Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GATHERING (07/14/16)
TITLE: The Gatherer of the Pure and Enduring
By Diane M. Bowman
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<i>Is this the right place? What did Father say? </i>
She closed her eyes for a second and strained to remember his words. "If the castle is ever taken, escape through the tunnel to the forest. There you will find a clearing with a foundation."
Now she remembered the part that was so important: "It won't be easy to find unless you know what to look for - search for what appears worthless and you will find a glow from the purest gold. There you will be safe from all harm."
She returned to her search with renewed vigor, peeling back the layers of the forest floor until she saw it: a tiny shaft of light coming from the ground. With a sigh, Anastasia sat down, curled up on the foundation and slept.
The events of the night before swept back over her with the rising of the morning sun. Who would have ever predicted that their own house servants would be the ones to band together and rebel against them? For a minute the hurt and confusion overwhelmed her but with a firm resolve, she shrugged it off and stood to her feet. This was certainly not the time to give in to despair for she had a great deal of work to do.
Again, her father's words came back to her: "Build a high tower on the foundation. The forest is full of gold, silver, and precious stones. Only be careful - things are not always what they appear to be." He had continued on to teach her how to discern between pure and enduring building materials and the wood, hay, and rubbish they were often mistaken for. "And remember, your deliverance will come with revealing fire. Be ready."
Some days she only found one gem, other days, Anastasia discovered deep caves full of gold and silver. Each night, she returned to the foundation, inspected the day's gathering, and added it to her walls.
One especially difficult day, she returned to the clearing with her bounty, fully expecting to build another wall. To her dismay, as her "gems" poured out on the foundation, she realized she had been gathering sticks and pebbles. Tears flowed long into the night as she tried to understand what had caused her to mistake garbage for precious things. It wasn't until the moon had risen high over her that she began to hear the whispers from around her.
"He is faithful and just."
"Go and sin no more."
"Be strong and of a good courage."
"I will be with you always."
Her mouth opened with awe as she realized the words were coming from the walls she'd built and even from the foundation itself. The precious stones were whispering precious promises. With new resolve, she set off in the dark of the night to once again find pure things to finish her tower.
Years passed as she built her walls, gem by exquisite gem, until one day, when all was complete except the roof, she noticed dark clouds begin to gather on the horizon.
Her father's words returned to her once again: "On the day I come to take the forest, I will come with a cloud and the woods will burn as if by lightning."
Fear struck her heart as she realized the day had come and her tower was not finished. She was pacing frantically about, desperately trying to find something to complete the roof when she remembered. All these years as she searched the forest for precious things, she'd forgotten the crown on her head. With a shout of joy, Anastasia tossed the crown to the top of the tower and watched in amazement as it settled onto the walls and spread out to provide a roof as pure as the foundation.
With a flash, fire engulfed the forest around her, yet in its wake, it did not leave, as you would expect, smoking stumps and ash. She stepped out of her tower to find a gleaming and pure world.
And in that pure world, riding a white stallion at full gallop, came the one more precious than any gem could ever be - her father.
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
(1 Corinthians 3:9-15 KJV)
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