"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

11/14/08

Friday Fiction: "No Greater Love"



Welcome to my contribution to Friday Fiction, hosted this week at LauraLee's Lifesong. Be sure to stop by LauraLee's blog and check out more great fiction--and add some of your own, if you are so inclined!
I wrote this almost two years ago for the FW Writing challenge, for the "volunteer" topic. I think, in a way, it was a chance for me to write out some of my struggles with the suffering around me (maybe especially under my own roof at the time), though I'm not sure if I think the "premise" of this story is Biblically sound - or even wise. (Got your interest piqued? LOL Hope so!) I hope you enjoy this, and that it makes you think. Would love your feedback!

NO GREATER LOVE

Sylvia Bennet's wrinkled, calloused fingers struggled with the envelope in her hand. Eager as she was to examine its contents, she could not get her arthritic fingers to open it. Sighing, she walked across the room for her letter opener.

She hadn't heard from Marcie Willingston in years. For two decades, they had been neighbors, but Marcie's husband's job had moved them away ten years ago. They had written and called each other for a while, but the friendship had tapered off over time. Sylvia had heard from mutual friends that Marcie was having some chronic back problems, but was getting by all right, by the grace of God. Now here, out of the blue, was a letter from her.

Dearest Sylvia,
It has been so long since I wrote to you, so please forgive me. I want you to know that I have not stopped praying for you, and have missed you terribly.

I really need to see you, dear friend. God has told me it is very important for both of us. Please use the enclosed check to purchase airplane tickets and anything else you may need to get to me, soon if possible. I promise you will not be disappointed if you do.

Your dear friend in Christ,
Marcie


**

Sylvia exited the taxicab, surveying the huge assisted living center. So this was where her dear friend was living.

Sylvia's imagination was certainly in high gear. They had spoken on the telephone once final arrangements had been made for the trip, but Marcie had been very elusive about why she wanted to see Sylvia.

Following the directions Sylvia got over the phone, she quickly located the room. The door was open a crack, so Sylvia knocked gently.

"Marcie?"

"Is that you, Sylvia? Come right in, dear."

Entering the room, she found Marcie lying in bed, absolutely glowing.

"Oh, Marcie! So good to see you!"

The two grasped hands, Sylvia cringing slightly from her aching joints.

Marcie loosened the grip immediately, kissing her friend's hand lightly.

"Oh dear - I had nearly forgotten how painful that must be."

"It's all right, Marcie. I'm starting to get used to it."

Marcie smiled. "Oh, don't worry about that, dear. You won't need to be used to it for long. Have a seat."

Baffled by her friend's words, Sylvia found a chair just to the left of her friend's bed. Marcie stared blankly, straight ahead, and smiled.

"I'm sure you are curious why I asked you here. Well, I have been talking with the Lord a lot lately, and we have decided that I need to do something for you."

"But you already have, Marcie! You paid for this trip here, and I am getting to see you. What else could you possibly do for me?"

Floundering about until she found Sylvia's arms, Marcie placed both of Sylvia's hands in her own.

"Have you been able to do your knitting?"

Sylvia's countenance dropped, and a tear ran down her cheek. "Not for a month or more. It's just too painful."

"Well, dear, God wants to do something about that."

Her brow furrowing, Sylvia sat up straighter, looking questioningly into Marcie's eyes. "What do you mean?"

"Your knitting is your heart's desire; your ministry. So many children have been saved from the cold because of it, and many have come to know Jesus because of those gifts you've made. God wants you to be without arthritis, and he wants me to do it. Sylvia, I want to take your arthritis from you."

"You want to what?"

"Sylvia, you know that my ministry is prayer, and that I have always been faithful to God that way. Yours is making things with your hands. I can pray with arthritis. You can't knit with it."

"Oh, Marcie! What a gift you are willing to offer me. But how can it be - even if I were willing to take it, which I'm not saying I am?"

Marcie smiled. "It can be, dear friend. My son is continuing to build homes in Nicaragua because I took his back pain, and my neighbor Allison has painted several paintings for Him because I took her blindness for her."

Sylvia fell to her knees before the bed and prayed aloud.

"Oh, Lord, what a gracious friend You have given me, given this world! What a heart! How can I thank her enough for all she has done for You, for what she is willing to do for me?"

Take her up on the offer.

** Don't forget to stop by LauraLee's Lifesong for more great fiction! Thanks for reading!

8 comments:

  1. Wow, this is an amazing story. How did you ever think of it? Bear one another's burdens indeed! Excellent!

    Hugs to you!

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  2. Wow! That seems to fit this piece just wonderfully. I love how it fit in here and I loved the ending best of all. Gives new meaning to friendship!

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  3. Wow what a great piece? Like Betsy, I too wonder, how did you ever think of it?

    Wonderful job.

    Vickie

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  4. So good, JoDear! What a ministry that would be!

    Huggles!!

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  5. Beautiful. Encouraging. Reminds me of you...

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  6. Incredible jo. Shows your heart true and clear.

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  7. What a friend, and yet that is exactly the kind friend we have in Jesus! Your awesome ability to put Biblical truths like this into perspective of our modern thought, is a gift, Jo! Just awesome.

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  8. Wow. I am amazed. I would have never thought of that idea. I mean it is such a simple concept demonstrated by Jesus himself, but I never thought about what it would be like if we could literally take on someone else's pain and suffering. Would we be willing to do it for them? This brings up a lot of good questions. You got me thinking now. :)

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Thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear your thoughts - please share them!


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