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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Kingdom of God (03/12/09)

TITLE: Reader's Choice


I’m unkempt, rife with body odors, rubbing the bristles on my chin while sitting on my stoop. A story was left in my mailbox by someone—my wife, perhaps? The writing so engaging that within minutes I become the protagonist, pounding along the tired path of my own country road. Near a fallen Sycamore, I come upon the Gate. Again.

This Gate taunts me. Sometimes I see it in the distance and avoid it early on, but just as often it appears from nowhere as it does now. Here I’m given the choice of how I want the story to continue. I can pick “a” or “b”. The only two alternatives I’m ever offered.

The first time I stood before this rugged structure, I was just a boy. I peeked ahead in the story and saw that “a” led to The Kingdom of God, while “b” led to Death. But it was my father who pressed me to decide, and my mother had told me he was no good, thus I chose “b”. When I stepped back on the road, I looked up, expecting Death to descend.

The second time the Gate found me I was drinking beer with my wrestling buddies, and it appeared in the cemetery where we were goofing off. The Pastor, who preached behind its wooden slats, seemed nerdy, and I closed my ears. Besides, I was at a cemetery—Death was the logical choice.

Thereafter the Gate surfaced more often, and I began running. After college, I moved to the city, but it popped up at co-workers desks and airports. I bumped into it at a Billy Joel concert. No matter how sophisticated the road, the Gate followed. I never opted for “a,” as I had completely ceased fearing “b,” which brought pleasure, not Death.

One of those pleasures I even married.

Her name was Ava and she was lovely and filled me with new longings. We had two boys and life was phenomenal. I was floored the night I came home and found the Gate inside our bedroom. I ran my hand over a post, surprised to find it splinter-free. She was behind it pleading with her eyes, her hands, her heart. Fortunately, my pride reminded me of what a traitor she was.

Since that night, she's awaited me at the Gate.

Once I actually climbed the stone wall surrounding it and walked along watching her, peering down into her restrictive little world. My boys, who had joined her, quietly fished at a small pond. They spotted me and dropped their sticks. They yelled wildly for me.

“I’m jumping,” I called back, finally wanting to forfeit freedom. But she told me I couldn’t come that way—I had to enter through the Gate. I loathed her then and her pious ways and joined a company that worked in some “-stan” country where I hoped the Gate was forbidden.

But wherever I’ve traveled or hidden, or whatever I’ve done to eradicate it from my life, I haven’t been able to dodge it—only becoming more desolate with each attempt.

I fold the story back in thirds and scrape it along the scruff of my cheek.

My eyes close and the Gate immediately materializes. It seems less physical and more spiritual than ever before—wood yet light.

Ava’s nowhere in sight. It’s just the Light and me. A last willful fiber dissolves.

There is really nothing but to choose “a”.

As I enter the gate, my heavenly Father welcomes me into His kingdom—into His brilliance.

My wife comes forward and takes my face in her hands, kissing each ugly feature.

“Where are the boys,” I ask in our joy.

“It’s been a long time,” she answers. “They are journeying on their own.”

My regrets weigh heavily.

She soothes me: “We’ll visit them before making our next choice.”

Next? I thought I was done.”

She laughs, spreading her arms wide and I turn a complete circle. There are paths winding in every direction, leaving from the spot at which we stand. They aren’t marked with “a” or “b” but with numbers, and they go so high I get lost counting. Some are missionary paths leading to various continents, while others are local paths where the light simply shines. There are paths for professionals and homemakers, for artists and scientists, for leaders and followers, for Baptists—both dancing and non-dancing. The paths go on and on and on.

Done?” she says, “No, this is only the beginning.”

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This article has been read 1038 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 03/19/09
Absolutely brilliant!
Charla Diehl 03/19/09
WOW--intriguing to the very end. Wonderfully creative!
Joanne Sher 03/19/09
Oh, so incredibly well-drawn analogy, and the end is JUST right! Masterfully done.
Connie Dixon03/20/09
I love this. So many opportunities to make the good choice, and so many temptations to take the other one. Great ending, great descriptive pictures. Awesome.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/20/09
You did an excellent job of making the "gate" a metaphor for our choice to accept God, taking us visually through a life of wrong choices and regrets. I'm glad you MC finally made the right choice.
Sheri Gordon03/20/09
Wow...this is brilliant. What a unique way of illustrating our choice. Excellent writing, and great job with the topic.
Shirley McClay 03/21/09
Oh my goodness. Cant wait to find out who wrote this.
Chely Roach03/21/09
This was so cool. Very creative...I loved it.
Laury Hubrich 03/22/09
Awesome. Wonderful. Riveting:)
Norma-Anne Hough03/24/09
Wow this was truly great. I really enjoyed reading this.
Ten out of ten.
Teresa Lee Rainey03/24/09
This is absolutely, wonderfully, creatively, brilliant. And the title . . . perfectly shows that we readers have a choice now. Which gate will we choose? LOVE IT!
Christina Banks 03/24/09
WOW! I loved this one!!!
Mona Purvis03/24/09
Very thought-provoking. Drew me into the story and the character is so real, showing struggle after struggle. The writing is 'just right' for the story.
Jan Ackerson 03/24/09
So very creative, so absolutely literary...I've never read anything quite like this, and it's stunning.
Gerald Shuler 03/24/09
Excellent use of the "gate" throughout the story. Love this entry.
Bryan Ridenour03/24/09
Awesome. I'm glad the "Hound of Heaven" pursues us!.. Wonderfully written...a winner in my book.
Carol Slider 03/24/09
What an extraordinary and masterful illustration of the ways we choose our path! Beautifully, beautifully done!
Karlene Jacobsen03/24/09
Excellent journey of choices. This really caught my attention and held on tight.
Diana Dart 03/24/09
Fantastic symbolism and engaging, honest story of a life. I found the MC's voice so genuine and loved the happy ending!
Dee Yoder 03/24/09
I agree with Jan! One of the best I've ever read! Marvelous and wonderful to read from start to finish.
Sharon Kane03/25/09
Very creative. Lots of very interesting touches, like the -stan country where the Gate might be forbidden.

The one that left me with too many unanswered questions was the Billy Joel concert. "Why Billy Joel?" "What was he singing at the time?"

This would make a great skit for use in the open air or at evangelistic events.
Henry Clemmons03/25/09
Very intelligently told story. Annointed as well. Granted, I had to read it a few times, but it become more of a blessing each time. Outstanding entry.
Jeffrey Snell03/25/09
Not sure what to add to these--exceptional writing. Well done.
Jim McWhinnie 03/29/09
Lisa, remarkably imaginative writing done with exquisite craftsmanship.