Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: DULL (05/12/17)
TITLE: A Grain of Salt
By Kate Oliver Webb
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Michael gave her "the look."
"Don't, Michael, just don't say it!" She sprinkled salt liberally on her French fries.
"You don't get it, do you?" Michael's exasperated voice had risen so that now, even in the far reaches of the dining hall, heads turned to see what the noise was about.
"Yeah, yeah," Jenna responded. But if Michael was expecting her usual tears and pitched argument, he would be disappointed. She just didn't feel it anymore.
These two siblings had been arguing even before they could talk. Evidently the storied attribute twins carried was true: they had a language all their own, seeming to understand one another's vocalizations, body language, even attitude--perhaps from the womb.
Michael's voice became softer, filled with emotion.
"Jenna, I'm only pressuring you about this because I love you. We lost Dad much too early, and Mom's got high blood pressure so bad, they can't even get the right mix of meds to help her. I don't want to lose you. You're too young to be getting all these symptoms, and the doctor told you specifically to just cut out salt and see if that would help the blood pressure before she puts you on medication. That's not too much to ask, is it? I mean, it's bad enough that you're eating the fries--your glucose test results are too iffy to be playing around with."
"I didn't give myself those medical problems, Michael. Why should I have to deprive myself of stuff I like? I've been listening to you go on about this for ages now. What you're trying to do is just not getting through any more, so butt out."
Their conversation certainly hadn't been private, as a couple of friends had joined them for lunch. And they weren't looking all that comfortable.
The silence that followed this exchange lengthened until suddenly Michael realized the only sound at the table was munching. He looked away from Jenna's stony face to the embarrassed faces of their friends.
"Sorry, guys, really. But you know about Jenna's medical problems, and we've talked about it, like, forever. She's not listening anymore." He shook his head. "Stubborn."
Paul, the Pastor's son and Youth Pastor, smiled understandingly, and glanced at his fiancee, Katie, who met his eyes and nodded.
"Ya know," Paul said, "this reminds me of what we talked about in Sunday School last week. We studied the passages of Scripture that talk about God hardening the hearts of people so that they become, in effect, deaf to His message. The word that's used is 'dull,' like hard of hearing. That sounds kinda like Jenna, except God's not causing her to be dull of hearing. But I don't think she's being stubborn, either."
"I used to think that situation was rather unfair of God," Katie remarked. "I mean, if He hardens someone's heart, why would they be judged for ignoring His message? But then the more we talked about it, the more I realized that those who continue to reject the Gospel actually become insensitive to it, like forming a callous."
Michael smiled rather sheepishly. He covered Jenna's hand with his own.
"You know I'm not judging you, Sis," he said. "And I don't see any callouses..." as his glance explored her face. "But I do think there comes a time when a person does become deaf to a message meant to be good for them, just because it has been heard so much, he..." Michael grinned, "or she can't even hear it anymore. Know what I mean?"
"It's Scriptural," Paul put in.
Jenna's interest had perked up. "You mean," thankful she could change the subject, "some people continue to reject Jesus just because they have continued to ignore what they've heard, and so it becomes as though God can only see their hard heart."
"Yep, Scriptural," Paul was on a roll. Katie groaned.
"So, Sis, let's make a deal: I won't continue to nag you about your health, even though I'm concerned about you. If you'll try to really hear what I'm saying, I'll just talk about it to the Lord, and trust that He'll get past your 'dullness.'"
He leaned over and kissed her cheek, sharing a moment of twin communication.
Based on Matthew 13:13-15.
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