Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: TRUST (07/21/16)
- TITLE: The Shiny Message
By Mike Hill
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Painfully, the past was being rerun in his brain. Years before, he had caught Gary in lies. Everyone, including Paul, held genuine concern for Gary and his family. Gary’s wife was incapacitated because of an accident and Gary had quit his job to give her the full time care she needed. At wits end and with nowhere to turn, Gary swallowed his pride and started asking for help. Initially it was for things that the girls needed. Then it was money for gas to get to the doctors. Everybody was more than willing to generously open their wallets. If it had stopped with that, all would have been good, but Gary kept asking.
It had become remarkably easy for Gary to ask for money. He learned that few would refuse to be generous with a downtrodden man. One day, Gary asked Paul for money, explaining he was going to be short because of unexpected medical bills and needed to buy food. Paul handed him two $20 bills.
That afternoon, Paul’s wife called and asked him to pick up some wine so she could make his favorite dish. Although in an unfamiliar part of town, Paul stopped at the first store he came to. As he walked in, he spied Gary purchasing a half gallon of cheap whiskey with two $20 bills. Secretly, Paul followed him down the street to a City Park where he watched as Gary polished off a good part of the bottle. Shaken, but with unfamiliar bravado, Paul walked up and tapped on Gary’s car window. Gary snapped awake, foggily recognized Paul, sped away and went into hiding.
Years after the incident, Paul moved his family to another state. Settling in happily, they became active in their new large church. A year passed and Paul noticed a familiar face leaving the early service. It was Gary. Paul avoided being spotted and decided that he would keep his mouth shut. Maybe he was just visiting. Weeks later, he noticed that Gary and his family joined the church. Before long Gary was asked to be on the leadership committee. Paul purposely avoided that committee, but eventually found himself having to approach the committee to replace the old youth bus. Walking in late, the committee had just finished unanimously electing Gary as the new chair. Panicked and nauseous, all Paul could think to do was leave, but not before Gary had noticed his exit.
That’s how Paul found himself on the bench hanging his head. Gary was to be the new chairman of the church’s most important board. How could the church leaders disregard the Bible – especially 1 Timothy 3:8-13? How to handle this? Should he tell his secret? Deep in thought, Paul gradually became aware of someone sitting next to him. Gently a hand touched his shoulder. It was Gary.
Paul did not know what to say or do, he was frozen to the bench. Remembering the broken trust, his emotional tank was overflowing with resentment. Thankfully, it was Gary that spoke first. In a quiet voice, and confident manner, Gary explained the last few years. He was eager to thank Paul for helping change his life. He had denied his alcohol problem until that day Paul tapped on his window. The next day, he said pressures had piled higher and instead of downing the usual part of the bottle, he pretty much finished it off. Dejected and in despair he cried out to God for help and passed out. He awoke with his face in the gutter and mud in his mouth. Opening one eye he spotted something shiny in the mud. Although he wasn’t focusing well, he picked it up and slipped it into his pocket. Gary said the shiny thing was the start of his new life. A life much different than what he had been living. Paul asked what the object was. Pulling a plastic case from his pocket, Gary handed it to him. In the case was a quarter. It was dirty and corroded except for the words “In God We Trust”. God had dropped a shiny message literally in front of Gary’s nose!
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