Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)
TITLE: The Shepherd's Call
By Susan Gurney
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Carla shuddered, shook her head and thought, “Where am I to go now? I always thought home was where they had to take you in--but so much for that! Why won’t Momma believe me when I tell her I’m never going to drink or do drugs again? She’s so afraid I will keep on being a burden to her. Can’t she understand that I’m going to do better? I just need her love and a place to stay while I get back on my feet... But she says I’m still a user—and that she’s tired of being used by me!”
The young woman stood up wearily, hefted her battered backpack and staggered down the steps to the sidewalk below. Yes, Carla was sober—maybe it was just fatigue that made her sway unsteadily. She walked aimlessly, sometimes finding herself alone, and other times finding herself pushed along by crowds of people intent on their own busy schedules of “gotta go here--gotta go there--hurry up--get out of my way.”
Carla found herself standing on an unfamiliar street corner gazing at a picture hanging in a storefront window across the street. “What is that?” she wondered, “It looks like a wolf…no, maybe a dog—a howling dog. Hmmm, I’ve got to see that.”
Carla crossed the street and stood transfixed in front of the picture. It was an old, old colored print of a collie standing over a helpless lamb lying in the snow. Carla could almost hear the collie howling. But why was it howling? Maybe the dog had been looking for the lost lamb and now he had found it? Maybe he was there to protect it from the scavenging birds in the background? --Maybe he was calling for help?
“May I help you?”
Carla jumped, startled at the sound of a woman’s voice in her ear.
“Oh, I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to startle you,” said the older woman. “I saw you looking at the picture in our window, and I wondered if you could use some help. You see, we are a mission that gladly helps any person who needs it. Do you need help?”
“No…well, I don’t know,” said Carla. “I was just looking at the picture of the dog in your window. I really like it. Is it for sale? I don’t have any money, but maybe I could do some odd jobs for you to earn money to buy it?”
The gray-haired woman shook her head. “No, our picture isn’t for sale—but it is an old print called ‘The Shepherd’s Call.’ Sometimes you can still find copies of it. We have the picture in our window because we are called ‘The Mission of the Shepherd’s Call’. My name’s Josie…what’s your name, honey? You know, you look tired and hungry. We serve two meals a day, and we have a nice bed in our women’s unit where you can sleep. Later you could work around the mission to earn your room and board. You can also enroll in our job training program. When you graduate from that we will help you find a good job and a place to live.”
Carla’s voice trembled as she said, “M’am, my name’s Carla, and I guess I really could use some help. I’m not using right now, but I don’t know how long I can stay that way. Momma won’t help me any more. I really need somebody to help me, M’am. Would you help me? I think what I need is a family—somebody to love me and take care of me. Do you think I could find that here?”
“Yes, Carla,” said Josie as she gave her a big hug, “here you can find that and even more. You know, the shepherd in that picture is just a dog, but here our Shepherd is Jesus, God’s Son. He loves you so much, Carla, that He’s been calling and calling for you to come to Him—calling you all your life. You give your life and heart to Him and you will have an instant family. He will be your Momma, Daddy, Brother and Sister, forever and ever. Would you like that, honey?”
“Yes’m. I think I’ve been looking for that kind of love all my life.”
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