Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bouncebackability (06/05/14)
TITLE: The River
By Gary Ritter
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
ADD TO MY FAVORITES
I clung to her. “I cannot leave you. What will I do?”
“Look for the cross.”
I stumbled across the threshold and into the cold night. Barely into the sparse tree line, I heard the roar of an engine. I watched in horror. Six soldiers spilled out of the truck. Their commander strode to our front door. He ordered his men to break it down and the plywood barrier splintered into a hundred pieces.
The soldiers shouted and cursed. They dragged my mother out. She wore only the thin sweater her grandmother had given her. They demanded to know where my father was hiding. Mother said he’d gone home. The commander slapped her and demanded the truth. She shrugged and said that’s all she knew.
When they queried her about me, I almost threw up in fear. Mother told them she had no son. Perhaps it was to spur me on. It worked. Bile rose in my throat as I turned and made my way toward the river.
I had a small amount of cash in my pocket. Mother had instructed me to use it wisely: bribe the border guard. If he had any integrity I was doomed. He would arrest me immediately. If he was like the vast majority in my country, he would take the money and look the other way. I had no choice but to trust in his greed.
To my relief he took it, but only after giving me a hard look. He would remember me if necessary, the youth who came this night. He pointed, “Cross there. It’s shallower.”
The water was ice-cold and the current was fast. I’m not sure why I didn’t drown. On the other side, wet and hungry, skinny as the rats we sometimes ate, I almost died searching for shelter and warmth. I gave up and curled into a ball, burrowing into a small pile of leaves.
Teeth constantly chattering the next day, I worked my way inland. I feasted on tree bark, a typical meal in my ravaged country. After two days I saw the cross.
The wary man answering my knock peered around behind me, then pulled me inside without a word and brought me near the fire to warm me. He spoke my language, and I told him what my mother had instructed. He fed me and I slept.
We talked. I cried, and he wept with me. His compassion drove me to tears as much as anything. How could he be so kind? With one word I made the connection. Jesus. It was a Name my mother had said only once, then instructed me never to utter it. The danger was too great. If the authorities heard it, imprisonment was instantaneous.
I never wanted to return home because of the peril. Crossing out of the country was illegal. I knew I couldn’t stand up to the punishment.
In our talks my greatest surprise was that the man knew my mother. In fact, she’d been here many times. And despite the threat, had always returned home bringing food and supplies. I’d never known where she went on those occasions, but she’d always promised to come back. Why? Just for me?
The man said Mother had great faith. She had the quality of bouncebackability. It was a funny word he used, but it was because her heart ached for her people. She had Good News to share and wouldn’t remain in safety.
I asked the man to tell me more. I wanted such courage and strength in my life.
Over the next weeks I learned about Jesus and the cross. I learned why Mother loved so much. My heart broke as I thought of her sacrifice. Such bravery was beyond me.
But then I learned of my sin and what Jesus did for me. It changed me. I became a different person, like I had shed my old self and become new.
Revelation dawned on me why Mother kept returning. She had no choice. Understanding that, I fell under conviction. I, too, must return.
I had no valor or courage, but a strength beyond myself fortified me and urged me forward. Perhaps I would locate Mother, perhaps not. But I would tell everyone there was only one way, one truth, and one life.
I crossed the river back into darkness.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.