For this week’s Christian Flash Weekly contest, we were given 1-950 words and the Scripture Prompt below. It’s a favorite verse of mine, and it was a lot of fun weaving it into a story!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Pam’s fingers were trembling violently as she slapped at her buzzing pager and speed-walked down the hallway. She loved the idea of being a nurse, but was beginning to realize how much she detested hospitals. The lights were too bright, everything wreaked of antiseptic, and everyone constantly hustled about in an absolute frenzy. Yep. She needed a smoke.
When she arrived at Mrs. Whitfield’s room, the cleaning lady tossed her a knowing smirk. “The whiteboard bandit’s been at it again,” Clara moaned under her breath.
Pam wasn’t smiling. In fact, she was fuming as she stepped into the room, grabbed the patient’s chart, and saw it: smeared all over the whiteboard labeled “HOSPITAL STAFF ONLY” in a senior adult’s shaky handwriting, was the Good Reverend’s latest Christian graffiti bomb.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Pam wanted to curse, but decided not to upset the patients. Instead, she chomped down on her tongue as she grabbed the eraser and began swiping violently.
“Is there a problem, Nurse Higgins?” Mrs. Whitfield was sitting up in her hospital bed, voice tinged with concern.
“Not anymore,” Pam answered as she turned away from the blank whiteboard. She stepped over to the bed and smiled sweetly. “Now, let’s check those vitals, shall we?”
~ ~ ~
In the beginning, Reverend Gabriel had been nothing but a minor nuisance. He appeared in the hospital ward each day, praying with the patients and comforting their families. When he first began scribbling his inspirational passage all over the doctor’s whiteboards, most people found it sweet. But soon it became a real problem as the doctors’ medical notes began to get lost in the sea of dry erase markings. The hospital staff had removed the dry erase pens from the rooms, but the Good Reverend started bringing his own!
Pam shook her head as she stormed down the hallway. Enough was enough! It was time to declare war on the insolent little man with the shiny bald head and wrinkled eyes.
She found him sitting in the room with Mr. Bernard, an older man suffering from kidney failure. As she walked in, she heard Reverend Gabriel quoting his favorite verse:
“Remember, Bernard… be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened…”
“Shut up!” Pam screeched as she slammed the door hard. The men jumped in surprise as she pounded over to the whiteboard and clenched her fists as she saw none other than Joshua 1:9 scrawled on top of the medical notations in the Reverend’s trembling hand. She gripped the eraser with white knuckles and went to work.
“Are you alright?” Reverend Gabriel asked softly.
It was too much. The straw that broke the camel’s back. “No, I’m not alright!” Pam fumed. “Can’t you read the sign? You know, the one that says STAFF ONLY? My job is hard enough as it is without people like you coming in here like this is your personal playground and spreading your religious nonsense!”
The old man tried to respond, but Pam cut him off. “Just stop it, you hear me? Stop, or I’ll call the cops and get you banned from this place! Honestly, who do you think you are?”
Reverend Gabriel’s eyes were misty, but he nodded in acquiescence. “I’m sorry for the hassle,” he whispered. “Don’t worry, I won’t be in your way for too much longer.”
“See that you aren’t!” Pam hollered, and busted back into the frantic hallway. As she marched to the nurse’s station, she actually smiled. Boy, had that felt good!
~ ~ ~
Over the next few weeks, Pam noticed the whiteboard bandit striking less and less around her ward. It was a hot topic of conversation in the staff lounge, and hearing about it always brought a smug smile of victory to Pam’s face. She had actually done it.
Then, one morning, Rosetta was out sick and she was asked to cover an additional hallway. It wasn’t the first time, and Pam reluctantly agreed. When she arrived to the first patient’s room, she noticed the name “F. Gabriel” printed on the doorway. As she stepped in, however, the room was empty and sterile.
“Where’s my patient?” She asked an orderly.
The young man frowned at her. “You mean Reverend Gabriel? He passed away early this morning, hadn’t you heard?”
The words struck Pam like a blast of arctic wind. “You… you mean he was a patient?”
“Oh yeah,” the orderly nodded. “He was suffering from pancreatic cancer. Had to go through chemo and everything. Hadn’t you ever noticed the way he had lost his hair?”
Her pager was buzzing again, but Pam left it alone. The room was spinning, and she fell into a chair. No. She hadn’t noticed.
The orderly brushed by her to begin cleaning the whiteboard, where a familiar passage was scrawled in giant, tremulous letters.
“Don’t,” Pam said suddenly, catching his arm. “I mean… I’ll get this one.”
~ ~ ~
Friends and family sat wiping their eyes as they gathered around the casket, where a beloved old man lay silent forever. As the funeral attendant closed the service, he glanced around.
“Any last words?” he murmured.
With tears streaming down her cheeks, Pam Higgins stepped forward. She looked at the grieving faces, so full of loss and hurt. And in that moment, she could only think of one thing to say.
“Be strong and courageous,” her voice trembled. “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed… for the Lord your God is with you… wherever you go.”