Love Your Enemies
by Karissa Chmil
First Place – Level A (3rd – 4th grade)
Ten-year-old Rose sat on a log reading her book of fairy tales.
“Rose, Rose! I need you!” called her mother in an urgent tone that Rose had never heard before.
Rose started running into the field where her mother was bringing water to her father, who was a farmer. When she reached her father, he was on the ground, moaning.
“Rose! Leave him alone!” Her mother was kneeling beside him, concern etched across her face.
Rose saw Mr. Paul, their neighbor, running back into his own field. She knelt beside her father as his eyes fluttered open and shut.
“Papa, Papa! What happened to him?” cried Rose.
“Mr. Paul hurt him. I think his leg is broken. Run for the doctor quick! Quick!”
Rose felt anger rising inside her. Mr. Paul had never been friendly, but…hurting Papa? She wanted to run to Mr. Paul’s house and scream.
“Rose!” her mother’s voice jerked her out of her bubble of anger. “Get the doctor; he needs help!”
Torn between helping her father or screaming in rage at Mr. Paul, she began to recall Bible verses flash across her mind. Honor your father and mother. Love your enemies as yourself. Without a word, she ran for the doctor. As she reached the town, she saw the doctor coming out of his office.
“Doctor, Doctor! My Papa’s hurt in the field. Right next to our house! Please, can you come to help him? Mama said she thinks his leg is broken.”
“All right, little lady, I’ll be right back, and you just wait right here to show me where he is.”
The doctor hurried back into his office and Rose sat on the step. She knew the Bible said to forgive Mr. Paul, but she didn’t want to. Her thoughts went to the Bible verse that said a soft answer turns away wrath. She prayed to God. Lord, I don’t want to forgive Mr. Paul. Please help me to have a forgiving spirit as yours. I love you. Amen.
Right then, the doctor came back with two other men carrying a strange object. Before she could ask, the doctor said, “It’s a stretcher in case he can’t walk with his leg.”
When they came in sight of her parents, the doctor examined her father’s leg.
“Broken,” he said, then gently lifted him onto the stretcher. They rode away, her father helplessly on the stretcher. Rose sat down in the middle of the field and cried. As she lay in bed that night, she heard her parents talking.
“Honestly, Mary, I don’t know what to do. I mean, how can I work a farm with a broken leg? Mary, let’s face it—we’re going to have to leave the farm. Maybe I can find a sit-down job.”
“But David, this is our home. Our church is here, the school! How can you just propose to pick up our family and plop it down somewhere else?”
“I’m sorry, Mary. I really want to stay, but I’ve tried everything I can think of.”
“There’s one thing you haven’t tried, David.”
“Praying, David. We need to pray.”
Numbly, Rose walked out of her room to pray with her parents. They looked surprised but didn’t protest. Her father started, “Lord, I’m . . . I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do…”
They prayed late into the night, asking God that, if it was His will, to allow them to stay in their home.
The next day, the mailman knocked on the door. He handed Rose’s mother a letter.
“Thank you. Would you like to stay for tea?”
“No, thank you, ma’am,” he replied cheerfully. “I’ve got to be on my way.” He left whistling a merry tune.
Rose’s mother read the address and handed it to her husband.
“It’s from your brother Bill.”
Rose’s father opened it, read it, and shouted, “Praise the Lord! Mary, Rose, listen to this! Bill lost his job at the factory, and he wants to move to our farm! He’ll help with the chores, and with both of us working together, we’ll get lots of work done! God has answered our prayers!”
“Oh, David, it’s so wonderful! Let’s see, I’ll organize a party, so he can meet our friends.”
“Mama, can I invite Mr. Paul?” asked Rose. She thought, love your neighbor as yourself.
“Sure, Rose,” answered her father.
Rose skipped out the door and her heart felt as light as a feather.