breath like hot steam from the nostrils of a charging beast. Was it only that morning that he had been reminded to, ‘Be still and know that I am God’? Daniel breathed deeply, exhaling slowly, silently, allowing God’s words to subdue the anger raging within.
He deliberately focused his attention on the power point presentation. And on the speaker, who had a natural ability to harness his willing listeners to the way he wanted to go. Daniel’s head drooped forward, floppy grey hair falling over half closed eyes, lips moving in silent petition, seeking the Lord’s wisdom.
The authoritative voice continued,
“So, we’re all in agreement that this is the way forward?”
Daniel’s thoughts turned to the presentation. How had “we could,” changed to “we will,” to “we are” and finally to, “God Said,” without interaction? The answer had been idling around in his mind since he had first become aware that Thomas was gifted in the art of manipulation. Daniel squirmed inwardly. How had he mistaken manipulation for forward thinking and enthusiasm? He believed it was wilful misuse of an ability to enthuse people. And it sparked off red hot anger in his mind.
Like a light abruptly extinguished the power point ended. The laptop banged shut and Thomas stepped down from the platform, heading for the door. The pounding in Daniel’s heart was threatening again, pressure rising. Anger drawing strength from the triumphant expression on Thomas’s face. Thomas had been his protégé, but he had failed to discern the way he manipulated situations to suit his own ambitions. A normally loving, faithful and tolerant mentor, it distressed him when righteous anger surfaced at the slightest hint of manipulation. The power was akin to pulling the pin on a grenade.
The thundering hooves were galloping in his heart again, breath coming in short gasps. Anger rising in his throat, threatening to burst unimpeded into the silence. He was very much aware that even the word manipulation, had the power to trigger hurricanes in his soul. Scripture verses tumbled through his mind, round and round like clothes in a dryer, until God’s still small voice penetrated the rage, subduing his troubled spirit.
Daniel believed that Thomas loved Jesus and had the makings of a powerful and effective leader. But had failed to make him acknowledge the stubbornness that refused to allow God to subdue the negative traits and nurture the Godly attitudes. He feared for the future of the Ministry on the receiving end of Thomas’s planned changes. A Ministry so close to his heart it hurt to consider the possible outcome. He suddenly felt incredibly weary.
A strong north wind bent the pine trees into submission outside the window and tiny feathers of pure white snow danced like swirling skirts on the pathway. Daniel lay resting, propped against his pillows, contemplating the starkness of winter from the warmth of his bed. His illness meant missing the conference that was likely to take the Mission in a new direction. The anger had blown itself out, like the north wind after it has left the trees bare and scuttled the leaves into crunchy heaps against the fence. Lying wearily against his pillows, Daniel felt as helpless as the leaves.
Olivia entered the room carrying his lunch on a tray. Her hair was as brown as when they had married over fifty years ago and he loved her now just as much as he had then. She gave him that special smile that brought sunshine and warmth into the dull winter days. He opened his mouth to speak, but she broke in before he could voice his thoughts.
“Now don’t you dare even mention that word manipulation. It’s like a red rag to a bull and you can‘t afford to put more strain on that old heart. So, leave it all in our Heavenly Father’s hands and rest.”
She kissed his cheek, rearranged his pillows and sat down on the chair beside his bed. She knew he would want to hear all that was going on in the conference and began to separate the good from the bad in her mind.
“Oh Lord,” she silently prayed, “Please protect Daniel from the pain of having to witness Thomas’s inevitable downfall. And when Thomas does fall, pour out grace enough for him to understand that the greatest leaders are often the fruit of the greatest suffering. Thank You Father!
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