The Eye of the Storm

Never before had a storm of such magnitude and strength raged across the vast coastline below the large, brick lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper held his peace as he continued his duty of feeding the fuel for the large light. As the fuel reached its brim, he walked up the spiral steps to gaze out the window at the top.

145 mph winds hammered against the brick walls. The sound was that of a never-ending train, roaring across amplified steel tracks. This had been continuing for about ten hours when suddenly.. there was a total silence. The lighthouse keeper proceeded to take a step outside. There was no wind, not even a slight breeze. The lighthouse was in the eye of the storm. As the lighthouse keeper gazed at the surrounding walls of torrential winds, he pulled out a small, worn Book and read,

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof rawr and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Amen. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early. The heathens raged, the kingdoms were moved. He uttered His voice; the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. Amen. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He makes wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

A tear fell from the eye of the lighthouse keeper as he closed Psalm 46 and gazed at the torrential winds, once again, drawing near. With a deep breath, he stepped back into his lighthouse with one thought: “There is such peace within the center of such a storm, for within these walls I am safe. I only pray for those lost sailors in such a storm, that they might see the light and be saved.”

Love at First Sight, or Lack Thereof

It was a dark, cold, and stormy night, and faint whimpers could be heard from a little girl’s bedroom. As she clung to her sheets, she could hear the creaking of her father’s footsteps coming to her aid. As the door slowly opened, hallway light illuminated the dark room, and two watery eyes turned to peer into the light. “Everything okay?” asked her father. “Daddy, my night light went out, and I couldn’t see anything. It was so dark, and something could have gotten me!” Her father smiled as he walked to the corner of her room and turned on the side light. “You know, that reminds me of a story. Want to hear it?” The little girl shifted a little under her blankets, repositioning herself upwards, and slowly replied, “Yes please.” A smile sprawled across her father’s face. “Okay then! It goes like this..”

“Once upon a time, there was a little girl who couldn’t see a thing! Ever since she was born, she was blind. Her parents were very poor and struggled to get by, but nonetheless, they managed. However, because they were very poor, they couldn’t afford to move closer to a school for the blind, so she was left with no choice but to attend the local school. At home, her parents could help her, but when she was at school, she was on her own. Teachers would be very frustrated with her, because the only way that she could learn was by listening, and she was only able to do homework and tests orally. Consequently, she had very few friends, and no one really enjoyed playing with her, because how do you play with a girl who can’t see? ‘Well, you can trip her,’ so the kids thought.

“Truly, no one stood up for her, until a young man transferred. It was only the third grade, but none the less, he was a man. On his first day of being at that school, when someone tried to shove her over, he nudged her to the side and was knocked to the ground in her place. Even though she was unable fully express her thanks or repay him, this act of chivalry would set a pattern for many years to come. All throughout their schooling years, he would guide her from class to class. He was not violent, but he was very protective. If anyone ever did anything to her, he would always be at her side to receive the laughs as well. Once they graduated high school, they both attended the same college. While at college, she was no longer made fun of, but she did need much help with studying and homework.

“He helped her the whole way! All the way until the end. They both graduated side by side. It was then that he made a big decision. Due to technology advances, he sold all that he had so that she could have eye transplants. The thought of being able to see was foreign to her because she could never afford such a thing. So she went to the doctor and a successful surgery was performed. In order for a full recovery, she was not able to see for a full week due to a blind fold over her eyes. But before she could take her blindfold off, this young man led her out to an open field with a picturesque panorama.

“Little did she know, when her blindfold was taken off, her first sight was that of a young man on one knee holding out a beautiful ring. Tears filled her new-born eyes as she gazed upon the only person who had been with her the whole way. Through his tears, he choked out the words, ‘Vienna Daw, my darling, will you marry me?'” A long pause took place as the little girl’s father began to tear up. The little girl, on the edge of her, bed blurted out, “What did she say?! What did she say?!” Her father smiled as he slowly said, “She said… yes.” His daughter, filled with excitement, leaped up in joy. Then she paused to think, “Vienna…”

It was then that her mother peered her head through the door and asked, “Is everything all right?” “Yes, my darling, everything is just fine.” he replied with a smile, “Okay. What are you two up to?” Their daughter instantly shot out, “Daddy was telling me a story!” Her mother laughed and said, “Oh! A story. I love those.” As she walked out, she said this with a twinkle in her eyes, revealing the faint scars beneath her eye brows.

The Ghost Ship of Zion

Three pirates sat idle in their quarters below deck sipping the little amount of liquor that was left. To their dismay, getting drunk was currently not an option. “Arrr, Tobias! Be ye’ inclined to sharpen me dirk? ‘Tis been a’while since it’s cut ripe, ye’ see.” The pirate across from him crossed his arms and rolled his eyes. “Ye’ dirk couldn’t cut wind, let alone flesh. Mad, ye’ arr.” The first pirate stood up enraged, removing his tiny knife from his holster. “Say once more, and ye’ be dead! Ye’ hear?!” The second sat back in his wooden chair and laughed hysterically. The third pirate, with one real eye, joined into the humor and laughed as well.

The pirate standing sighed in frustration and clumsily sat back down, lazily dropping his tiny knife to the table in the midst of them. A calmness mixed with awkward silence swept over the three as the laughter died down. After a few seconds of this, the third pirate piped up and said, “Eh, mine be bigger.” The second pirate raised an eye brow as if to say, “Oh, so ye’ say?” Standing up, the third pirate drew his giant cutlass and dropped it to the table. He leaned into the other two and said with a deep growl, “Ninety-two, be the number of souls added to Davy Jones’ locker, thanks here to this beauty.” The second ominously stood up and said in a slow, prideful tone, “Anstis, ye be fit for not but the Lazaretto. Mine!” he shouted as he drew his even bigger rapier and dropped it to the table, “owns two-hundred and twenty-nine!” The first rose quickly and said in a loud gravelly voice, “Arrr! Mine be.. b-.. mine’s ki-..” he awkwardly sat back down as he stared at his tiny knife. The others leaned in closer to hear his proud claim. “Mi-mine.. Grrr, forget the dirk!” he quickly rose up once more. “strangled, these hands have, hundreds more than ye’ ever seen! Dare ye’ not challenge these logs of appendages, ye’ see.” After a momentary pause, the third pointed to the second and shouted, “Ye’ can’t even count that high! I don’t believe ye!” A tumult of anger arose among the three, and before long, an all out brawl had broken out; they leaped and pounced on each other, wrangling on the floorboards in fury.

SLAM!

The captain walked through the broken door and shouted, “What be the matter, ye’ scurvy sea dogs?!” The first pirate, in anger, whispered to the third, “I thought ye’ locked the door.” The captain responded, “Stupid! Stupid ye’ be. I have a key.” The second muffled a laugh and mumbled to himself, “I thought rhyming t’was extinct.” A scowl blazed across the captain’s face. “Grrr, I require something of ye’ three.” The three pirates stood up, only to see the captain pull out a little boy from behind his back. “A stow-a-away, he be, and time runs short for me to keep an eye on our new prisoner.” The three pirates let out a hearty laugh, “Harrr! A prisoner!” The captain picked the little boy up and threw him to the feet of the three. The little boy slowly gazed up to his new captors with his deep blue eyes, slightly covered by his worn, thin brown hair. “Keep him out of trouble; do whatever ye’ deem fit. I couldn’t care less.” And with that being said, the captain walked out and slammed the door behind him. The door creaked open for a second or so, and then fell inwards to the wooden floor.

As the three pirates stood in shock at the door falling to the ground, the little boy tried to crawl around them and out the back door. “Where be ye’ going?!” Laughed the second pirate, grabbing the little boy by the rags on his back. “What’s yur name?!” The little boy opened his mouth halfway as his tongue twitched fervently as if he was trying to speak. His face hardened and his eye brows squinted as his mouth desperately tried to get words out. The first pirate nudged the second in laughter as he said, “Mute, he be!” A morose, guilty look spread across the boy’s face. His mouth closed as if to surrender. “Useless! Utterly useless!” said the three pirates among themselves. “To the brig!” they all agreed.

The second pirate, still having a firm grip on the little boy’s back, dragged him across the ship and threw him into one of the ship’s many jail cells. “Ye’ be worse than me children back home.” The third pirate, standing nearby, nudged the second saying, “What home?” In response, the second said, “Harrr! What children?!” Laughter broke out among the two. The second pirate, infuriated, after closing the little boy’s jail cell, chased them all the way up to the main deck. It was then that a loud splash was heard, followed by a gunshot. Laughter ensued among the whole crew.

The little boy crawled to the nearby wooden wall, and huddled his knees up against his chest, burying his sobbing eyes between them. Growing up, his parents had quickly learned that he could not speak, so they simply left him in a back ally for him to fend for himself. His dream was to be a sailor or explorer, so as the years went by, he was eventually recruited to be the cabin boy for one of his country’s battle ships (no need to speak; only to obey captain’s orders). However, their ship was soon attacked by the pirates to whom he is now captive, and as his ship was sinking, his only option was to sneak on to the pirate ship and hide. This has all led to where he is now.

“Pssst,” whispered a voice from the other side of the hall. “pssst, boy!” The little boy, ever so slightly, raised his eyes to look around but saw nothing, so once again, he buried them between his knees. “Over here!” This time, the little boy was sure that he heard something, so he lifted his head and looked to his side. “What are you doing in a place like this?” a dark figure asked from behind bars on the other side of the hall. Little did he know, the little boy couldn’t speak. He crawled up to the bars and asked once more, “Why are you here?” At this point, the little boy could see him, so the little boy pointed to his mouth, slightly opened it, and shook his head. The man gave a large, slow nod as he said, “Oooh, I see.” The little boy nodded and looked away. “Well, I can understand,” said the man in dismay. The little boy looked at him and scowled.The man laid his hands on the jail cell bars and then used all of his forearm muscles to push down on the bars to lift himself up. However, his strength was not enough, and he crashed to the wooden floor in defeat. He then turned his eyes to the little boy and glumly said, “Believe me, I understand.” The little boy’s face showed of sympathy, which soon turned into a nod which meant, “I believe you.” In a similar fashion to the little boy, the man sat against his jail cell wall, staring at the other side.

“I have been down here for years, and every day, I wonder why I am still alive. They are pirates so you would think that they would just kill me, but they do not. I think they find it funny to keep just one man alive, barely hanging on to life, at least what is left of it.” He slowly continued, “and you can only be the prisoner of a pirate ship for so long before you overhear a few things, strange things, and even unspoken things.” The man smiled through his grief and then laughed, “They have taken over so many ships and ‘ruled’ the sea for so many years, you would think they were fearless and unstoppable,” his face suddenly returned to seriousness, “but believe me, they are not.” The little boy looked over at him as if to say, “Please, sir, explain.” The man continued on, “They have looted so many ships, they have every kind of weapon, firearm, and cannon imaginable, and they have added on to their ship, time and time again, reinforcing its strength and durability. They could care less about the ships which sail the sea, but that is not what worries them.” The little boy lowered his head and squinted his eyes as a form of saying, “So then, what does?”

The man lowered his voice to a deep, ominous tone to whisper, “The Ghost Ship of Zion.” The little boy’s eyes widen in wonder and horror, visually asking, “And what, sir, is that?” The man shook his head and softly said, “It is only seen in the worst of storms. It sails where no one thinks it will sail and appears when least expected. But there is a catch to it,” he stopped to take a deep breath, “it is only ever seen when one is in the water.” The little boy tilted his head and slightly glanced away as if to ponder what was said, putting the pieces together. The man looked even more intensely at the little boy and then said, “Not: in the boat, which is in the water. But: overboard, in the water. The only pirates (or sailors and passengers) to ever see The Ghost Ship of Zion are those who fall overboard in the darkest and strongest of storms, which is when either one of two things happens.” The little boy raised his eyes brows in wonder. “They either swim back to their ship and are hoisted up onto the main deck, or they swim towards what they think they see,” the man paused to squint, “and vanish.”

CRACK!

A loud boom of thunder exploded from the sky, and suddenly the ship began to sway back and forth more and more intensely. Rain began to hammer against the side of the ship. The man clung to his jail cell bars, as well as the little boy, to keep from rolling back and forth with the boat. Voices could be heard from above deck, commanding each other to man the sails and take positions to battle the waves. Suddenly, a strange clinking sound could be heard. The little boy looked up to his jail cell lock, which was barely keeping the barred-door closed. It was loosely swaying in opposite rhythms as the ship. The pirate had closed the jail cell, but in the heat of the moment, he had neglected to lock it. Soon after, the swaying of the ship became so intense, the lock rose in an upward motion, which left the little boy’s jail cell door swaying back and forth. He shot a worried look at the man. “Go!” said the man. The little boy quickly stood up and ran across the hall to grab the keys, and then he came back to unlock the man’s jail cell. The man clung on to the little boy and tried to stand up, but then fell down and rolled over to the opposite side of his jail cell. He looked up at the little boy and said, “I was a dead man anyway.” The little boy ran to him and tried lifting him up, but the man said once more, “I can’t walk, or even stand. Please, just go!” The little boy, realizing the circumstances, gave a respectful and understanding nod and then ran out of his jail cell and up the stairs at the end of the hall.

When he had reached the top of the stairs, he opened the brig hatch and climbed out onto the main deck. Rain was pouring at an unbelievable rate, which made the floorboards extremely slippery. Men were running back and forth, trying to maintain their duties. This made it very easy for the little boy to move about unnoticed. He knew very well that he needed to find a safe place to hide, for when the storm was over, they would think that he had escaped and maybe fallen overboard. As the tumult of rain doused him, he moved as fast as he could through the chaos of men to find a hiding spot. The more in the open his hiding place was, the least likely they would look there. As he fervently searched the main deck, he pondered whether he should have stayed or not, however, if he had stayed in his cell, they would have returned and found it unlocked, which would have caused them to lock it, consequently making any chance of escape impossible.

But then it happened, as he was searching the other end of the main, he found himself face to face with the captain. “Ye’ made a big mistake, scurvy lad. I’ve had enough!” He reached for the little boy, but the little boy began sprinting in the opposite direction. The captain ran after him. As this chase pursued, the pirates began to catch on to what was happening, and soon every pirate watched in awe of what was to happen next. The little boy ran to the head of the ship, where a pole extended outwards in front of the ship. As the captain walked closer and closer, the little boy began to back onto the pole. The ship’s sway made it almost impossible to keep balance, when the captain shouted, “Tell Davy Jones I said, ‘Hello!'” And with that, the little boy stepped backward, but his foot felt nothing…

From a view of the entire ship in the midst of the storm, the little boy could be seen falling backward off the head of the ship. Time eased to molasses as he watched the ship grow farther and farther away. The tragedy of the moment was that nothing could flash before his eyes. He had no home, and he had no family. He had nothing. What felt like concrete hit his back, or vice-versa, and his shocked, frail, body disappeared beneath the dark waters. As he began to sink, his arms and legs kicked into reflex, and soon he began to swim upwards, against the flowing monstrous waves.

But then he saw a shadow in the distance: something extremely large and bulky. A giant lightning flash illuminated a large ship with a pearl white flag cutting bravely through the storm. Acknowledging this as his last hope, the little boy began to swim towards the ship. His strength was almost completely diminished, but with his final moments, he knew that if he could shout loud enough, that ship would come to save him, so he summed up every last bit of energy that he had left and shouted,

“H——-h-h——————–H–eh—-“

His tongue could form no words. Neither could his arms paddle any longer and soon his legs gave way to the undertow of the current. Water surrounded him completely, and soon he stared up at the surface at the water. Every few seconds, lightning would illuminate the giant waves which grew smaller and smaller. And so, with the little boy’s final seconds, he reached upwards one last, final time and mouthed what he could never say,

“Help (oh Zion).”

His eyes closed shut to welcome death into vision when he felt a firm grip on his wrist. Suddenly, a strong pull began to drag him upwards, towards the surface of the water. Time began to blur as the little boy’s lungs felt the threat of collapse. Next thing he knew, he felt a rope being strapped around his waist which lifted him out of the water. Wood gave full impact to his head as he could feel the sensation of solid foundation beneath his limp body. Words hung in the air around him, as he could faintly hear sailors shouting,

“Captain overboard! Captain overboard! He’s drowning! Can anyone see him above water?!” “Halt! Captains orders: hold the life boats! It’ll be a three day’s journey back!” “Follow commands! He said what He said!” “Aye, aye!”

A sailor picked up the little boy and carried him into closed quarters. The last words the little boy could hear while being conscious, were that of a man looking at him in the eyes, saying,

“He jumped overboard for you..”

This shocked the little boy as darkness encased his vision.

The little boy’s eyes opened to see a bright room, illuminated by sunlight. The bed was still, so still that he knew that he was on land. The swaying of lush trees could be heard in the distance from an open window on another side of the room. He struggled to sit up due to soreness, but after rubbing his eyes, he saw a broad man sitting on the end of his bed, dressed in fine Captain’s apparel. A confused look crossed the little boy’s countenance as a grand smile glazed the Captain’s face. Soon, the Captain began to laugh a joyful laugh, and not too long after, the little boy joined into the laughing as well. The Captain stood up, and walked to the little boy, gently picking up his wrist with a firm grip. A tear rolled down his cheek as he softly said,

“You were worth it.”

Recognizing the firm grip on his wrist, the little boy smiled and with moist eyes, said the words,

“Thank you.”

The Ending Without an End

An old, worn book closes abruptly, and dust whirls about the surrounding air. You stare at the crusty, brown pages that are bound together and rub your forehead frantically. Before you can bring yourself to open up the book once more, you stand up and begin pacing the room. Back and forth, back and forth, time and time again; all reality fades as you venture deep in thought and muse over the ending of such a book. “Why?” You think to yourself, “why did it have to end like that? The.. The her-.. it was a-.. but everyone was s-.. it just wasn’t righ-” You stop pacing, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.

Your thoughts begin to sort themselves out and interconnect with all the underlying meanings and poetic interpretations. The story was simple, and yet so complex. It was beautiful, and yet so horrific. It was epic, and yet so innocent. It was proud, and yet so humble. It was romantic, and yet so heartbreaking. It was terrifying, and yet so relieving. It was truly a masterpiece, but why would a master painter end his final masterpiece with his smallest of brushes, his slightest of strokes, and his faintest of shades? Your eyes begin to feel a hint of moisture as tears threaten to break free. “But why?” You softly whisper.

You open your eyes and look back at the book on the desk. Its worn cover reminds you of all the adventures that took place within its cleverly crafted reality. You walk back to the desk and sit down, leaning your head against the sweaty palms of your hands. Your eyes close once more to visualize every brush, stroke, and shade which composed that beautiful canvas of words. You see all those near death escapes, all those tears shed over lost ones, and those grand, epic battles in which the hero was victorious. You see a romance which blossomed, and yet never was. You see friendships, refined through the hottest of flames and crafted through the depths of trust, mystery, and danger.

However, the ending was the final touch. Meanwhile, your vision seems to blur as tears swell up in your eyes.

The hero had accomplished his task: defended the defenseless, helped the helpless, lifted up the lame, spoken for the mute, and vanquished all evil forces which for so long had tormented all whom he had sworn to protect. To celebrate such a mighty victory, all the people had gathered together and sat all the war heroes and soldiers on pedestals to commemorate their bravery and courage. Meanwhile, the one who had been the first into the fray, the one who had saved the most, protected the most, given up the most, fought the most, and was the key to every last victory, stood idly by in silence. He couldn’t help but smile, for it was a smile of contentment, yet solemnly mixed with heartbreak and sadness. No one knew that it was his time to leave.

Tears fall to the book below as your mind’s eye is captivated by the ensuing moments.

Their farewell to him was that of silence, and though not one head was turned at his departure, he walked off with his head held high. No one thought to thank him or honor him for that which he had done throughout the years of danger, adventure, and heroism, and no one was there to see him off. However, as he was nearing the outskirts of the present city, he paused to see a homeless little boy and girl, side by side, starving with nothing but rags on their backs. He took a few steps towards them, but their eyes gleamed of distrust and irritation. Nonetheless, he took off his heavy coat and encompassed the little girl with it (leaving all the money he had within its large pockets). Then he took off his gloves, boots, and socks, and dressed the little boy in them. Finally, he gave all of his remaining food to feed them, which was more than they had scavenged for weeks. Their confusion and distrust melted into indebted gratefulness, and their gratitude sprung from a well that was once dry and now filled to the brim, for they had never known the loving care of a father.

And so, this was his farewell: two little homeless children embracing him with tears overflowing their eyes. Before he left, these were his final words,

“I fought for you. Nothing less. Remember me.”

Your head rises from your palms as you helplessly gaze at the old, worn book. The ending now makes sense. Well assured, you open to those final, fateful pages once more.

As you ponder his final words, you realize that no more follows. “The End,” is absent. “Why?” Because it was never the ending that truly mattered,

It was the beginning that followed.

The Ending Without an End

The “Christian” Life

*Crackle Crackle.. C – c.. CracklEEee.. Cra-*

I roll over in my cot.

*Cra-Cra.. lelele-Crackle-Crackle.. cr..rack.. akle*

“Soldier! Do you read?! I am on my way!”

*BOOOM* – *BANG BANG BANG* (background noises ensue)

The ends of my eyelids tip open as my lungs fill up with smoke. I cough multiple times and stand up from my cot to glare outside a steel-barred window. I yawn and spread my arms as if I was waking on a Saturday morning. All I see is a blend of smoke and chaos.

*BANG! BANG!* – *SLAM* – *BODIES FALL TO GROUND* – *Clinking of keys against steel* – *CREAK*

I turn to my left and see the steel door of my prison cell fly open. “Soldier! We have have to go! Quickly!” A dirt-covered, bloodied, beaten, and heavily armed General looks at me with recognition. I remain still. “Don’t you want to leave?!” He pleads aloud. I lean against the prison cell wall and sigh out the words, “I would love to.” The General sprints to me, clenches me by the arm, and cries out with a quavering voice, “Do you have any idea?!.. the lengths I went to.. to find you and free you?! I came save you!” I nudge Him away from my ear and crawl back into my prison cot.

*Distant reverberating foot steps get louder and louder*

The General falls to His knees beside my cot as a tear falls from His eye. His facial expression says everything. “The door.. It’s been unlocked and opened.. Please! Follow Me out! I beg of you!” I smile at Him and say, “Thank you very much! I appreciate what You have done to find me and free me. I love You very much for doing so.” I then snuggle my head against my pillow and close my eyes in awe of the fact that Someone would actually fight His way to me and free me.

Just then, an enemy soldier dashes into my prison cell and points his gun at me with a confident trigger finger.

My eyes open once again as I smile and say, “Oh! Hello to you too! And you are..?”

He shoots.

The Christian Life

*Crackle Crackle.. C – c.. CracklEEee.. Cra-*

My eyelids fly open with anticipation as I hear my receiver begin to pick up a message from my General.

*Cra-Cra.. lelele-Crackle-Crackle.. cr..rack.. akle*

“Soldier! Do you read?! I am on My way”

*BOOOM* – *BANG BANG BANG* (background noises ensue)

I move the microphone close to my mouth and shout, “Sir, yes Sir!” I quickly move to the steel door of my prison cell with readiness for my escape.

*BANG! BANG!* – *SLAM* – *BODIES FALL TO GROUND* – *Clinking of keys against steel* – *CREAK*

The steel door of my prison cell flies open. “Soldier! We have have to go! Quickly!” A dirt-covered, bloodied, beaten, and heavily armed General looks at me with recognition. I respond by saying, “Sir, yes Sir! Take my weapon and uniform!” A smile glazes His face as He hands me His heavily loaded gun and equips me with His heavily protected uniform, meanwhile throwing my old rags away.

We then quickly leave my prison cell and dash through the maze of steel walls which seems impossible to escape, but my General knows the way out. He maneuvers His way through the maze with perfection as I follow Him in full trust. A door with an exit sign finally shows itself, and my General looks at me to say, “Keep behind Me. Trust Me.” I nod as He opens the door. An army of enemy soldiers points their guns at us. Nonetheless, my General runs straight into the mass as I run behind Him. Thousands of bullets pierce His hands, feet, and side. Yet, He keeps running.

I escape the enemy encampment. He does not. (For three days)

I arrive at home base.

He welcomes me with delight at my obedience.

The Church

*Crackle Crackle.. C – c.. CracklEEee.. Cra-*

I dash through the maze in search of my comrade’s prison cell.

*Cra-Cra.. lelele-Crackle-Crackle.. cr..rack.. akle*

“Soldier! Do you read?! The General sent me! I’m on my way!”

*BOOOM* – *BANG BANG BANG* (background noises ensue)

I arrive at the prison cell with enemy soldiers nearby, heaped up, and dead.

I enter the already opened steel door of the prison cell and find my fellow comrade in his cot, sleeping, and wounded by a gunshot. He’s still alive. “Soldier! Wake up! We have to go! Quickly!” He yawns and rolls over, unaware of the blood flowing from his wound. He looks at me, recognizes my uniform (which was never truly my own; it was a gift), and struggles to sit up. I smile at him and say, “Do you still want to leave?” He looks confused and says, “Well I trusted the General, but that didn’t do a whole lot of good, did it?” I shake my head and say, “It’s not trust if you don’t follow.”

He maneuvers his feet off of his cot and tries to stand up but falls back down in pain. He looks down at his pool of blood with tears in his eyes and murmurs out, “I can’t.. I can’t stand up.. I.. I-” He looks up at me and cries out, “Am I still worth it?!” I pause for a moment and ask him, “Do you still trust the General?” He nods in silence, but then slowly stumbles out the words once more, “But.. am I still worth it?” Without any hint of hesitance, I pick him up with all the strength I have left and position him over my shoulders. I confidently remind him, “The words ‘no man left behind’ were never mine to begin with.”

And as I exit the steel door, my General, right outside of the prison cell, says with a proud grin, “They were mine! Well done, My good and faithful soldier. Let’s move!”

No Man Left Behind

A Boy, a Ballroom, and a Whisper of Hope

A frail little boy, suffering from starvation and dehydration, hobbled along a worn brick wall in search for food and water. It was a hot day caressed with dreary rain, and this little boy could feel his body beginning to collapse. He began to keel over when two gentle arms caught him from falling to the ground. Before he was able to struggle, he had been kindly laid against a wall.

It was then that he looked into the deep, caring eyes of a young woman. As she handed him a cup of cold water and a loaf of bread, her innocent smile seemed to say everything. A tear fell from his pale eyes, but he could not sum up the strength to say “Thank you.” Before he could truly respond, she had softly picked him up and begun walking through the slums of his broken town. Though corruption surrounded her, it was as though she was peacefully walking along an oceanside sunset.

Holding him in her arms, she walked into an inner city bar and smiled at the angry rejects around. The little boy gazed at her in awe of her courage and bravery; well accompanied by her unearthly compassion. But why? and how? Why does she love so much, and how does she have the courage to show such love? It was then that she took out a small Book and began telling the whole room about the God who created the universe, Jesus, His love for the world, His deity, His purpose, His death, and His resurrection. Full grown men were brought to tears. A spirit of repentance filled the bar. Such was not held from this little boy. He now understood why she was the way she was. She was a child of God, an empty vessel for her Savior, and he too now believed.

After handing out Bibles to every man, she now had to leave. As she left, the little boy was waving goodbye with a beaming smile, as if he was giving a farewell to an angel. She fearlessly glided out of the bar and into the dark halls of the night. When she arrived at her one-room apartment, she fell to her knees on the cold, stone floor. She began praising her God for all that He had done. For hours she prayed. It could be said that as she prayed through the night, her prayers were filled with laughter, tears, silence, and cries of agony for the lost souls around her. Gradually, her prayers turned toward her future husband. Where was he this dark, cold night? What was he doing? Was he in prayer as well?

As she was casting all these thoughts before the throne, a gentle wind seemed to encase her. As she rose from her knees, the wind seemed to spin her around as if it was a dance. She laughed as her one-room apartment melted away, and a wooden floor slid under her bare fee-.. what? Two beautiful snow-white slippers wore her feet to perfection. As the breeze finished its dance with her, she felt an elegant, pearl white dress twirl around her until it softly rested at ease upon her shoulders. Amazement filled her eyes.. and ears, being that music conspicuously filled the air. The music was so simple and beautiful, it was as if it was the masterpiece of a Three Person orchestra. It was.. a song for two.

That’s when she turned around to see a young man at the other end of the ballroom. He stood in utter awe and speechlessness in the presence of her inward to outward beauty. His bright smile and flowing tears said everything. Her eyes fell to the left-fourth finger on his left hand where she saw a golden ring. When she felt a ring on her same finger, she understood. As the music seemed to say everything, he was able to stutter out the two words, “You’re…. found.” Overwhelmed with both shyness and excitement, she quickly picked up her flowing dress and ran to embrace him. With all haste, he stumbled towards her as well. The closer they came, the more laughs of joy filled the ballroom.

When he was finally within arms reach, she threw her arms around her pillow. Her eyes flew open to observe her bedroom’s cold, “Welcome back.” As she slowly sat up, tears filled her eyes, and mixed emotions danced around her. She felt so lonely, and yet.. found. A small whisper caressed her ear saying, “Do not worry. Tonight, you’re in his prayers.” She smiled through her tears while embracing her pillow in awe of her future husband in the ballroom. She knew he was waiting there; at the other end of the ballroom. But for now, he was gone.

(Meanwhile, he smiled through his tears while embracing his pillow in awe of his future wife in the ballroom)

Crossing the Border

An eerie silence filled the air as a soft breeze hovered over a multitude of people. To stand up high, the eye could see no end to the mass. However, in front of the multitude, there was a line which extended infinitely left and infinitely right. Though everyone stood toe to toe with the line, no one dared to cross it. Every person stood motionless. It was as if fear was an unspoken rule which was mandatory to follow.

However, in the midst of the crowd, a faint footstep was heard. Then another and another. A young man slowly made his way through the crowd as quiet voices whispered disapproval. The closer he came to the line, the louder the voices grew. Eventually, the people began to lay their hands on him in an attempt to hold him back. None the less, the young man finally came toe to toe with the dreaded line. Though the atmosphere smelled of doubt, he took a deep breath, smiled, looked heavenward, and then stepped over the line.

*BOOM*

A speeding bullet grazed the young man’s shoulder. Every heart skipped a beat.. all except for the ever steady heart of the young man. With one final look towards heaven, he sprinted full speed into the endless frontier! A whole garrison of gunmen began firing at the young man. Bullets pierced his side, hands, feet, and every other place encompassing his now mutilated body. His powerful sprint was now an excruciatingly painful crawl; all the while leaving behind a seemingly endless trail of blood. With one final attempt to lunge forward, his frail body fell limp on the bloody ground.

He was dead.

The all-consuming fear filled crowd broke out with mixed emotions. Some screamed. Some laughed. Some cried. Some mocked. However, it soon became a horrific chorus of insults and ridicule. However, no matter how many tried to look away, they could do nothing but look down upon what once looked like a fine young man with so much potential.

But then suddenly a Man was seen in the distance beyond the line. He was sprinting faster than one could have ever imagined. As he arrived at the young man’s corpse, He fell down, sobbing. But wait! He wasn’t sad! In fact, He was sobbing tears of joy! He laid His hands on the corpse and said, “My friend! You have heeded the call. You have left all to find Me. You have taken up your cross. You have sought me with your whole heart. Now arise!”

The young man’s bullet pierced hand suddenly clenched on to the Man’s firm and strong wrist. Life began to flow through his body. The Man lifted up his arm and the young man slowly stood up to embrace His Savior. As they let go, the Man looked him in the eyes and said, “Come. Follow Me.” He then turned around to shout, “Fire away!”

The shocked garrison suddenly regained their senses and began firing their limitless amount of ammunition at the Man guarding His follower. Never before had anyone seen so many bullets puncture a single human body. It was as if He were dead, and yet walking as if alive. The young man, in the same condition, kept his trusting eyes upon his leading Savior. For if he looked away for but a moment, he knew that the bullets would once again lodge into his broken body. His life was no longer his own, and he knew it. In fact, the only way to move forward was if His Savior moved forward for him. Every step he took was not his own. Every breath he took was not his own. He was dead, and yet His Savior kept Him alive.

This endeavor continued for days and nights. Weeks past. Months. Years. Every moment was a battle to carry on, but to see the Man bearing every bullet gave the young man the strength to take the next step. If a bullet were to lodge into the young man, all he need do was cry for help and his Savior would remove the bullet from his flesh.

As the years went by he began to notice something new. He had been so focused on his Savior that He had not noticed the young woman following her Savior as well. One day, he looked to his right to see the broken young woman. She smiled and said, “You weren’t the first or the last to cross that line.” The young man smiled. Over time, their Savior blessed their focus on Himself alone, and He intentionally pulled their walk closer together. In fact, the day came when their Savior turned around, took their two hands, placed them in each other and said,

“I bid thee walk as one.”

From that day on, if ever the young man took His eyes off of His Savior, his lovely wife would point him back. Vice versa, if ever his lovely wife would take her eyes off of her Savior, her husband would point her back. All the while their Lord’s bright smile and tears of joy would illuminate their walk.

Calling Satan’s Bluff (Literally)

Phone

*ring ring*

Me: Hello! Is this Satan?

Satan: Who wants to know?

Me: You’re worst nightmare.

Satan: Haha, oh really now?

Me: When I come in the name of Jesus Christ, I come in the name of everything you fear most. So please, let us get to the point of this discussion.

Satan: Let’s.

Me: It is often said among Christians, “Oh! It’s alright! The Christian race is a marathon and not a sprint.”

Satan: Your point?

Me: Hebrews 12 does say that we run a race, but where does It say, “This race is not a sprint!”?

Satan: That’s a great question, but you’re looking too deeply! Wouldn’t you much rather walk comfortably at your own pace?

Me: You know what? I’m going to call your bluff. Hebrews 12 not only says that we run a race, but It says that we are to, “Lay aside every weight and sin which so easily besets us!”

Satan: Hahaha, look around you! It’s so common for “Christians” to struggle with sin. Why let go of your sin if no one else is willing to let theirs go?

Me: Quiet, deceiver! Hebrews 12 tells us to, “Look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

Satan: Once again, your point?

Me: The Word yells, “SPRINT!”

Satan: Haha, hey now. Don’t get too passionate about thi-

Me: Not only does the Word yell, “SPRINT!”, but the Word reeks of Christ’s blood which yells, “FREEDOM!” Would you like to know why the Word yells, “SPRINT!”? Because Christ’s blood has given us, “FREEDOM!”

Satan: QUIET!!! Others might hea-

Me: WE ARE FREE!!! OUR SINS ARE DEAD!!! CHRIST CALLS US TO SPRINT!!!

Satan: NO!!!

Me: YES!!!!

Satan:

*click*

As I put the telephone down, a smile glazes my face, but a solemn tear falls from my eye. Satan knows that he’s lost. It only saddens me that most Christians live as if he’s won.