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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Kingdom of God (03/12/09)

TITLE: Beyond Words
By Carol Slider


The old man lived in a cave carved into the rocky cliff face near the sea. He had a very small boat, a fragile thing of wood and canvas. When the waves were still, he sailed out from shore and let down a net. When he brought it up, it groaned with fish.

He kept a few fish for himself, and traded the others to the small garrison of Roman soldiers that watched over the prisoners. The prisoners were criminals, sentenced for life to the rock quarries of Patmos. But the old man named John was not like them. He was, they said, a political exile, perhaps a rabble-rouser... not dangerous in the strictest sense. Anyway, they let him alone. And they gave him what he wanted in exchange for his fish: reed pens, charcoal ink, papyrus scrolls, and oil for his lamp.

In the cave, John placed the lamp and the writing materials on a slanted rock. He prepared the fish he had caught, said a simple prayer of thanksgiving, and welcomed the Sabbath. Then he lay down upon his bed, and slept, and dreamed.

He walked again with the Lord and the other disciples through the streets of Jerusalem to the Temple. Once again, he heard the Master prophesy of the coming desolation; and when he woke, he felt the weight of that old sorrow. When the Lord had said that not one stone would be left upon another, John had not believed that he would live to hear of it: the walls broken down, never to be built again; the Jews dispersed into exile. Yet he had lived to hear, and grieve—and even two decades after the destruction of the second Temple, he still mourned for the visible symbol of the Kingdom of God.

He slipped to his knees beside his cot, hardly aware of the tears still fresh on his face. He cried wordlessly to God for comfort. And a Voice answered him.

I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and what thou seest, write in a book...

The vision came. He saw the Lord transfigured, as he had seen him long ago on the mountain, and John fell at his feet and worshiped. But the Lord comforted him, and said:


He scribed the words that the Lord spoke to him, the messages of admonition and hope for the churches of seven cities that he knew well. But John glimpsed layers of meaning in those words, and understood that they would speak to other churches in other places and other times, as well.

Then a voice beckoned him to the very throne room of God, where the Lord Jesus Christ—the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world—loosed the seven seals that bound the great book of prophecy. And John was carried into the heart of a great and terrible vision of the end of time, a vision that intertwined literal events with rich symbolism. He saw fearful plagues unleashed upon the nations that followed the great beast that was the Antichrist; he witnessed the final defeat of the great dragon, Satan, and those who followed him.

And after all these terrors, John saw a city descending, and knew it to be Jerusalem. But it was not the earthly Jerusalem that he had known. Even Solomonís Jerusalem with its golden tabernacle had been but a shadow, a flawed copy, of this New Jerusalem—a city whose translucent golden walls no Chaldean or Roman army could breach, a city illuminated by the light that is the glory of God.

He could have wept at the knowledge that all would be restored, recreated—but even those tears were consumed by joy.

Write, said the Spirit.

Write? John trembled. How can human language contain all that I have seen? How can the coarse tongues of men speak the mysteries of the Kingdom of God?

Write, said the Spirit, for these words are faithful and true.

The vision ended, but remained vivid and complete in his memory. He rose from his knees, lit the lamp, and submitted his humble tools—pen and ink and paper—to his Master:

And now, O Lord, may these words glorify You, until Your Kingdom comes and all words become one with The Word...

The Word that was in the beginning.
The Word that became flesh.
The Word that is God.

Even so come, Lord Jesus.

NOTE: This narrative assumes the traditional later date (approximately 95 A.D.) for the writing of the Book of Revelation.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 03/19/09
Well done. That last bit as John dedicates the quill, paper, and words to the glory of God has great impact.
Ruth Hayes03/19/09
Thank you for sharing this well written piece and treating the subject matter with what is obviously considerable thought and reverence. Your style flowed in keeping with the scriptures that John wrote and was a believable extension of the man himself. Excellent!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/20/09
Thank you for showing us the heart of John. God surely trusted him with a great deal, and you did an excellent job of portraying his humility and obedience. Just last April, I stood in the little cave/room on the island where John is purported to have written. Your thoughts were more profound than the ones I had as I stood there.
Emily Gibson03/22/09
You have illustrated expertly the power of words through your own. How much more is the Divine Word leading us to the Kingdom of God? Well done!
Joanne Sher 03/22/09
Exemplary descriptions and extremely compelling piece. It brought a new life to John for me. Very well done.
Eliza Evans 03/23/09
I feel humbled and blessed.

What a tender touch you have. What skill.
What artistry.
Well done.

Okay ..
what I really want to say is .. WOW!!!:D
Jan Ackerson 03/24/09
Despite being beyond words, you've used words very beautifully here, and once again proven yourself one or our finest writers. Thanks so much.
Bryan Ridenour03/24/09
Beautifully written. Wonderful take on John's Isle of Patmos Revelation. How his heart must have been thrilled and overwhelmed simultaneously. I think you conveyed that so very well here!
Sheri Gordon03/24/09
Wow. I have never thought about what John must have felt writing the book of Revelation. This is very, very good. Excellent job with the topic.
Mona Purvis03/24/09
Masterfully done. Took me to Patmos to observe. Wonderful insight shared with the reader.
You "get it". Mona
Norma-Anne Hough03/25/09
What more can I add other than I REALLY LOVED the way you portrayed John. Made him one of us.
Full marks.
Eliza Evans 03/26/09
Congratulations, dear friend!
A beautiful bit of writing, as usual.
So well done.
Sheri Gordon03/26/09
Congratulations on your EC. Excellent piece.
Charla Diehl 03/26/09
Beautifully written. Compelling. Insightful. I always appreciate a piece that brings Biblical characters to life. This is a winner.
Jim McWhinnie 03/26/09

This vivid imagery will be in my mind every time I read the Revelation.

Again, magnificent piece!
Chely Roach03/26/09
This was masterful in every way...superb. Congrat on your EC!
Sonya Leigh03/26/09
Congratulations on this great piece. I felt like I became personally acquainted with John.