Weekly Writing Challenge 2 – The Evil Stepmother

Her legs were a little bit wobbly as she trekked out into the forest with her husband.  She had just given birth to beautiful baby girl.  She was blond with fair skin.  Izabel wondered if the blond hair would keep or would darken to a shade like her auburn.  She was amazed at the miracle her body produced and mourned all the more for the little ones that tried to come before.  Izabel was secretly relieved that her daughter didn’t have Adam’s dark skin.  She secretly knew it wasn’t possible for Sarah to have Adam’s ebony skin as Adam wasn’t the true father of Sarah.  Izabel had been with another.  She was convinced that Adam didn’t know.  Sarah looked enough like her as to not arouse suspicion.

They walked still further.  Izabel’s side was starting to ache.  She wanted to get back to the homestead and check on her daughter.  Every moment without her was more and more painful.  After about two hours of walking, Izabel’s eyes lit on a bloody rock on the ground.  Hey eyes jetted up to her husband who was a couple paces ahead of her.  Almost sensing her trepidation, he hollered back, “Not much further now.”  Izabel began to grow worried.  She hadn’t seen her lover since giving birth.  And now this bloody rock.  She quickly added up the situation in her mind and started running.  Even in her weakened state, she overtook Adam as adrenaline poured through her.

It was just over a hill that she saw him.  Her blond, fair-skinned lover.  His body was splayed in many directions.  His face was unrecognizable.  Brain matter was seeping from a deep wound.  Maggots had already started to fester.  Blood was running from his eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.  Izabel let out a long wail that turned into a scream.  She kissed what was left of his face.

Adam was quite noticeably confused.  He expected Izabel to thank him.  The man obviously took advantage of her.  It had never entered Adam’s mind that his second wife was an adulteress.  He failed to realize that Izabel was not Cava, his first wife.  He had taken for granted that all women were like his Cava.  Cava was a selfless gentle woman.  Izabel was a servant girl, hardened by the harsh realities of the world around her.  Izabel was a woman who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted, even if it meant tearing apart a family.

Izabel had wanted a child of her own to take the focus off of Kallah, Adam’s bright morning star.  Everything centered around Kallah in the household.  Izabel thought that if she had a child of her own, Adam would truly see her as a wife, a leader in the household, and not just a step-mother/servant for Kallah.  But failure after failure to have a child with Adam, drove her to extremes.  She sought the comfort of a servant man.  She finally brought a child to term.  Adam must have suspected right away but because he was so pure (naive in Izabel’s mind), he thought something more nefarious happened between the man and Izabel.  Now all was made clear.

Adam’s rage then went to his wife.  Izabel was still grieving at the side of her lover’s body when she felt hands around her throat.  Her eyes went wide.  He was behind her so all she could do was kick.  But his large frame had her covered.  It wasn’t long before she slipped into a comatose state.

“Your bastard daughter will never live in my house.” Adam whispered.  It was the last thing Izabel heard before slipping under.

Adam marched back the way he came.  His rage quelled, he was now deeply saddened.  He thought only of Kallah.  Kallah would miss her step-mother.  Kallah would want to know what happened.  Adam quickly came up with a story of Izabel drowning.  Little did Adam know that Izabel was merely unconscious.
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Here it is.  A fresh post for the weekly challenge: Characters That Haunt You.  And yes, Izabel is a racist *&#(@.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Characters That Haunt You

From here:

To be honest, this has been on my computer for years.  I just needed an excuse to share it.

It was the first time she had ever danced. She had thought about it often, imagined it. She twirled around in the fields in a rhythmic sway when her stepmother wasn’t looking. She had never seen a picture or really had it described to her. Her body did, however, have a natural rhythm when it came to hearing a tune. She always swayed alone in her dreams but music was a rare thing in her experience. However, in these mental machinations, she never imagined that dancing included touching.

The only things she ever touched were dirt, pigs, chickens, and trees. Touching things was not a pleasant experience for her. Very rarely, did she experience the touch of a person.  Mostly to shove her out of the way.  She did not even experience a human’s touch when she was disciplined. When she disobeyed, she got a switch put to her backside that she cut for herself so her stepmother wouldn’t have to dirty her hands or risk injury.

Tonight, right now, she felt the warm hand at her back. He rested there. He was not pushing her. She felt the other hand clasped in hers, covering and caressing her hand. She was grateful the gloves covered her calloused hands.  Her other hand wearily reached for his shoulder as she had seen the other couples do.

His eyes alone made her want to run and take cover. She could not stand to have his eyes on her. No one had ever gazed upon her. Gazed was the only word she could think of at the moment. His eyes were at once sapphire and gold. It felt like beams of high noon sunlight mixed with a cool breeze. She wondered if she had been set ablaze. She had only ever endured the cold, distant glares of her stepmother. However, his eyes actually wanted to rest where they were and see what they were seeing.

In that moment, she felt so afraid. She felt in her heart how unworthy she was. She was scared for the moment when the prince would find out that he had been fooled. That somebody dared bring a servant girl to a royal event in the hopes that he would mistakenly choose her. She felt both the fire of his eyes and the fire of her guilty heart all at once. It was a battle for her very soul in those few moments. Would her heart yield to the prince’s wondrous gaze? Or, would her heart yield to the years of guilt that her step-mother put upon her?

Love

Today’s Daily Prompt:

What do you love most about yourself? What do you love most about your favorite person? Are the two connected?

A lot of Christians have this idea that loving Jesus means giving up everything you love and are passionate about.  The idea is that those things you love are really temptations to distract you from Jesus.  There’s almost this idea that if you aren’t a minister in front of a church every Sunday, then you must have some distraction in your life.  That dream you have of being a car mechanic?  Distraction.  That dream of playing an instrument?  Distraction.  That dream of having children?  Distraction.  It’s a wonder we get anything of “real world” importance done.  I guess we’re all just bad Christians…

NO!  Really examine where this idea comes from.  Anything that causes confusion or condemnation is of Satan.  Do distractions exist?  Yes.  But our dreams are not distractions.  Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  There are no restrictions here.  What is your desire?  Mine is to get a PhD in Mathematics.  He has brought me so far as to get my Master’s and I believe He will carry me the rest of the way.

I can hear my Christian brothers and sisters saying, “But we have to die daily to ourselves!”  Um,,,  No.  We don’t.  Others have spelled this out before (for example) but here it is on my blog.  Have you ever read “die daily” in context?  I Corinthians 15:29-31, “Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?  And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?  I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  It is clear that Paul said, “I die daily.” in reference to the fact that he literally faces death every hour for the message of Jesus Christ.  He says it again in Romans 8, “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  Again, referencing his persecution.  You won’t find “die to yourself” in the Bible.

But what about, “Take up your cross and follow me.”?  What do you think the cross of Christ was for?  We mystically followed Him onto that cross and were crucified with Him.  Romans 6 says, “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”  Galatians 2 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  So, you can see, we have already died with Christ, once and for all.  There’s no need to keep roasting ourselves on the fire.  There’s no need to work ourselves raw in an attempt to absolve us of these “distractions”.

Here’s a radical concept for Christianity at large.  Our dreams are God-given.  He has called some of us to be car mechanics, some to be musicians, some to be mathematicians, and, yes, some are called to be pastors or ministers.  It’s only an evil, religious spirit that says that we have to fit the cookie-cutter mold of the Christian life.

To answer the prompt, I love that I have a mind that can comprehend and break down complex ideas.  I love that I can get on here and write about whatever is on my heart.  What do I love most about my favorite person?  Well, that person is Jesus.  What I love most is that He gives me the desires of my heart.  He put dreams in my head of becoming a mathematician and is faithful to carry them out.  What I really love about Him is that he’s fun.  He finds mathematics as much fun as I do.  To the car mechanic out there, he finds cars as fascinating as you do.  To the parent out there, he loves your kids more than you do.  So, are the two connected?  Yes, inextricably.

Evil

This is yesterday’s Daily Prompt:

Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.

The first time the word “Evil” appears in the Bible is in the very first chapters.  In Genesis 2:9, “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  Most of us know the story, God told Adam that he could eat all he wanted from the tree of life but he must never eat of the other tree for he would surely die.  Of course, Adam’s wife, Eve, is tricked into eating of the forbidden fruit and Adam follows.  Their action brings death and sorrow into the world.  But read carefully, the Bible doesn’t say it’s an evil tree.  It is called THE tree of THE knowledge of GOOD and EVIL.  From the beginning, it was not about good vs. evil.  But about life and death.  One choice brings life, the other brings death.

Imagine being in the Garden of Eden.  God has declared everything to be “good”.  The trees are good, the animals are good, the streams are good, etc.  Goodness is all you know.  Life is all you know.  What does the forbidden tree do?  Well, look at the name.  It is the tree of the knowledge of good AND evil.  Evil doesn’t exist in this new world.  So what does this tree really do?  It shifts our focus from what we have to what we don’t.  It causes a fracture in the mind of man.  Everything that was one is now dual.  We have this but not that.  They now had a concept of what isn’t.  They now had a concept of separation.  This caused them to shield themselves against God.  They now believed they were separate from God.  This was never the reality.  Colossian 1:21 says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”  Read carefully.  We were enemies in our minds.  God was never against us.

In the end, the decision to eat from the forbidden tree resulted in death.  Again, the choice is not between good and evil but between life and death.  Life is only found in Christ.  I mentioned in my last post that Heaven, devoid of relationship, is really Hell.  Jesus was offered this type of “Heaven” during His temptation.  But His response was that “Man does live on bread alone but on every word that come out of the mouth of God.”  His response was to say that His relationship, his union, his connection with the Father was more important than sating his temporary hunger.  In fact, Jesus confesses to doing nothing but what the Father shows HIm.  Jesus is truly the second Adam.  Jesus, as a human being, has a pre-Fall relationship with the Father.  No separation.

So what is evil?  Evil is separation, it is a lack of substance, it is absence not essence.  Whenever we propose to act independently of God, we commit an act without substance, without life.  That is evil.  Think of all the evil in the world and all the death it has brought about.  It all comes from someone daring to act independently of God.  From Hitler to a toddler stealing a cookie out of  the cookie jar.

What about those atrocities committed in the name of God?  I propose the same thing.  They came from people acting independently of God.  How?  Well, these atrocities are committed by those who think God needs our help.  They are the scariest of all.  One of the side affects from eating of the forbidden tree was that you would become like God.  Such a blasphemy.  Because Adam and Eve were already like God because they were created in His image.  What really happened was the birth of legalism and religion.  The serpent in the garden tells Eve, “…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  This implies that if we know the rules, we will be like God.  Ever since, mankind has demanded a list of rules to live by.  This gave birth to our many religions and legal systems.  How many have been killed over these systems?

In short, evil is acting independently of God.  It is manifested in the many religious and legal systems on the planet.  Furiously enforcing these ideals does not bring life.  However, going against them brings death and destruction.  Life only comes from God.  It is a simple matter to rediscover our union with the Tree of LIfe which is Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ died and rose again so that we could uncover our union with Him again.

(I pulled a little bit from here.)

Twilight Zone – The Hunt

Copied from The Hunt (The Twilight Zone):

Hyder Simpson lives with his wife and his hound-dog Rip in the backwoods. Mrs. Simpson does not like having the dog indoors, but Rip saved Hyder’s life once, and Hyder won’t be parted from him. Mrs. Simpson has seen some bad omens recently, and warns Hyder not to go raccoon hunting that night. When Rip dives into a pond after a raccoon, Hyder jumps in after him, but only the raccoon comes up out of the water. Next morning, Hyder and Rip wake up next to the pond. When they return home, Hyder finds that neither his wife, the preacher, nor the neighbors can hear him or see him—they seem to think that he and Rip are dead.

Walking along the road, he encounters a fence he doesn’t recognize, and decides to follow it. Presently, both come to a gate tended by a man. Simpson asks him if he is Saint Peter. Explaining only that he is a gatekeeper, the man explains that Simpson can enter the Elysian Fields. Simpson is appreciative, but disheartened to hear that there is no raccoon hunting there, nor are there any of his other usual pleasures. When he is told that Rip can’t enter and will be taken elsewhere (“up the road”), he declines and angrily goes on down the “Eternity Road” rather than enter the gate without his beloved dog. Simpson states, “Any place that’s too high-falutin’ for Rip is too fancy for me.” Later, after stopping to rest, Simpson and Rip are met by a young angel whose job is to find and bring them to Heaven.

Simpson tells the angel about his experience at the first gate, commenting “Son, that’d be a helluva place without Rip!” The angel replies “Mr. Simpson, you ain’t far wrong – that is Hell! Heaven’s up yonder a piece,” pointing up Eternity Road. When asked by Simpson why the gatekeeper at the gate to Hades wouldn’t let him bring Rip inside with him, the angel explains that the reason Rip was not allowed in was because the dog would have been able to smell the brimstone and alert Simpson that something was wrong. The angel says, “You see, Mr. Simpson — a man, well, he’ll walk right into Hell with both eyes open. But even the Devil can’t fool a dog!”

The angel also tells Hyder that there will be a raccoon hunt in Heaven that night, “right after the square dance,” and assures him that his wife, who will be coming shortly, will not be misled into entering Hell.

I remember watching The Twilight Zone as a child.  My parents were older and grew up watching the show themselves.  (That’s also how I got introduced to Star Trek.)  My dad used to talk about this episode a lot.  Now, I don’t know how much of the Gospel he believed but I like to think he believed more than he let on.  Why?  Because he loved this episode.  He didn’t like dogs (or cats) but he loved this episode.

I finally watched it the other day.  It almost brought me to tears.  There is so much it gets right.  Now, I am not a universalist.  However, I do think Hell and Death are defeated enemies.  The Bible says that Jesus came to take away the sin of the world.  I believe that He did that.  The only power Hell has is through manipulation and lies.  I love that this episode represents Hell and Satan as desperate entities.  They don’t quit until you’ve passed the gate.  The Gatekeeper in this episode is obviously a desperate man.  I wonder if he fears punishment if he doesn’t bring in Hyder Simpson.  Notice that the Gatekeeper doesn’t force Hyder to enter.  It’s all manipulation and lies.

It’s also interesting that the Gatekeeper insists that his domain is Heaven.  But it’s a white-washed Heaven.  No ‘coon hunting, no dogs.  None of life’s pleasures are allowed beyond the gate.  Also, why does Heaven need a gate?  Everyone should be welcome.  Why is there so much border control to this “Heaven”?  This seems like a legalist’s version of Heaven.  Can’t do this, can’t do that.  The legalist’s, or religious, person’s language is always NO.  Their language is always control.

Hyder, of course, doesn’t fall for any of this.  Rip doesn’t seem fond of the place either.  He insists on walking Eternity Road for all of time rather than spend that time without Rip.  A little while later, he comes across a young man who just happens to be looking for him.  He introduces himself as an angel.  He tells Hyder that the Gatekeeper had lied to him, that the Gatekeeper’s domain is actually Hell.  He invites Hyder into Heaven where there is square-dancing and coon hunting and that Rip can come along too.

As much as it gets right about Hell, it gets right about Heaven as well.  Heaven is all about relationship.  The reason Hyder didn’t walk straight into Hell is that he wouldn’t be separated from his dog, Rip, because the dog saved his life once.  In a sense, Rip was archetypal of Jesus Christ.  It was Hyder’s relationship with Rip that saved him from the Gatekeeper.  It was also the value that Hyder placed on that relationship.  Rip wasn’t just a dog but a loyal friend.

Here’s the problem with modern, mainstream Christianity.  We sell Heaven as a place where all our dreams come true.  We sell Christianity as a ticket to Heaven, a “Get out of Hell free.” card.  Now I’m not saying that Heaven isn’t a wonderful place but let’s put things in perspective.  The Bible says in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  Heaven is a continuously evolving relationship with the one who saved us from Death.  If we’re simply looking for all our dreams to come true or to just not end up in Hell, we may be deceived when our time comes.

Will we be able to discern Jesus’ voice from all the other voices calling for us on that day?  The Bible says in I John 4:1 to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”.  How can we test them if we have no relationship with God’s true spirit?  The real question is not of discernment between other voices but are we looking, listening, for His voice?

We sell out God to get Heaven.  This was the basis of Satan’s temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 and Luke 4.  Satan was offering Heaven devoid of any relationship with God.  Jesus never denied that he could turn stones into bread or survive falling from the height of the temple.  But what was his reason for denying Satan?  “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Jesus later said, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”  His source of life and direction was the Father.  As ours should be.  That’s where Heaven comes from.  But we have made Heaven simply a place where fun things happen.  Jesus could have had Heaven on Earth by turning stones into bread, commanding angels to save Him from every disaster.  But He knew this would be an empty experience apart from the Father.

In short, Hyder and Rip represent our relationship to Christ.  The Gatekeeper is Satan, offering “Heaven” devoid of relationship.  It’s his oldest trick.  Adam and Eve fell for it. They were offered a chance to be like God but without the relationship.  They soon realized how empty they were and how powerless they were without Him.  It is only when we trust in Jesus that we can discern between opposing forces that would lead us astray, just like Hyder listened to Rip in the story.  Rip was having none of that place.  True Heaven is a continuous relationship with the one who saved our life.  Will wondrous, miraculous, supernatural things happen?  The answer is a resounding YES.  But do they happen for their own sake?  No.  They will come from, and point to, an understanding of our relationship in Him and our identity in Him.

Wounds

I asked God one day back in August why the Prince loves Cinderella so much.  In the story, as we all know, Cinderella is from a broken, abusive home.  There is so much psychological baggage that comes with that.  She has been beaten and verbally trodden on for most of her life.  How does a prince come to love someone like her?  A prince, a royal, who has been doted on his entire life.  How can he possibly have the patience to contend with the nightmares and flashbacks of Cinderella’s sordid life.  How can he possibly understand?

So I asked God about this.  Why does the Prince fall in love with Cinderella?  In reality, I was asking myself, “Why does Jesus fall in love with mankind?  Why does He love ME?!”  Because, in my version, I/We are Cinderella and Jesus is the Prince.  What came back was a picture of Cinderella asking her prince on their wedding night, “Why did you fall in love with me?  I am far below your station.  I was so wounded and broken.  I have many scars.  Why did you choose ME that night at the party?”

The prince answers, “I chose you because I knew that you could love more deeply than any other.  The depth of your wounds only made your heart grow deeper.  You attempted to cover the holes, believing them to be dangerous traps.  But, with time and patience, I’ve uncovered them.  Because, in reality, they are wells of great love and joy.”

In life, especially in this modern era, we mistakenly believe that if we fix the outside, the exterior, that everything will be okay.  This goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.  In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit and immediately fall from grace.  Their first instinct is to cover up their nakedness.  It is much the same with Cinderella.  Her first instinct would be to try and cover up her imperfections.  Her calloused hands, greasy hair, torn nails.  Her scars from battling the kitchen stove.  Her psychological scars are even greater and are harder to hide.

What’s the good prince to do?  He restores everything that was taken from her and then some.  He gives her a new name.  He gives her a safe environment to live in.  He lays everything out in the open.  No secrets.  He is patient with her.  As their trust grows, so does her trust of other people.  She is no longer constantly afraid of being taken as a slave again.  She begins to let herself feel again.  She starts to think she might actually love this prince of hers.

How does Jesus know this about our wounds?  Because he was once wounded for our sake.  His wounds unleashed a torrent of love, mercy, and grace toward all of mankind.  The depth of His wounds only made His heart grow deeper in love for us, if that were possible.  When he lives inside us, our wounds become wells or oases for His love to overflow to others.  So don’t try to cover them up in an attempt to appear normal.  Normal doesn’t exist.  You may be plugging the only watering hole in the desert of your life or someone else’s life.  Wells scar the earth but, without them, people would die.

The Prince in The Glass Slipper (1955).

I should start off by saying that I’m obsessed with Cinderella and I’m always pulling Holy Spirit things from it. This comes from 1955’s “The Glass Slipper”. In this version, Cinderella and the Prince don’t meet at the ball. They meet in the forest, beside a small pond. She’s crying because her family treats her poorly. He’s just out for a walk. When he sees her, he doesn’t introduce himself as the prince, he introduces himself as the son of the chief cook and invites her to hang out in the kitchen during the ball.

It’s such a wonderful picture of Jesus. Cinderella is us. She’s broken and beaten by the world. Here comes a “servant” of the king who just wants to make the crying girl better. This shows me a couple things.

1) We need to go back to basics. Jesus came as a servant to mankind. He didn’t part the clouds and ride in on a white horse. No, he saw a hurting world and came to serve it. We need to fall in love with servant side of Jesus, not just the kingly side of Jesus. He chose to relate to mankind on the level of a servant so we should respond in kind. The servant is the man the disciples fell in love with and went to the ends of the earth to tell people about.

2) Jesus meets us where we are. Cinderella was a servant herself. She was dirty and in a raggedy dress. If he had introduced himself as the prince, she would have been scared off. No, he saw that she was of a lower station and lowered his station to match hers. Jesus isn’t afraid or too proud to come down to our level. He isn’t afraid of our mess.

3) Jesus doesn’t force his authority on us. He doesn’t violate our free will. A lot of times, we want him to ride in on a white horse and wave a magic wand but he doesn’t. He comes in as that servant. He comforts us and gives us an invitation to be with him. It is through this, that our prayers get answered.