Hurray!!! It's Friday!!!!
Thanks for stopping in to read my contribution to Friday Fiction, hosted this week by the amazing Vonnie (a new grandma btw). Please vist Vonnie's blog, My Back Door to read more short fiction. After you read her entry, click on the links at the bottom of her post to keep reading. You can join the fun, too, and get feedback on your fiction. Just add a link to your fiction on the MckLinky gadget.
The story-line for "Embodiment of a Miracle" was my husband's idea (he would be the "Bradley" part of Catrina Bradley). Brad was disappointed that I changed his ending, but to be honest I didn't remember that part when I was writing. It WAS really cool, and I may have to expand this and add it in before the last line. I was struggling to stay within the 750-word limit as it was.
Brad was more anxious for comments and for the results to come out this week than I was! Our story was well liked by the general FaithWriters public, but the competition was fierce for the "Birth" Challenge topic.
I had expected it to be low; I knew I missed the topic. Brad originally gave me this idea at Christmas, when the topic was Christmas Tree. I told him then it was too far off topic but he just thought I didn't want to write his idea. So this time I did write it - for him - and now he understands how important it is not to stray. And now he knows the feeling of having a story you LOVE not make the top 40. :-D
Anyway, if you're still reading,
EMBODIMENT OF A MIRACLE
The preacher drifted from candle to candle extinguishing the flickering flames, keeping a watchful eye on the stranger lingering in the back pew. The worn military jacket he clutched to his thin frame bore dark V's where insignia were once sewn on the arms; his posture of submission had altered little throughout the service. Unkempt hair cast shadows on his face, igniting the preacher's concern and curiosity.
"Merry Christmas, friend. Is there something I can pray about for you tonight?
The stranger lifted his head, revealing unfocused eyes and a furled brow. "Preacher, can I ask you something?" He rubbed his face with a dirty hand.
"Of course. What's troubling you?"
"Do you believe in miracles? I mean honest to God, real-life, miracles?"
"I believe anything is possible with God."
The stranger glanced around, and seeing no one else in the sanctuary, took a deep breath. "I've been selling Christmas trees down at the corner." He examined his grubby, sap-stained palms. "Used to be a doctor. A surgeon. Until drink got the better of me and I lost my license this past spring. Lost my wife not long after. Can't blame her for taking the kids and leaving. I've been trying to get my act together, but jobs and I haven't gotten along lately. God and I either, for that matter." He chanced a look at the preacher, and was encouraged by his caring eyes.
"Tonight, this 20-something woman, 'great with child' like Mary, comes waddling through the lot checking out the trees. I wonder why she waited until Christmas Eve to get a tree, especially in her condition, but I've learned not to ask questions. Hampers sales, you know?"
The preacher merely hummed, "Mmm," in response. He'd learned that interruptions hamper confessions.
The stranger continued. "She picked out a beauty - a 10-foot Frazier fir - and I offered to pull it out so she could see it from all sides. As she's rounding the back of the tree, she moans and grabs her belly. I think to myself, 'Not here; not now. I can't do this.'
"This is where it starts getting crazy." He paused, collecting his thoughts and gathering courage.
The preacher murmured, "Go on, friend; I'm listening."
Another deep breath filled the strangers lungs. "I heard this voice: 'Yes, you can. You are here for such a time as this.'
The preacher twitched.
"It wasn't in my head, Preacher, it was out loud. I swear it was. If the woman heard it, she gave no indication. That's when she dropped to her knees and shrieked. And that's when I started to panic.
"She yelled, 'Help me!' but my feet were frozen in place and my heart was in my throat. And I heard it again: 'You are here for such a time as this.'" The stranger closed his eyes and rushed on, his words coming out in a tumble.
"The tree, it started to glow. Then it started to change, morph, into sort of a man. But not a man. A God-man. He spoke. 'I am with you always.' The voice I'd heard - it was Him.
"Preacher, I knew who it was. I admit I'd had a few nips to take the chill off, or maybe more that a few, but I was NOT seeing things. I was seeing...and hearing...Jesus.
"I dropped to my knees beside the woman, and Jesus knelt beside me. The tremor left my hands for the first time in months, years maybe. The woman was crying, and babbling about how she wanted a Christmas tree before the baby was born, but I was only half listening. His voice overshadowed all other sounds. 'I am with you. I will never leave you.' His presence and His glow warmed me and calmed me. Together we delivered that baby.
"I wrapped him up in my coat, cut the cord with my tree saw, and dug out my cell to call for an ambulance.
"When I looked to Jesus for help, He was just a Christmas tree again. He spoke once more, but only in my head. 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'
The stranger pleaded, "You believe me, right? I'm not crazy? The woman...she never saw anything."
"Friend, God's ways are not our ways. Who's to say what's real, and what is vision?"
"Preacher, I know it was real. I asked what his name was, the baby. She said she hadn't decided until that moment. The perfect name had just come to her.
Emmanuel: "God is with us"
Friday Fiction is the brainchild of Patty Wysong, aka Peej, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the FaithWriters conference last month. She is a surprisingly normal woman, with a great sense of humor, who simply and deeply loves the Lord. :D Pay her a visit at Patterings; you won't be disappointed.
By His Grace,
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)