Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Gifts (of the Spirit or service) (11/22/07)
TITLE: Only For You
By Beth Muehlhausen
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“What’d ya say? You’ve gone and done WHAT?”
Alice hung her head, fearing another whiplash of her father’s chronic criticism. “I’ve decided to attend that little chapel outside of town, Daddy.” She paused to glance at his weathered face, then into those steely blue eyes. “I want to find the Truth.”
Alice’s father, Ralph, glared over the wire-rims of glasses smudged with grease from farm machinery. “Truth? What cha talkin’ ‘bout, girl? Huh? Think yer better than the rest of us? Huh?”
Tears welled up in Alice’s eyes and she turned, as usual, so her father couldn’t see them.
Over her shoulder she called, “It’s not about being better, Dad … it’s about knowing God.”
Ralph grumbled through his pipe and shook his head in disdain as Alice trotted toward the house to escape her father’s agitation. “Nonsense! Silly girl – where’d she get a crazy idea like that? Know God? Who’d want to try, anyhow?”
But Alice knew it was possible. Something deep down … was it her heart? … burned with an expectant desire that could not be dismissed.
On a Sunday foreknown only to God she knelt at the rough, handmade altar of the little country church to commit her life to Jesus. From that day on it seemed as if a presence - something like a wind - rushed insistently through her soul, cleansing her, enlivening her. It was the Holy Spirit at work, transforming temporal into eternal, gifting her with previously unknown perspectives.
When her father suffered several fractures in his right leg and hip in a fall from the haymow, Alice visited him in the hospital. She walked into his room, believing the Lord would lead her conversation.
“Hi Daddy. Can’t stay long, but it looks like you could use a hug.”
In response to her embrace, Ralph’s signature scowl softened slightly. “Let go ‘o me, girl … sure got myself in a mess this time, huh?”
Alice paused before answering; something beyond emotion welled up inside. The sensation had become familiar by now – that inner wind rushed insistently as if driven toward, and yet beyond, its destination. Her heart inclined as if to hear and relay its message to her father.
“Oh Daddy, you’ll be back on the tractor before you know it. And in the meantime you’ll have lots of time … to read, and think, and talk to other people … and pray.”
Ralph’s brow furrowed into an almost-frown, but then relaxed. Even he had to admit there was wisdom in her words.
“It will be hard for you to just lay in bed … you never were one to be still … but I know we can find ways to pass the time. We can be creative … we can do it … together!”
Caught off guard by her understanding and compassion, he stared at his cast leg as it hung in traction. “Well … um … sure … but who would want to spend time with … I mean I’m not the best conversationalist.”
“But it could be different this time! We could play games … have you ever played checkers, or chess, or Scrabble?”
Baffled by her seeming delight in this possibility and the hope in her voice, he mumbled, “Well … uh … sure … a long, long time ago.”
“And I could read to you, too! I’ve read some really powerful things lately … about what it’s like to be right with God and each other … and about God’s faithfulness to us.”
Ralph knew he was stuck with nowhere to hide. “Alice, I guess you’ve got a captive audience … I ain’t goin’ anywhere for a long time …”
It seemed a surreal moment. Could her father have warmed to her interest in spiritual matters?
“I’ll come tomorrow …”
He looked through wondering eyes at the young woman before him. She seemed understanding, and seemingly full of delight. But why the desire, the focus on him, the incentive to pursue a relationship when they’d essentially been estranged for most of her life because of his own stubborn resentment?
“Bring that book …”
Alice opened the Guideon Bible she found in the drawer of the bedside table, and flipped to chapter eleven of Isaiah. “Well, before tomorrow read the first five verses about the gifts of the Spirit promised to Jesus … because those same gifts can be yours.”
He nodded in spite of himself. “Gifts? Well alright … but only for you.”
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