Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HOPE (joyful, confident expectation in salvation) (03/05/15)
TITLE: Not Forgotten
By JK Stenger
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It’s over. I will be executed.
High above, a few rays of sunlight beamed through the iron bars of the window, illuminating the top of a grubby wall. But Auguste saw no light. The light in his life disappeared two days ago when he had been thrown into this musty, cold cell by the Imperial Guard of Napoleon.
The start of the Spring of 1815 had been so promising. Napoleon had been exiled, the birds were singing and the scent of Spring flowers was overwhelming. Everyone thought the war was over.
Then the Emperor returned. He escaped from the Isle of Elba and assembled his armies once more. And Auguste was supposed to join. Usually Napoleon’s foot soldiers were chosen by drawing lots. But not anymore. Now he was forced to join...
He looked the Captain of the Guard straight in the eye. “I will not go.”
The Captain glared at him with implacable hate. “Coward! The Emperor hates people like you.”
Instantly they threw him in jail.
No scent of flowers—only the musty, putrid smell of darkness. Auguste shivered. Maybe he should not have refused, but he abhorred fighting. He did not want to stab a bayonet in some other man’s stomach. But now he himself was as good as dead.
He felt a hollowness in his chest and fought back his tears.
Nobody even knew where he was. Nobody even cared.
No; God didn’t care either.
Auguste had been brought up in the faith. Mother always prayed. “Only one life, son. It will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” That was her favorite saying.
His life would soon be over, but he wouldn’t pray. There was no point in praying. Nobody cared, not even God.
Picking up a stone from the floor, he scratched these words on the wall and wept softly.
A week later, Auguste was still imprisoned. Once a day his jailor shoved a chunk of bread and a cup of murky water through an opening in the door. Auguste attempted to make conversation, but the man never said a word.
How long, oh how long?
His longing for the world outside was so intense, it caused his body to ache. He glanced up at the window. It must be nearly summer by now. His eyes fell again on the words he had carved in the wall.
But what was that?
There, on the ground, beneath the words, was a tiny green shoot sticking its head up between two stones.
Amazing! A green plant growing in the darkness. A great weight seemed to lift from his chest as he watered it with his meager supply of drinking water.
“For as long as I can I will take care of you, little fellow.”
Each day the plant grew and even developed a bud. Auguste looked on in amazement. That plant was reaching out for the light, so high above. On an impulse, Auguste grabbed the stone and scratched something on the wall again.
He smiled and a deep sense of peace overcame him as he gently placed his hand around the stem and muttered to himself, “God, wether I live or die, my life is Yours. I trust in You. ”
Two days later Auguste was executed. They said he died bravely and had faced the firing-squad without fear. His face had shone with an unearthly glow.
“Tell Mother that I too have embraced Christ.”
Then the shots had been fired and Auguste fell to the ground.
A new prisoner was put in the cell. A young fellow on the verge of tears when the door closed behind him. But soon he spotted the plant and the writing on the wall. It filled him with awe. What a beautiful plant right here in this darkness.
He whispered a prayer of thanks.
A few days later, just as the prisoner was watering the plant, the jailor opened the door and cleared his throat. “Napoleon is beaten near Waterloo. You are free.”
The prisoner’s eyes widened. “I am free?”
The jailor nodded. “Why are you watering that silly plant?
“It’s a sign of hope,” the prisoner answered. Then he pointed to the wall. “Read that.”
“I’ll read it to you.”
His eyes softened as he whispered the words, “God cares,”
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