Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: OVERLOAD (10/06/16)
TITLE: One Burden too Many
By Raymond Bouchoc
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Johnson jumped out of his chair, pressing the intercom, “Brad, what’s happening?”
“Don’t know, sir. Never seen this alert before.”
Johnson waited for Brad to say more.
“You are not going to believe this, sir. A water pipe burst, creating a sinkhole in the sidewalk at 5th street. The sewer pipes and the electrical conduit broke open. Water filled them both causing the electrical circuits to overload. Several civilians got sucked into the sewer and are trapped. It’s taking on water fast.”
“Open the sewer access for me. I’ll be right there!”
At the manual access, Brad ran behind Johnson, giving him the latest updates, “… and a medical team is on its way.”
“Great!” Johnson descended into the pit. “Swooooooooosh,” the water raged by like a horizontal waterfall, drowning out all other sounds.
Johnson thrashed against the current, mirroring the anguish of the victims trapped in the pipe. Soon he came to the first one. She had managed to wrap her arm around an iron rung, and held on while the water beat against her.
Johnson bent down, as she looked up, pleading with her eyes for help. Johnson’s heart reached out to her. He lifter her up and secured her to the side of the pipe. Then, touching her shoulder, he looked into her eyes and was able to encourage her, while taking some of her pain.
God had blessed him with the ability to empathize with others. She smiled, comforted, while he went on, carrying a small, extra weight.
Johnson found two others, securing them, too. As he helped them, he took their pain, easing their agitation.
Waterlogged by now, his clothes clung to him like leeches. His strength slowly sapped from him, but he slogged on. He found yet another victim. Resting his hands on his knees, Johnson gasped as he struggled to catch his breath.
He couldn’t help another person. The load of each victim pushed him over the edge. He had no more to give. He squeezed his eyes shut and resolved to keep going. Reaching down, he secured the victim, assuring him that help approached. Johnson took the man’s burden from him. It sat on his heart with the burdens of all the others. How could he bear any more?
One more person received his help. Then another. He fell, and the water crushed him against the pipe and held him in place. After helping so many, he now fell victim to the raging water. Overloaded with their burdens, his heart now held him down like a boulder.
Looking down the tunnel, Johnson saw a light bob up and down. He tried calling out, but could not move, and nothing came out of his mouth. The medic team saw him, and ran to him. One medic attended him, while the other ran past him, opening the manhole exit above.
Johnson’s cold body felt numb to the medic’s touch. The other medic returned and directed the people towards the manhole exit.
“He’s going to be ok, right?” One medic said to the other.
The people shuffled by, looking down at the man that had saved them, sorrow etched on their faces.
“No,” the medic replied. “I can’t believe it, but, no. He is not going to make it.”
The line of people stopped. They stared. How could this be? How could the one that saved them lose his own life? How could such a selfless act go unrewarded?
The first one moved to Johnson. Touching his shoulder, the man whispered, “thank you for saving me.”
The next person did the same. “Thank you,” she said, touching him on the shoulder.
One by one the people in line bent down, laid their hands on Johnson, and expressed their gratitude.
With each touch, some of the load lifted off Johnson and flew away like a startled bird. His heart warmed, until, finally, he opened his eyes, coughing out water and rasping for breath. The medics attended him with renewed vigor, reviving him and saving him.
He had borne their burdens. He had taken their load. And, just as he had sacrificed himself for them, they returned, doing the same for him. A new understanding of Christ’s sacrifice swelled his heart, “he bore our sins in His own body.”
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