Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Exam (09/12/13)
- TITLE: Falling From The Good Works Ladder
By Pauline Carruthers
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The attack came fast. Thudding hoof beats in her chest like stampeding cattle. Pain knifing through skinny body like ripping canvas in a hurricane. In her mind she drifted gently to the ground, as a silk scarf from a waif-like hand. In reality, old bony limbs folded with a thud on the hard floor. A can of polish rolled quietly under a seat; her duster, just out of reach, tantalisingly brushed her fingertips.
The pain ebbed and flowed to the rhythm of the organ that assailed her senses. It would be George practising for the organ recital contest. He was always runner up, yet week after week he put himself through the rigorous tests of his skill, determined to hit the winning note. She managed a weak cry that simply lost itself in the melodious sounds rising to the richly ornamented ceiling of the cathedral.
“Iris, oh Iris. How many times must I tell you? When will you listen? Will you ever understand?”
She lay still and silent, allowing the sweet rich tones of the organ to vaguely caress the edge of her senses. The pain was receding and she felt her breathing come back into rhythm, but helplessness still held her in a vice like grip.
Silent words pleaded from her confused mind.
“Lord, please give me strength to do what has to be done today. Let me continue to serve You Lord. The floor is still dirty, the seats dusty and I still have to clean the small church and make cakes for the Ladies Fellowship tonight and the communion cloths have to be washed and……….”
“Iris, Iris. Be still and know that I am God”
She was vaguely aware of a soft voice filtering through the stillness. The organ was silent. George had gone. She realised how tired she had been feeling lately and the many times she had felt the physical strain of overworking her ageing body. But there was such a lot to do and no-on to do it. Except her.
Thoughts, almost like an audible voice began to wrap around her mind. Was she the only one willing to do things or was she still hanging onto each task, like little tests successfully passed on her busy way to earning her place in Heaven. Doubts began to pierce the haze of her conscience.
“Have you heard Me at last, Iris My precious child? I am your Father and above all I desire your presence each day. I want to have you visit Me, talk to Me as if I were your Father who lives around the corner. Share your time with Me. Tell Me the things you would tell a much loved father. All your good works, valuable as they are, will not on their own, bring you into my presence on that final day. There is no criteria Iris my child, except to love me above all earthly things. The seeds for good works come from love, not duty. Give Me a special place in your life every day and I will strengthen your faith enough to simply rest in My presence.”
Her heart cried out a yearning for obedience to His will.
As George hummed his way down the grassy path leading to his home he was suddenly aware that he hadn’t seen Iris that morning. She was usually busily scrubbing the Cathedral floor or polishing the seats or rushing off to arrange fresh flowers in the old church. He smiled. She meant everything for the best but didn’t leave anything for anyone else to do. Iris was busily wearing herself out passing the tests in the ‘good works class’. No time for God he thought. Then felt guilty for judging her motives. An uneasy feeling reminded him that he had seen her coat hanging in the foyer.
Pushing open the great oak door George called her name.
“Iris, Iris my dearest friend. Where are you?”
Following a muffled sound he found her lying helplessly between the seats. He cradled her head and lovingly stroked thinning hair as he held her close. Though obviously still in pain her eyes shone and her mouth twisted into a jagged smile. Sunbeams danced on the ornate ceiling and reflected on the stained glass windows, lighting up her radiant face. The fragrance of her Saviour still lingered and George sensed an enlightening in her spirit.
“She’ll be fine,” the paramedics assured him as they gently lifted her into the ambulance. And he believed she would.
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