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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: End (02/13/06)

TITLE: Endure Unto the End
By Shari Armstrong
02/17/06


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“Turn that tv off. Time to hit the sack.”

“But, Dad….”

Robert gave his son “the look” and flopped in his recliner, closing his eyes. “Lord,” he prayed silently, “ Does anything I do really make a difference? Things are just a mess today.

Bobby pushed the power button on the remote. As a tomato and cucumber faded from view, he tossed it onto the coffee table and left the room.

As Robert watched his son leave, he sighed, interlaced his fingers and put them behind his head. He tried to pull the tension out of his neck, and then turned it in an attempt to crack it. When that didn’t work, he was tempted to go back to his old habits and join the gang down at Charlie’s for a drink. It was Saturday night, so they’d all be there, till all hours of the night. Not that they weren’t there during the week as well. Even if he did show up, they wouldn’t want to be around him anyway. That life ended.

He heard the click of the tape when it reached the end and started to rewind. He shook his head to clear it of those negative thoughts. Again, he turned to the Lord, “ I know I gave up the alcohol when you pulled me up out of the gutter when I was a kid, not much older than Bobby. I’m so thankful for the blessings in my life. My wife, the kids, my job. But, it’s getting so hard! Things are getting worse every day. We’re in the end times, aren’t we?

He leaned forward and grabbed the remote and turned the tv back on, scanning through channels. He flew past news report after news report. Stories about the war in the Middle East. Stories about children being abused and neglected. Stories about the government and scandals. Gossip about the latest Hollywood blockbusters and heartthrobs. He finally left the tv rest on the blue screen. This time Robert spoke out loud, “Lord, it can’t be long before you come take us all home, can it? This old world is in bad shape.”

Thumbing through the channels again, he landed on an old black and white movie. “That should be safe. Simpler times, more innocent.” He sat back and chuckled at the slapstick antics and corny old jokes. He drifted off to sleep before the movie ended.

“Dear?”

He heard a distant voice. The voice pulled him from his dreams of pies in faces and mistaken identities. He groaned as he opened his eyes. “What time is it?” He tried to work the kinks out of his neck.

Laura smiled, “It’s time to go to church. You slept in the chair all night again.”

”Why didn’t you wake me up to go to bed?”

“I tried. You said you’d be there soon. I went to bed, and fell asleep waiting.” Laura kissed his forehead. “You have just enough time to shower, shave and change. Coffee’s waiting in the pot.”

Children’s voice could be heard fussing down the hall.

“I need to get them moving again.” Laura looked at her husband, “Are you ok?”

Robert nodded, “Yeah, I’m just tired. Hopefully the shower will help.”

Robert went through his morning routine in a daze, trying to pray, but the words just wouldn’t come. He finally made it to the kitchen and poured himself some coffee and grabbed a piece of cold toast the kids hadn’t inhaled as they all went out to the car. “Lord, just give me the strength I need.”

He continued to mull over his thoughts from the night before during the short drive. Did anything he do make a difference? He looked at his watch, they were a bit late, and it was almost time for things to get started. He grabbed his Bible from the back seat and almost bumped into a couple standing behind him as he stepped back to close the door.

”Good morning, Pastor,” they smiled at him. “We wanted to let you know how much we appreciate your coming over to help us with our son last night. He’s still angry that we got him counseling, but we were at the end of our rope.

“You’re welcome.” Robert returned their smile. He looked up and mouthed, “Thank You.



“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Mark 13:13


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Member Comments
Member Date
Marilyn Schnepp 02/21/06
Great story and well written; however, am I dense or just confused? Did Pastor Robert indeed go out the night before? Or did somebody take his place in counseling the couple's son? A great write and an intriguing read.
Jan Ackerson 02/22/06
Very well-written; I wasn't expecting Robert to be a pastor. I think your point would be made more strongly if the couple that greeted Robert were able to tell him that he had made a difference in their son. But I liked that you made this pastor human, with real doubts and fears.
Crista Darr02/23/06
Great message, Shari. The battle is not strange to any of us; we just have to hold on. I think you may have had a POV shift from son to dad in the beginning. Seems your writing is improving each week though. Well done.
Anita Neuman02/23/06
Aha! Great revelation at the end! There were a couple of tiny typos, but your writing itself was impeccable in this story. I loved it!
Jeffrey Snell02/23/06
Nice job holding back who he was till the end! I appreciated the genuine wrestling with self-doubt he went through...don't we all do that? Also, the allusion to a couple of my favorite acting vegetables made me smile!!
c clemons02/25/06
The story was good but flow problems. Were they watching television or a movie? The one sentence said the tape had rewound. The end was surprising but it did make the reader wonder when the pastor made this visit. Keep writing.
Pat Guy 02/25/06
Maybe I'M dense but I had no trouble fllowing this and I enjoyed the flow of his very human thoughts and doubts as a pastor. I'd say - Good job, well done and great message!
Linda Watson Owen02/26/06
As a pastor's wife, I really appreciaate this candid and heartwarming story of a pastor. You told it in a way that we can all identify with. Great job!
Suzanne R02/27/06
Great writing, Shari. I could really identify with that poor exhausted pastor - you put us in his shoes so well - and that he is a pastor was a nice little twist at the end there.
Julianne Jones02/28/06
Ah, so even pastors have doubts? LOL. This was an enjoyable read and I think you handled the ending extremely well. I had no trouble following this and assumed that he had visited the other family before coming home to his own. Well done.
(BTW, tried to read this before the challenge ended, but couldn't get onto FW - sorry!).
Tammy Johnson03/02/06
Nice job, Shari. I could relate well, also, as a pastor's wife - I think you described the doubts my husband is plagued with OFTEN! I liked the encouragement to "endure to the end".