if I were your king
you’d follow my commandments
but your days serve you
Prompt Words: King & Day.
You loved us, your children, so utterly complete.
But we loved you back, hanging you by your hands and feet.
You tried to teach us about a love so grand.
But we were sinful and petty, refusing to understand.
You designed an entire world to provide for our needs.
But we whine, “It’s not enough, give us more, oh please.”
You taught us kindness so we could help each other.
But we would rather fight and kill our sister and brother.
You gave us minds full of creativity.
But we live with little purpose in levity.
You instructed us how to live to make you proud.
But we still turn away, saying we don’t know how.
Yet, you continue to love us with all your warm heart.
But we stand stagnant and cold, like we were from the start.
For Writing 201’s Day 9 Assignment:
Word prompt, cold.
Poetic form, concrete.
Poetic device, anaphora.
I was baptized in an unholy place—one of Saddam Hussein’s palace pools in Baghdad to be specific. At first, I thought this was a horrible place to get baptized, but actually it wound up being perfect.
When the chaplain mentioned where the baptism was going to take place, I started imagining the horrible things that must have happened around these grounds. It was pretty common knowledge that Saddam was not the nicest and holiest of men. With that in mind, I started to think that I should not go through with it. I wanted my baptism to mean something, to be special. I didn’t want it to be tainted with a history of evil.
Then it dawned on me, having my baptism in a place known for sin and violence and who knows what else, was actually very symbolic. I mean the entire point of being baptized is to cleanse you from the sin, from the past. To make what was tainted and dirty fresh…and start anew.
It was a moving experience to say the least. And the host of the service, Cannon White, spoke so eloquently, making it even more meaningful. It’s funny, because over the years, I had forgotten his name and it bother me. One day, I was listening to a National Public Radio broadcast and heard this religious speaker. I recognized his distinctive voice immediately. Without a doubt, he was the one who baptized me in May of 2005.
Now, ten years later, I think about that day and what it meant. I can’t say I was completely changed and that I am now the perfect Christian. No. I still stumble. I still sin. I am not perfect by any means. And I am not completely changed since I was a practicing Christian prior to my baptism. I just had not be baptized before and wanted to take that step.
I remember being a small child and watching someone get baptized. I wanted to do it. I wanted to be close to God. So right in the middle of a service, I started begging my mom. She told me I had to wait. I had to be older. And well, I couldn’t just go up there and jump into someone else’s moment. So of course, I threw a fit like the child I was. I lay under the pew crying that she was keeping me from God. LOL…my poor mother.
It was the right choice of course. Being baptized as an adult meant more. I had to really evaluate what I wanted and why. I got to choose for the right reasons. Every day is still a struggle though. It is hard to have faith in times of stress. It is hard to hold unto hope when things look bleak. It is hard to feel loved when you feel alone. And boy is it hard to turn the other cheek when people are cruel. But I try. I really do try. I think that is all we can do as people. Regardless of your faith, I think most of us try to live our lives well, have a purpose and make a difference. We try to be good, loving, and caring people. We won’t succeed every day. What is important though, is that we know, each new day is a chance to start anew. It doesn’t matter if we are coming from a bad past or have not always been the best person. We can all start fresh and wipe our slate clean, even if we do it with some questionable pool water.
She had always heard that life flashed before your eyes when you were dying. Was that why she was looking up at her grandmother who looked much younger? She could smell the flowers on her wedding day. She was holding her twins. She saw the spectacular view of the wild mustangs running the hills. Her son was laughing with her before he left for college.
It was as if all these moments were playing on rewind in front of her, but in slow motion. She could feel the moments vividly but was outside of them, like in a movie. “So this is it? Before you die, your greatest hits play out in your mind?” thought Samantha. “A nice touch I suppose. Though, I would prefer not to die just yet.”
It wasn’t as though Samantha was afraid of death. OK, maybe she was afraid. No one really looked forward to death, but she had faith in God and believed in Heaven. There could not be anything bad about going to Heaven. Well, expect the being dead part that is. She just wasn’t ready to go yet. She had some things left to do. Her first grandchild was on the way. A trip to Ireland was on the calendar. Her sister had planned a huge party. No. Death would not work. Not now. There was no time for it. Certainly, God could change this. Would change this. She had lived a good life. Nothing amazing that is for certain. She had not solved world hunger or created a cure for cancer, but she had been a good person. She raised two wonder children into loving, responsible adults. She donated her time at homeless shelters. Surely, she offered the world some value. Could there not be some exchange for some other person? Maybe one who did nothing but offer evil to the world. No one would miss them anyway. Right?
“Is that what you want?” said the sudden voice in Samantha’s thoughts.
In that second, she knew it as God. The voice was so deep, pure and commanding. She could still see glimpses of her life slowly flashing in the distance, but they were further away than before. They played off to the side of a glorious light that twinkled. It was the most magical light Samantha had ever seen. So bright, but yet, it did not hurt her eyes. So stunning she could not look away. Her “greatest hits” were still there, but no longer commanded her attention. All she could see, all she wanted to see, was the light. It was peaceful, comforting and warm.
“Is that what you want?” God asked again. “You suggest that I take another life instead of your own? One that has been full of evil and hate. One that has done nothing but take in life. Never offering light to the world.”
Samantha mentally kneeled before God as she couldn’t see her body or feel it, but she became aware that He was really there, talking to her. “Is that possible God? You would spare my life like that? I could live more? Be a good grandmother? Continue to serve you?”
“Yes, my child. I could do that for you. You have served me well. You have been a good example of my love.”
Tears rolled down her heart. This was love. She had imagined the light, heaven, God, but this was more. Way more. This was ultimate peace. She could feel the love, the hope, the possibilities. He was giving her a choice.
“Wait God. May I ask a question of you?”
“Of course my child,” He spoke.
“If I chose to live, does an evil soul really die in exchange for me?” whispered Samantha.
“Yes. It will be as you wished, your dying wish. Is that not what you want?”
“So they could no longer hurt others, no longer cause pain?” Samantha pressed on.
“This is true.”
“But, if I do this, they would also no longer have the chance to find you, to find hope?” she dared to question more.
“This is also true my child.”
“Oh. I didn’t realize it worked that way. Can I take a moment to think about it?”
“Certainly. It is your choice to make, and I control time, so you may have it.”
Her mind started to spin. God was giving her a choice to live again. To see her grandchild be born. To live more dreams. To share His love by living His word as her path. What a gracious God indeed. But, that came with a price. As she wished, some evil soul would die so she could live. They could no longer hurt others. But in that moment, she would take their chance of finding Him. She would steal their opportunity to change. But would they change anyway? Probably not. Maybe not….but they could.
“So I can come home with you now, and this evil soul will live? Maybe to hurt more or maybe to find you?” she asked in a whisper.
“Yes. All my children have a choice. It is their choice to make. For love cannot be taken. It must be given with a true heart,” He spoke.
“Oh God. I cannot take that from someone. No matter how evil they are, no matter how much I want to be there for my kids. They know you. I know You are in their hearts. So, I cannot take that opportunity from someone else, no matter how much I want it. If I did, I would not a true Christian. You sacrificed Yourself for us and so many of us have not been worthy. I am not worthy of this choice You have given me. Forgive me for even thinking of it. I have been selfish…and right here at your door,” Samantha said with shame on her heart.
“There is no reason for shame. I offered you this choice since you have been a loyal follower. You have lived with me in your heart and shared it. I heard your wish and thought to grant it, but it was for you to choose. Now that you have decided, I see you are indeed kind-hearted to the core. And even at death, you offer more to others, even those not yet deserving. Therefore, you will go home with me as you wish. But, for your wisdom and love, you will have your wish as well. Well, part of it. I will delay your trip home to me. For now, go be with your children, and help them lead their children to me as well. I will let the evil soul you spared with you choice live. They will know they were spared today, spared by someone of a genuine heart. It will still be up to them to choose, but they will know how close they came to the pits of Hell. You have given them a chance through your love, and more motivation with this knowledge. Go now. Celebrate the time you have left my child. Make memories. Share my word.”
With that, the light started to fade into the distance. The scenes of Samantha’s life came closer, played faster, and became a blur. She heard her kids crying. She could feel their hands on her arms. “Mom, don’t leave. We love you. Fight mom. Fight. We know you are still there. Tell God you are not ready. We are not ready. Please. Please. We need you.”
Weakly, she moved her arms and opened her eyes. Her kids looked into her eyes with hope in their hearts. “Mom! You’re awake! Oh, you scared us,” they cried.
Tears rolled down Samantha’s face. He was a gracious God indeed. She smiled at her kids. “God said I could stay a little longer. We have more memories to make, his love to share.”
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