50 Cliffhanger Moments

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This is soul destroying, she has asked and asked and asked. He’s a bad tempered, stubborn old wotsit. Only thinking of himself. Yet here she is struggling along, barely getting by, powerless. She won’t give up, she’ll keep on knocking, keep on asking, keep on looking to him for help… Luke 18 vv 1-8, Matthew 7 vv 7-8

Voices in the growing dark, the sound of weapons being unsheathed, and the glimmer of torches. Peter’s ready, they’re all ready. Let them come. He’s promised to fight for Jesus and he won’t let him down. He reaches for his sword as soldiers step into view. This is it… John 18 vv 1-11, John 18 vv 25-27

A stone so reliable you can build on it. A foundation for life and living. The kind of rock that will support a house through life’s storms. Yet also a stone rejected by some, not acceptable, somehow too foolish. A rock that some will trip over. Which way will I go? Isaiah 28 v 16, Luke 6 vv 46-49, Psalm 118 v 22

Waiting, waiting, waiting, the kingdom come, yet still arriving. Seeing in part, this new day still dawning, the sun still rising. This advent time, reminding us again that waiting affects us, changes us, makes us new. A son born long ago, soon to be born in his followers yet again… Isaiah 9 v 2 & 6-7

There’s a day of judgment on the way, says the prophet. A good day. A day of justice and hope, a day when wrongs will be righted. A day when the people will leap like calves running free. A day of laughter and wonder. A day of righteousness and healing… Malachi 3 vv 1-2

Soon shepherds will have their dark night broken by angelic light, wise men will follow a bright sign. A vulnerable light, a glimmer, will begin in a manger, tiny and yet, no darkness will subdue it. A temporary cross may blot it out. But the light will rise, and shine on. Isaiah 60 vv 1-3, John 1 vv 4-5

Beauty for ashes. Life for the lifeless. Sight for those blinded by despair. Riches for those impoverished by disappointment. A sign for those lost on the road. Free resources for those with no money. A fresh start for those whose past is a spoilt picture. Prison doors flung wide… Isaiah 61 vv 1-3

Hagar is struggling, she wants to give up. She was trying to do the right thing but now finds herself lost and under pressure. So here she is, running away, in dry place, lost to herself and others. What’s that noise? An angel? Out here? Come looking for her? Really? Genesis 16 vv 4-9 & 21 vv 14-19

He has washed their feet and as he dries his hands he sits again and scans their faces. Naïve, frustrated, troubled, confused… he needs to assure them of the power of caring. ‘This is how people will know you are my friends,’ he says, ‘if you love one another…’ John 13 vv 34-35

Andrew feels a tug at his sleeve. He hears the sound of growling. His stomach’s raging at him, demanding lunch. He looks down at the boy by his side. The youngster smiles, holds up something. He needs to get rid of this boy and then… oh! Hang on a minute… John 6 vv 1-9

What can he say? How can he wake them up? He feels they come to him for a show, a piece of light-entertainment. Something catches his eye in the background, a couple of donkeys. An idea forms, they won’t like it, may wipe the smiles off their faces, oh well… Jeremiah 2 v 23

Jeremiah is torn. On the one hand life is falling apart, cracking at the seams. He is struggling to keep his head above water. Yet at the same time, in that darkness, God feels somehow closer than ever. A kind of connection he can only find in the darkness. Lamentation 3 vv 19-24, Isaiah 45 v 3

Paul knows they fear Romans, so he has an idea, a light bulb moment. He turns things upside-down, starts listing that fearful Roman uniform and using it for God, for good. Each time they see their enemy it can remind his readers of truth, peace, salvation, the ways of hope… Ephesians 6 vv 13-18

This is soul destroying, she has asked and asked and asked. He’s a bad tempered, stubborn old wotsit. Only thinking of himself. Yet here she is struggling along, barely getting by, powerless. She won’t give up, she’ll keep on knocking, keep on asking, keep on looking to him for help… Luke 18 vv 1-8, Matthew 7 vv 7-8

Naaman faces a dilemma. He has encountered the living God, and will always be different, but now he must return to his daily life. A life of interaction with others who see things differently. He will have to make concessions. Is that okay? Elisha smiles, like God, he understands… 2 Kings 5 vv 15-19

To listen, to know you, to honour you. To say you matter, not with words or singing or poetry. But in the waiting, in the pausing, however fleeting. As the dawn breaks, as the traffic roars, as the queue grows. A stopping, a moment of my precious time. For you. Psalm 48 v 14, Psalm 46 v 10, Revelation 8 v 1

How will she tell her cousin? What words can she use? This is an unusual situation. She thinks about Samson’s mum, an angel visited her and the result was a baby. She remembers Hannah too. The words of Hannah’s song rattle round her mind as she sees Elizabeth approaching her… Luke 2 vv 39-46, 1 Samuel 2 vv 1-10

She has been a rock for that community. Caring, generous, providing for those in need. Always hopeful, always interested. A brilliant seamstress too. Now the rock has crumbled. The people are shattered too. Wait – isn’t there a man of faith in town? A guy called Peter? Can he do something? Acts 9 vv 36-41

Abraham hatches his survival plan. Takes things into his own hands. Egypt is not far, they run for safety there. He’s no idea if it’s part of the divine picture but panic is clouding his mind right now. He’s a man, he must do something! What could possibly go wrong? Genesis 12 vv 10-20

Gideon needs reassurance. He can feel the old fears rising again, panic threatening to consume him. It was always going to be tough, but losing so many men, going from 32,000 to 300… that’s a big ask. His courage stumbles. As he lies awake worrying, he hears a divine whisper… Judges 7 vv 9-15

Mara is beginning to thaw, the bitterness is subsiding and she knows why. The love of her daughter-in-law. Ruth won’t give up on her and the kindness of another human being is bringing her back to life. Before long she’ll be Naomi again, hatching a plan to rescue them both… Ruth 2 vv 17-23

The waves are like frothy wrestlers out there, hurling spray and anything else that gets in their way. So how is that possible? How can Jesus be out there making his way through the torrent? Peter’s head is spinning, can he do it? Dare he try? He hears himself shouting… Matthew 14 vv 22-32

Judah’s furious. How could she? What was she thinking? Sleeping around like this and getting herself pregnant. Bring her out and let’s get rid of her, that’s his wild-eyed decree. Then he sees the ring, and the staff he lost, and his heart skips a beat. Truth awaits a hearing… Genesis 38 vv 12-26

A powerful enemy threatens to invade. What should Hezekiah do? He goes to the temple to pray. To be alone, to seek God’s wisdom. His enemy derides him for trusting in God, but Hezekiah is not swayed. Then Isaiah appears, the prophet bringing a message of hope. All’s not lost… 2 Kings 19 vv 29-36

The pain inside is almost overwhelming. She staggers a little and has to steady herself against the rock. Where is he? Who would take him? Isn’t it enough that they’ve killed him. She turns, sees the gardener. Perhaps he knows something? Dare she bother him with her question? John 20 vv 11-16

Dry skies, the earth turns to dust. Elijah hears a divine whisper, gives a message to the king and slips away to a brook. There’s water there, but what about food? Nothing’s growing now. He hears a noise above, sees dark creatures in the sky. Vultures? He hopes not… 1 Kings 17 vv 1-6

John hears a voice, turns, sees a figure so bright he is momentarily blinded. He falls down, trembling. He’s terrified that this vision will kill him, this man so powerful that it’ll be the end for him. He hears a footstep, feels a powerful, gentle hand. ‘Don’t be afraid…’ Revelation 1 vv 9-18

Daniel has a restless night, his dreams full of creatures and battles, earth warring with itself. Then a moment of calm. Thrones appear. The eternal one takes a seat. Daniel holds his breath. There is talk of justice and honour. Then the clouds descend and part. A human being appears… Daniel 7 vv 9-14

That gentle nudge again. ‘Go to Ninevah. You’re a prophet Jonah, go and do what you do well.’ Jonah’s troubled. The Ninevites are evil and corrupt. Jonah walks and thinks, finds himself down by the water. If he sails to Ninevah he sails into darkness. Where’s that other boat going? Jonah 1 vv 1-3

Silence falls. Thirty minutes of awe and wonder. No one dares speak, no one can break the precious, divine hush as the prayers of the faithful rise like smoke. The angels pass around the trumpets, and soon the music will play. But for now the prayers and incense rise… Revelation 8 v 1 23.

He looks at the jailor, his heart sinking like a stone. Really? Really? No word? Nothing? No news at all from outside? he cant believe it. The cup-bearer promised. He swore hed remember Joseph and put in a good word with Pharaoh. Whats happening? How long, oh Lord, how long? Genesis 40 vv 12-2324.

There’s a man on the beach, a lone figure beside a smoking fire. The men squint and stare. Is it more trouble? Some official come to arrest them for their allegiance to the Galilean carpenter? Or worse still, the carpenter himself, come to tell them off for abandoning him. No… John 21 vv 1-6

They have it now – they cannot lose. The Ark of the Covenant, the power of God. They place it in their temple next to their god. Night falls. And so does their god. They wander down next morning and find Dagon in disarray. What’s going on? Who did this? 1 Samuel 5 vv 1-4

He’s going nowhere. The crowd shuffle and grumble, there’s embarrassment in the air. But he’s not moving. Not until he finds out, not unlike he can look the person in the eyes and assure them he cares. ‘Someone touched me,’ he says. ‘God is at work here… ’ Luke 8 vv 43-46

Samson stares at Delilah and thinks, puffing his cheeks as he exhales. She has a way of getting things from him. He scowls silently. ‘What is it?’ she says, ‘why are you holding out on me?’ Should he tell her, should he reveal the truth about his extraordinary strength? Judges 16 vv 15-16

He climbs the hill and takes a seat, wipes a bead of sweat from his forehead, those hands scarred and calloused from years of work. He looks at the people and speaks. ‘Blessed are…’ What will he say, they wonder. The powerful? The rich? The strong? The religious? ‘Blessed are…’ Luke 6 20-31

The angel falls silent and waits. The young girl stares, wide-eyed, blinks, swallows. She considers the message that hangs like music in the air between them. Pregnant? Blessed? Nothing impossible with God? Favour? She feels more than a little confused and disturbed. Opens her mouth to frame a reply… Luke 1 vv 26-33

There’s talk of lions, and furnaces, and the pressure on him is mounting. He always knew this would not be easy. But he kneels again, prays to the one who created lions. Recites words of worship. God alone is his refuge, his help in trouble. Footsteps approach, he prays on… Daniel  6vv 10-16, Psalm 91 vv 1-2

Nehemiah drops to his knees, right now it’s the safest place to be. Rumours and lies batter at the door of his life like fists, pummelling him. They want him to give up, to stop believing, to stop building. He lifts his face to the heavens, his lips moving silently… Nehemiah 6 vv 1-9

It’s uncomfortable. Ending this way. No resolution, no neat ending. But no mistake. The questions come trickling down the ages to us. The older brother fumes, paces, stews on his father’s words. Meanwhile the party continues. Will he join? Will he adjust? Become part of it all? Will I? Luke 15 vv 25-30

She looks so beautiful up there, so blessed, so glamorous, so serene. Leaning on that palace window, admiring her husband as he comes home glorious. The crowd throw their admiring glances, imagining the kind of life she leads. Little do they know the words that will soon burst from her… 2 Samuel 6 vv 16-19

Eli studies her face, the contorted lips, the mumbling words, the flushed features. He shakes his head, she shouldn’t be here in this state. It’s not right. He starts to approach her, intending to evict her and end the matter. But he’s in for a bit of a shock… 1 Samuel 1 vv 10-15

Creation waits. Holds its breath and hangs its head in shame that this moment needed to come. The planet groans, the system writhes, the skies crack and shudder. Tombs ripple and vomit their surprised, energised corpses. Life crackles through the soil of history. A new age dawns. Creation breathes again. Matthew 27 vv 45-53 & Romans 8 vv 21-22

She may die. She may not walk away from this. He has the power. Visiting him like this, uninvited, unannounced, could be disastrous. But she must, she’s prayed and fasted, and now’s the time to act. Stand in the gap. She catches her breath and reaches for the door… Esther 4 vv 13-16

Does she dare say something? It’s crossed her mind a few times now. Perhaps it’s a divine nudge. She cares about her boss, and she may have a solution for him. A prophet in Samaria. She dare not tell her boss what to do, but could she tell his wife? 2 Kings 5 vv 2-3

Cain trudges home. He takes a second glance at every shadow he encounters, those words still ringing in his ears about sin crouching near his door. It’s really hard. Part of him wants to move on, let go of the anger and frustration, but there’s a fierce battle raging inside… Genesis 4 vv 6-7

Saul can’t decide what to do. This boy’s mad. He’s standing there with a sling, his eyes full of fire, talking about decking Goliath in the same way he’d bring down a wild dog. Is this wise? Won’t the boy get slaughtered? And that’ll mean surrendering to the Philistines… 1 Samuel 17 vv 32-36

Eve eyes the beautiful creature. So enchanting, those dark eyes, staring deeply into her soul. The seductive smile playing around its lips; something other-worldly, beguiling about this being. It’s as if she can hear his whisper in her mind. ‘The fruit. It’s delicious. Ignore the instructions…’ What will she do… Genesis 3 vv 1-5

What can he leave them with? Something memorable, striking. He recalls again who he is, his place, his identity, his security. Then he stands up, at the moment in the meal when a slave would usually wash their hands. He reaches for the towel and bowl. How’ll they react? John 13 vv 3-5

There’s an ache in his chest. A growing feeling of discomfort. Something’s not right, yet this place is perfection. He’s explored. Named the animals, so many creatures. But still there’s a gap. He’s weary with the longing, lies under a tree to nap. Will there be an answer? What now… Genesis 2 vv 18-22

She studies the two women. So intent, so courageous. They’ve lost so much, and she can sense a sad sourness growing within her. ‘Go back,’ she says, ‘you don’t need to lose anything more for me.’ Naomi turns away, her steps full of regret and exhaustion. Ruth and Orpah hesitate… Ruth 1 vv 8-10

Barak chews his lip, paces a little. Deborah eyes him carefully, she’s a woman of steel. ‘I promise you,’ she says, fire edging her voice, ‘if you trust what I say you’ll win this battle.’ Barak thinks, hesitates, opens his mouth, closes it again, clears his throat, then finally speaks… Judges 4 vv 4-7

The carpenter’s head’s spinning. Can this be true? He’s spent the last days under a cloud, trying to work out how to best extricate himself from this dire situation, now it appears there’s a bigger picture. God’s at work and he didn’t know it. Courage, that’s what he needs now. Matthew 1 vv18-23

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