Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: STAND UP FOR JESUS (don't write about the song) (04/09/15)
TITLE: The Most Difficult Stand
By Holly Westefeld
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"Hi there. I'm sorry to see you going through such a rough time, but the nurse tells me that they hope to have you off of the respirator soon, and that physical therapy will help you get back on your feet. Before you know it, you'll be as hard to catch up with as ever. So I hope you'll forgive me for taking advantage of your situation to more closely acquaint you with my dearest friend."
You glance around the room, toward the door, then back at me.
"No, you're not going to see him walk through the door. I'm going to fill you in on our thirty-eight year history, some of which you have heard before, but it is up to you whether or not to accept the friendship he offers. He will not come uninvited."
You look at me quizzically.
"I was in my early teens when I realized I was on a path to destruction. I know... You thought I was a pretty good kid, and in some ways I was, but I was still headed in the wrong direction. Fortunately, I knew others who had come to the same realization, who introduced us. Once I met him, I had new hope of a bright future, and our friendship has grown quite close over the years. It's probably difficult, for someone who knows me as well as you do, who knows my weaknesses, my failures, to see that such a perfect friend has had a profound influence on my life, when despite all of this time, I continue to fall short of reflecting his goodness and love."
"But it is crucial that you understand who he is, and not get stuck on how poorly I represent him at times. Yes, you've heard me speak of Jesus before, but I've never seemed to be able to adequately communicate how urgent it is that you accept the friendship He offers."
Your brow furrows, and your eyes roll. My stomach somersaults.
"I know you think that He's fine for me, but that you have sufficient friends, and that those friends are just as valid guides for the future, but they really aren't. It's not that they don't seem nice, or that any or all of them are maliciously leading you astray, but Jesus is different from them all. He was not just another human being who taught nice philosophy. He has always been God, who chose to spend a brief time as a human to set an example for us, and to take on the punishment for the things we do that separate us from God's requirement of perfection. He was not just another martyr dying for what He believed. He proved His divinity by the miracles He did, but moreover by conquering death when He rose from the tomb. He was seen alive by hundreds of people before He returned to Heaven, so it was not just a delusion of a handful of followers. Nor did they steal His body, as some might assert. What are the chances that, had there been such a conspiracy, that at least one conspirator would not have divulged the location of His body when faced with execution?"
You shift restlessly, but I ignore my pounding heart and press on.
"If we just knew where to look, we would find the remains of all others whose teachings people follow. As God who created us, who suffered in our place, He has the privilege of defining right and wrong, and parameters for joining Him in Heaven, or to exclude us from it. Unfortunately, that means that those who reject Jesus' offer of forgiveness and friendship must join the rebellious angels in their eternal punishment. That is not what Jesus wants for any of us. He loves you more than my words can express, more than even His written words in the Bible can convey. If I leave this Gospel of John with you, will you promise to read it and consider Jesus' claims? Squeeze my hand once for no, twice for yes."
I hold my breath. Standing up for Jesus has never been so difficult.
I place the small book in your hand, and kiss your wan cheek. "I love you, Mother."
Author's note: This story is based on the reality that my mother is currently on a respirator in ICU, but nearly two thousand miles away. As her prognosis is hopeful, good stewardship does not permit this personal visit, but I pray to have the courage to share this with her when she is next able to receive a phone call, and that her response will be more receptive than it has been in the past.
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