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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)

TITLE: Throwing Darts
By Gerald Shuler
04/30/09


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Pastor Haydin walked slowly to the front of the classroom, looking into the eyes of each church member who had decided to attend this first session of a study on compassion. Once to the front, he turned to face the entire class. In his hand was a sheet of paper, now held up to the class.

“Did you bring what the guidelines for this class required?”

There was a rustle of papers as each church member pulled out their own similar pieces of paper. One by one they all raised their papers into the air for the pastor to see.

“Good. Very good.” Pastor Haydin smiled. “On the page you are holding up you have written about the one person who has hurt you the deepest in your lifetime. Some of you have shared... no, let me say MOST of you have shared some very painful and private experiences.” He smiled again. “Don’t worry. Nobody, not even myself, will ever read what you have written.”

Haydin could see the surprised look that swept through the room at that revelation. He could guess what they were thinking. Why write these painful memories if it isn’t going to be dealt with in some way? The class, after all, was titled The Road to Godly Compassion. He took his own paper and, with great amounts of over acting, folded it in half and then in half again. He took a stapler and stapled the loose edges until it was certain that nobody would be able to see what was inside the folds. Then he took the folded piece and stapled it to a large piece of Styrofoam that was attached to the wall. The Styrofoam had been covered with a sheet that had a huge read and white target circle drawn on it. His paper was placed in the center of the target.

“Please come forward and do the same with your own paper of unthinkable experiences.”

He put the stapler on the desk and waited. One by one, each class member came forward, folding and fastening their papers someplace on the target. Curiosity clouded each face as they returned to their seats. Haydin, again grossly over acting for effect, took out three darts and placed them on the table in front of him.

“This is intended to be a life changing class on Godly Compassion, yet each person clearly has things in their past that still hurts. You carry things that are too hard to even share; bitterness, hurt, maybe even hatred.” Haydin held up his ever-present bible. “This book is going to give us peace by the end of our study. Before that, though, wouldn’t it feel good to just take a dart and express your painful anger by attacking it? Who would like to be first throwing a dart at what is on this dart board?” The crowd rustled but no body came forward. “Oh, come on. You have spent years letting your hearts harden toward the event you brought to the board. It may be that you were molested. Maybe raped. Or cheated by someone you trusted. Mother, father, sister, brother... it doesn’t matter. Don’t you want to just grab a dart and give them ‘What For’ ?”

Nobody moved from their seat. This hard approach was not what they had expected. Compassion is soft, gentle, forgiving. Why was the pastor so insistent that they throw darts of anger at what they so desperately wanted to put behind them? After a brief wait, Pastor Haydin smiled even more broadly than before.

“Class, you are closer than you know to living a life of Godly compassion. Angry attacks wouldn’t soften the hard feelings these events have caused. Neither would holding those feelings tightly inside of you, which I gather you have done since each of you brought a paper of hidden hurts with you. There is only one thing you can do to truly bring the peace you need in your lives. Take your sorrows to Jesus.”

He returned to the dart board, removing the target and all the folded papers. In unison, class members gasped.

“Every time a Christian chooses to ‘throw darts’ at those who have hurt us, every hard-hearted, unforgiving spiritual dart you throw would always end up here.”

He pointed to the large portrait that had been hidden behind the dart board. It was a portrait of Jesus.

"You, class, have taken your hurts to Jesus, but you didn't throw darts. Well done."


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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Lee Schab 04/30/09
Great creative twist at the end. Didn't see it coming. Nicely done.
LauraLee Shaw05/05/09
This is masterfully written, and I love the message. wow. The image will stay with me for a long time.