Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers)( 11/08/07)
One Last Song
By Ruth Neilson
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Ungracefully, the soldiers threw her onto the moist wooden floor where she landed with a grunt. As boney, yet gentle, hands eased themselves underneath her arms, she slowly looked around. It was dark in the cramped shack; she blinked several times everything seemed to be in shades of gray.
“What happened to her?” Shannon hissed from her hiding spot in the dark corner.
“They tried to make me talk.” Katherine admitted, as she leaned heavily against an offered, boney shoulder from the shack elder, Grandmother. Grandmother clucked quietly as her gnarled hands examined Katherine’s body for injuries.
“Did you?” Shannon snapped.
Katherine turned her face towards Shannon’s. “I would never talk.”
“Hush...” Grandmother muttered as she eased Katherine onto a rough wooden plank. The splinters hurt, but they were a welcome change of pain. “Shannon’s a new one. You know that... She’s just bitter because her gathering was arrested when someone here broke...”
Katherine grimaced as Grandmother continued her examination. “We’ve been trying to tell her that no one from our body would betray a gathering.”
“She’s new to the faith, isn’t she?” Katherine muttered, through clenched teeth.
“Breathe, Katherine.” Grandmother softly chided as she wrapped a battered limb in a dirty rag. “Yes, she is...”
Katherine nodded. “She just needs a little bit of encouragement then.” Grandmother chose that moment to yank her twisted leg. Katherine gritted her teeth and tried not to scream. The soldiers thrived from the screams of their prisoners; the more a person screamed, the bolder the soldiers became in their methods of torment.
Her leg settled back into its joint and Katherine rested her head against the plank. She took several deep breaths before calling out for every woman in the building to hear, “God’s grace is sufficient for you, for his power is made perfect in weakness.”
“Katherine, you need to rest,” Grandmother muttered as Katherine stubbornly shook her head.
“They need this encouragement.” She whispered.
Moving to Katherine’s left shoulder, Grandmother clucked her tongue. “You should be resting, Katherine, not wasting your energy trying to encourage us,” Grandmother’s voice drifted off, “Katherine... why don’tcha, sing us one of your hymns.”
Katherine frowned and blinked in confusion. Singing was a rare luxury that she saved only when someone was dying. “No one has died...” She muttered. “I’m just weak is all.”
Grandmother smiled faintly as she found another rag. “Just sing for me, Katie. I want to hear you sing.”
Katherine closed her eyes and sighed before starting to hum softly. “Louder, Katherine, sing for us.” Grandmother quietly encouraged.
Katherine took a shuddering breath as Grandmother tied the rag around her shoulder.
“I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection”
When her voice fell silent, Grandmother quietly felt for a pulse before removing the rags from Katherine’s body. The other women in the shack turned away, some sniffling, others wiping tears away, but none crying loudly. Grandmother continued to remove the cloth and then began to prepare Katherine’s body.
“Grandmother...” Shannon whispered, “Why was she chosen?”
Grandmother paused in her preparations and gazed into Shannon’s bright green eyes for a long moment before quietly stating, “Because you weren’t ready yet.”
After a long moment, a light came into Shannon’s eyes. She nodded and found herself smiling faintly. Quietly, Shannon stated, “I think I’m ready, now, Grandmother.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
“How Deep the Father’s Love”
©1995 Kingsway's Thankyou Music
Words and Music by Stuart Townend
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