Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Vision (08/03/06)
TITLE: I Hate You Jesus
By Donna Howard
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Marilee wandered along the water’s edge, her heart bleeding with grief. How could Bill leave her alone so often after eleven years of marriage? She’d been a good wife, hadn’t she? If only he hadn’t become mixed up with that church. Things were fine until then. Now all he could talk about was Jesus. “Jesus loves you, Mar,” and “Jesus died for you, Mar,” he kept saying, But she couldn’t fathom a faceless stranger loving her, and she wanted no part of being responsible for someone else’s death
But she knew Bill believed all the hocus-pocus the church was telling him about how this Jesus came from heaven, was crucified to save mankind from their sins, and then rose from the dead and returned to heaven. Now her loving husband was spending hours in prayer meetings and helping the needy. He often joined others and went witnessing on street corners, stopping total strangers to tell them about a mystical, unseen ‘savior’. Bill had begged her to go with him, but she wanted no part of it. Finally, he quit asking and started going alone, which left her alone, too
Tears misted her eyes. She picked up a stone and heaved it into the water with all her strength. “I hate you, Jesus,” she screamed. She sank to her knees and wept, but the screams came again. “If you really loved me, you wouldn’t do this to me.” Sobbing, she turned and began crawling toward the cabin, but her grief and anger took every ounce of energy. She flopped onto her stomach and pounded the ground with her fists. Her fingers plowed furrows in the sand as she gave in to her anguish
She lay there until the water, lapping at her toes, woke her. She sat up and gazed out at the water. She was surprised to see a man approaching in a small row boat. She knew nearly everyone in the area, but she didn’t recognize this man. Fear crept up the back of her neck. She leaped to her feet, ready to run, but when the man called her name in a gentle voice, she paused.
He pulled the boat onto the sand, and flashed the most captivating smile she had ever seen. Her head told her to run, but her feet refused to move, and for some reason she couldn’t explain, she suddenly felt it was okay.
The man pushed the boat out again, climbed in, and beckoned for her to join him. Trance-like, she floated to the boat, climbed in and sat facing him. Taking the oars in his strong hands, he rowed away from the shore, smiling at her. Minutes later, three fish jumped out of the water, all at the same time, and splashed down again. Marilee laughed. She realized it was a silly notion, but she had a strange feeling the man had caused the fish to jump just for her. His face glowed, and his eyes shone with love. Marilee couldn’t tear her eyes away. She couldn’t understand it, but she knew this man loved her, and she didn’t feel the least bit afraid or offended by it.
They watched the birds soar overhead and the fish arch lazily up and down for a while, and then returned to shore and walked along the beach hand in hand. The man asked Marilee to tell him about her joys and sorrows. She felt no qualms about it, and told him about herself and Bill. While he listened quietly, the last stings of grief and anger drained from her.
Later, they returned to where the boat bobbed along the shore. The sun was setting and Marilee knew she had to go, but she couldn’t help wondering who this man was who loved her with such a pure love.
“Who are you?” she asked. He took her hands in his and said quietly, “Call me Jesus.” Then he stepped into the boat and rowed away. Marilee stared after him, mouth gaping, unable to comprehend what he had just said.
“Jesus?” she whispered. “You mean Bill’s Jesus?” She closed her eyes and shook her head to clear her mind. When she opened them, the man was gone. Her heart pounding, she said aloud, “either I’m dreaming or I just saw a vision.” The next thing she knew she was racing toward the cabin. It didn’t matter if it was real, a dream or a vision. She had to find Bill!
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