Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PHOTOS and/or SOUVENIR(S) (vacation) (07/16/15)
TITLE: Not Too Big, Bad or Ugly
By Linda Gage
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I refocused on that photo. A thousand words were replaced with a million feelings. None comforting or good. I suppose I had long forgotten out of self-preservation. But now, from the furthest crack of Dad’s old dresser the memories flooded in.
It was 1973 and the first summer that I had to go and visit my own dad. The promise of camping staved off some discontent. I just wanted to have fun. I looked forward to exploring woods, swimming in the lake and roasting marshmallows over the campfire. And there I am, frozen in time, pointing the sharp stick toward my dad for another one. Bobby with that stupid grin he always had standing on the other side of Dad, patiently waiting his turn. Norma, must have taken the picture. I never did get used to calling her ‘mom.’
The photo was cracked and faded but the dusky time of day and campfire smoke made it an overall bad photo. Staring into the past, my stomach churned as memories flooded in.
Images flashed in my mind that I had not remembered nor had I ever tried to remember. That vacation was lost, like this photo, until now. Oh God what did I do?
When I met Jesus, I was older. Lots of other trips with Dad, Norma and their new kids had passed. We all went to church together those hot summer days between vacation fun. One Sunday, when home from college I heard God calling my name. I accepted Jesus as my savior and asked for forgiveness of all my sins. I know Jesus saved me. I prayed, studied and believe God’s Word. He IS the Way the Truth and the light. A lump formed in my throat. Nausea just about overtook me.
The truth was staring me in the face. No, slapping me.
Sweat poured down. I was relieved that no one was around.
But no, there was someone here: God! Always with me, and never forsakes me. Yes, that’s what He promises. I believe Him. But I don’t want You here now, Lord. It’s too much, too much to forgive. Why was this sin not on the long list of sins that I bore to You, on that day that I accepted Your Son as my savior? When I realized that I needed a savior? How could I forget such a horrible offense.
The sins of an ornery 11 year old boy that knew better, who did not obey his father, who did something horrendous. Unwanted memories and images came too fast. My heart pounded with dread and fear.
In the photo I did not look it, but I was very angry. Dad and Norma would not let me do anything that I wanted to; go into the woods alone, have my own kayak and not even put a marshmallow on the stick! After everyone was asleep in the tents, I decided to roast my own marshmallow. I restarted the fire. I burnt a few then as I stared at their tent in the moonlight, I contemplated something terrible.
‘My life would be better without a new mom.’
I waved a branch across the fire until it flamed. I didn’t touch the tents at all! I just threw it in the bushy area nearby. Then I ran!
Fireman talked of dry season. Norma screamed hysterically. Dad cried and squeezed me tight after I ran into his arms from the woods. He thanked God I was alive. Bobby did not make it.
Maybe Dad did save this photo. He never talked about Bobby. Did he know the truth? He only expressed thankfulness that I was alive. Maybe my memories and guilt were lost in his loving kindness. But God knew. He always knew.
"Can you forgive this one, God? Is it too much? You forgive our sins and remember them no more! Please forgive me! No sin is too big, bad or ugly for Jesus to forgive. I believe it!"
I fell to my knees, “Lord I do believe, Help me in my unbelief!”
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