Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: HEALTH (10/13/16)
By Zacharia Fox
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I traced the specs of gold that used to spell out ‘Holy Bible’, and pulled the book close to my chest.
“Jamie?” I heard from behind.
I brushed away tears. “In here.”
Christian, my brother, walked into our dad’s office, struggling with a cardboard box that was warped by the weight of whatever books he’d gathered. He slammed the box on Dad’s desk.
“Concordances. And there’s more in the library.”
“We have a week till the new pastor moves in.”
His eyes grew wide as his grin. “Only a week?”
I chuckled. “Let’s tackle the office first.”
Christian nodded, but his smile faded. “Or we could… not? You haven’t seen Dad since you got back.”
“I know, Christian. I just… I’m not ready.”
“He’s dying, Jamie! Nobody’s ready.”
I clenched the Bible before I set it on a filing cabinet. “Chris. You’re never afraid to just… be you. You became a lawyer and didn’t think twice about whether Dad was good with it.
“It was different for me. Dad’s my yardstick. He pastored a mega-church. The man could sneeze and cast out a demon. When I stand next to that yardstick, I just don’t measure up.”
I glanced at Christian and expected to see the stone-faced litigator, but instead, his cheeks were wet with sympathy. “I get it.”
“You don’t.” In his eyes I saw my dad. “You weren’t adopted.”
“You’re right.” He chuckled in concession. “Do you remember when we were younger, and I didn’t want anything to do with church?”
I grinned. “I prayed for you every Sunday.”
“That’s why you went to the altar every week?” I nodded. “And I was sitting in the pew mad that you were so perfect.”
“Little did you know.”
“Apparently. I was so annoyed when Dad gave us Scripture tests.”
“Oh my goodness, yes! And graded ‘em with a red pen?”
Christian shook his head. “You always scored a-hundred.” He bit his lip and tears filled his eyes. “You remember how bad I got in college. I came to church that Sunday just, desperate. Somewhere in Dad’s sermon, I could hear Jesus ask me, ‘Do you want me? You can have me again.’ But then I remembered everything I’d done. I thought, I’m not good enough. I don’t know how to explain what happened next. It was like Jesus put his arm around me, as if to say ‘I’m not scared of your sin.’ And then this question shot, like an arrow, through my heart. ‘Will you let me be your righteousness?’
“I knew then, Jesus didn’t die just to bring me out of sin. He wanted me close.” Christian leveled his gaze. “I think that’s how it is with you and Dad. You’re afraid you’re not good enough. He just wants you close.”
He was right, but there was this ache holding me in check. “Let’s just empty this filing cabinet.”
Chris sat still, then nodded and grabbed an empty box. “We’ll put whatever goes to the new pastor in here.”
We made our way through the top drawer, conversation never touching the elephant in the room. But when Christian pulled the bottom drawer he stammered, “Skoo-ba-luh?”
He pulled a file bursting with papers. “That’s what it’s labeled.”
“Skubala. It’s Greek for ‘garbage’ or ‘crap’. ‘For his sake I’ve discarded everything else, counting it all skubala that I could gain Christ.’”
Chris nodded and opened the file. Inside were papers recognizing every accomplishment I’d hunted; Dad’s degrees, minister’s license, certificates from various boards and councils, even a letter from the Governor.
I’d sought what my dad discarded. “Skubala…” I whispered.
“Hold on,” Chris muttered, hands plunging into the cabinet before he pulled another file and handed it to me.
Fingers trembling, I opened the file. Then a sound more telling than word broke from my lips as a tear fell to my adoption papers in the file.
I turned to Chris.
“I’ll get the keys.”
When I walked in the room at the hospital, I saw for the first time, the man he was, instead of the things he did.
He smiled. “Come here, son.”
I came close, where he wanted me all along.
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