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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: Indescribable
By Helen Paynter


With his bent back and short-sighted squint, Paul looked every inch the scholar that he was. Simmering with impatience, he was pacing the length of the dingy room, oblivious to the irritated glare of his guard.
At last the latch lifted and a young man rushed in, breathless and apologetic.

‘Tychicus! At last! Where have you been? Well, never mind. I want you to take some dictation – a letter to carry with you to Ephesus. Sit down, get your pen. Do you have ink mixed? Good.

Paul, Apostle of Jesus Christ. Greetings...’
Tychicus bent over the scroll. Paul dictated with rapid words. The guard sat in the corner and dozed.

‘New paragraph:
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Almighty God, be praised for his love to us.
No, scratch that last bit.
Be praised for the blessings he has given us.
No, not strong enough. I have it!
Be praised for giving us every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Yes, that’s better. Are you keeping up, Tychicus?’

Tychicus grunted, his pen flying. Paul waited, damming his ideas with difficulty, until his secretary was ready. Released, his words spilled out in an unruly torrent of praise. Tychicus mopped the sweat droplets from his forehead, terrified they would smudge the ink.

‘…our sins are forgiven through his grace.
No, wait.
Our sins are forgiven because of his grace which he poured out on us.
No no no.
… forgiven in accordance with his grace which he lavished upon us with all wisdom and understanding.
That’s it. No, don’t write ‘that’s it’!’

With an imperceptible sigh, Tychicus reached again for the erasing-stone.

‘…I pray that you may understand your hope, your inheritance, and his power for you.
No, stop Tychicus, that’s no good at all. Let me think…
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be opened… so that you may know the hope he’s called you to… the riches of his inheritance…
… the riches of his glorious inheritance… and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is like…’

‘You can’t do that!’
Paul paused in mid-word, astonished. Even the guard opened a sleepy eye at this interruption.
‘I can’t do what?’
‘You can’t say God’s power is incomparable and then compare it to something!’
‘He’s got a point,’ the soldier observed, blanching as Paul turned a steely eye upon him.
There was a shocked pause. Suddenly Paul laughed.
‘Yes, I can! I can compare it to itself. Take this down…
That power is like the power God used when he raised Christ from the dead!’
Deflated, the two men allowed Paul to dictate without interruption for several productive minutes.

‘I kneel before the Father, for whom the whole Christian family is named, and pray that you may understand his love.
Oh no, here we go again. Ummm…
…pray that you may have the power to understand his love…
No, try this…
…pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with Spirit-given inner power… to grasp God’s love.
No, that’s hopeless…’ He paced the room with frenzied feet.
‘…to grasp the...er hugeness of God’s love…

‘Abundance?’ suggested Tychicus.
‘Giganticness?’ the soldier interjected helpfully.

Paul stood in the middle of the room, locked in thought, flitting away their suggestions like flies. He seemed to be wrestling with himself internally. Suddenly he flung his arms wide, knocking several scrolls off the wall recess, and startling a passer-by with his shout.
‘…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ!’

He paused to allow Tychicus to catch up.
‘…and to know this love that is beyond knowledge!’

He nodded in satisfaction.
‘Another paradox,’ murmured the soldier.
Paul smiled. ‘Yes, it is, isn’t it? The sentence stands…
…and to know this love that is beyond knowledge… so that you may be… may be…
…may be filled to the brim with all the fullness of God!’

He stopped, panting slightly. Tychicus opened his mouth to comment, but thought better of it and returned to his writing. The soldier looked openly incredulous.

‘And may glory for ever go to him who, by his power, is able to do…’
He turned a triumphant gaze on the doubtful pair,
‘…immeasurably more than anything we can imagine!’

‘All right, Tychicus, we’ll take a break there.’

Inspired by Ephesians 1 – 3. My own paraphrase, loosely based on the New International Version.

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This article has been read 1181 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jessica Schmit06/15/06
You amaze me! This is my favorite story you've written. I loved the vision I got of Paul being a writer. What a wodnerful picture! written perfectly, message was great. There was humor, clarity, strong, strong piece. This (I think and hope) will be a winner!
Sherry Wendling06/15/06
I agree! This engaging piece fairly sings with authenticity. What a marvelous use of skillful and humorous dialogue-- meditation on the Word! I vote this a winner!
david grant06/16/06
Loved it. I imagined Paul trying to get out the tremendous message inside him, yet struggling keep it down to 750 words. He would not have enjoyed FW Writers Challenge, nor would his scribe. But I enjoyed your take on it. A DAVEY Fav for sure!
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/18/06
This is so fun! Good job!
Sharlyn Guthrie06/18/06
What a great use of scripture and imagination! I had never really thought about the process Paul must have gone through in his writings. I think you captured it! Great job!
Jan Ackerson 06/19/06
Jan Ross06/19/06
This is incredible! Paul came alive as he struggled for words to describe the Indescribable One! Well, well done! :) I'm going back to read it again! I love it!
Lynda Schultz 06/19/06
Great characterization of Paul. I could easily imagine him doing exactly what you have described. A very clever take on the subject. Good job.
Suzanne R06/21/06
Brilliant ... wonderful ... fantastic ... wow!

This is one of my favourite Bible passages and you've MORE than done it justice.

Did I mention that I really like it?
dub W06/21/06
I echo everything above. I love the way you captured Paul's personality.
Jen Davis06/21/06
Interesting, creative, entertaining are just a few ways that I could describe this piece. Then there's cute, unique, actually very unique. I loved it! Very well done.
Trina Courtenay06/21/06
Differently unique!

Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/21/06
I've never heard Paul captured this way, but you probably caught the real man. Good job.
Val Clark06/24/06
Loved the way you characterised Paul as such an energetic and passionate man of huge intellect. Interesting way to exegete a passage of scripture.
Suzanne R06/26/06
I just came back to this to send it to a friend because I love it SO much. Again - well done. I was totally surprised it didn't place ... must have been just a whisker away!