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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Obedience (01/31/05)

TITLE: Old Man Nieve
By Bob Zoellner
02/06/05


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"To obey is better than sacrifice."

The thought flashed through my mind as I finished shoveling old man Nieve's sidewalk. By now I was running late for work, but I wanted to be a good neighbor. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, and besides, clean sidewalks are safer. They look better, too. Since I'm not usually an early riser, I'm kind of proud of myself.

This past Christmas, my wife and I limited our gift giving with each other, taking our savings and giving it to Mr. Nieve. He probably needed a few extra bucks. It was a stretch, but we did it. Anonymously, of course. We want to be careful of doing our good works before men so we don't rob ourselves of that heavenly reward. I'm sure it meant a lot to him.

"To obey is better than sacrifice."

I remember the time his grandkids came for a visit. That rowdy bunch ended up in our yard a lot, even stomped on a few roses. It was all I could do to hold my tongue, but he seemed to get so few visitors, especially family. So I figured we could make the effort and keep quiet about it. Come to think of it, I haven't seen those kids around here in a while. I guess they're all grown up now.

There was that time I took off work for a whole weekend, and passed up those Indians tickets, too, so a few of us could paint Mr. Nieve's house. Looks like it could use another paint job. As much as I need the money, I'd take a day off to help the old guy out. He certainly doesn't have the strength for something like that any more. Maybe this spring.

"To obey is better than sacrifice."

My wife said he called again last night, wanted me to stop by. He seems to call a couple times a week, but what can I do? I'm not a plumber, or an electrician. I can't repair things very well. I wish he wouldn't call so much. Perhaps the money we gave him wasn't enough to fix things around the house. Maybe I can work some overtime and slip him a little more cash.

"To obey is better than sacrifice."

Where does that thought keep coming from? What does it mean? Lord, you trying to tell me something?

"Honey, can you come here a minute?" my wife called out while I finished getting ready for work. "I've been thinking a lot about Mr. Nieve lately."

What a coincidence, I thought. So have I.

"You know, since his family moved away, he doesn't seem to get many visitors. He doesn't get out much, either. Do you think we should see how he's doing? I know he calls a lot, but what do you think about a visit?"

Well, it certainly couldn't hurt, but I'm sure I'll get roped into doing something I don't have the time for or really know how to do, I thought to myself.

"I don't think I ever told you this, but the last time his family visited, his daughter told me how lonely he gets since Mrs. Nieve passed away. And, even though you wouldn't know it by how he lives, he is pretty well off financially."

Well, I'll be.

"I just can't seem to get him off my mind. Do you think we should look in on him more often?"

Actually, that thought had crossed my mind on more than one occasion. Quite a few times, in fact. I was just always too busy doing things for old man Nieve that I didn't really dwell on it. Maybe we should look in on him a little more often.

"To obey is better than sacrifice."

I was a little embarrassed as I picked up the phone, since even after all these years, I still didn't know his first name.

"Hello, Mr. Nieve? This is your neighbor across the street. My wife and I were wondering if you'd enjoy some company tonight?" I asked, unsure of what his response might be.

"Why, that would be the best idea I've heard in a long time! I don't get much company any more, and it's hard for me to get out. It does get pretty lonely around here. You are welcome here anytime. And please, call me Juan."

As I hung up the phone, one final thought kept ringing in my ears: "To obey IS better than sacrifice."


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This article has been read 688 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie OConnor02/07/05
A very well told, gripping story that makes a powerful point. Enjoyed it greatly.
Linda Germain 02/11/05
This is so well told! It makes me wonder which of my neighbors could use some company or help. Nice Job. :0)