Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)
TITLE: Come Quickly
By Sandra Petersen
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Scrawled on a plain unlined index card and almost rude in its abruptness, it was not your ordinary invitation. I frowned as I tried to identify the handwriting.
There was no signature, no date. Maybe the post card was sent to me by mistake?
Whoever the sender was, he or she knew my full name and address. The postal cancellation stamp didn’t offer any clues but October 20, 2005, the date it was received at the post office. The city name was smudged.
“Well, whoever this came from must not have wanted my help too much,” I reasoned. “They didn’t even tell me where I was to meet them!”
I tossed the card into the wastebasket beside my desk and attempted to refocus. As the associate pastor in charge of Christian education for our youth, I was constantly challenged to arrange events that would not only entertain and inform, but would also disciple. Lately, too many of the plans were weighted toward the first two objectives and rarely attained the last.
If the truth were to be told, I was like a dry well. All of my initial energy was spent and I had no fresh ideas. Our youth group was beginning to reflect my own weariness. Some had found other things to occupy their time and interest. Others continued to come to our meetings out of a sense of loyalty to the group.
“Heavenly Father,” I groaned as I covered my face with both hands. “Have I been trying to walk in my own strength? I don’t want to step down as youth pastor, but if I am dry I must be filled with Your Spirit. Must I take a sabbatical to hear Your voice? Speak to me like You used to when I started out in the ministry.”
I could not concentrate anymore here in the office, so I decided to go home. All that evening I knelt in my prayer closet, pleading earnestly for wisdom. Finally, exhausted, I got ready for bed no closer to hearing His voice of guidance as when I began.
Before lying down, I turned on the CD player to an audio recording of the Holy Bible and drifted off to the book of Acts.
My sleep was disturbed that night by a voice pleading in the midst of a murky darkness, “Come quickly! We need you!”
As the male voice continued to say those words, a chorus of other voices with the same message, the same urgency, joined him.
I could not distinguish to whom the voices belonged. Then a man emerged from the mass of shadows, knelt before a crude wooden altar, and began to pray.
I awoke with the chorused refrain echoing through my mind, “Come quickly! We need you!”
I heard the words of Acts 16:9 from my CD player: “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”
The post card, my dream, and now this. If this was a sign, where was my Macedonia?
I flicked on my television to the local news channel. With images of people huddled together under a freeway overpass, the reporter spoke about the desperation of “these transients, evicted from a building scheduled to be torn down to make way for a hospital parking ramp.” I remembered reading about the building plans in our newspaper.
The reporter continued, “With no place to call home, these unfortunates, which include single mothers and several children, seek refuge from the elements along Railroad Street in Masonville.”
I knew about Railroad Street. Old factories, no longer shipping their products via railway, provided shadows at night for drug deals, rapes, and other criminal activity. Shuddering to think of these women and children in such surroundings, I again heard the voices of my dream.
Was this, then, my Macedonia? The Spirit whispered softly, “Yes.”
But was this a project for the entire youth group to participate in, I asked. The Spirit said, “No, this will be your sabbatical. You will be led by the Lord, reap a harvest, and come back refreshed. He has promised.”
I bowed my head in humility and submission. I would go, and I would learn again to wait and listen carefully for the subtle direction of my Lord.
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