Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Trust and Obey (don't write about the song) (05/21/15)
By Hannah Gaudette
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How long is forever? I wonder silently. Is it long enough to die? Long enough to see the faces of your loved ones and know you'll never see them again?
Drip . . . drip . . . drip . . . the rhythmic, steady sounds of the rain falling outside – first gentle and spring-like, then faster and more of a prelude to a storm. I stand trembling at the window, gazing out distantly to the street. Though a rain such as this should be a sign of life anew, hope rising with the sweet, spring dawn, for us it's an omen of something darker. Something . . . evil.
An echo of the screams, the pleas, the cries – all of which could be ours someday. I long to leave this place, this place of such uncertainty and horror, but I can't. Something (or someone) holds me back. Even my daughter, twelve-year-old Riva, seems to understand. She feels it, too. That terrible, frightening need to stay here.
My knees begin to feel weak and I grip the windowpane, shutting my eyes as if to shut out the world and its ugliness. “God, You must let us get out of here! Don't you care if we die?” my soul pleads silently.
I hear Riva coming out from her room (little more than a corner set apart by a curtain) and I feel her looking at me, asking without words, “Have they come for us?”
I remember so clearly the taunts and pleas from my parents as they fled the city. My mother, with panic streaked on her beautiful face, had asked, “Is this how little you love your own daughter? That you would wait for the Nazis to come and take you both away?” She spit out Nazis like it was poison on her tongue.
I turn to face Riva, her dark hair and sorrowful brown eyes harboring uncertainty. I suddenly hear God so clearly, speaking directly to my heart. All else is silenced, as if under orders not to voice its opinion until He speaks first.
Stay where you are. Trust Me. This is all that I ask of you. And someday, you will see the reason clearly.
I walk to Riva and put my arms on both her shoulders, looking down squarely into her eyes. “We must stay here. I feel God has asked us to stay.”
A dim smile comes to her lips. “I know, Mama. He showed me in a dream that we were to stay.”
“A dream?” I breath. It's a relief to know she's been told the same thing. I put my hands on either side of her face, studying, memorizing. As if somehow I can hold back time and keep her here, with me, safe. “Let's pray now.”
She nods and we bow our heads. In the still, peacefulness of prayer, I feel an unspeakable joy, an unshakeable peace, a transcending trust, settle into my heart. I open my eyes with an “Amen” and look Riva right in the eyes. She's afraid, I'm sure, but there is an underlying hope, a childlike faith.
Suddenly, we hear shouts outside. I rush back to the window and look out to the street. Amidst the pouring rain, they've come. The Nazis are rounding up our neighbors, our friends. They're running in uniforms, holding guns, shouting in German. I see a small child fall to the ground from her mother's arms and she sobs as the panicked woman is dragged away. As the child extends a desperate hand outward, one ruthless soldier comes and pulls her up, following the others.
I shut my eyes, unable to not envision the child as being Riva, and the woman being me. I turn to Riva who returns my gaze with courage. She nods with affirmation and says, “I trust Him, Mama. He'll take care of us.”
“Yes, Riva.” I look into the dying embers in the fireplace and smile.
So, that's what forever is. Through the horror there's peace; through the strife there's joy; through the danger there's refuge. We all need something lasting to grasp hold of. Forever – it's God's eternal love.
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