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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: Peace Like A...Pond?
By Joanne Sher


The sun was just creeping over the tree line, spreading its glow onto the landscape. Leaves crackled underfoot, but not loud enough to drown out the rushing of the water against the rocks.

"Move it, Mason!"

Harold Mason, sauntering along the riverbank taking the last drag on his Camel, increased his pace to a slowish trot, tossing his spent butt ahead of him and squashing it with the heel of his work boot as he ambled along.

Mason turned around with a start as he felt a jab in the small of his back.

"Hey - pick up that thing! Weíre here cleaniní, not litterin!"

"Guards," Mason grunted under his breath as he took a few steps back, grabbed the cigarette butt and put it in the small orange bag tied to his back belt buckle, bumping into the guard.

"Hey there!"

"Sorrrrryyy!" Mason said with a sheepishness that was obviously phony.

Tittering, several of the other inmates looked Masonís way and gave him the thumbs up. Mason smirked. Oh, how he loved getting a rise out of the guards, and a laugh out of the guys!

The group of them - about a dozen total - walked to a clearing, where it appeared several groups had picnicked recently. Food, napkins, cups, old boxes and other assorted trash were strewn about.

"OK - get to cleaniní. No goofiní off, either. This ainít no vacation!"

The men got to work, some more enthusiastically than others. Mason began picking up assorted garbage and slam dunking it into his trash bag.


Mason turned to see a young inmate, probably half his own 40 years, gathering trash beside him and glancing his way.

"Hey yourself. Nameís Mason."

"I know your name - everyone here does. Iím John Phillips. Just transferred here a couple weeks ago."

Mason nodded. The two men returned to garbage collection, working side by side in silence for several minutes.

"Mason, can I ask ya something?"

"You can ask," Mason quipped.

Phillips pointed at Masonís right forearm.

"Noticed your cross tatt. You a Christian?"

"What do you think?" he snickered.

Phillips shrugged.

"I may have been one before, but I sure as heck ainít one now! Why would God stick me here? I didnít even do anything! How can I follow Him when He deserts me?!"

"No peace, eh?"

"Who the HECK can have peace when theyíre in jail for a crime they didnít commit?!"

"Paul did. Peter did. So did Joseph and Jeremiah."

Mason rolled his eyes and turned away, focusing on picking up a large pile of napkins that had blown over the picnic area.

"You guys can take a break," the guard shouted. "Sit down and have your lunch."

The men each grabbed a box lunch from a crate the guard had brought out and sat on the ground. Phillips brought his lunch over by Mason and sat. Mason shifted, facing away from Phillips and toward the rushing river.

"God never promised you a stress-free life, you know, Mason."

"And why the heck not, Mister Christian??"

"Do you see that river out there, Mason? Does it look peaceful to you?"

"Guess so. But what does that have to do with anything?"

"Look at how the water pounds the rocks. Sure doesnít look calm to me!"

"OK - guess not! Still; what are you getting at, Phillips?"

"God promises us peace like a river - you remember that?"

Mason nodded, turning toward him.

"He doesnít promise us peace like a pond - now THAT is calm. A smooth sail; an easy life. Thatís what you were expecting. He promises us peace like a river: peace and security as you go over the twists, turns, and boulders of life. Jesus promised us trouble in this life - but he also said we could have His peace through it.

"God hasnít let you down, Mason - you have let you down! You can have peace - His peace - peace like a river!"

Mason looked at Phillips thoughtfully, then walked out to the riverís edge, watching the water drift down the river - past rocks, logs and other obstacles in its way.

"Peace like a river, eh?..."

Scriptures used: Isaiah 48:18, John 16:33

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This article has been read 1827 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Fenny West09/07/06
Very inspirational and well anchored on the Word of God. Great compelling intro and dialogue.
You are a very good story teller.
Well done!
Donna Haug09/07/06
Great story. I was left wondering why Phillips was in jail. No clues? Peace like a river - never thought of that before. Cool.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/07/06
You have used one of my favorite verses from the Bible..."Peace like a River"...or in this case, Pond. Liked the overall dialogue and enjoyed the story line. Good job.
Lynda Schultz 09/08/06
I liked this concept of peace like a river: "He promises us peace like a river: peace and security as you go over the twists, turns, and boulders of life." Well done.
david grant09/08/06
Flowed very well and had a good message. Good job!
Brenda Craig09/08/06
Yes and amen to the other comments, but something else also drew my attention:

"God hasnít let you down, Mason - you have let you down!

This is an awesome truth. God never lets us down and when we realize this, "Peace Like a River" truly flows through our life. Wondeful idea for the topic and great dialog. Great Job!!!
Valerie Routhieaux09/09/06
This was good. Had one small problem. Didn't understand who was talking in the comment about Peter, Paul, Jeremiah and Joseph. Otherwise this was very good with a clear message.
Lynda Lee Schab 09/10/06
Oooh...this is so good! My first thought was, "how would a 20-year old baby prisoner dare approach a veteran one twice his age?" But then I got caught up in the explanation of the Peace Like a River thing. That really struck me today - I've never thought of it like that before. Great writing - great message!
Jan Ackerson 09/10/06
Excellent dialog skills, a bleievable main character...I, too, would like some explanation about why Phillips is in jail. Good approach to the topic.
Donna Powers 09/10/06
Excellent story and it is so well done. I was captivated by the characters and loved the imagery of a river vs. a pond. Excellent point!
Venice Kichura09/10/06

great use of dialogue!
william price09/10/06
Super job Joanne!! Great characterization, story line and message. Being somewhat familiar with inmates, this type of conversation happens all the time. Very accurate. You keep impressing me week after week. Love your writing.
God bless.
Jesus Puppy 09/10/06
One word... Amen.
Joanne Malley09/11/06
Great story, Joanne! Your writing provided great imagery and flow. Thanks for sharing a lesson so well told! Blessings. :)
Jen Davis09/12/06
An interesting story and you make a great point. You've done a wonderful job when you can get your reader to see something in a new light. I liked your conclusion as well. Very well done!
Crista Darr09/13/06
How many times have I sung that verse? "I've got peace like a river..." I'll never see it the same again. I just love the insight in this piece. Excellent!
Suzanne R09/14/06
I've never thought about it that way before ... peace like a river ... not like a pond ... hmmm ... yes!

The way you woke the story into it made the lesson you intended to communicate very accessible.

Excellent writing!
Cheryl Harrison09/14/06
Your comparison of pond vs river is very thought provoking. I enjoyed this. Good job!
Edy T Johnson 09/16/06
This strikes me as so refreshing. I really like the insight that Phillips shares with Mason about peace. Very good job of getting out the message in a most readable story format.
Tracey Jackson09/22/06
A great piece - really good dialogue and a wonderful, thought provoking analogy of peace. Curious about John Phillips too - I'm sure his reason for being there would make up a whole other story!
Good work.
Jacquelyn Horne06/26/07
This is very well written. A good pov and right on target. Good job.