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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)

TITLE: Holy Ground
By Helen Paynter


He knows joy to be his destiny.

The night hangs around him damply. The myrtle trees are heavy with their fragrance. Sweat and tears blend on his tongue to season his whispered prayers. Gath-mn, garden of the olive press, is silent witness to the crushing of the Son of God.

Strong fingers claw the earth. His head shakes insistently. Avvon d-bish-maiya Avvon, Avvon. Father in heaven, Father, Father.

He knows joy to be his destiny. But he cannot find it.

Before him are two doors. Seated between them, smug on the pivot of the dilemma, is the mocker. Which is your way, princeling? Let me help you.
He opens one a crack. Laughter drifts out. A party with dear friends. Back slapping and breaking of bread. Now there are crowds, listening in rapt attention. A hundred leaping cripples. Love, fellowship, healing, blessing. Surely this is the door to joy?

The door slams shut and the blanket of night instantly smothers the sound. Silence reverberates blackly.

The mocker smirks, Or consider the alternative. He opens the other door. A deeper darkness creeps through; a chill spreads. Evil stalks out, invisible, yet tangible. Pain lurks beyond, Abandonment, too. A world of hatred funnelled onto the point of a nail.

The Son prostrates himself in the dirt. Kee im hal-tzaynu min harah. Deliver me from evil. Again and again the words: muttered, whispered, groaned, shouted. Pleading for another way. Balling up his love and courage in one hand, and weighing it against his purity in the other.

He knows joy to be his destiny. But it is slipping from his grasp.

Finally, his tears subside, replaced by the bold whisper of submission, Ye-asseh retzoncha. Your will be done.
The mocker watches, frigidly.

The Son looks up at last, lifting his earth-soiled face to the deep darkness still spewing from the open door. Obeying an unspoken command, he staggers to his feet, steps forward, peers into the abyss. For a long time, the darkness bites unrelentingly. He continues to watch.

Finally a glimmer! A shard of light cuts through the darkness from deeper recesses behind. He leans forward, straining to see into that sliver.

Suddenly, the light breaks through. A kaleidoscope of images tumble towards him. Creation, groaning no longer, restored and made new. Millions of faces, lives made whole. The smile of the Father, delighted with his obedient son. The victory parade in heaven; leading the hostages home. The songs of the angels.

Too late, the mocker sees the danger. He slams the door shut. Night envelops the garden again. But the Son embraces the darkness.


The garden is silent once more, the myrtle trees heavy with fragrance. The Son, the soldiers, the betrayer, all departed. In breathless hush it waits, as it has for centuries. But the waiting is almost over. The Son of God has chosen the bleak grey path to joy.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12v2

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Hebrews 5v7

Quotations taken from the New International Version

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 1987 times
Member Comments
Member Date
david grant05/25/06
Cool. I've never read a view in to the Garden like this. Very inventive and well written. One of my favs.
Sherry Wendling05/26/06
Great stuff! I was hoping someone would write on "the joy set before Him...I love the sense of spiritual battle here; it comes alive. A couple of places could have been stronger by eliminating an adverb...But all in all, beautifully done!
Helen Murray05/26/06
The framing of this article, in the fragrant garden and in the destiny of joy creates an eternal suspension of the solitary night of passion. The use of Jesus' own language added great tenderness. Wonderful writing.
Leslie Lamb05/26/06
Jessica Schmit05/28/06
WOW,WOW,WOW,WOW. Incredible job. Breathtakingly beautiful. Your creative, unique and goregous take on these verses, are perfect. Great job on this one.
Rita Garcia05/28/06
Truly inspired!
Jan Ackerson 05/29/06
"...the bleak grey path to joy..." This phrase is a sermon in itself. Glorious writing!
Sue Dent05/30/06
Magnificently recounted, I'd say . . . only I felt bad because I kept picturing Gollum from the LOTR movies in Satan's place. It didn't detract form the telling though. Unbelievable job!!
T. F. Chezum05/30/06
Very nicely done. An excellent read. Great job.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/30/06
Excellent. I felt like I was there, watching, rooting for him to pick the right path, knowing he would, and grateful that he did. Thank you.
Birdie Courtright05/31/06
This is a masterpiece! There are no words for how awesome this is...praying this one makes the EC. The vivid imagery is profound. I'm still trying to catch my breath.
Jessica Schmit06/01/06
Yeah Helen! i thought you'd do well on this piece!
Sherry Wendling06/01/06
YESSSSS!! You DID IT! I'm so awed by this piece, Helen, and by the Lord's faithfulness to honor the good stewardship of your outstanding gift. You surely do belong in EC. Now you're on a roll!
Suzanne R06/01/06
What an impressive take on 'for the joy set before Him...' - this is EXCELLENT! And congratulations on placing - I'm so glad you did - this is great!
Marilyn Schnepp 06/01/06
Congratulations on your Placing! You deserve it! Plus, you deserve a Star for all the Comments and critiques you do for us, your fellow writers. If it weren't for your comments, I'd have zilch sometimes - so this is twofold - Congratulations AND a Thank You.
Sharlyn Guthrie06/01/06
This is just beautiful! I just found and read it last night, and I knew it was a winner. Congratulations!
Beth Muehlhausen06/01/06
Well done: gripping and thought-provoking. That final sentence hit home: "The Son of God has chosen the bleak grey path to joy." You did a wonderful job with this.

Edy T Johnson 06/01/06
Congratulations, Helen! This is a well-deserved win for some magnificient writing. Just as Marilyn mentioned, I notice your generous comments everywhere I click at faithwriters. I want to add my thank you, for encouragement you have given to me and so many others. God bless you!
Crista Darr06/01/06
This piece is "holy ground" as well. Amazing, inspired writing! Congratulations.
Karen Treharne06/07/06
Your story painted such a personal picture of Christ's agony on our behalf, Helen. It has blessed me today to read it and think about how much Our LORD and God loves us and how valuable our salvation is. May God continue to bless your writing as you honor and glorify Him. Congratulations on a beautifully-written piece.