Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Grrr! (01/28/10)
TITLE: Goodbye Storms
By Noel Mitaxa
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Home is never far away, with all the towns around the lake in full view; with their own community feel, their characters and contributions to inter-town rivalry and gossip. But as we play our “sell-fish” part in the food chain out here, we’re free from all that hustle and hassle.
We’re also free to face the dangers. You can see clear across the lake anytime, but it takes years to sense when a storm will hit. For our annual thirty inches of rain is squeezed into only three months.
But life could hardly be better. “Let’s go over south towards Gadara,” says the Master one afternoon. The weather looks good and our gear is okay, so why not?
With the breeze filling our jury-rigged sail, our rowing rhythm matches the slap of the waves on our hull. It’s bliss in a boat. The Master’s eyelids grow heavier; then glue themselves shut. In no time he’s snoring and grrrunting away in the stern.
Unseen, unheard, and way overhead, violent forces are mobilizing against each other. Dry easterlies, baked by the desert, have suddenly collapsed onto moist currents rising off the whole Jordan valley; blotting out the sun with a furious indigo vortex and launching their fury on us.
Winds screaming at us from every which way and the waves join this shrieking, demonic chorus by pounding over us in the darkness. Our boat’s timbers creak and grrroan their own reply. Will they hold together?
Home is suddenly very far away. It’s a deep lake; and we are in serious trouble. But the Master sleeps on.
“Unbelievable! Doesn’t he care about us?” Matthew mutters to Cephas, as they clamber back towards Jesus while we give them room: Way to go Matt! We’d welcome the kind of order you accountants are famous for!
“I knew we shouldn’t have come! Why to Gadara? They’re only Gentiles! We’ve made God angry!” grrrumble some of the others…
Cephas grrrabs Jesus’ shoulder: “We’re drowning out here! And you’re too sleepy to care?”
Jesus jolts awake, angrily jumps to his feet and yells at the storm: “Enough already! Be still!”
Suddenly the wind disappears and the lake becomes like a mirror.
And now it’s our turn to reflect …
“What have we got into?” gasps Thomas. Cephas’ expression can’t decide between smug or stunned. Matthew has the order we all wanted, but not through his skill with figures…
Jesus resumes his nap. Uninterrupted.
The sun was low as our bow nudged the sand near Gadara, and we grrratefully clambered ashore. Still a little numb.
“Grrrrrrrr!” came a fearsome noise. We had beached near the graveyard, but this was no ghost.
Just up the hill a cluster of saplings suddenly splayed apart, before a feral-looking creature wearing nothing but broken iron shackles on his ankles headed our way: half-sprinting, half lurching!
He was alternately growling and shrieking; and he knew who Jesus was! “You’re the Son of the Most High God! Don’t torture us!”
For Jesus, knowing where he was coming from, had commanded the demon to leave. “Who are you? He asked.
“Everyone calls me ‘Army’ or ‘Legion’ because there are so many of us; but please don’t send us away! Anywhere close – even those pigs over there!”
Before we could digest the effects of six thousand spirits in him, we watched two thousand pigs suddenly turn into a squealing, squawking, grrrowling avalanche of panicking pork that threw itself into the lake and drowned. Their stunned herdsmen also raced off for town.
When they returned, with half the town and some civic high-flyers, everyone saw old “Army” sitting with us. Clothed and calm.
“He’s okay - for now,” grrrowled the crowd; “but what about our pigs? Where will we get our ham and our pork - and our wineskins - now?”
The mayor grrrimaced and cleared his throat: “We have to respect our people’s wishes. We’re happy for this madman (glancing at “Army,”) to come back to town, but there’s no economic benefit and no new jobs in religion like this! It might be wonderful for you Galileans, but you can keep it!
“Please, get back in your boat, and we’ll say nothing more about it!”
Old “Army” wanted to come too, but Jesus told him to stay and let everyone know about the power of God’s grrrrace.
And the Master’s fame kept grrrrowing.
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