Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)
TITLE: Sound Character
By L.M. Lee
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There is a lot that can be said about Jerry, but subtlety never will be. He is notorious for intruding into private conversations, randomly commenting on non-specific unrelated trivia to clients, tormenting irritated co-workers with boorish braggadocios accolades about his progeny and routinely manages to belittle our boss.
Every Christmas our boss books dinner for us at one of the area’s finest restaurants. Expense has never been a consideration. Once he hired a limousine to fetch everyone to a feast at an historical antebellum plantation. Another time he chartered a yacht and the employees dined by candlelight on the open waters. Jerry, on the other hand, manages to find something ridiculous to complain about. Despite eating at some of the area’s finest cuisine prepared by notable chefs, his tastes buds still take offense.
This Christmas Jerry surpassed every expectation. We dined at a marvelous restaurant housed in an old villa that greeted its guest with the marvelous scent of damp stonework, fireplace ashes and bread baking. As the banquet rooms were compact, our boss decided to hire a delivery service to play Santa with our Christmas bonuses. While we dined, our presents were delivered to our homes.
Logistically this was pretty impressive! Conversation buzzed around the table as to how creative my boss had been and we giggled with child-like delight over the mysteries awaiting us.
Not Jerry. He whined about someone coming to his home. He labored the fact that they would probably get lost along the way. He prompted the idea the gifts would be stolen. Even Christopher Robin’s Eyeore was never this pessimistic.
Dinner ended. Everyone carried leftovers to their cars and rushed home to discover our treasures.
Four days later we returned to work after the Christmas holiday. I opened the offices, turned on the heat and started the coffee. Jerry arrived next.
“I knew I shouldn’t have believed them!” he announced the second he sauntered into my office, slamming the door behind him. “What a joke. I knew they weren’t going to give me a Christmas present. They’re all talk. They like to act high and mighty, but they’re just a bunch of tight-fisted slave drivers.”
My mouth flew open. Fortunately what was about to gush out came to a screeching halt right on the tip of my tongue.
“Jerry,” I began, calming myself, “how long have you been working here?
“Ten years,” he said.
“And in ten years, have they ever failed to give you a Christmas bonus?” I continued.
“Nope,” he mumbled.
“Then what makes you think they didn’t this time?” I questioned. “I can’t believe you would doubt them after all these years!”
“Well, there wasn’t any gift on my doorstep,” he insisted.
“Did you look around your house?” I asked. “Did it occur to you the delivery service might have put it in an inconspicuous place to keep it from being stolen?”
“No,” he muttered.
“I suggest you call your wife and have her look around the house,” I said, “I’m sure it’ll turn up.”
He shuffled out of the office completely deflated at my chastisement and called his wife. Investigation revealed his wife had found the gift and put aside for herself without any intention of telling him. He never apologized for his accusations. Despite the truth, he felt completely justified in his opinion of our boss.
I marveled at what I had just experienced. Here was someone who had known my boss for years. He had consistently witnessed their generosity. There had never been any cause to doubt their character. Yet, because of someone’s inconsiderate actions, he completely slandered my boss’ reputation. I just sat there amazed.
It was then Father spoke:
“How often is My character maligned because of someone’s actions?”
I did not have to think long and hard about what He had asked. I felt so ashamed. I thought of all the times I had falsely accused God. Blamed Him for my misfortune. Doubted His love for me. I was no better than Jerry. Suddenly I did not feel so self-righteous and indignant. I felt very guilty, in need of forgiveness and grace.
And based on God’s sound character, not my actions, I received just that.
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