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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Park (10/25/12)

TITLE: A Huge Crowd of Witnesses
By Phee Paradise


Last summer, on a hot August morning, I was the only visitor to a private, enclosed park. It was so quiet I half expected to hear the voice of the Son of God falling on my ear, like in the hymn about the garden. But He wasnít there Ė yet. Itís not a very big park. It doesnít have a playground or picnic tables or a pond with ducks gliding across the water. It doesnít even have any flowers. It just has trees that stand apart from each other; alone, yet joined in a memorial community in this peaceful space.

Just inside the gate is a board with a list of missionaries commemorated by the trees. I stopped to read the names, but I had to walk among the trees to understand the park. A small bottle brush tree grabbed my attention, so I stepped across the dewy grass to read the name of a man and the country where he served God; an agriculturist in Columbia. Other trees drew me and soon I abandoned the path entirely and wandered across the park from tree to tree, fascinated by the variety. Many of the trees were exotic, reminiscent of the countries where these men and women devoted entire lives to the service of their Lord. Others were common oaks and pines, seeming to anchor the missionaries to their native land. A eucalyptus remembered an engineer in India; a tall jacaranda from the Congo proclaimed a builder. An old oak told of a pilot in Afghanistan while a cherry announced a preacher in Japan.

Eventually I found a name I recognized. A doctor had spent his life in China, working beside my grandfather who planted churches and trained Chinese pastors. As I gazed at the large gingko, I thought about my grandparents and the sacrifices they had made so people across the world could hear the Good News. They lost a baby; they sent their children away to school; their youngest son went blind. Yet they served happily, trusting God to turn it all to good.

Overwhelmed by the faithfulness of these mighty servants of God, I sat on a nearby bench. Looking back on my own life, I wondered what I had done that compares to their devoted service. I was humbled in their presence. Thatís when the Son of God spoke to me.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1. (NLT)

Lovingly, He pointed out that the example of the servants who have gone before me is not there to make me feel small or guilty. Itís a reminder that I too am His servant and have a work Heís given me to do. But there are two things that hinder my service to Him.

He told me to look away from the others and look for the race that He has set before me. He hasnít called me to the mission field, so I shouldnít feel guilty that I havenít made the same sacrifices my grandparents made. Heís called me to serve Him in my home, my work and my church. He invited me to ask Him to make the work I can do for Him in these places clear. Then He told me to persevere in the work Ė to run the race with endurance.

As I thought about the many times I havenít persevered, He told me to look for the sin that trips me up. He reminded me that I am sometimes lazy, that I love material comforts and devote too much time and effort to getting them. He reprimanded me for selfishness, for not wanting to share my home, my time or my life with those in need. He asked me to open my eyes and see those around me. Sitting in the park, I bowed my head and repented. When I left the park, I was free to run my race with a renewed commitment to endure.

The park is a memorial to those who have served God before me; their memory spurs me on to serve the God who met me there.

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This article has been read 388 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Pourbabaee 11/02/12
What a unique and inspiring park!I loved the symbolic trees that you described as standing apart yet joined in a memorial community, and how God met your MC there to let him know he/she too must stand apart and run a unique race. You brought a wonderful inspired message to believers!
Margaret Kearley 11/05/12
This is really wonderful and touched my heart. I loved it on several levels. The thought of having a park like this, full of beautiful and varied trees, to commemorate and remember past servants of God across the world, - is just amazing, and unique. I wonder if it is true? More than that, I love the honesty of the MC in admitting his own 'inadequacies', the challenge of the message he received and the way God spoke to him. A wonderful story. Many thanks
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/07/12
This is beautiful. I was particularity struck by the line that not all of us are called to do the same things. How wonderful is God to have created different shapes and colors of the world who when put together by God's grace sings a beautiful harmony.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/08/12
Congratulations for ranking 12th in level four and 17th overall!