Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STAND UP FOR JESUS (don't write about the song) (04/09/15)
TITLE: Marilyn's Stand
By Leola Ogle
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Charles and Marilyn had been pastors for many years. When they finally had an empty nest, Marilyn found extra time on her hands. Then she was elected as Women’s Ministry Director in her state. She had always loved being involved in women’s ministries in her church and statewide functions. Being director put her in charge of conferences, workshops, and fundraising events.
One of Marilyn’s favorite events was a retreat in the mountains attended by several hundred women around the state. It was a time of refreshing and spiritual renewal. Although the work in getting things ready was exhausting, Marilyn loved it.
The retreat came after a particularly trying week of tending to her sick, elderly mother. “Life doesn’t stop because we have obligations,” she told Charles. “I think I’ll need refreshed more than some of the attendees.”
It was a great retreat. The theme was “Stand Up For Jesus.” In each session the speaker, Lisa, shared areas for women to take a stand: jobs, neighborhoods and communities, and their homes.
God’s presence ministered in the services, and women experienced blessings and spiritual breakthroughs. At close of each service, the front of the sanctuary filled with women committed to taking a stand for Jesus wherever they were.
As with anything where people gather, problems arose. Problems were something Marilyn’s assistant was quick to point out. Her assistant had great organizational skills, but was a bit of a Debbie-Downer. Every group has at least one, and ironically, Marilyn’s assistant was named Debbie.
“Dorm six hasn’t had hot water the whole time we’ve been here and some ladies are threatening to leave. There are complaints that the oatmeal is cold and the bacon is too crisp.” Debbie paused for breath and started up again. “Dorm three wants to be moved because something’s triggering allergies in some of the ladies. And last night the bathroom in the sanctuary ran out of toilet paper.”
Debbie’s voice had a touch of doom. Marilyn rubbed fingers along her temples, and wondered why she thought she would get rest at the retreat. “That’s it! Off with their heads,” she said.
Debbie’s eyes widened and she sputtered, “What?”
“Oh, Debbie,” Marilyn bit her tongue to keep from adding Downer. “These things can be handled. Let’s not allow petty things to distract us from receiving blessings from the Lord. You check on these issues. If you need me, I’ll be taking a nap before service tonight.”
The nap never happened. Marilyn gave up after being interrupted several times for things needing her attention. Since that night’s service would be the last, and everyone would be heading home after breakfast the next morning, she decided to spend the time in prayer. Lisa’s message would be about the home. Most battles in standing for Jesus happen in the home. Marilyn thanked God that she had a good marriage and stress-free home, but many women had horrendous struggles every day.
There was an air of excited anticipation as Marilyn entered the sanctuary that evening. After announcements and worship music, Lisa took the podium, and Marilyn settled on a seat in the front row next to Debbie.
Just because she had a great home life was no reason to tune out Lisa’s message, but that’s what Marilyn did. Instead, she made a mental list on all she needed to do to close out the retreat. Exhaustion lured her into dozing before she was aware of it. Her head snapped up when she heard Lisa say, “Stand to your feet.”
Marilyn leaped to a standing position, her brain still sleep addled. Soft gasps echoed around her. She surveyed the crowd and saw no one else standing. She turned a puzzled look to Lisa who was looking puzzled at her.
What just happened?
She found out later that Lisa had been addressing those in bad marriages, saying, “For some of you it’s hard to stand up for Jesus in your home because your husband’s a non-believer. Many of you endure things others can’t imagine. Some of you hide feelings of hating your husband. If I said stand to your feet if you hate your husband, most wouldn’t stand and admit it.”
All Marilyn heard was “Stand to your feet.” She laughed when she recounted the story to Charles, but he failed to see the humor.
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