Christian Short Stories

A Stark Reminder
By Web Ruble

Web writes: "Although I feel an active Christian, there was one recent day when I was not cheerful but grumpy. Frustrated though retired? Maybe. But I needed to look at the calendar."

I was grouchy.

After what had been apparently a bad dream -- though upon waking the whole dream was vague -- my mood had warped.

Though I recognized my bad mood came from a dream that I couldn't remember, plus some interruptive factors, my relatively cheerful countenance for that day seemed irreparably damaged. Not much you say? Well, I was becoming desperate and I was stuck with another day wherein I would have to battle it through hour by hour.

Not good for a guy who was trying to be a cheerful Christian most of the time.

God expects me to be cheerful and thankful for what he did for us more than 2000 years ago -- when He died the world's most painful and humiliating death on the cross.

But somehow this day I just couldn't muster up a good attitude. No matter how I tried. No doubt 'twas the devil at work in my soul.

Oh, I was aware it was Friday. I had myriad tasks to do. One of the reasons was that during the earlier part of the week I suffered constant interruptions. Most of it was for relatively nonsensical stuff, but I let them interrupt and it was enough to delay many tasks that I had set for myself and family.

It seemed nonsense, though, because I was retired. I faced no real deadlines. Except for the severe ones I set for myself.

After one retires, one must schedule tasks if he is to really get much done. Otherwise, others recognize he's or she's retired and volunteer him or her for everything. Either that or he or she would slip into shuttered obscurity and dwell on memories and thus shrivel and die.

I had become aware of this years earlier. So many friends -- including my own father and some other relatives -- had died soon after retiring. They had been free to fritter away their time, and wander with the wayward wind. After a while they slowed to a walk. And then -- because they had nothing of interest before them - they would languish into inertia -- perhaps glued to a television set. They'd die of boredom, or implode with personal rage.

With this in mind, I decided that when I retired I would avoid this deadly trap and disease. I would stay active and busy. Well, I got so busy from volunteering -- being a lay leader in my church, engaging in civic activity, and working once a week in a soup kitchen -- that I shattered any vestiges of organization I thought I had.

This had been eating me alive in recent few weeks. Like the joke about the exiled Russian trans-Uralic (Siberian) worker -- "Here's Papirosa, new short-length Russian cigarette. Two puffs all you get. No time for anything else. Work 20 hours a day salt mine."

I needed to set aside some time daily for Bible reading and because I was a writer, I had to set definite hours for short story and Christian poetry writing.

I hadn't been able to do much writing this week, plus some earlier ones. And I was grumpy.

I had let everyone else's wishes whipsaw me into a whimpering zephyr wimp.

So one day I bravely and without any explanation to others, opted out of a couple of obligatory tasks, and set a schedule, although 'twas still a trifle vague. Each day I would try to avoid interruptions to accomplish a few daily tasks. I got quite good at avoiding time-wasting nuisance stuff, but after a while, even that began falling apart. I was rapidly becoming a blowdown of secular gusts.

I didn't know where I was headed, but this inertia and self incrimination wasn't good. I felt a little whacked by fate and failure. Bitter? Maybe.

At one point I glanced at my wall calendar in the kitchen as I was finishing some fussy chores. My wife was out of town, so the household and nonsensical chores were mine alone. Hanging rakishly on the wall, my kitchen calendar beckoned: Come! Just look at me!

Oh, all right. I did so. Was I prepared for the shock? No. Definitely not.

The calendar simply said today not only was Friday but GOOD FRIDAY!

That's the first I realized it. I hadn't any hot cross buns. I hadn't gone to church last night for a Maundy Thursday service. You see, I had forgotten it was Holy Week. Sunday was Easter! Omigosh. Where had I been?

Feeling the triple whammy of surprise, shock and dismay, my whole day came into screaming focus: Unacceptable. Now I was downright angry with myself. Grrr.

My anger, though now somewhat turned inward, was still there.

I got to thinking and grumping: Good Friday? What's good about it?

'Tis a day wherein Christians commemorate the terrible events in Jerusalem of some 2,000 years earlier. On a certain springtime Friday, Christ, our Lord, suffered the most humiliating, excruciatingly brutal death. His despondent followers either hid in shame and shock, or they went about the task of making sure Jesus' body was secure in a tomb.

After all, the life of their miraculous leader -- and as far as they surmised the promised life of a glorious hereafter - had all vanished as Jesus died in unspeakable humiliation nailed to a tree. A brutal, terrible death at the hands of ruthless tyrants. Observers' minds were sent spinning -- perhaps this whole Christ thing had been a hoax. Perhaps Christ was not divine after all. Hope was gone. His followers were left in unspeakable despair before wild Roman soldiers and wicked, jealous, self-important Jewish leaders.

That was some 2,000-years ago. A mere three days later, however, the miracle of the Resurrection set the world straight -- for believers.

Nevertheless, that Friday of the crucifixion has been called Good Friday. Why?

I plunged straight away into Biblical research. I also consulted my daily devotional guide, "Upper Room." l came up with a simple answer: Perhaps Christians have called it Good Friday because it shows how far God was willing to go to save us.

There's nothing "gooder" than that.

(© 2012 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)

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