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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)

TITLE: To Worship and Be Freed
By Sandra Petersen
01/26/06


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This is my last goodbye! I won't come here anymore if God doesn't help me today. In fact, I won't be going anywhere after this afternoon. I have plans! Yes, big plans, and not even God Himself can stop me!

All the worship songs and sermons in the world haven't freed me from this bondage. Only one solution remains if God doesn't answer. The pastor talks a pretty line about 'being Jesus with flesh' reaching out to the hurting, but where is Jesus for me?

In all the weeks I have come to this church, not one person has moved beyond a courteous "Good morning". For the record, though, I don't make meeting me very easy. I enter the sanctuary only when I hear the first song being played and leave just before the service ends.

Today the space I usually sit in is empty, and I am grateful.

*****

As I begin to pick out chords to the opening song, I reflect on the curious stirring that was inside me when the worship team met to pray prior to the service. I remember asking God to let us be Christ in the flesh to someone who needs Him today. Who is that person?

While I strum my guitar, I scan the faces of those in the congregation. Who's the hurting one that has caused such a surge of compassion in me? I see people nodding and smiling, some with outstretched arms worshiping in the Spirit. Who, Lord?

My eyes are drawn to a corner of the sanctuary; the last pew is empty but for one person. My heart stirs. She's the one!


*****

The guitarist is staring at me and I feel an urge to scurry away from this place. I command myself to remain seated. To avoid his eyes, I close mine and concentrate on the lyrics of the song.

"Okay, God," I breathe. "This is Your last chance! "

*****

I wonder why the Lord has singled her out today. I've seen her here several times before and she always seems so isolated and unapproachable, so confined to one tiny space.

The Lord doesn't give me any hints about her need, but nudges me into the beginning chords of 'Praise Adonai', usually the prelude to an altar call. I know that it's too early in the service for this. The pastor looks at me with curiosity but allows me to continue. People rise to their feet with their hands lifted high as though to grasp the hem of the Lord's garment in Heaven. All but her. She is listening, not singing, her eyes closed.


*****

What's going on with me? I know this song but I never felt this way before. Something or someone is touching my soul and whispering love to me. The presence expands within me and overflows. I sense that I could reach out and touch Jesus right now. His love is so overwhelming I fear my heart will explode! I'm crushed and yet lifted up in the strength of His embrace. Tears water my cheeks.

*****

Something is happening. The voices of the congregation sound like a great rushing flow of many waters. I see her stand, trembling, and stagger toward the altar, her eyes still closed.

"Lord, prepare us! " I silently pray.


*****

The words are now a pleasant-sounding blur as the music swells. I sense a vast golden space and people surrounding me. All their praise is focused toward a great throne. I am swept by the praise toward that focal point where one person stands, waiting for me. Falling before Him, I see His scarred hands. Pushing up the sleeves of my sweatshirt, I reveal my own self-inflicted scars.

The secret bondage is no longer hidden. His tears fall on my wounds and His scarred hands touch mine. I am free!

*****

I know that men aren't supposed to cry, but the Lord has done a miracle today in our midst. I don't know how He did it, but this child of God weeping at the altar has been set free. To Him be all the glory and praise!


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This article has been read 1004 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Suzanne R02/01/06
Wow ... this is powerful. A powerful topic and powerful writing. Thank God for music, for the sensitivity of His people to His Spirit, and for His hand on His people.

Although I know too well that God doesn't always step in and save us from ourselves......

Great writing. Those tears are precious indeed.
Crista Darr02/01/06
Beautiful work. I love it!
Julianne Jones02/01/06
What can I say? Awesome. Powerful. A challenge to me as a musician to make sure my heart is ready when leading God's people in worship. Nice work.
Shari Armstrong 02/02/06
A wonderfully touching story -well done.
Jan Ackerson 02/02/06
Oh, how I wish more church musicians were so sensitive! I loved your alternating voices.
janet rubin02/03/06
wonderful. This makes me long to be sensitive to the Spirit's leading. He uses us in such powerful ways when we let Him.
Maxx .02/03/06
You asked for an hoenst critique, so I'll do my best. Your message is powerful, your character is real. The healing power of God is captured well. I personally struggled with the alternating voices. I know others liked it.. but my thought is that we only have 750 words. You divided that between two distinct characters... 375 words each. Can't tell two deep and powerful stories in 375 words each. That limit forces you to "Tell" us what they are feeling / doing instead of "showing." I might have tried telling this only through the eyes of the music minister... then "show" us what he sees in the girls actions / reactions. That doesn't detract from your obvious skill and your smooth use of the English language. You've got game, to be sure. People will be touched and healed by reading this piece.
Lynda Lee Schab 02/04/06
I actually loved the alternating voices. Each was distinctive and put a creative twist on the piece. The story moved forward nicely and the message was powerful. Awesome work!

Marilyn Schnepp 02/04/06
I am unfamiliar with "Praise Adonai"; however, it must be the equivalent of a choir singing "Just As I Am" at a Billy Graham crusade. Just the sound of the music brings one to their feet or to their knees...at the altar. I loved the duo=thoughts of both the musician and the girl in need. Very impressive. Good job.