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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Tie (02/28/13)

TITLE: The Ties That Blind . . .
By Judith Gayle Smith


The Ties That Blind . . .

Breathing fire, he balefully examined us. After a few suspenseful moments he muttered an inaudible threat – repeated seemingly unwillingly but far too clearly: “I will come to your church only if you do not preach about ‘loving my brother’. No songs, no sermons – at the first mention I will leave and never return”.

We were, unofficially, “The First Church Of The Wafflebacks”. Cheap white plastic stacking chairs with ridged crisscross backs – definitely leaving impressions. Brown paper hymnals piled in the corner awaited eager praising voices. Behind the makeshift pulpit our pool table took too much center stage, but we were definitely a “make do” church in its infancy.

Mandy and Tim were our very first members – friend Mandy, happily recruited from where she and I worked, and her rather unwilling husband Tim. They were the first to sit in our waffleback chairs, Bibles in hand.

Several meetings and sweet fellowship, a good friendship had begun. Quiet Tim was a surprise – he was short, wiry and very strong, a hard worker and somewhat of a risk taker. He worked building construction and was afraid of nothing. I recall my husband and Tim wrestling a clothes dryer down rickety steps to the basement. I bit my nails all the way down for them both.

It was terribly eating at Mike – the “love not my brother” part of Tim. Tim was such a decent fellow, sweet and earnest, a professing Christian. His bitter animosity towards his brother did not equate. But he refused to bring the subject up. I could not draw Mandy out about this black hatred Tim was experiencing.

Mike does not ignore challenges well. He just had to find out what was bugging Tim. He preached on I John 3:15. That was the last we ever saw of Mandy and Tim.

Months later, during a three hour car ride, while reading the Oregonian Newspaper, I espied a brief blurb describing a horrific accident, naming Tim as the victim.

Tim was a very good building contractor, in partnership with his brother. They were constantly embittered, embattled – a seemingly incomprehensible situation for co owners of such a potentially dangerous business. One day their animosity flamed to such a pitch that they actually came to physical blows. Tim wound up in the hospital, his eyes so battered he could barely see.

Furious Tim, not the sort who flinched from confrontation, painfully and shakily went back to work the day he was released from the hospital. Still suffering terrible pain, half blind still, he managed to climb the long metal ladder to the unfinished roof of the structure his brother and he had commissioned. He was still breathing fire and damnation against his despised brother.

Despite the fact he could not see out of either eye, and the warning shouts of the horrified men working with them, Tim walked very carefully along the roof – and then, horrifyingly stepped into a hole, falling several stories to the unyielding concrete floor.

Mercifully, he died instantly.

KJV 1 John 2: 9 “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.”

10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.”

KJV 1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

In summation: Hate your brother? Watch how and where you walk . . .

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Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 03/08/13
This is truly tragic, but it was (for me) a bit hard to follow where Mike ended up. It may have been better to have fewer scriptures to close, so they could provide a more focused impact.
Cheryl Harrison03/08/13
So sad that Tim was so blinded by hatred for his brother. Tragic.
Allison Egley 03/09/13
Wow. What a story.

I agree that the ending felt a bit rushed, and would have liked a few more "loose ends" tied (haha) up.

Nice job overall!
Allen Povenmire 03/09/13
Such a tragic story, and sadly, so frequent. I was drawn toward wanting to know more about Tim. What made him so bitter, etc. "It was terribly eating at Mike" might've been phrased differently, like, "Tim's dark side gnawed at Mike..." All in all, though, good job.
Danielle King 03/09/13
Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens far too often, even amongst Christians. You supplied plenty of scripture references to remind us to not follow suite. Good job.
Danielle King 03/09/13
ps Wish I could spell!
Alicia Renkema03/10/13
Overall this was a very engrossing however tragic read. That one awkward line about Mike being eaten about about Time could have been better words like this," Mike was terribly perplexed at the seeming hatred Tim had for his brother as he was a professing Christian..." Or something like that. I love scripture but in a story format, it begins to loose its impact when so many are stated one right after the other. I will say that 1 John chapter 3 is one I have never heard a sermon on and has some very important and strong things to say to the one who wants to live a sanctified life. I wondered what happened to the other brother and if perhaps Mike ever felt led to reach out to him? Blessings and keep writing...
Bea Edwards 03/12/13
Great title and a timely message in your story. However it was a bit hard to follow. Perhaps more explanation in a few places would bring the piece together.
Good job though.
Judith Gayle Smith03/12/13
Sadly, because this is a true story (only the names have been changed) - there is no pat ending. This was devastating to us, and we quietly gave up. It took years to rebuild our strength. As far as Tim's family, we were pretty much ignored - his brother was "his own Christian" and unreachable. If I had the gift for fiction, I would have been able to tie this up nicely, I'm sure. But the abrupt ending isn't there for shock value; it is how it happened and we could do nothing to put Tim back again. Thank you all for your wonderful and helpful comments - I used the full supporting verses just the way we read and reread them - just a reference or two would not be sufficient to give God the credit He deserves. I love you all . . . Please keep commenting - I need it.
Judith Gayle Smith03/12/13
I just had the brilliant realization that if I had used what I just penned, it would have tied up all the loose ends. (Forehead smack). My curves are still learning . . .
Myrna Noyes03/13/13
The profound hatred between the two brothers, who both claimed to be Christians, in this true story is much more tragic than the accidental death of Tim. It's hard to imagine that Christ-followers and Bible believers could have such black hearts toward each other--brothers in the flesh and in the Spirit.

However, I did find some subtle humor in your account in these lines: "We were, unofficially, “The First Church Of The Wafflebacks”. Cheap white plastic stacking chairs with ridged crisscross backs – definitely leaving impressions." Very descriptive!

Blessings on your writing!