Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: FINISH (05/26/16)
TITLE: The Good Fight
By Raymond Bouchoc
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“I was seventeen when the Lord captured my heart. My miserable life had to change, and the Lord spoke to me. I thought it was by chance that I heard that first Bible message, but God caused me to find that radio station and listen to the preacher,” He turned his head towards her, his eyes wet with tears.
Her dad continued, “For six months I listened to the preacher every day at the same time. I did not know anything about God before then, but I devoured every word the preacher spoke. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but during that time, the Lord changed my heart.
“The Lord awakened in me the call to ministry, and I felt compelled to preach. I focused on nothing else since that day.
“I went to seminary after that, which is where I met your mother,” now Elizabeth’s eyes were wet with tears. “She was a great woman! She was my wife, companion, lover, and best friend. She stuck with me for better and for worse, in the good times and the bad, just like the vows we made to each other.
“And those seminary days weren’t easy. We had little money. You and your sister were born. I had lots and lots of homework, plus I had to work to provide for you all. She never complained a bit, though. She was fantastic.
“During that time, the Lord provided my first preaching opportunities. No church ever called me to be its pastor, though. I guess the Lord knew I couldn’t handle it on top of everything else.
“One thing is for sure. My preaching was better because of your mother and you and your sister. She was beautiful, and you guys were so cute! Everyone loved you, and that endeared them to my preaching. And you and your sister are as beautiful as ever.”
“Oh, dad,” Elizabeth said, pushing him playfully on the shoulder.
“Anyway, I didn’t think I would ever finish seminary, but I did, and before we left, a church in Nevada, of all places, called us out there to pastor it. Do you remember anything about that church?”
Elizabeth answered, “I have some memories of it. We were there until I was seven years old, right?”
“That’s right. And your sister was five. Those were good days. The people took care of us well enough, and they were sad to see us go.
Elizabeth waited as her dad coughed a couple of times and had to catch His breath. He continued, “Of course, my life was given to serving the Lord wherever He called me to go, and that is when He called us here to this church where we have been for the past 35 years.
“These years have been great years. The people always treated us with kindness and respect, and they responded well to our ministry.
“Whenever I think of being here, I think of you and your sister growing up. It fills my heart with joy every time. Really, this place has been our home, and our life.
“When your mother died suddenly last year, I thought my life would end. It hit me hard, and I have never gotten over it.” Tears flowed down his face now. Tears flowed down Elizabeth’s face, too. She reached her arm across his chest and hugged him, crying freely.
Elizabeth’s dad patted her on the back, “Now, now.”
“I’m sorry, dad.” Elizabeth picked up her purse from the floor next to her chair. She opened it and fumbled around a second, sniffling. She took out tissues, wiped her face, and blew her nose.
“The most important thing in life is knowing you have a relationship with Jesus, and serving Him with every bit of strength He gives you.
“I have striven to do that all my life. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”
He turned towards Elizabeth and smiled. She took his hand and cried again. For a moment, they locked gazes, but then he closed his eyes and breathed his last.
Elizabeth bent over him, crying. “Bye, daddy. I love you.”
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