Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: THANKFUL (11/14/19)
- TITLE: The Burning Timber
By Doug Spurling
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Thatâ€™s what I said back then. I believed it too.
Not anymore. At least not the part about it not being my fault.
Itâ€™s been a lifetime ago. But I remember it every morning when I look in the mirror. I feel it every time I run a razor across the scar that runs from my cheek to my chin. My eyes still burn when I think of it.
I was just a kid. But, the smell of singed hair, burnt flesh and smoke lingers.
I knew better. I shouldnâ€™t have been there.
It seemed so innocent. Just a few friends, a bonfireâ€¦and refreshments of the adult kind.
Iâ€™d never tasted liquor. Not even a sip of beer. But that night, I did. Everyone was doing it. â€œItâ€™ll make a man of youâ€ they said.
After a while, I felt funny. Not funny, like different, but funny, like I was hilarious. Like I could make everyone laugh. Like I was the life of the party. My eyes were opened to this new me. I wasnâ€™t the shy, sit in the back of the room, observe everything, say nothing guy. I was the new, stand on the chair in the center of attention, loud, funny, popular, me.
Who knew? This forbidden fruit wasnâ€™t so bad after all.
It was just having fun around an old timber framed barn, out in the middle of nowhere. What could go wrong?
The bonfire was huge. The music was loud. The sparks on the roof were small.
The dirt floor inside the barn made a great dance floor. I showed off moves never seen before, until I collapsed in the corner to catch my breath. Thatâ€™s when I mustâ€™ve fallen asleepâ€”passed out would be more like it.
They said it started snowing in the barn. Only the snowflakes were ashes.
Everyone rushed out, just as the roof collapsedâ€¦everyone, but me.
I woke in hell. A branding iron seared my face.
The music had stopped. A thousand screams pounded like hammers in my head.
I knew Iâ€™d died and gone straight to hell. My one night of overindulgence brought my eternal demise.
Actually, to be honest. It wasnâ€™t just that one night. It was a multitude of tiny events. I envied the uninhibited laughter of others. Despised the restraints of my Sunday School teachings. Fear of what others thought, kept me quiet and back in the corner.
One cough after another convulsed my body. Each time a bomb exploded in my head.
â€œMy Godâ€¦â€ was all I could choke out. I donâ€™t know if I said the words out loud or just in my head.
I donâ€™t remember hearing any sirens. Just non-stop screaming.
Where the door had been, was a wall of fire. I backed against the opposite wall.
He came through the inferno and into the room with me.
I shook my head. â€œThereâ€™s no way out.â€
He smiled. He smiled. â€œIâ€™ll make a way.â€ He got down real low and inched back into the flames.
I winced, â€œHe just killed himself.â€
But then, through the smoke and flames I saw it. He pressed his back against the burning timber. His arms spread wide. He heaved and a breath of fresh air and light flooded the room. He looked at me, sweating and bleeding. â€œIâ€™m your only way out.â€
I crawled on my hands and knees.
The inferno lit up the night and smoked and smoldered all the next day and the day after that. Finally, on the third day we were able to search. His body was never found.
But I see Him all the time. Every time I dream. Every time I look in the mirror at the scar across my face. I see Him.
Iâ€™ve come to realize something too. God doesnâ€™t forgive, just because Heâ€™s so loving and kind. He is faithful and just. Justice wonâ€™t allow forgiveness without payment. I took forgiveness for granted until that day. I thought forgiveness came easy. And so, it does. But not without price. A huge price. The price of an old rugged timber burning across the back of Godâ€™s only Son.
So from that day to this Iâ€™ve longed for one thing. Someday Iâ€™ll see the One who entered my hell, was buried in my tomb. On that day, Iâ€™ll finally be able to say the word thatâ€™s been on my lips ever since that burning dayâ€¦
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