Highlands

This is the first full length novel I have ever written. I hope you enjoy it!

This story is inspired by the music album “Highlands”. I wish to thank all of those who are part of the Christian rock group White Heart. With out their album this story may have never come to be.

We are called to share the message of Christ in no uncertain terms. We have discovered the difference God can make in each one of our lives. (White Heart)

Chapter One

You Can See the World from Here

The wind blew silently through the trees. No one heard it save the leaves that moved. The mountain stood silently against the sky waiting for someone to speak. It had stood that way for thousands of years and would stand like that for a few more centuries. No one knew of the magic or the love that that mountain had stored up into it. It was almost like a living thing. No one had ever tried to climb or conquer its peak. No one had ever tried to cross it to partake in any great battle. No one had ever tried to find gold or silver or diamonds in its rocks. The very thought that this mountain had anything of value on it was the farthest thing from anyone’s mind

Salmon Harris was the only man that had ever tried to climb the mountain. He had even given the mountain a name. He called it Mount Alush. It was a wild place. There were trees everywhere you looked. The bramble was all around almost as if it was protecting the mountain from climbers. He had tried to climb the mountain once but had been stopped by the bramble. He could find no way to get through it. It was the only mountain that Salmon Harris had not conquered.

Salmon Harris was a man of great wealth. He had the loving wife and the loving 2.5 children. Two already here and one on the way. He was a man of great power. He stood six foot 4 inches tall. He had mousy brown hair that with the help of his children had been turned into a corn rowed mess. But he loved his children so come tomorrow he would head off to work and be harassed about his hair till the end of the day when he would take out the braids.

Salmon was raised a Christian but had slid very far since then. He had attained his wealth through the markets and through some very shrewd investments. He had in his time taken over some small mom and pops businesses and turned them into money makers. Just to turn around and sell them for eight to ten times what he paid.

His parents were not rich nor did they have the home that Salmon did. He was dead to them and this hurt him very much. His wife loved him dearly and put up with his working late into the night not worrying if he was with another woman for he loved her very much. He would come home to her waiting in the family room ready to take him into her arms and hold him.

Salmon Harris had it all or at least he thought he had it all. He knew that if he could conquer this mountain then he would have it all. He did not know that climbing this mountain would change his life forever.

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Salmon had made all the preparations. He had all the equipment that he needed and this was the day that he would conquer Mount Alush. The bramble would not stop him. He had kissed his wife and his children and told them that he would be back in a week to bring them the news of the mountain. They said their good-byes and watched him drive out of the driveway to his destiny that awaited him.

Mount Alush was thirty-seven thousand feet high or in miles that are roughly seven miles. Its peak is covered by cloud all year round. The air is so thin that nothing could grow up there and no man could survive long because of the lack of oxygen. Salmon had anticipated that and had the oxygen tanks ready. Salmon started his climb at six in the morning and by nine had reached the bramble. He had seen the usual trees and animals. He had taken pictures to show his family. He was having a good time.

He walked around the side of the mountain and could find no way through the bramble. It consisted of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry and a few other berry bushes he had never seen before. He picked a few berries while he searched. He searched and searched eventually after circling the entire mountain he found no way through. He had spent the entire day looking and it was almost dark when he decided to set up camp and get an early start in the morning. He would have to chop through he reasoned. He slipped into his sleeping bag after a small supper and fell off to sleep.

It was a bright and sunny morning when Salmon woke up. He hurriedly dressed and had a quick breakfast. He wanted to start chopping his way through. He stepped out of the tent and after taking it down he moved towards the bramble. He stopped in confusion. In front of him stood an opening in the bramble that was not there when he went to sleep.

Salmon moved towards it and started to walk. There were other paths that closed whenever he walked by or even thought about taking. He figured that he was meant to go this way and not to turn off the path. He looked at the bramble and saw the roses and the lilies. He could smell their sweet perfume. There were roses of every color and lilies of every color imaginable.

Soon he came upon a fork in the road. Down one path was nothing but dead things. The other path was lush and green with animals and flowers growing in abundance. He thought about going down the dead path and even moved that way but like all the rest of the other paths, it too closed to him. He walked down the path was obviously chosen for him. Salmon saw all kinds of animals. Lions lying with sheep. Bears swimming with salmon in the stream. Skunks walking around with their tails down. For that he was very thankful.

He felt a presence but was unsure of what it was. He wanted to find out but figured that he would know soon enough. He continued to walk all the time realizing that he was climbing up the mountain and yet he did not know how high he was. He was having no problems with the climb. It was very easy and was in fact very pleasant. He could not hear the traffic from down below. All he could hear were the animals and the gentle sound of the wind as it blew between the flowers.

Salmon stopped and looked at the sky. It was getting cloudy. He did not know how far up he had walked. He looked at his watch and many hours had passed and yet it seemed like he had only been walking for a little bit. He stopped to look at a stream. He realized that he was thirsty and bent down to get a drink. The water tasted like golden honey. It was clear and fresh and full of life.

Animals came up to him and nuzzled him. They were not afraid of the stranger. They looked at him and then quietly walked away. Salmon immediately thought about the story of Narnia but knew that these animals were not going to talk to him. He stood up and continued walking the path.

Salmon walked for hours and never got tired. The path seemed to start to thin out. He looked around and saw that there was an opening. He walked through and found that he was at the summit of Mount Alush. He went to breathe the air but thought he should put on the oxygen mask first. After putting it on he looked around and saw that he could see the world from here. He could see every part of the world. He was amazed at its beauty and its wonder.

He turned around to see the other side of the summit. He saw a bush. Some nondescript bush that was just sitting all alone on the summit. He wondered how it managed to grow at such a high altitude. He went forward to look at it and heard a voice in his head.

“STOP!”

Salmon stopped and looked curiously at the bush. It had talked to him. Bushes don’t talk. He must be going mad from the thinness of the air. He stepped forward again and again the voice spoke.

“STOP! Where you stand is holy ground. Remove your shoes if you wish to approach closer.”

Salmon looked at the bush and then without thinking about it removed his shoes and approached closer. He wanted to know what was going on. He could not understand.

“Who are you?” Salmon asked.

“I AM WHO I AM.” The voice replied.

Salmon thought for a moment. He had heard that before. He thought hard and remembered where he had heard it. It was what the burning bush said to Moses on Mount Sinai. He looked at the bush and spoke.

“Are you who I think you are?”

“I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am the God who sent His only Son to die for the world. I am who I am.”

Salmon looked at the bush and sat down. He could not believe that a bush was speaking to him. It was not burning nor was it even glowing. He just could not believe what he saw or heard. He looked towards the bush.

“What do you want of me? I am no one that you should need.”

“You are Salmon Harris. Son of Philip Harris. Son of Jeremiah Harris. You believed in me once and you turned away. You walked away from the free gift I offered you. You wanted nothing to do with me. But in all that I still love you Salmon Harris. I have not given up on you. You will be the one that will learn my truth and tell it to everyone that will listen.”

Salmon looked at the bush and wondered. How was he to do all this when he didn’t even believe it? He was sure the bush was wrong. But he also knew that if it was meant to be then he must obey. Suddenly the bush spoke once again.

“I understand your reluctance my child. It is hard to believe when you are sitting talking to a bush. Understand me now Salmon Harris. All will come clear to you while you go to the place I tell you to go. It is the place where you will learn all about which I am and what your mission will be. It is up to you if you wish to do what I ask. I will not force you to do anything you do not want to do.”

Salmon looked at the bush. He bent his head to one side much like a dog would.

“If I am to understand properly. I have the choice to do what you ask or to walk away. You will not hate me or love me any less.”

“No I will not love you any less nor will I hate you. I gave you free will for just that reason. You must want to do what I ask. If you chose not to then another will come to me.”

Salmon stood and turned away. He was a businessman and his business man mind took over. He wanted to know what was in it for him. He wanted to know what he got in return. He turned around and faced the bush.

“Might I ask what is in this for me? I realize this is a selfish question but a question nonetheless.”

“You will get the blessings of the most high God. You will receive eternal life. The riches you will receive will be given to you when you come to me in heaven.”

Salmon thought about this and sat down. He wrote in the ground. He had to think about this. It was not an adventure to enter on impulse. He needed time to think.

“Might I have some time to think on your offer. I am not a man to enter into anything without looking at all sides. Might I have a little time?”

“Yes take all the time you need. Lay there at your feet and think and sleep. I will protect you from the weather and the evil that might come your way while you sleep and think.”

Salmon knelt down and then quickly lay on his back to rest. In no time he was asleep. Dreams invaded his mind quickly. He saw his father telling him that he was raised a Christian and should act like one. He saw his grandfather telling him that this was a dealing that he should not get involved in. He saw his wife and his children begging him to come home.

Salmon tossed and turned all the time the bush watched over him. Salmon woke up many hours later and looked at the bush. He got up and brushed off his clothes. He looked at the bush and spoke.

“I will do as you ask on one condition.”

“What might that be my child?”

Salmon stood his ground but lowered his head.

“I do not want you thinking any less of me but I want the option of stopping should I find it too hard to bear.”

“I agree to your condition. I do not want you do anything that you can not bear. I will not think any less of you should you decide to stop. All I ask is that you tell me when you have had enough so that I might hold you up and walk for you.”

Salmon nodded his head and smiled. He felt that for some reason he must do this. He went to the edge and looked out. He could see the world. He felt like it was his destiny to do the task that was in front of him and yet he had doubts. It was natural he thought.

“I will go now. I do not know what will happen but I will go now.”

He started to go the way he came but he found that it was blocked. He turned around. He did not understand why he could not go the way he came.

“You can not go that way. You must go another way. Go to your right and that will take you to where you need to go my child. Remember I am with you always.”

Salmon nodded and turned to his right and saw the path that was not there a moment ago. He waved to the bush unconsciously and made his way down the mountain. He did not know what was in store for him but he knew that he would know in time.

Chapter Two

Nothing but the Best

The path was rugged and wild. There were pitfalls and boulders along the way. Just like any other trail would be like this high up on a mountain. Salmon picked his way carefully along to make sure he did not fall over the edge. He did not call it Mount Alush for nothing. Alush meant “wild place”. And this was a wild place. If he took the wrong turn he could get lost or worse. He could fall to his death.

Salmon thought about the bush. Was he going insane talking to a bush the way he had? It made no normal sense. If a shrink heard that he had seen or even talked to a bush, he would have been committed right away. But to him it did not seem insane. He had spoken to the most high God himself. Or at least he believed he had. He pushed the thought out of his mind. He was loosing focus at this moment. He had to get down alive.

Salmon stopped by a large out cropping of rocks and sat down in the shade. He was tired and he wanted to sleep. He curled up and slowly drifted off into a restful sleep. He did not dream as he slept. He woke rested and found that many hours had passed. He started to get up and found that he was slightly hungry. He grabbed the crackers he had in his knapsack and started to nibble on them. He continued to walk until he saw the light of a fire. He crouched down behind a rock. All he could see was the fire and the sound of someone singing.

Salmon sat and waited for silence to fall. He did not want to intrude on the stranger, He liked the singing but it was not something he really wanted to get into. He had had his bout with religion and it meant nothing to him now. He wanted to go home but he also had agreed to carry out his “mission” as it were. Salmon sat quietly and slowly faded into a restful sleep.

Salmon woke up to find himself lying beside a roaring fire. He did not know how he managed to get here but he was thankful for the heat. He looked up to see a man sitting on the other side of the fire. The man smiled and nodded at Salmon.

“Hello kind friend. You look somewhat shocked on how you got to this spot. Well to be quite honest. I brought you here. I heard you rustling in the leaves trying to keep warm and as I am a good man I chose to bring you here to give you the warmth you so dearly needed. If I have over stepped my bounds then I will leave you be and go from you. I only do the will of the Father.”

Salmon looked at him a moment longer then tried to get closer to the fire. He did not know what to think of this strange fellow but was glad of the fire. He nodded softly to the man and then quietly relaxed and warmed himself up. He looked at his saviour and wondered who he was. He was not that good looking of man and yet Salmon felt drawn to him. Salmon sat up on his elbow.

“Might I ask you a question?”

The man nodded.

“What is your name? I would like to thank you by name for saving me.” Salmon asked.

“My name is Zion Diadem. I am a follower of the One who is and always will be. We who follow Him call him the Father. There is no need for you to thank me. It was my duty to save you. One day perhaps you will save me and then we will be equal.”

Salmon shook his head softly. He did not know who the one who is an always will be but he seemed like a real nice guy. Salmon watched as Zion nodded off to sleep. Salmon was not far behind him. Salmon slept soundly and he did not dream. He awoke to find himself alone. Zion was nowhere to be found. Salmon sat up and saw a breakfast left for him. He ate it silently and wondered where Zion had gone off.

Under the meal was a simple note. It did not say much. Nothing but a few words.

Salmon:

I leave you because I have been called to other places. I must follow the will of the Father. I leave you with a breakfast and a message. While you are on your journey here, accept Nothing But The Best from people. You deserve nothing less. Do not second-guess yourself. Follow your heart my friend. Don’t ever second-guess your heart.

Don’t refuse the gift He’s giving. Deaths a bitter wine.

We will meet again my friend. We will see each other when the One that died comes for us again. Until then I shall remain as always

Zion Diadem

Salmon put the note down and looked at the fire. It burned slowly. He reached out and felt the warmth and the savagery. Salmon wondered where this journey was taking him. He did not ask to go on it and yet here he was. Going on an adventure willingly.

Salmon stood up and brushed his pants off. He doused the fire and gathered up his things. He started to walk away and then turned around. He had forgotten the note that Zion had written him. He picked it up and carefully folded it and placed it in his pocket. He made his way to the trail and headed off in a direction not yet known to him.

Chapter Three

Heaven Of My Heart

The day seemed to pass by quickly. Salmon heard the birds singing and the wind rustling in the trees. He thought of Zion often. He had only met Zion last night and yet it seemed like he had known him for years. They had shared a fire and a starry sky. They had laughed and talked as if they had been friends forever. They had said their good nights and then sleep had crept up on them quickly. The morning came and Salmon was alone. He had found the note and then went on his way.

Salmon looked around and heard a song. He walked to where he heard it. He watched and tried to spy to see if he could see anyone. Alone sitting on a log was a woman. She was beautiful and had such a sweet voice. He dare not disturb her. She looked as if she was in prayer or in meditation.

Salmon found that he could not take his eyes off of her. She was as beautiful as the day was long. He wanted to go to her but at the same time he did not want to impose himself upon her. He decided that he would try to skirt the area and leave her alone.

Salmon continued to walk around the area and then stopped. He heard the woman call to him.

“Wait. Stranger. Come back.”

Salmon turned around and looked for the voice. It was coming from the woman that sat so silent. He turned away to continue walking but found that he heard the voice again. He turned around and looked at the woman again. She had not moved and yet he knew that it was her voice that he heard. Salmon brushed the thought away and continued to walk.

“Wait. Stranger. Come back.”

Salmon turned around again and looked at the woman. This time she had moved. She stood looking at him. She had long black hair with tips of gray at the ends. She was a very attractive woman. He could not make out her eye color but they seemed to burn through him. He started to walk towards her and stopped. She was sitting back down but this time she was not in meditation. She seemed to be waiting for him.

Salmon walked to her and sat in front of her. He did not know what to make of her but he was willing to find out. She looked at him and yet she seemed to look right through him. Salmon was a little unnerved but he did not move from his spot. She motioned for him to come closer. He did and she seemed to move away. Not from being afraid but because she sensed instead of seeing. He lifted his hand and waved it in front of her face. Again she reacted not because she could see it but more like she felt it. He came to the realization that she was blind.

Salmon wanted to stay but he knew that he could not. He started to move but the woman stopped him. She stared through him and made him feel very uncomfortable. He did now know what to do. He threw off her arms and stood up.

“What do you want of me? I do not know you nor do I think I wish to know you. Tell me who you are.” Salmon commanded.

The woman looked at him with her eyes that no longer worked and smiled. She motioned for him to sit before him and listen to her story. Salmon said no that he would stand. She nodded and went on with her story.

“My name is Sisera. It means meditation. That is what I do. I meditate all day long. I do it because that is what the Father wants. But I get so lonely. I want to hear another voice and I want to interact with other people.

“I was born on this mountain many years ago. I was told that I was born blind. Yes it is true. I knew that you knew. I flinched when you waved your hand across my face. I did it out of reflex not out of anything else. I could feel the breeze coming from your hand.”

Salmon smiled softly and sat down on the ground again. He looked at Sisera for what seemed minutes and had a hard time getting his eyes off of her. She was so beautiful. He could not imagine doing nothing but sit and meditate all day long. He continued to look at her and wanted so much to touch her. She was a rare beauty.

“Why do you meditate all day?” Salmon asked.

“I meditate to be closer to the one that is the Morning Star. He is the reason I meditate. When I meditate I go to the other heaven of my heart. For up there,” Sisera pointed upwards. “In a sky so blue is a heaven made for you and me. But until the Lily of the valley comes back for me then I will go to the other heaven. Would you like to join me?”

Salmon bent his head down. He shook his head slowly. He did not have this heaven that she spoke of. He had never seen nor had he ever wanted to see it.

“I do not have this heaven you speak of. I am not sure if I have ever had it or if I ever will have it. You will have to go alone. I can not join you.”

Sisera reached out her hand and touched Salmon on the shoulder. She could feel his doubt and sense his disbelief. She smiled softly and released her hand.

“I may be blind Salmon but I can sense that you have love in your eyes and that in your heart, tucked away in a little corner. It is that heaven that I speak of. You have it Salmon you just do not know it yet. You will know in time. The Father will reveal Himself to you when the time is right.” Sisera said.

Salmon stood up and smiled. He knew that she meant well but he did not believe anymore. He did not want to believe anymore. He knew he had done to many things wrong to ever be able to believe again. But what this woman said made sense. It felt right. He knew that at one time he had had what she spoke of. But it was gone. Long gone. There was no way it was ever going to be there again. No one takes back someone that had moved so far away.

Salmon look at Sisera and touched her lightly on the cheek.

“You have your beliefs and I have mine. You follow the God of your choosing and I will follow the God of mine.”

“But you do not follow any God Salmon. Money is your God now. It is what makes you happy.”

Salmon smiled and walked away, leaving Sisera to her meditation and her unseen God. He continued to walk and yet felt bad for leaving her alone. He turned to walk back but the way was blocked. He was unable to go back. He remembered a song he heard once pumping out of some kids car. Don’t look back is what it said. He turned and walked away continuing on his journey.

Chapter Four

Once And For All

There was a path round through the woods. Salmon saw lots of animal life. He spied a stream and after getting to it knelt down for a drink. The water tasted so fresh and so wonderful. He didn’t want to leave but he knew he had no other choice. He wanted to get home and he had been on this trail all too long as it is. He started back on the trail again.

The sun shone high in the sky and yet Salmon felt as if he had been walking for hours and hours. He was hungry and yet he did not care. He walked continually and yet did not tire. He turned the bend in the trail and came upon a three- pronged fork. Each one had a sign attached above it.

The first one read:

‘He was a good man but no god.’

The second read:

‘He was a great prophet.’

The third read:

‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’

Salmon decided to take the third trail. He came to a clearing and saw a hill. There was nothing on it. Nothing and no one had been here in a very long time. It was the ugliest knoll anyone had ever seen. There was nothing but death here. He wanted to walk away but could not. He was fascinated with the scene. He felt like he had seen or will see the most spectacular thing any human being has ever seen. There was going to be something great happening here and he did not want to miss it.

Salmon sat on the ground and waited. He waited and waited for what seemed like hours and nothing happened. He was starting to get a tad impatient when suddenly a fellow came out of the woods. He was an ordinary looking fellow. There was nothing special about him at all. He sat down quietly beside Salmon and said not a word. Salmon looked at him and smiled. The man smiled back and still said nothing. The man smiled and stood suddenly. He offered his hand and Salmon shook his head no.

“Oh come on Salmon Harris. You are going to see something very few people have ever seen. You are actually going to see the death of a man. You will see him die the most awful death you can imagine. You will see him tortured and then crucified. Now come with me Salmon Harris.”

Salmon looked at the man. He could not figure out how he knew his name. He had not told him and yet he knew. Salmon was confused and yet he really wanted to go see the death of a man. He almost reveled in it.

“Wait. How did you know my name?”

The man stood quietly and then spoke very calmly.

“I know you very well Salmon Harris. I know you better then you know yourself. I even know you better the then He does. I have watched you and even sometimes guided you along the path that you have chosen. I have watched many a good man travel down the right path to my feet, all the time thinking that they were going the way that He wanted them to go. I have even watched you when you had that tryst with. Well we don’t need to go there now do we.

“You may call me any of my names. I have so many of them. Abbadon, Apollyon, Belial, Beelzebub, just to name a few. You may take your choice. But the fact of the matter is, is that you know who I am and it intrigues you doesn’t Mr. Harris. Now come on and join me. I want to show you a broken man. A man that is so torn down that there is no way in, excuse the pun, hell that he is ever going to get up again.”

Salmon stood and started on the way back down the path. But it was closed to him. He must go with this person. He knew he had no other choice. The man started walking towards the knoll and Salmon followed. He did not like it but he followed nonetheless.

Salmon suddenly heard crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth. He heard a mother’s voice as she cried out for her son. He heard women crying out for him to save himself. He heard children crying and grown men playing games. He did not want to go any farther but he had to know.

The scene that they came upon was frightening to say the least. Women and children were crying and men were angry and hurling nasty insults at the dying man. The men hurled rotten fruit and stones at the man. He said not a word but took the insults and the punishment of the stones and fruit. He smiled softly and spoke.

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Salmon looked up at the man and although he knew who this was he could not remember his name. He felt sadness for the man and yet could not remember his name. Suddenly the man cried out in a loud voice.

“Eloi, Eloi, Lama sabachthani?”

Salmon tried to remember what those words meant but he could not. He wanted to but couldn’t. He turned to the other man and asked him but he just smiled and walked away. He moved towards a woman but she did not even notice him. He walked away and kept thinking about those words. Salmon looked right up at the man on the cross and he looked back.

“My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?” is what the man said.

Salmon fell to his knees. He now knew who this man was. The other man that came with Salmon kicked him gently in the boot. Salmon looked up, tears running down his face. The other man laughed and laughed.

“Why do you laugh? Do you not understand what is going on here?”

“Of course I do you dolt. I understand better then anyone. I am the one that put Him there and there is where He is going to stay. He is not going to come down and try to play some martyr. He is going to die up there and then his body will be left for the birds and the wild animals.

“Now get up and stop the senseless blubbering. You should have blubbered long before this but you didn’t. You were too interested in making money. You were too interested in making people rich and getting the fair share that was due you for services rendered. Now come with me and watch as I torture some poor unfortunate that dared to betray the one that he supposedly loved.”

A man stood some distance off looking up at a tree. He was testing the strength of a limb when he threw a rope over it. He looked at Salmon and the other as they approached and nodded his head in greeting then went back to his business. He looked at Salmon and smiled.

“Hello.”

“Hello.” Salmon replied, “What are you doing here?”

“Oh nothing much. I am just going to hang myself. I betrayed a man tonight and I did it for thirty pieces of silver. I traded the love I have for Him. For a measly thirty coins. I did it and I am ashamed. Not because I did it but for the reason I did it. I did it because I was stupid enough to listen to the likes of that man.” The betrayer nodded to the man. “He has a name you know. Some people call him the father of lies and other call him the master of deception. I call him the monster of hate. He makes people do things. Well at least they think he makes them. In fact they would have done it anyway, they just need a scapegoat and he willing becomes one every time. People around the world say that “The Devil Made ME Do It!’ well I can honestly tell you that it is wrong.

“People all around the world lay the blame on him and it is not true. We are to blame for everything that happens to us. We are to blame when our lives don’t work out the way we want or plan. We are to blame if we end up in prison or hanging by a rope. We did it. We did it willingly and he has nothing to do with it. That man hanging on the cross is the exception. He is hanging there out of his own willingness. He is doing because he wants too not because for some need to be noticed.

“His willingness to die is a testimony to the fact that the monster of hate can not make people do things. The sacrifice that the man is making on the cross is for you and for me and for, yes tis true, even for the monster of hate. His Father sent him down for one reason and one reason only, to teach the people that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had not abandoned them. He sent his Son to show them that God had not stopped listening to them.

“One more thing before I leave you to do my thing here. When in the party of life, dance with the one that brought ya. Either dance with the devil or dance with the Lord. Don’t keep changing sides and jumping fences. Stick with the one that is the only one.”

With that the hanging man turned and put the rope on his neck and jumped. Salmon heard the sickening snap and crackle as the neck snapped Salmon turned away and looked at the man and then he looked down to the tree. It was over. He was dead. The man’s life had ceased to be. Salmon looked at the man that had met him at the beginning. The tears welled up in Salmon’s eyes.

“Oh good tears, that is always good. Tears always get me right here.” He hit his chest with his hand. “That really works with me. It really does. NOT! The thing that dangles on the rope had a choice. The thing on the cross had a choice. They both chose the wrong road. Now of course you have the choice right now. Follow the path you have been following or follow me. The path will take you to your final goal whereas if you follow me you will not only be off this cursed mountain but you will have everything your heart desires. Now you decide. I will give you time. I will come back in a few hours.”

With that the Monster of Hate turned away and Salmon was left alone to think. He sat on the ground and looked at the scene. To his left was a man on a cross. To his right was a man hanging by a rope. He wanted so much to be off this mountain. He wanted so much to be rid of all the problems in his life. He wanted to be someone.

Salmon lay down looking at the sky. He put his hand in his pocket and felt paper. He pulled it out and it was the note that Zion had given him. He looked at it and read it again. This time words seem to jump out at him.

‘Follow your heart my friend. Don’t ever second-guess your heart. Don’t refuse the gift He’s giving. Deaths a bitter wine.’

Salmon knew what he must do. No matter what he must follow his heart. It does not matter what the monster offers or promises him. He must no betray his heart. He closed his eyes and slept peacefully. He suddenly woke up and saw the Monster of Hate standing over him. He stood up and looked right at the Monster.

“Oh I know I am not going to like what you are about to say. You are not going to follow me are you. You are going to take the path and see what happens. Well let me tell you what happens. Yes you get your life back. You get everything you ever wanted. You even get your little family back with the two point five kids and the pretty little wife. But you have to earn them. They just don’t fall into your lap. You actually have to earn them. There is nothing free in this world. Everything has a price. Even following God has a price. Obedience is the price. With me everything is free. No price. Well not much of a one anyways. All I get is your soul. But then again, that’s all God gets isn’t it.”

Salmon looked at him and smiled. He turned and walked away down the path to his next destination. He looked back once to see the Monster of Hate screaming and kicking at the dirt. Salmon could do nothing but laugh softly to himself. He had found the one thing that was missing from his life. Now all he had to do was continue on in the journey.

Chapter Five

Excuse Me, Forgive Me
The path widened to a colorful collage of flowers. There were flowers of all types and sizes. Salmon stopped to smell the roses. He could spend the day away in this place but he knew that he had a destiny waiting. He picked himself up and continued down the path. The perfume of the flowers followed him for a bit then it faded away. Salmon tried to focus on the path but kept getting distracted. He kept hearing a voice. It was a soft voice that nagged at him to turn back.

Salmon continued to walk a he pushed the sound of the voice away. The path stopped in front of him and he was unsure of which way to go. He wanted to go to the right but he also wanted to go to the left. Both looked the same and had the same lush greenery. He heard the voice again and tried to ignore it but found that he couldn’t this time. He went to the left. He felt this sudden feeling of dread and yet continued to the left.

He came upon an open area that contained nothing but a man in stocks. Salmon looked at him and wondered what had he done to be in such a predicament. He moved slowly to the stocked man. He held his head up to Salmon and smiled.

“Hello stranger.”

Salmon nodded his head.

“In case you are wondering. I am here because I committed a serious crime. I committed the crime of being indecisive. I could not make up my mind on which to use. Excuse me or forgive me. I do not care which I use. I use whichever one suits me at the time. So they put me in the infernal contraption.”

Salmon smiled and looked at the man then started to walk away. This man was of no concern to him. He had committed a crime and now he must pay his debt to society. He suddenly turned around and wondered. Why was it a crime to say excuse me or forgive me.

“Wait a minute. I do not understand. How can you commit a crime when you have done nothing wrong.” Salmon asked.

A woman came out of the alleyway and looked at the man in the stocks then at Salmon. She looked him up and down from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. She sort of snorted then went her way. Salmon yelled after her.

“Wait. What has this man done that he deserves to be in those stocks?”

She stopped and turned around. She looked at Salmon again and then walked back to the stocked man. She grabbed his hair and pulled his head up. She looked at him and the let it back down. She looked at Salmon again and laughed.

“Did he tell you what he did wrong? Did he tell you that he is guilty of the crime of indecisive? Did he tell you that?”

Salmon nodded his head and then sat down on the ground. He shook his head trying to figure out what was wrong with this scene. He could not. He wanted to be on his way. He wanted to get off this mountain so he could be with his family. This is what he wanted. He looked up at the woman and spread his hands in unknowing.

“I do not understand. I don’t understand what he did wrong.”

The woman looked at him and smiled.

“That is okay. You are not the first one to not understand and you will not be the last. So I will explain it to you as best I can. You see this man is guilty of being indecisive. He would agree with whatever was said no matter what was said. When he was found out to be indecisive he would either say excuse me or forgive me. He used those two phrases as if they were the same phrase when they are not.”

Salmon looked at the woman and shook his head. He did not understand. He wanted to understand but did not. He was so confused. His journey had taken him to meet the great I AM and then to a man that was there one minute and in such a short time was gone. He had met a blind woman that could see. He had been shown the death of two men by the one that had caused it to happen. He wanted to understand but did not. He didn’t think he ever would.

Salmon stood up and started to walk away again. He had had enough of this scene. He wanted to be on his way. He heard the voices but did not turn around. He would not look back. He walked to the path but it would not let him through. He had something to learn here and until it was learned he was stuck here.

Salmon sat on a tree trunk. He held his head and then shook it slowly. He wanted to just go to sleep and pretend that this was a dream and nothing else. He closed his eyes and tried to forget the situation all together. He slowly let his thoughts slide into the abyss and clear his mind for a bit. He thought about his wife and his children. He thought about the fun they had. He got up and rested himself against the trunk and slept softly.

“Wake up Salmon. It is time for you to loose your misunderstanding.”

Salmon opened his eyes and saw a lake. It was not there when he closed his eyes. He must be in a dream. He rubbed his eyes and shook his head trying to get rid of the image but it would not go away. He tried to find the place where the voice came from but he could not. It sounded so sweet and soft. It had patience in it and loving kindness. He stood up and walked towards the lake and looked in. He saw his reflection and something else. It looked like a fairy but he could be seeing things. Salmon turned around and went back to the trunk and sat down. He shook his head again and this time he heard laughter.

“What the…?” Salmon exclaimed.

“OOO! Be careful. Swearing is not allowed here, now as for your question. You are in the land called Shandatha. It is the land of all those things that your kind say does not exist. My name is Gittith. I am what you think I am. A fairy. I heard what you were talking about in your world. We can hear and see all that happens but we never cross over. It’s usually the other way around. People think that they either dreamed it or it was their imaginations playing tricks on them but they came here.”

Salmon shook his head once more. It did not make any sense. He must be dreaming, either that or he is having an hallucination. He looked at Gittith once more and smiled. He was not sure of what was going on here but what the heck. He would play along.

“Okay let’s say for sake of argument that you are real. Where did you come from?” Salmon asked.

“We were created by the same God that created you and the rest of humanity. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the same God that sent his son to die for the world. He is the one that created us. We are as real as you are. The only difference is, is that mankind has chosen not to believe in us. Man has decided that we are nothing but legend. But we are not. We worship the same god as you do. We live the same way that you do.” Salmon looked at the wings. “Okay so fairies have wings. That’s a moot point. We have the same frailties that you do. We sin and do wrong. But we do not use excuses to deny what we did wrong. We do not ask for forgiveness by saying excuse me.”

Salmon looked up. He looked right at Gittith. He raised his left eyebrow just slightly.

“How did you know about the forgive me and excuse me?”

“I told you. We can hear all that is going on in your world. We can understand why you people are so mixed up. You have taken a gift from God and made it into some kind of joke. You pushed us aside and then just to make sure that no one tries to mess with you, you pushed God aside and said that He was dead. You use the phrases excuse me and forgive me as the same thing and they are not.”

Salmon smiled softly. He understood. It made sense but what the hay. The fairy was on a roll.

“Do you understand?” Gittith asked.

“Well sort of but you could explain a little further.” Salmon replied.

“Okay lets see if I can explain this right. You are arguing with your wife and you say something really mean. You see the tears well up in her eyes and she says something like `How could you say something like that.’ What would a man normally say?” Gittith queried.

Salmon thought about it for a moment and smiled softly. He looked at Gittith.

“I would probably say `Well excuse me for living. I didn’t realize what I was saying.’ Something like that.”

“Well did you mean to ask for forgiveness?”

“Yes I did.”

“Then why did you not ask for forgiveness.”

“Because in a fight the two words are interchangeable. They can be used one for another.”

Gittith shook her head. He did not understand she thought. The two words are not interchangeable. You cannot substitute one for another. She had to make him understand this. She flew off his shoulder and onto a flower that was beside him. She looked up at him and continued

“Okay now that I see that you do not understand at all. I will have to use examples for you to understand. Does that make sense to you?”

Salmon shook his head softly. Gittith thought to herself that this was going to be a long, long time. She sat on the ground and thought. She was unsure of what kind of example to use that would get her point across to Salmon. She stood up and looked at Salmon.

“Okay, here we go. I have the example that I am looking for and I hope that you will understand it. Okay picture this. You are arguing with your wife and you say something very mean to her. You realize what you said when she starts to cry and you look at her. She calls you a creep. You look at her and say….”

“Well excuse me for living. I thought you were thicker skinned then that.”

“NO! That’s not what you say. What did you do? Did you cut her off or something? You just insulted her and it hurt her feelings. So what do you say?”

Salmon thought for a moment and then smiled.

“I understand now. I would say ‘Please forgive me. I did not mean what I said.’

Gittith smiled softly. The human understood. He actually understood. She kissed him on the cheek and then quietly led him back to the stump. She watched as Salmon sat back down and rested once again. She spoke quietly in his ear as he drifted back to sleep.

“Remember you can not use excuse me and forgive me as one in the same. They mean completely different things. They are not interchangeable. Say what you mean. Not something else entirely.”

Salmon woke up and saw that he was back in his world. It must have been a dream. It couldn’t anything else. Yet it seemed so real. He smiled to himself. Gittith was real. He knew that she was but it seemed so much like a dream. He shook his head and walked back to the city. Through the dream he had learned something that he must pass on to the man in the stocks. He had to show him his error.

There the man sat, stocks and all. He looked very uncomfortable. Salmon walked up to him and sat down beside him. He smiled.

“When you told the people that the excuse me and forgive me was interchangeable, did you understand what you were saying?” Salmon asked.

The man looked at him and smiled.

“Well I sort of knew what I was saying. I knew that I was using the context wrong but I did not know how to word it differently.”

Salmon smiled and patted him on the back. He moved closer and explained it all to him. The man listened intently and when he had finally figured it out he knew what he had done.

Salmon got up after a bit and went on his way. The man had said his name was Parosh. He had listened and realized what he had done wrong and promised Salmon that he would never do it again. He had learned his lesson. He had also learned that it was not the same thing when he used excuse me instead of forgive me. He had learned a valuable lesson and he knew he would never do it again.

The path widened slightly to allow Salmon to pass. He could still hear the shouts from Parosh. He looked around and saw a bench. He walked over to it and sat down with a sigh. He rubbed his neck and then he slowly lay down and closed his eyes. He slept. He dreamed. He cried for they were not nice dreams.

Chapter 6

Change The Way

The house smelled of gardenias. Every piece of furniture was in the place it was meant to be. Nothing was ever out of place. Even the shoes were where they were supposed to be. Salmon looked around and felt the presence of someone that he had not seen in many a year. He walked towards a voice and felt very fearful.

It was a booming loud voice. It rang out like a lighthouse beacon. Everyone in the house could hear it and everyone in the house feared it. Even the parish priest feared that voice. Salmon knew that voice. Knew it all to well. It was his father’s voice. It boomed as loud as it did when he spoke, rather, ordered the things done before his funeral. Salmon did not want to walk into the room but knew that he had no other choice. He did so with trepidation. His father turned to face him.

“Well look at you. All grown up and still a useless human being. You tried to be the best man you could be but as usual you screwed it up.” His father ranted.

Salmon walked away and started for the door. He was not going to hear this all again. He would not stand for the humiliation that happened every time his father was around. He walked away and tried not to look back but all he could hear was his father’s booming voice.

“That’s right. Walk away like you always do. You good for nothing kid. You were good for nothing when I was alive and you are still a good for nothing now that I am dead. So you just walk away you coward instead of facing your fear. You could never live up to my standards and I knew that. I taunted you cause I knew I could and that you would stand there and take it. You wouldn’t fight back or say one word. You dummied up like some miserable mime.”

Salmon stood there at the door and tried to open it but he found he could not. He knew that now was the time that he had to face the fear that had followed him all the days of his miserable life. He wheeled around and looked squarely at his father.

“So the mouse finally has a voice. It is about time. I have been waiting for it for what seems like decades. Go ahead Salmon. Say what is on your mind.”

“You miserable old tyrant. You waited and waited for me to make mistakes. You always knew that I would. You made sure of that. I wasn’t like any of the other boys. Johnny joined the army and fought for his country and paid the ultimate price for it. Jerry joined the air force and was killed over Japan. I on the other hand didn’t do any of those things. I chose not to follow my glorious brothers into battle. I chose to stay away from conflict. I chose to live my life the way that I wanted to no matter what the consequences.

You belittled me every time you had the chance. You made sure that you brought up Johnny’s name or Jerry’s name. You made sure that you told me the same lousy stories over and over again. You kept telling me that I would never amount to anything. You kept telling me that I would never ever be able to fill their shoes. You held me up to what they did. You held them up as some stupid banner that you knew I would never ever be able to live up to.

I tried to love you as my father. I tried to do the things that I thought you wanted me to do but it was never good enough. It was always Jerry this or Johnny that. I went as far as to make myself a millionaire and you still tried to make me less of a man that I am or was. You chose to try and make me into something that I am not.

When you died I wept for you. I wept a long time for you but your voice kept haunting my tears. I kept hearing you. ‘Johnny would never cry’ or ‘Jerry would be stronger then you’. Even in death you would not stop trying to make me into something that I am not. I couldn’t get away from you then and it seems I can’t get away from you now. You haunt me even when you have been dead and gone all these years. I won’t stand for it anymore. I want you out of my life and out of my head and out of my memories.”

His father stepped back. He laughed and laughed.

“That was an awful lot of anger you have had bottled up boy. You have turned into a man. You have become the one thing that you didn’t want to become. You have become your father.”

Salmon shook his head. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Maybe his father was right and that was what was happening. Salmon shook his head. He was nothing like his father. He was a caring loving man that would never do what his father had done and yet he had done it in the past. Comparing Susie with Ellen. His wife’s cooking to his mother cooking.

He looked at his father and just started to laugh and laugh and laugh. His father was still laughing. Salmon laughed along with him and then the laughing stopped. Salmon smiled softly and looked at his father square in the face once again.

“You are right old man. I am like you. I do try to compare my children with my other children. I do compare my wife’s cooking to my mom’s cooking. I even try to compare which secretary is better looking. BUT that is where the similarity stops. I would never ever compare what one child did to what another one had done. It would not be fair nor would it be right.

“You tried for so long to make us like you, judgmental and ruthless. You tried with Johnny and Jerry. They didn’t join the military to please you. They joined to get away from you. They joined so that they wouldn’t end up like you. So you might say that they committed a kind of suicide just so they could be as far away from you as possible.

“You say that I am like you. I am nothing like you. I love my children and my wife. You don’t know the meaning of the word. I try to get my children to do better by making sure that they know they can do better if they try. You compared me to my brothers and then belittled me every chance you got. I love my family, which is more, then I can say for you. You didn’t love us. You didn’t appreciate us. You didn’t even try to teach us anything. You just forced us to live the way that you lived and to think and act and believe the way that you did. Well it stops here father.

I love you but not for the reasons most children love their fathers. Most children love their fathers because the fathers have given them reason to. You never gave me or anyone reason to love you. The love I have for you is a love born out of respect not out of a need to be loved or feel love. You are my father and no matter what happens in my life I can not change that. I would not change that. But what I can change is how I look at you. How I tell people about you. How I tell them why I love you. Not the reason that I don’t love you but why I do love you.

“Everyone tells me that to love my father is the best thing that a man can do and that it is a fitting memorial to your memory. The Bible tells me to honour my father and mother. I do honour you dad but I do not love you. I love mom because at least she tried to make our life worth living. So when it all comes down to it dad. I love you out of respect and nothing else.”

Salmon stepped back and smiled. He had said it. He had finally said it. He was able to tell the one person that needed to hear it more then anyone else. He had made sure that he had said it to the face of the one that needed to hear it. He looked up to see his father red and angry.

“You don’t know me at all do you boy. I was everything that a father was supposed to be. I was the perfect loving father that every boy could want. You could never appreciate the love I had for you. I worked hard to make sure that you had everything you needed. I worked twenty-hour days to put food in your stomach and a roof over your head. Not to mention the clothes on you’re back. I did it out of love and responsibility. Don’t you ever forget that boy.”

Salmon smiled and started to laugh. He walked over to a chair and sat. He looked up at his father and listened to the ranting of a man that had been dead for a number of years. He tried to stifle a laugh but could not.

“You really make me laugh you know that. You really make me want to just roll around on the floor and laugh so hard that I collapse from lack of oxygen.” Salmon stood up and faced his father. “ You don’t know what love is. Love is patient…You were never patient. Love is kind…You were never kind. Love is blind…You were never blind. You made sure that we knew our faults. Love is not jealous…You were always jealous of the love that I had for my mother. Love bears all things…You didn’t do anything out of love. You did it to make points. Love believes all things…You never believed a thing we told you. We told you that we loved you and you wouldn’t believe us. Love endures all things…You didn’t endure a thing for us. When we were sick, so sick that we couldn’t get out of bed or eat anything. It wasn’t you that made sure that we were okay. It wasn’t you that made sure that we at least tried to eat something. It wasn’t you that stayed up all night to make sure that we didn’t die. It wasn’t your smiling face that we woke up to and said that we were loved. No you were to busy trying to be a father instead of actually being one. When we called out in our sleep because of a fever. It wasn’t you that came running. It was always mom. You were too tired from working or too tired from running around with the boys or the girls to care about us. You were too busy trying instead of doing.

“You want father of the year awards then you better be ready to prove that you deserve them cause I know from personal experience that you were never the father that we needed. You were just a wanna be father. You had three sons that in fact you didn’t want. But hey there comes that responsibility junk again. Funny how that keeps creeping in to the equation.

“I have one father that really takes care of me. He does it willingly and he does it a sight better then you ever did. He looks at me and sees that even though I have faults he takes me as I am. He doesn’t see a failure like you did. He sees a diamond in the rough. He sees a piece of clay that He can mold into a vessel that He can use. He sees a person that does not always have the ability but is available. You never did that dad. You always saw my faults and made me feel like I was a failure.”

Salmon walked away and looked out the window. He felt his father’s eyes burning into his back but he didn’t care. He had finally been able to say all those things that he wanted to say all those years ago. He turned around and looked at his father. He smiled and then went for the door. As he placed his hand on the knob he heard his father’s voice.

“Salmon. Don’t leave. Don’t go with this rift between us. I don’t know if I can take it”

Salmon turned around just far enough to look at his father. He smiled.

“You should have thought about that all those years ago. You should have been able to tell me that when you were alive. You didn’t and you took that rift with you to the grave. You chose not to try to mend the rift. Instead you let it widen and widen till neither one of us could cross it. Then you died on me. So now we have the rift. We have a chasm that neither of us can attempt to cross but I think I am a better man than that. I will at least go so far.”

Salmon turned right around and walked up to his father and took his hand in his.

“You are my father and I will love you because of that. I will tell my children about you and I will tell my grandchildren about you. I will tell them the truth. I will tell them that I did love you. It may not be the same kind of love that I have for my children but it is love nonetheless.

“Someone once told me that I needed to change the way I feel about the way I love. The way I love my mother and the rest of my family. Including you. I need to change the way I feel about love in general. Love is not something to play around with and spout off about when it isn’t true. I try to love my wife and kids the way that Jesus loves me. I try to love my mother the same way. But I can not love you the same way. All I can do is love you because you are my father. It is as I said before, a love borne out of respect and nothing else.”

Salmon shook his father’s hand then headed to the door. He smiled as he felt the weight of a thousand years rise off of his shoulders. He turned around to see his father smiling. He spoke as he opened the door.

“I love you father. You know the kind of love I have for you. If you can not handle it then I can do nothing about it. It is something that you will have to deal with as you sit wherever you are. But the joy is that even though I never showed it much, I did love you as a child. Now that I am a man I can tell you this, I do love you.”

Salmon walked out the door and turned slightly to wave.

“Goodbye father.”

The smells of gardenias were still in the air when Salmon opened his eyes. The tears were still wet on his face. He wiped them off and looked at his watch. He had been sleeping for six hours. He wiped his face and thought about the dream. He felt good as he stood and started on the path once again. He smiled softly and whispered. “I love you father.”

Chapter 7

Highlands of Love

The little boy sat against a tree and read his book. It was a simple book with simple stories. He read them with wide-eyed wonder. He had read them time and time again and every time he read them it was like he was reading them anew. He turned the pages and read about the moon, about the man that knew perfect love. He read about being chained and about saying the word. He read the story of who owned who and where the thunder roared. He read with delight the stories of a silhouette and someone that had a vendetta, but not the kind that everyone thought. He glowed at the reading of a love story between some man and his lost love Gabriela. He lit a candle when he read the next story. He cried when he read about fallen people.

His eyes never left the book and yet he could feel the presence of a stranger. He wondered where he came from and if he had ever read the book. Not the one that he was reading now but the other book. The one that tells about the Rose of Sharon, the Lilly of the Valley. He was the Son of the Most High. His name was Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace. He was the one that would do what no other man would do. He willingly gave his life so that others might be free.

The little boy could sense the man coming closer. He could sense that he did at one time know the One. He could sense that his confusion and lack of trust had forced him to rethink his faith. The little boy finally looked up to see a large man standing in front of him. He stood so tall that he seemed a giant.

Salmon looked down on this boy and smiled. He smiled because it was such a wonder to see a child actually read. He knelt down beside the boy and spoke.

“Please, do not be afraid. My name is Salmon. What is yours?”

The little boy looked at Salmon and smiled. He stood and still didn’t come to Salmon’s head. He placed his book on the ground and then smiled at Salmon again.

“My name is unpronounceable. My mother calls me Daniel. My father calls me Jaaziel. So you may chose either one to call me.”

“Okay Daniel Jaaziel. I like Jaaziel. I will call you that. Now can you answer me a question?”

Jaaziel looked up at him and then back at the book. He smiled softly and then nodded.

“Where am I?” Salmon questioned

Jaaziel looked around. He looked at Salmon and then took his hand.

“Come with me and I will show you the place you are in. It is called the Highlands of Love. Here you will see wondrous things and signs that only He can do. It is a place of beauty and wondrous perfumes that float in the air. Come and let me show you.”

Salmon walked with Jaaziel. He marveled at the beauty of all that was around. He looked to his right and saw all the beautiful flowers in colors that he had never seen before. In every shape imaginable. He looked to his left and saw mountains. He continued to look at them until Jaaziel noticed him.

“ You do not want to go there. It is a bad place. No one that goes in there comes out again. it is not a place for the likes of us. There is nothing but suffering in there. It is a place of the evil one.”

Salmon nodded but found he could not take his eyes off of the mountains. He was being drawn to them as a moth to a flame. He let go of Jaaziel’s hand and walked over to the mountain range. Jaaziel called out after him but Salmon no longer heard. He walked until he saw the shimmering beauty of the rock and smiled. He has seen beauty before but not like this. He could almost hear the rock calling his name.

“Salmon. Come to me. I am the one that has shown you what you are to be. I am the One that you seek. Not the other one. Me! Come to Me!.”

Salmon walked into the opening and into a hell that he could not imagine.

*****************************************

Salmon walked for what felt like ever. He saw nothing but rock and heard nothing but that voice beckoning him. He smiled for the voiced seemed so sweet and innocent. He liked the sound of the voice and wanted to find it. he could hear the sweetness of it and yet it seemed a voice he had heard before and yet could not place it. He shrugged off the last thought and continued on.

The path snaked around and around and flowed in a way that was not normal. Salmon felt lost and then suddenly it opened up and there stood the most wondrous site of all. It was the bush that he had seen. He immediately took off his shoes and stood expecting to be spoken to. It did not speak. It did nothing. It stood there burning and yet it was not consumed. He bent down and put his shoes back on and suddenly it spoke.

“You pathetic fool. You believed that I was that smoldering rubble that you first encountered. You need not do anything in my presence except bow down and worship me. I am the one who deserves worship not that other one. He is a false one. He is not the one who did all this. I AM! I created it all. I made it all. I AM THE ONE!

“I made the world and even made this one. I did it all. I did for my own pleasure not to show a world of love and understanding. I did it to show a world where greed is king. Where those who have are much better then them that have it all and the rest of them can go fly.

“A world where I AM worshiped and not some pathetic excuse for a god. I did it all. I did it. I was the one that killed the one who was suppose to be the Saviour of this world. I am the one that convinces people that he didn’t really rise from the dead but that it was all a conspiracy.

“Now Salmon Harris. Who do you worship? You love money and all the power that it gives you. You love the feeling that it gives you and the ability to buy anything that you want. You love the way the women bow to your every whim. The way they follow you around like puppies that are trying to please their masters. You love the way your wife doddles over you. The way your little urchins worship the ground you walk on. The way your own useless parents bend over backwards to make sure that they don’t get left out of your will.

“Tell me Salmon Harris who do you worship this day!”

Salmon thought about it hard and long.. He sat on the ground and drew in the sand much like someone else did. He stood and smiled softly.

“I worship the only One worthy of my worship. Not to mention the only One worthy respect. The only One that earned every drop of love that is in my system. That is the One that I worship.

“That is fortunately not you. It is the One who willingly died for me. It is the ONE that created this world and all that is in it. He is the One that took the hearts of those who once worshiped you and turned them to the true GOD! He is the One that bled on a tree and spilled His blood so that the likes of me might have eternal life. He gave the likes of me a second chance and understood when I screwed it up. He didn’t revel in my pain. He picked me up and gave me a reason to live.”

Salmon turned around and went to leave. The space he had come through was gone. He could no longer go that way. He turned to see the monster smiling. He held his ground waiting for Salmon to break. The monster was not going to let him leave. Salmon frantically searched for a way out but found none.

“The more you try to struggle, the more I wrap around you. I am not called a snake for no reason at all. You can claim what you want. You can pledge allegiance to whoever you will. But a piece of you will always be mine. You can not change that no matter how much you try. Many have tried but not many have succeeded. There was One but why bring Him into it.

“All the rest have fallen on many occasions. Moses was a great leader but he failed. David fell at the feet of another man’s wife. Judas succumbed to power and money. None but One are immune to my power. You are not the one! Claim what you want but you are and always will be mine.”

Salmon looked at the monster, It was right. He would always be his. He knew no matter whom he pledged allegiance to that he would always come back to the monster. He knew it. Salmon smiled softly and walked towards the monster.

“You are right. Part of me will always be yours. There will be, just like all mankind, a part that you control. But that does not mean you have total control. We poor beings that you love to browbeat are human and are faulty. We make mistakes and we do so in spite of the one we pledge allegiance to.

“You try to scare us with your nonsense that you try to snare us with. You rush in and try to fill the void that is left after we fall flat on our faces. We fail and you slide in and try to show us that we are a failure. Listen to me monster. You have dogged me since I got here. You have tried over and over again to turn me to your side and every time it does not work I told you to leave me alone but you have not. You showed me all my faults and yet you do not get the picture.

“I belong to another. You may throw your sticks and stones at me. You can hurl your insults at me all you want. I will falter. I may fall down and fail the One that I pledge allegiance to but I will not go back on the allegiance that I have pledged.

Salmon looked right into the monster’s fiery red eyes.

“I will say this slow and loud enough for you to understand. I pledge allegiance to the One who died for me. I pledge allegiance to the One who created this world. I give Him my unconditional love and my unconditional praise and worship. You have not earned it but He has. He showed his love for me when He let Himself die in my place. You did no such thing nor would you.”

The monster stepped back as if in fear. He smiled then shook his hands as he lifted them over his head. Suddenly he laughed. As he did he dropped his hands.

“You are very funny. You let yourself believe what you want. Go ahead and humor yourself. Many others have said what you said and have come back to me on bended knee, begging for me to take them back and I did.”

Salmon looked at the monster. It had raised it’s hands yet again but this time heads came up with no bodies from the mist. The heads of Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler and Rameses. Each one of them were in extreme agony.

“Each of these poor unfortunate souls did what you did. They claimed to worship and ally themselves to another. But in the end they gave in and now they belong to me.

The monster looked at Salmon. He nodded his head and the four heads nodded at the same time. The monster’s face turned to a snarl and he hissed and spit.

“You go and pledge yourself to that ONE! He will treat you like you don’t matter. He will ignore you!” The monster moved closer as the disembodied heads sank into the mist, “You want to leave this place. You want to find your way out. Then do so without help. I will not open a way. Pray to the ONE for help. Maybe he will hear you, if he is not asleep!”

Salmon watched as the monster slowly faded away. He found himself in a space, the same space he had walked into. The mist remained but all else was gone. He looked for a way out but found now. Salmon looked for what seemed hours. He finally gave up and realized that he was not going to get out. He looked for something to sit on and found a nearby rock. He looked at his situation and wondered. He knew he had done the right thing. Salmon cocked his head. He heard a sound. He could not tell where it was coming from but he heard it none the less.

Salmon looked around looking. He searched again for a way out but still found none. At first he thought it was the monster coming back but was mistaken. The voice sounded so sweet. He tried to get his directions from the voice but was unable to. He continued to search and finally threw his hands up in despair and heard another voice laughing in evil glee.

“I am here. You will come back to Me. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Salmon shook his head and frantically searched for an opening, but found none. The more he searched the more despair came into his mind. He again sat down.

“What am I going to do? Why didn’t I listen to Jaaziel? What will happen to me?”

He wanted to sit and cry. He had been through so much and it was all his doing. He didn’t have to come into the mountain range but he did. He chose the path he was on right now. He had to figure out how to get out. He cocked his head again. He could hear the voice so clearly

“GET READY! THE BRIDEGROOM COME! GET READY! THE BRIDEGROOM COMES!”

Suddenly a space opened up in the wall of stone. It was a straight line through the mountain. Salmon could see the plains below. He got up and walked to it and hesitated. He pushed his hand through to make sure it was not an illusion. He found it wasn’t and ran. He ran straight to the plains and came out the other side. Jaaziel was sitting, waiting and reading his book.

Jaaziel looked up at Salmon. He smiled. Closed his book and took Salmon by the hand. The saw gates in front of them. They walked together thru the gates. In the distance they could see a castle.

Chapter 8

The Cry

The castle was large. A lot larger then anyone could imagine. It was stone gray. Huge blocks of granite had been placed, block by block onto each other, to build this marvel. It soared into the sky higher and higher. It looked like it touched the sky itself. The main gate was so large and tall that a giant could walk through it without having to stoop it’s back. There was a moat around it. It was deep. Deeper then all the oceans put together and yet you could see the bottom without the need of any assistance.

The parapets seemed to scrape heaven itself. Atop of each one stood a gargoyle. Each was different. The first gargoyle was that of a winged lion. The second was that of a centaur. The third was that of a four headed leopard with four wings. The fourth was that of angel. It was unusual for it seemed not to fit. They all seemed so lifelike but made of stone.

In the distance, these statues with sightless eyes could see Salmon and Jaaziel. They didn’t wait with baited breath for their coming. They wouldn’t jump for joy when they got to the castle. They would in fact do nothing at all. At the side of the centaur hung a door. There were doors at the side of all the statues. No one ever used them anymore. The statues stood just as they had for a thousand years. they were always alone and they liked it that way. They were content to sit on their perch and keep the evil spirits away.

 

*****************************************************

 

Salmon looked at the castle from far away. it still looked so imposing. It stood out like a sore thumb.

“How long has that castle been here?” Salmon asked no one in particular.

“I can answer that question.” a voice answered

Salmon looked down to see a fairy. But not just any fairy. It was Gittith. Salmon smiled softly and bent down to touch her shoulder. Gittith avoided his hand and flew up to his shoulder and made herself comfortable. Gittith spoke softly into Salmon’s ear.

“The castle has been for thousands of years. It is said that it was here before the world was created. Others say that it the first creation of the One for He needed a place to reside. I tend to believe the latter.”

Salmon smiled. He knew that Gittith would tell nothing but the truth. He softly patted the fairy on it’s little back.

Suddenly they hears a cry. It was far off but hear it they did. Salmon looked in the distance. Jaaziel also looked up. Gittith flew off before any realized that she was gone. They listened to the sound but they could not quite make out what was being said. They hurried along wanting to understand what was being said. As they neared the castle, they could start to understand what was being said.

“The Bridegroom is….”

That is what they heard. the sound stayed the same until they were close enough to hear all of it.

“The Bridegroom is a coming!” They heard more.

“The wedding feast is dawning! Keep watching the eastern sky, For the chosen day and hour!”

The cry stopped for a second and then started again.

“The time is near, When in clouds of glory He’ll appear. Sing for the end of fear. From the midnights lonely tower.”

Gittith came flying back. Almost like she had a royal commandment that could not wait.

‘HE comes! The Bridegroom comes. HE IS COMING! The one we have waited for all these centuries is coming. Praise be the Father of all! The Bridegroom is coming.”

Salmon tried to get Gittith to calm down. He spoke to her softly and held her till she was calm. He spoke to her.

“Who is the bridegroom ?”

Gittith looked at Salmon like he had called her some ugly name. She rolled her pretty green eyes and shrugged her shoulders. She flew away and then came back. She understood that he could not be held responsible for being ignorant.

“The Bridegroom. The Father’s Son. He is coming. He is coming!”

Salmon shook his head. He did not understand. Who was the bridegroom. Who is the Father’s Son. No one seemed to want to answer him. He let go of Jaaziel’s hand and walked away slowly. He walked to a tree and sat down. He was so confused. He knew who the One was. He is the creator. But he does not know who the Son is. He covered his face and cried. He wanted to know but was ashamed for not knowing. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see a woman in white. She smiled down at him and spoke so softly that only he could hear her.

“Do not cry my child. You will know who the Son is soon. He will show Himself to all those who are true believers in Him. Those who do not believe in Him will see Him as He is. A judge and righteous one.

“I sense in you my child that you are a believer. You know who the Son is but you have lost your way. You have supped with him and drank with Him and enjoyed His company. You will know soon my son. He is calling out to those who are willing to be the announcers of his coming. Those who are willing to take the abuse and scorn of those who do not wish to believe. He is raising up a people that are willing to go the distance. The world will know who they are because they will see Him in them. I must go now for He calls me.

“Take care my child and know that He loves you even if you have doubts. Believe. That’s all you need do. Believe.”

The woman walked away and Salmon noticed that she was dressed all in white. She walked like she had a purpose. She walked like a woman that was on a mission and no one was going to stop her. Salmon waved after her and noticed she was gone. Gittith flew over and smiled at Salmon.

“Do you know who the Bridegroom is yet?”

Salmon nodded. He stood up and placed Gittith on his shoulder. He took Jaaziel by the hand they continues towards the castle. He walked with a purpose now. He wanted to see the Bridegroom. He wanted to bow before Him. He wanted……..

Suddenly the cry went out again but this time it was different. The words were not the same.

“God is raising up a people…clothed in light. Holy people to stand through the watch of the night.

“God is raising up a people…Robed in truth and they know what the Father has told them to do.

“Don’t be left with a lonely heart. Don’t be left in a world of doubt. When you can live in the Fatherland. Love too deep to comprehend.”

The figure looked down and smiled. He pointed down towards Salmon.

“Do you understand that the cry goes out for you! Will you come and join the people…standing on the heights. Holy people brave enough to carry the fight.”

Salmon stopped in his tracks. The crier was pointing at him. He felt so ashamed. He was not worthy to join those people on the heights. He was not worthy. He did not know what to do. He thought he had come so far but in fact he had not. He thought he knew himself but he did not. His fathers words came back ringing in his ears.

`You tried to be the best man you could be but as usual you screwed it up.’

Salmon shook the words away but couldn’t get rid of them. The same words echoed in his head over and over again.

“SCREW UP! SCREW UP!”

Salmon covered his ears and ran. He ran as fast as he could. He had to get away from the screaming. He left Jaaziel and Gittith behind and ran as fast as he could. The faster he ran the louder the words became. He screamed and screamed. He knew that he could not stand with those on the ridge. He had no right. He was a screw up. He would always be a screw up. He found a spot to sit and thought about all his life has been. One screw up after another. He sat back and closed his eyes. Sleep came quickly.

Chapter 9

Let My People Go

Water softly flowed in the creek bed as Salmon woke up. He looked around and found he was not in the same spot as when he drifted off. He was not scared as most people would be. This place seemed so peaceful and warm. He could hear the birds softly singing in the trees. The branches were being softly moved by the gentle breeze. Animals were everywhere and none seemed the slightest bit scared of his presence.

Salmon stood up and the animals looked up at him but they did not move. He wandered over to the creek and knelt down for some water. He cupped his hand and brought the water up to his lips. It tasted like milk and honey. He placed his hand back into the water and little fish came close. Nothing seemed scared in this place. He looked around but saw no one.

Salmon sat back down and listened to all the noises. It felt so nice to hear the sweet sound of nature. He walked back to the place where he was sitting and saw a little boy. This was no ordinary little boy. This boy was in a wheelchair. Salmon smiled at him.

“Hello.” He said.

“Hello.” replied the boy.

“Where did you come from?” Salmon asked.

The little boy looked up at him. He smiled a little grin and then wheeled away. He looked back to see if Salmon was following. He was. He was walking at a distance but following he was. Joshua stopped and turned around. He waved for Salmon to hurry up.

“Come on! I don’t have all day and neither do you!”

Salmon hurried along and caught up with the little boy. He was puzzled. How did this boy get here and what was with that chair. He shook his head and let the boy lead him to where they were going. He wanted to say something but felt it best if he were to stay quiet and wait. Soon they were at the place where they were headed.

The building was large. It was of average height. The roof was a brown thatch roof. The walls were painted white.. The doors were solid oak with big brass hinges and handles that shone bright inb the sunlight.

The boy rang the bell and the door opened. A man stepped outside and held the door and the boy and Salmon walked in. He did not say a word. They walked down the hall to another door. Another man opened the door, again not saying a word. They entered into a large room. There were lots of pictures on the wall of different men. The ones that stood out were the ones on the back wall. Under the pictures were the words:

`WALL OF RECOVERED FAILURES’

Salmon looked at the pictures. He looked at each one intently. He looked at the names just as intently. Peter, Moses and David. Salmon looked at the little boy. He did not understand.

The little boy smiled. He moved to the first picture.

“This is Peter. He was a follower of the One. He was a good man, a family man. In fact he was more then that, he was a failure. To name just a couple:

He was timid and afraid.(1)
He denied his Lord three times. (2)
He was a coward.(3)

The little boy moved to the next picture. It was of a fierce looking man. He held his hands out and the water parted. The little boy mentioned that although he had performed wonders, he too was a failure. This is Moses:

He was Argumentative. (4)
He felt unworthy. (5)
He was given to anger. (6)

The little boy moved to the next picture. It was of a king. He sat on his throne in his majestic robes and royal posture. The little boy said that He was the greatest of all the kings, but that he too was a failure. This is David:

He was an adulterer. (7)
He was a liar. (8)
He was a murderer. (9)

The little boy moved over to Salmon. He smiled up at him and tilted his head. Salmon still didn’t understand. Salmon looked down at him and shook his head.

“I do not understand.”

The little boy sighed and then waved his hand. The silent man that was standing by the door came over. He looked at the boy. He smiled.

“Yes Master Joshua. What might I do for you?”

Joshua looked at the man. He pursed his lips then let out a soft sigh. He wagged his finger at the man. He was not upset but rather surprised that the man would use his name. No one had called him that for many years since he had been in Maschiah, but no matter.

“Eshton, would you please explain to Salmon all I have said.”

Eshton nodded.

“Salmon, I sense that you have no idea what Joshua is talking about.”

“You are right. I do not understand.” Salmon replied.

“Well then let me see if I can help you to understand. First of all you have to understand what a recovered failure is. We are all of us recovered failures. We fail at most everything we do. We fail our families and our friends. We fail our fellow workers and the people we see on the street. We even fail our God.

“Now depending on which God you follow depends on what the failure means to Him. The three men that Master Joshua talked about were all failures in one way or another. I hope that you understand that. If you don’t then we can always come back to that.

“The first one we will look at is Moses. As Master Joshua told you he was argumentative and given to anger. They are both failures that, if we have those failures, we can overcome very easily. All we have to do is do it. But his chief failure was that he felt unworthy. He felt unworthy to lead the children of the Sovereign into the promised land. It was a failure not in the Sovereign’s eyes but to Moses it was. That is something he never got over but with the help of the Sovereign, he was able to. The Sovereign used him anyways. That is what makes him a recovered failure.”

Salmon scratched his head. He understood but didn’t understand. He looked at the picture of Moses. He was such regal looking man and yet he was so ordinary. Moses was just a frail man with faults and yet the ONE used him. He thought he understood and yet was so unsure of himself.

“So let me see if I understand. Moses was a failure. Not in the Master’s eyes but in his own eyes and he thought of himself as a failure.”

Eshton smiled. He looked down at Joshua and then back at Salmon.

“Well not exactly. Yes he was a failure in his own eyes but he was also a failure to a certain extent in the Master’s eyes. He had faith to do the things he knew he could do but he did not have the faith that was needed to see what the Master could do. To a certain extent we all do that. We tend to not let the Master work through us because we lack the faith to believe that He can do it. Does that make sense?”

Salmon nodded and then Eshton interrupted Salmon’s thought. He moved towards the picture of Jeeseson. Salmon looked at the picture

“This is David. He was one of the if not the greatest of the kings. He was fair and just. He did not do anything that would consider him a failure. Or did he.” Eshton smiled, “He was a failure just like Moses. He murdered, lied, stole, committed adultery. Yet the Master used him.”

Salmon looked at the picture. It was such a royal picture. He seemed like such a like-able fellow. It was hard to believe that he was a failure. He had reached the highest point of power known to man at that point. How could he be the things that Eshton said he was.

The king was dressed in a purple robe. It was draped around him and covered his other clothes. He sat on the throne, left leg stretched out and his right leg pulled in under him. He was smiling a boyish grin that seemed right for him. In the window in back of him you could see the sky. It was a bright blue with small fluffy clouds going by. You could almost hear the screaming of his people as they cried out his name. He looked like a much loved king.

“Salmon!”

Salmon looked at Eshton. He had been so lost in thought that he failed to hear him. He had been blathering on about David and Salmon didn’t hear a word of it. Eshton smiled and then started again.

“You might think that this man was not a failure yet he was. He murdered a man just so that he could have his wife. He laid with this man’s wife and made her with child. He not only committed adultery but to cover it up he murdered the woman’s husband and then took her as his own. He failed the Master and yet the Master used him. He took the first child but gave him another.”

Salmon looked at the picture again. How could this man who looked so regal and gentle murder a man? He didn’t understand it and yet he was beginning to understand what Eshton was talking about. Even though David and Moses were flawed, The Master used them. Eshton looked at him.

“Do you understand yet? Traveled all this way and now you are just beginning to understand. I think that the last of the pictures will open your eyes. He is the worst of all. Well not exactly the worst but he is in the top ten of failures.”

Salmon looked at the the picture of Peter. Here was a burly man. Tall with huge hands and feet. He looked like he could take care of himself and handle a whole army by himself. You could see in his eyes that he was a family man. He kept pictures of his kids in his eyes. He loved them with a never ending love. Salmon smiled. He did the same thing as he guessed all fathers did. He kept pictures of his kids in his eyes. He always saw them without knowing it. Part of the joy of being a father was seeing your kids no matter where you were.

“This is as Master Joshua said, Peter. He was one of the Master most devoted followers but even he was a failure. He loved the Master very much and yet was a coward. He denied his Master three times. He lied about knowing his Master. Three people asked him basically the same question and three times he said the same thing. `I DON’T KNOW HIM!’ Now what makes him a recovered failure.

“Even though he denied his Master, and lied about knowing Him. the Master used him. Peter holds the keys to the kingdom. The Master uses him still even though he failed. He cries out the same thing that Moses did all those centuries ago. LET MY PEOPLE GO!”

Eshton looked at Joshua then back at Salmon.

“Do you understand now? Is it clear to you? The choice is yours. You can roll the dice and take your chances.”

Salmon looked at all the pictures and saw people that he did not know and yet they were all the Master’s. They were all failures in one way or another. Just like he was. A failure. He failed as a father and as a husband. He failed as a son. He failed as a Christian. He was a major screw-up and yet God still used him to carry on the shouting. He was to scream those words and join those people on the heights. The cross he carries use to weigh him down. He felt unworthy to carry it but carry it he did.”

Salmon looked at Eshton and Joshua. He smiled the biggest smile he could. He looked like the cat that had just swallowed the canary.

“Yes I understand now. Just because I fail the Master now and then, that should not stop me from serving him the best way I can. I am prone to failure just like all His children. All we have to do is try to do our best and spread His word to all that will listen. I must walk in His way no matter the cost and try my best. Yes I understand now.”

Salmon closed his eyes. He opened them to find himself in the same spot that he was in before.

“It must have been a dream.” he thought to himself.

Salmon got up and started to walk towards the castle. He came upon Gittith and Jaaziel. He smiled at them and then walked with them to the castle. He could still hear the crier crying out. Salmon smiled. He knew what he must do. They reached the corner of the castle and the crier looked down at Salmon. He pointed his finger at Salmon.

“Will you come and join the people on the heights? Are you brave enough to carry on the fight? Are you Salmon Harris? Are you?”

Salmon looked up at the crier and nodded. He raised his hands to the sky and screamed.

“Let My People GO!”

The crier smiled and turned around and continued his cry. Salmon took Jaaziel’s hand and joined the people on the heights. He watched as he took his spot. He saw those who had been with him as he traveled. Sisera, Zion Diadem, Jaaziel, Gittith. He looked down the line to see Moses and David. He saw Peter and other people he did not know. He looked closer to him and saw Joshua and Eshton. He smiled. It was not a dream. It was real.

Salmon looked down the line as far as he could see. They were passing something. He could not make out what it was but it was being passed from person to person. Each person held it for the slightest of moments then passed it on to the next person.

Chapter 10

The Flame Passes On

Gittith held the flame with the help of Salmon. He held it for her for she was too small to hold it herself. Fairies are not that big and they have real problems holding human size articles. She smiled softly and let Salmon have the Flame completely. He took the flame and wanted to pass it on but he could not. Something insisted that he look into the flame. He looked at the flame and suddenly frowned. It was showing him something that he did not want to see. Salmon tried to avert his eyes but it was not to be.

The flame was showing him all of history. It started with creation. Adam and Eve. Eve being tricked by the serpent and Adam giving in as well. Cain killing able because of jealousy. It showed him Noah and all the persecution that he took for being faithful to God. It showed him the slavery of the Israelites and how they were treated under the yolk of the Egyptians. It showed him the travels through the desert under Moses and how they were treated by some of the inhabitants. It showed him the exiles and how some of the chosen ones were treated. It showed him all the persecution that they endured and the fact that God had not forgotten them. Even though they turned their backs on Him, He never turned his back on them.

Salmon tried to avert his eyes but found that he couldn’t. He continued to stare at the scenes that were flooding towards him.

He saw the birth of the Saviour. His life and ministry. He saw the terrible way that he was beaten by the Romans. He witnessed the people that said they loved Him, turn their backs on Him and yell out the words crucify. He saw and heard the three times that Peter denied his Master. He watched as this man was forced to carry His cross up the hill to Golgotha. The way the nails were driven into His hands and feet and yet he didn’t utter a word. He screamed in pain yes, for He was human but He did not cry out for them to stop. He knew that His death would be the final sacrifice that His Father would accept. He saw the punishment that was set upon Judas for betraying his friend.

Salmon saw the burial of this Man and how his followers took care of Him. The wrapped him in fine clothes but did not have time to cover Him with the burial spices. He saw Mary come to the grave to find not only Him gone but an angel sitting on the rock. He saw her run to His other followers to tell them that all He said had come true. He had promised that if they destroyed the temple. He meant His body but no one understood that at the time. They thought He spoke of the Temple. He saw the Ascension of this Man and how he promised that He would come back the way that He left.

Salmon looked away to see all the face looking at him. They each had a smile on their faces. He didn’t understand why. He looked down at Gittith.

“Why are you all smiling at me?”

Gittith looked up at him and smiled an even bigger smile.

“Because you are finding out everything. From the very beginning to the present. You are learning all that God wants you to know. You are finding out who the Bridegroom is. You are finding out that Jesus is the Bridegroom and that He gave His life for His bride. You are finding out that He has gone to build a mansion for His bride. There is more to come Salmon Harris. You have more to see and learn. God has a purpose for you. Look back into the flame.”

Salmon did as he was asked. He looked back into the flame. He saw the followers of Jesus all gathered wailing and wanting to know what to do. He saw the descent of the spirit and how it fell onto each one of them causing them, each one to speak in a different language. He saw how each of the followers died proclaiming that Jesus was who he said He was. Paul was be-headed. Peter was crucified on a upside down cross. The rest were all killed except for the one that Jesus loved the most.

He saw as each of the followers of Jesus passed on the very same flame that he was holding onto another to carry on the work that Jesus started. This is the same flame that had been passed from generation to generation. It was the same flame that was passed when the Romans persecuted the Christians for believing and praying to a God that was against the law. It was the same flame that was passed on down through the centuries and down through the millennium from father to daughter and from mother to son. It was the same flame that was passed on through two world wars and through the internment camps by Christians. It is the same flame that is passed on now. Passed on from believer to believer. From one generation to another generation.

Salmon looked up from the flame. He looked right into the eyes of the Crier. He smiled softly and put his hand on Salmon’s shoulder. He spoke softly yet all that were in the line of believers could hear him.

“This flame has been passed from hand to hand down through time. It has always said the same thing. From the heart of the people comes love for the people. Love that is burning strong. Oh from one to another, this dream of forever …..the flame passes on.

“Because of the men and women that have passed on this flame, this world knows the name of Jesus Christ. They have sacrificed their lives and their families to pass the flame. To proclaim the name of Jesus Christ as Lord of all. They did it because that is what He wishes of us. To proclaim His name in all the corners of the earth.

“Down through the centuries, tyrants have tried to crush this mutiny that is called Christianity. They refuse to see the truth. But for those who have seen the truth, it has set them free. People all over the world know who this Jesus is. Through the pages of an illumined book, the word of this Jesus has spread and grew and this light, no matter hard they try, can not be put out. Generation after generation have come to know this Jesus.

“Salmon Harris, are you ready to pass on this flame to your children and then with their help. pass it on to their children and so on and so forth. Are you ready to take the persecution that comes with this flame. The weird looks when you sit in a public place and give thanks when those around you don’t know the Jesus you know. It will not be an easy thing to do Salmon Harris. No where is it written that following Jesus is easy, but the rewards are great for those who can continue to pass on the flame. Passing it on is one thing but keeping a part of it inside you also part. The choice is yours Salmon Harris.”

Salmon looked at the flame and then back at the Crier. He smiled and took a part of the flame and placed it over his heart. He felt the warmth and he could it feel it go through his body and into his heart. It warmed him. He knelt down and cried out.

“I am yours Lord Jesus. Take me and make me into the creature you want me to be. Help me to pass on this flame to my children and one day to my grandchildren.”

Salmon got back to his feet and looked down the line of believers. They were all clapping their hands and praising God. He smiled and watched as Gittith flew up to his shoulder. She kissed him softly on the cheek.

“Oh the light of the ages illumines the pages. The words of an ancient song. O faith is the fire that burns ever higher and the flame passes on. So lets lift the cross and proclaim the name of Jesus to the world.”

Salmon smiled and then waved to all those he met He started to walk down the mountain. Gittith came after him. She took his hand and guided him off the mountain. She took him to the tree line and would go no further. She smiled and then flew off back into the trees. Salmon walked down and smiled. All this time and he had finally learned who Jesus really was. Salmon looked at his watch. It was three in the afternoon. He had started this adventure five days ago and yet time had passed as normal here. Salmon found his car. He got in, started the engine and made his way home. He had many things to tell his wife and children.

Epilogue

Salmon sits on his porch. He rocks gently in his chair and watches the children play in his front yard. He watches as his son sits with him and watches his children play with each other. Salmon slaps his son on the back. He cries out to the only girl.

“Gittith, come and give your old grandpa a hand up. I am not as young as I use to be.”

Gittith runs up and helps Salmon up. He walks to the door and smiles. She watches and then sits on her father’s lap. She smiles up at him.

“Papa. may I ask you a question?”

“Yes.”

“Why is my name such a funny one? It sounds like something you would give a fairy.”

“Yes it does doesn’t it.” he replied.

Joshua sat with his daughter and watched the bids fly by. They danced in the sky and then stopped and sat in the trees. They chirped and sang their song, almost as if they were stopping to praise the Holy One. Gittith watched them then heard a crash in the house. Joshua put her down in the chair then rushed in. He found Salmon on the floor.

“Papa.” he started. “Dad, wake up.”

Salmon didn’t move. Joshua stood up and grabbed the phone and dialed 911. He quickly walked out and closed the door to the house after sending the children up to their rooms. He waited for the ambulance to get there but knew that his father would not be coming back. He sat on the floor beside him and tried not to cry but the tears came anyways. Standing up he gripped the table for support and then found the note.

`Joshua, keep the flame passing on. Keep telling my little ones about the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t ever stop. Praise Him everyday and keep the flame in your heart.’

************************************

On the heights, the people standing hand in hand has grown. Day after day their number grows. Salmon is found there right beside Gittith. He is holding her hand and watching as the flame passes on. More and more people coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ. He smiles softly and then waits for his children to join the line. He looks down and sees his wife. She smiles and then passes the flame on.

 

The End

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42 Years!

1976, the year I made the most important decision in my life. No it wasn’t done to please anyone. I wasn’t forced into it. I didn’t go unwillingly. In fact truth be told, I did it for reasons at the time I didn’t understand.

1976, I was 16 years old. I was lost and confused. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I was too homely for a girl friend. I didn’t have a lot of friends at the time. I had a few but not as many as you would think. I was an awkward teenager. I was tall and gangling. I was the guy that girls avoided at the prom. “Eww no dancing with him! He’s ugly”

1976, I was invited to church by none other than my sister Nancy. Yes it’s her fault! I started to go and felt something like I had never felt before. Then I met the man that would become my best friend. He would be my best man at my first wedding. He would be the brother that I never had and the friend that was not afraid to smack me upside the head. He was the one that taught me how to play the guitar.

1976, the year that would send me on a collision course with the family that would become my second family.  I was proud to call them Mom and dad. He always seemed to accept it grudgingly but he would smile when I called him Dad.

1976, I came to know the greatest love that had ever lived. I found the one person who would love me for me, scars, warts and all. He willingly died for me. He did not cause he had to but because he wanted to..but..yes there is a but!

1976, I went though all the confirmation classes. I went through it all.  I even got baptized into the United Church of Canada but ya know something. I spoke the words but meant none of it. I said the words but knew I would never go through with them. Some say that it was wrong and it may have been that way but I think that If I had not done it then I would not have had my meeting with the Lord!

1976, So I went through the motions. I played the good Christian like a lot of people do from time to time. I played the roll well but I didn’t play it well enough. Jesus saw straight through me.

1976, Christmas Eve. The day that I let my defenses down. I had a conversation with the Lord. A very pointed conversation. I was convicted and convinced that I was not living the life He wanted me to live! Let me tell you about it.

I was 16 and it was Christmas eve. My mom and step dad had gone down to Niagara Falls and had brought me back this crucifix. So I hung it on my wall, facing my bed and there it hung. I didn’t think another thought about it. So Christmas Eve comes and I am sleeping. I wake up to see this bright light in my bedroom. Some dumb ass was shining his headlights into my room. I looked around and saw a light coming from behind the cross. I thought that was nice of my step dad to put a light behind it. So I went back to sleep.

The light persisted. I sat looking at it in my bed and then my eyes widened as I saw the head move. The head looked down at me and said “Do You Love Me?” I said “Yes Lord?” and the response I got was “Then why do you do the things that you do?”

“I don’t know.” was my only reply.

The response was something I was not expecting. “I love you.”

“I love you too.” was my response. I was shocked. I was a sinner. Even after taking Jesus as my own, I was still the same person I was before. I was still swearing and doing all the bad things that I did before.

I went back to sleep but the light persisted still. I looked at the Cross and the same words came to me. “Do you love Me?”.

“Yes.” I said.

“Then why do you do the things that you do?”

“I don’t know.” was my response.

I went back to sleep. The light persisted. I was getting annoyed. I opened my eyes and looked at the Cross.

“What do you want from me?”

“YOU!” was the response that I got.

I sat there. He wanted me. A broken individual that had no intention of doing the things that I had promised all those months ago. He didn’t want my money or anything else I had. All he wanted was me. I was dumbfounded. No one wanted me. I was a useless human being. I was a liar yet Jesus wanted me. I crumbled.

Christmas eve 1976, I took Jesus as my own and I even though I have fallen off the path and gone different ways into the wilderness, Jesus has always wooed me back to his righteousness.

It’s been 42 years that I have walked with God! I am not the perfect Christian. There is no such creature. Jesus was the only perfect person that walked this earth. He was so perfect that He let Himself be crucified for my and your mistakes!

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am “Not Perfect…Just Forgiven!”. I make mistakes everyday. I take His name in vain and He reminds me that I am not to do that. He doesn’t yell rather gently reminds us of who He is!

If you don’t know the Jesus that I know, then maybe it is time that you did. He is free for the taking. He won’t expect you to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with. Jesus loves you. Just like He loves me. Not cause He has to but because He wants to. We are not worthy of His love or His sacrifice.

None of us are worthy but through the shedding of His blood. Take Him as your own and you will not be disappointed!

 

“Keep Looking UP! His Coming Is Nigh!”

God Loves YOU!!!!

God. The Great I Am. Jehovah. The God Of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and Jesus Christ. He created this world and the entire universe that we live in.

Genesis 1:1-5

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”

6 days it took Him to create this universe and the ball of dust that we call home. 6 days to create all the things on this ball of dust. 6 days to prepare it for His greatest creation. Man. He created us perfect. We were set in a garden with everything that we needed. We were able to commune with God at any given time. He would walk the garden and take care of us and talk with us. All we had to do was obey Him in one thing.

Genesis 2:15-17

15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

That was it. No big deal right. No problem but alas there was a problem. The devil had come into the garden and tickled Eve’s ear. He whispered sweet nothings in her ear and she listened. She listened and the devil smiled. Now understand this, the devil is not a god. He is not a demi-god. He is a created being just like us. God created him!

(Ezekiel 28:11-19)

11 Again the word of the Lord came to me saying, 12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God,

“You had the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 “You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The ruby, the topaz and the diamond;
The beryl, the onyx and the jasper;
The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald;
And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets,
Was in you.
On the day that you were created
They were prepared.
14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers,
And I placed you there.
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 “You were blameless in your ways
From the day you were created
Until unrighteousness was found in you.
16 “By the abundance of your trade
You were internally filled with violence,
And you sinned;
Therefore I have cast you as profane
From the mountain of God.
And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub,
From the midst of the stones of fire.
17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I put you before kings,
That they may see you.
18 “By the multitude of your iniquities,
In the unrighteousness of your trade
You profaned your sanctuaries.
Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you;
It has consumed you,
And I have turned you to ashes on the earth
In the eyes of all who see you.
19 “All who know you among the peoples
Are appalled at you;
You have become terrified
And you will cease to be forever.”’”

 

You think that for the garden and being looked after, they would be thankful and obey God. They would be content to live in perfection but alas no. Eve listened to the snake and of course Adam listened to Eve. Eve bit of the apple and found that it was good and so she convinced Adam to do the same.

The Snake knew what he was doing and he did it with perfection. He had convinced them to eat of the apple. He was thankful. He had corrupted the only two on the planet. He had done his job well. He had gained two new followers or at least he thought he did.

So God is walking through the garden and calls out of Adam and he does not answer. He calls again and still no answer. Finally Adam answers.

Genesis 3 is the story of the fall of Man. It is too long to put in here so I will leave it to you to look it up and read it.

Man learned about good and evil. He also learned that he was well..stupid! He listened to the Evil one. He let himself be fooled. So where does that leave him. Ashamed and scared. He never noticed that he was naked before. But now he does. He never realized that he could loose everything. Now he does and he does loose everything.

God came walking through the garden to commune with Adam but they hid in fear. God called out to him and Adam replied.

“I heard the sound of You in the garden and I was afraid.”

“Why were you afraid?”

“Because I am naked and did not want you to see me that way.”

“Who said you were naked? Did you eat of the tree I told you not to eat from?”

And so begins the idea of “passing the buck“.

Adam replied

“The woman that you gave me gave me the apple and convinced me to eat of it.”

God replied

“What have you done? Did you do this awful thing?”

Eve replied

“The serpent deceived me and I ate of the apple!”

So God curses the serpent to move along the ground by way of his belly.

That is the simple retelling of the fall of man. It can also be boiled down to this one line. “The fall of man is because of a chick that didn’t know a line when she heard one and a dude that didn’t know how to keep his mouth shut!”

All kidding aside. God created man for what purpose.  “God put man on the earth to reflect His image and to rule over the creation (Gen. 1:26, 28).”  Why create a universe if there is no one to do anything with it. It would shrivel up and die. So God created man to rule over the land, the see and all the animals.

God created the world for His greatest creation. US. We were given the keys to the kingdom and instead of treasuring them, we trampled them into the ground like rocks. We sinned a great sin and God could have destroyed us right then and there, but He didn’t. He did however “curse us”. We had it made and we tossed it away.

Genesis 3:16

16 To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
    with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule over you.”

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
    through painful toil you will eat food from it
    all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
    and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

 

Now understand this, God is God. He could have destroyed them but he didn’t Why, because like any Father, He is patient with his children. So he did the following.

Genesis 21-24

21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

God is a God of love. Some say that He is a god of anger. The fall of man story says otherwise. If God was a god of anger, He would have destroyed Adam and Eve and the devil and started all over again. But he didn’t. Adam started fresh only now instead of having everything handed to him on a silver platter, he had to work for it.

God loves us. He loves us for we are His creation. People say that “God Hates the Sinner” that is so not true. God hates the SIN but loves the SINNER! and if you would like Proof…read Genesis 3!

“Keep Looking UP! For His Coming Is Nigh!”

 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas, a time for presents, family, indulgence and parties. When we over eat, over drink and over everything. We tend to forget what this day means. Is it all about gifts and parties and over indulgence or is it about the baby born in a manger all those years ago.

To some it is just about family. The holidays are a time to get together and maybe it is the only time that they see family at all. It’s a time to get all gussied up and go to church for the first and probably only time. To some it is a time to avoid every one and be a humbug.

To me it is family, feasting and the child born in a manger. For aside from the child, there would be no Christmas. Sure there would be the Winter Solstice that celebrates the new sun but to me and as important as that is, it doesn’t deserve a celebration.

I think Linus from the Peanuts gang said it best.

Peanuts Christmas

Isaiah  prophesied about Jesus and was very direct.

isaiah 96

Micah predicted the birthplace of the Messiah.

Micah52

I could go on and on but alas, I don’t have all day. So let me say this.

Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Fairest of Ten Thousand! Was born to die. He was born so that man (male and female) could be saved from the evils of this world. That is what this day is all about. The birth of a child who would be the final and greatest sacrifice that man has ever made. Even if you don’t worship him, acknowledge who He is. Because you see, even Santa knows the reason for the season.

Santa Reason

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. Have a wonderful holidays and enjoy your family and friends. Treasure them for they will not be around forever. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

“Keep Looking Up! For His coming is Nigh!”

Who Am I?

Who am I that the King of Kings would come down to save me from my sins.

Who Am I?

I am a sinner.

I am the foulest of men.

I am covered in sin.

I am bathed in it.

I am flawed!

I am a fading flower.

A speck of sand that gets blown around by the wind.

A dandelion silk seed that weaves and bobs to the current of the wind.

I am an animal that is ruled by the brain and not by the heart.

I put my trust in the tangible not the unseen.

I am but a child who eagerly seeks his Father’s warm touch.

A seed that is waiting to be bathed in my Lord’s love so I may become what He wants me to be.

I am an old man who has walked with his Lord for 40 years and still, even though I make mistakes, seek Him.

I am flawed and dented covered in scars yet my Lord loves me still.

I am loved not because my Lord has to but because He wants to.

Does that sound familiar. Did you think of yourself when you read that. If you did then remember this.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Isaiah 53

The Suffering Servant

53 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To all on Him.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

Jesus died for you. He doesn’t care about your flaws or your scars. He cares about you. You are special to Him. He loves you like no other. His love is perfect.

If in reading this blog post, you find that you want to come to Jesus then it is the easiest thing you can do. Talk to Him, take Him as your own and declare Him as your Lord and Saviour.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As Christians, we are here to show you the way but to do so in a loving way. Not to shove Jesus down your throat but rather present Him in such a way to show you who He is and that He is who He said He was.

If you come away with nothing else other than “Jesus loves you” then the seed has been planted and we will pray for you!

 

“Keep Looking UP!”

Where the Thunder Roars

This story is inspired by the song “Where The Thunder Roars” recorded by the Christian Band White Heart. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Where nuclear snow falls the thunder is close to follow.  For almost a decade nuclear winter had had a strangle hold on the world. Anything left alive now cried out for death to come.

Ten years ago or there abouts, four nuclear bombs were dropped on North America. Two on Washington D.C., one on Ottawa, Canada and one on Mexico City, Mexico. All over the world nuclear bombs were being dropped in other capitol cities. Small countries nearby were left alone. The blasts from neighboring countries were enough to destroy the small countries. Millions upon millions of people died. Innocent children and adults died before they even knew what happened.

The war started three years to the day that the United States invaded Iraq. A year into the war, civil war broke out. The U.S. military were driven out but the U.S. would not leave. They insisted on staying.  The president at the time was bent on a democratic Iraq no matter what the costs were. Lives were lost. Bombs were dropped. The U.S. military were all but wiped out. The President was not happy.

More military were called. The draft was re-initiated. Thousands upon thousands of boys sixteen or older were drafted. These same boys would sent home in body bags. More boys were called up and even girls were drafted. The more that were sent, the more that were sent back in body bags. The Americans were loosing more then just people. They were also loosing friendly countries. Soon out of nowhere came a country no one had thought about.

 This country sat between Iraq and Israel. They were an Islamic country but were friendly with Iraq and Israel which was unusual. The country was called Palmyra. During the civil war in Syria had caused a split. What was once one country was now two? No one took notice of the civil war in Syria because of the situation in Iraq.

 It didn’t take long for Palmyra to show its true intent. Soon bombs were dropping everywhere. Palmyra started dropping bombs for no apparent reason. It didn’t take long for the world to become something that it should never have been.

 Now ten years have passed and countries no longer mattered. What was once a planet of several billion now was a planet of several thousand. Millions up millions died from the bombs. Millions upon millions died because of the fallout. Millions upon millions more died from radiation poisoning. Even more died from all the unrest and laying blame and countries fighting and destroying each other. When the final tally was added up, billions of people had died.

 Race didn’t matter. Religion didn’t matter. Adult or child didn’t matter. Nuclear destruction is an indiscriminate killer. Nothing mattered. Even the very country that set the bombs off was not immune.

 Now the dust fell. The thunder roared and snow drifted to the ground. What once was a beautiful oasis of wonder, Las Vegas was now just rubble. The lights that once shone brighter then the stars were now dead. There was nothing but silence now. No one roamed the streets, for if they did the disfigured animals would get them or the things that use to be human would. But one would.

 Day One

 His name was William Smith but he liked being called Smitty. Smitty stood six feet tall. His black hair trailed down his back in a long ponytail. His steel gray eyes always looked at the person he talked to. It was almost as if he could see right into their souls. He always carried his bible around. Most people thought he was nuts but he didn’t pay them no mind. He knew they didn’t know any better. Maybe he was. Smitty would sit in his bunker and talk to the Lord. He almost always did it alone. Sometimes he would have a rat or the occasional insect as company.

 All the bomb shelters weren’t exactly bomb shelters. They were actually the subway system. Not the upper ones but rather the lower ones. Yes Vegas had a subway system. It wasn’t very big or had it been used but it was there. Since the bomb the tunnels had increased. People dug more and more trying to find privacy when privacy was a luxury. Rooms had been carved out of rock and families huddled together. They huddled to keep warm and to stay alive. It might not be the best life but it was life.

Smitty sat in his own little area. He did the same thing he did every day. He read his bible. He had read his bible so many times that you could tell just by looking at it that his bible was well loved. The elastic bands that held it together was a dead give away. Smitty closed his bible and then began to pray. 

“Father in heaven, I come to you. Not only as your child but also as one who lives in this hell we have created.

“Lord Jesus, I bow before you and worship you. I glorify your name. You are the Master of all. Be with me this night as I sleep. Be with me as I wake and guide my steps. In Your precious name I ask this. Amen.”

Smitty opened his eyes and spied a little girl. She was standing off to one side trying not to be seen. He had seen her the last few days. She crept a little closer every day. He smiled as she walked away. He closed his eyes and was asleep in no time.

Morning came the same way it always did, wet and dreary. Smitty opened his eyes and looked right into the eyes of the little girl. He smiled up at her and she smiled at him.

 “Hello little one, what is your name?”

 “My name is Shelagh, what is yours?”

 “My name is William Smith but you can call me Smitty. Where is your mommy?”

 “She is not feeling well, could you come look?”

  Smitty nodded his head and took Shelagh’s hand. They walked towards the end of the subway track. Finding the hole that Shelagh and her mother lived in, Smitty stepped right in. He could tell right away that her mommy was dead. He turned towards Shelagh.

 “I’m sorry sweetheart, but your mommy is dead. She has gone to be with God.”

 Shelagh began to cry, her hands covering her face. She cried harder. Smitty took her into his arms and she melted into them.

 “Come with me. You can stay with me. Is that okay?”

 Shelagh nodded her head. She clung to Smitty as they walked back to his home. When they got there, Smitty let Shelagh lay down. She fell to sleep almost immediately. Smitty left her to sleep as he went on packing. He finished up and then sat down to watch her sleep. Shelagh stirred and moaned. She was dreaming. Smitty sat down beside her and stroked her head. She seemed to calm down. He wondered what she was dreaming about.

 When Shelagh woke up she found herself curled up into the crook of Smitty’s’ arm. He was snoring softly. She got up and found a place to go to the bathroom. She came back and picked up his bible. She didn’t know what it was but she at it anyways.

Shelagh read words that she had never heard. She read about how God loved us and that He sent His only Son to die for us. She didn’t understand, but she would ask Smitty about it. She looked up to see Smitty looking at her. She quickly put down the bible. She wasn’t sure if she had done something wrong or not. Smitty held up his hands.

 “No, please look. I have another that you can have. This one is mine but you may look at it.”

Smitty got up and found the other bible. He passed it her and took his own. She took the other one and opened it. She looked up at Smitty.

“Who is God?”

“God is the creator of all. He was before there was anything else. He always has been and always will be.” Smitty replied. 

“Who is Jesus?” Shelagh asked.

Smitty smiled at her. He sat down beside her. 

“Who is Jesus? That is not an easy question to answer but I will try my best.

 “Jesus is the Son of God. He came to be the sacrifice for our sins. He did it because He wanted to not because He had to. If He had done it because it was expected of Him then His death would have meant nothing. But because He willingly died, it means we have right to be called the children of God. I know for a little girl, it doesn’t make any sense but in time it will.”

Shelagh nodded and the put down her bible. She looked into the corner of the room. She pointed to it. Smitty looked where she pointed.

“I’m going on a trip. I am going above ground. It has been ten years since the bombs dropped. The dust is still falling but I want to find out if the air is breathable.” 

“How do you know the dust is still falling?” Shelagh asked. 

“I was up high enough last week to see it. I didn’t go way up, just far enough to see the dust.” 

“Can I come?” Shelagh asked.

“I don’t know what dangers are out there. There could be animals and other things. Mutations from the nuclear fall out.”

“I’ll stay close and do what you say. I promise.”

Smitty nodded his head. Shelagh smiled.

“We will leave in two days. I am going to have to find more supplies. A warm coat for you and some boots too. Tomorrow we can go up and the things you need. The clothes might be a little big as will the boots but at least you will be warm. So let’s try to get some sleep.”

Smitty let her have the bed and he curled up in a sleeping bag. Both were off to sleep in no time.

 Day Two

The morning came softly. There was no big bang or major revelation. No bands played and no one saw the sun rise. It just came. Shelagh was already awake. She sat reading the bible that Smitty gave her. She didn’t understand it but she knew that Smitty would explain it best he could. She didn’t know why she trusted Smitty but she did. Everyone did. He was the only one they ever trusted. Maybe it was because he was so gentle even though he was so big. He never said an unkind word or made fun of anyone.

 Smitty stirred but didn’t wake up. Shelagh looked at him. She had always seen him around but never got up the nerve to say boo to him. Her mother spoke to him often. She never heard him talk about Jesus. He would help with anything that needed to be done. He never tried to get payment for any of the work he did. He seemed so odd. Any of the other men around always wanted payment. Normally it would mean her mom having to do something that was so degrading. Smitty wasn’t like that.  Her mom would offer but Smitty would always say no. He would go on his way then be available to help again. Shelagh saw Smitty stir again. This time he opened his eyes slightly. He smiled when he saw her. Sitting up he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

 “Good morning. I see you are ready to go. Let me get ready and then we can go.”

 “I’m hungry.” Shelagh said.

 “Yes I know. We will have to see what the Lord can give us. He will supply.”

 Smitty got up and changed his clothes then came back out. He looked in the wall and found a can of peaches. He opened it and poured some into a throwaway bowl. Finding a plastic spoon, he passed the bowl to Shelagh. They ate quietly then tossed away the garbage. He took her hand and started on their way.

 Shelagh stayed close to Smitty. It was dark and the way was hard to see. Smitty had his flashlight but it needed new batteries. It did little to light the way but it made Shelagh feel better. Suddenly someone jumped out of the shadows.

 “Give me the girl. It’s been a long time for me. I haven’t had a girl in a very long time.”

 Smitty glared at him, “No, you can’t have her, she is mine. Now be gone.”

 The man brandished a knife. He showed it to Smitty who did nothing. The man lunged at Smitty and he pushed him away. The man swung wildly and caught a glancing blow on Smitty’s’ arm. Smitty could feel the blood start to pour.

 Smitty felt a rage that he had not felt in many years. The man lunged at him again and Smitty caught him square in the face. Shelagh had moved back but not so far that she could not see that was going on. The man went down but was up almost immediately. He lunged again but Smitty grabbed him by the throat. Smitty pushed him up against the rock wall. Smitty was smiling. The man was struggling.

“The girl belongs to me! No one else can have her. I will do with her what I will.”

 “I want the girl. She looks so innocent, so tasty. I want her!”

 The man tried to fight but Smitty pressed him harder into the rock wall. The man brought the knife up and tried to bring the knife down into Smitty’s’ chest. Smitty’s’ arm blocked him. Smitty felt the knife tear into his shoulder. He didn’t scream in pain. All he did was pull the knife from the wound. He forced it down and plunged it into the man’s stomach.

 Smitty stepped back as his attacker sank to the ground. People had gathered around. Smitty looked at them. They all looked down. One woman walked up and brushed his face with her hand.

 “Thank you mister, that piece of trash is the same man that had violated our children. You did right by killing him and protecting your daughter. “

 Smitty nodded and tried to speak. She put her hand on his mouth and then spit on the dead man. She smiled and then with the rest of them, she walked away. Smitty turned to see Shelagh standing in the shadows. She walked over to him.

“Why did you have to kill him?”

 Smitty looked at her. “Well if I didn’t then you would be his slave. Now is that what you wanted. He would have used you for sex and who knows what else and when he was done with you; he would have thrown you away like you were yesterday’s garbage. Is that what you wanted?”

 “No!” Shelagh cried.

“Then it is good that I killed him. Child this is not the world of old. This is a new world. The old world that you have heard about was relatively safe. This world is not. This world may look like the old world but it is a lot more dangerous.”

Shelagh knew he was right. Even though she did not know the old world, she had heard stories, about how people, for the most part, could walk out in public and be safe. How people lived in houses not holes in the ground. She had never seen a flower except in old magazines. She shook her head.

 “Can we go now?”

 “Yes.” Smitty said as he smiled at her.

 They made their way up to the next level. There were very few people around. Most people stayed underground. It was too bright up here. Plus people were afraid of the fallout and nuclear radiation. Smitty knew different. Shelagh looked up at the light. It was bright, so bright she had to shield her eyes. Smitty smiled and passed her a pair of sunglasses. She looked at them and put them on. She giggled. She was still young enough that she didn’t mind wearing piggies on her face.

 They arrived at the first store. Smitty took her hand. She gasped when she saw the first skeleton. There was still a little bit of hair left on the head. It wore dirty white pearls around its neck. Shelagh stared at it with morbid fascination.

 Smitty pulled her arm, “Come let’s go. We need to find clothes for you. We have lots of time. They don’t come out till dark.”

 “They?” Shelagh asked.

 “Yes, they. We will discuss it tonight.” Smitty replied.

 They made their way to the children’s section. There were lots of clothes here. Shelagh had lots to choose from. They quickly chose the clothes for her. They moved over to the shoes. Finding lots of boots and shoes, they chose two of each for her. Now it was Smitty’s turn. Smitty didn’t need much. Just some heavy wool socks. He found some but they were women’s but he didn’t care. They would keep his feet warm and dry and in the end that is all he cared about. Next he went looking for supplies. They would need some where they were going.

 Shelagh lallygagged as they went. She looked at all the pretty rings. Smitty found her a nice purple one. She placed it on her finger and then hurried along to catch up with Smitty. Shelagh found him looking in the canned goods. He was choosing cans at random. There wasn’t a lot there, but he did find some good things. He looked for fruit and found lots of canned peaches. Smitty hated peaches but took what the good Lord gave.

 Shelagh came to him with an unopened can of ground coffee. It had been a long time since he had a cop of coffee. Black no sugar was the way he liked it. He saw that she had three and put them in his bag. He looked for canned juice for Shelagh but all he could find was pineapple juice. It would have to do. He smiled then picked up the bag.

 “Time for us to get going, it will be dark soon and we do not want to be out when that happens.”

 He started walking towards the door then looked back. Shelagh had not moved. She was holding something shiny in her hand. He walked back and looked at it. It was a sterling silver cross. She smiled at him.

 “You gave me the ring so I thought I should give you something. I want you to have this.”

 Smitty nodded and smiled. He took her offering and slipped it around his neck.

 He modeled it for her.  “How does it look?”

 “Wonderful!” Shelagh replied.

 “We must go now. Come along.” Smitty said.

 They arrived back to Smitty’s with no incidents. Smitty took the food and divided it up into days. It was going to take five days  to get to where they were going. He looked in on Shelagh to find her sound asleep. He covered her up and went back to work. After he had packed all the backpacks and sled, he covered them up and the climbed under the covers.                                                      

Day Three

Smitty stirred first. His internal alarm clock went off. He quickly got dressed and then took his bible and began to read.

 “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 Smitty put down his bible and then looked right into Shelagh`s eyes. She smiled at him and he smiled at her.

 “Good morning, are we ready to go?” Smitty asked.

 Shelagh nodded her head, “Yep, I am ready. Not sure where we are going but I am ready.”

 “Good, cause I want to be gone before sun up. When we get to the store level, we will wait till the sun come up. It isn’t very bright but it will be bright enough to get along. We will only travel by day. It is too dangerous to travel at night. Do you understand?”

 Shelagh nodded her head, “Yes, I understand. I will do as you say.”

 Everything was gathered together and they headed out. Smitty carried the bulk of the supplies. Shelagh carried what she could. Anything else was pulled on a small sled. They got to the store level without incident. Stopping to rest, they each had a drink of juice. They didn’t talk.

Smitty picked up his backpack and motioned for Shelagh to do the same. It was getting light out. The monsters that roamed the night world would be heading into their lairs. Smitty smiled and then led Shelagh up the stairs then stopped.

 At the top of the stairs stood a monster, it looked like a man but it also looked like something from a nightmare. It stood at lease six feet tall with long dangly arms arms. At each end of the arms were claws. They no long looked like hands. The skin was charred and oozing with puss. What little hair on its head was wild and short?  Its eyes burned like fire. It glared at Smitty.

Smitty pushed Shelagh down the stairs. . The monster advanced. Smitty stood his ground and pulled out his guns. He didn’t take careful aim, he just started to fire. Most of the bullets missed but some of them hit their target. The monster went down to one knee and Smitty took careful aim. He fired sending the bullet into the monster’s head. It fell to the ground and thrashed around for a few seconds then stopped.  Smitty looked down at Shelagh.

 “Stay there. Do not come near.”

 Smitty moved up towards the monster. It moved and Smitty shot it again. He motioned for Shelagh to come up. She started to come up and then stopped. The monster moved. She pointed at it and Smitty put another round into the body. He kicked at it to show Shelagh that it was dead. She passed by then sat down and cried.

 “Sorry for crying. I was scared.”

 “No need to be sorry. Truth be told, I was scared too but it is gone now.”

 “Will there be more?” she asked.

 “I suppose but we will worry about when the time comes.”  He pointed at the monster, “That is why we travel during the day. They only come out at night. There are things that are out during the day but for the most part they will not even look at you. Ignore them and they will ignore you. Now come. I have to get some more ammo. I saw a gun shop downstairs not far from here. Let’s go.”

 They quickly ran down the stairs to the gun shop. Smitty smashed the glass and then quickly found what he was looking for. He even found some rounds for his Luger. He picked up another one and all the ammo he could carry. He looked around and found another backpack and put all the extra ammo into it. He slung it over his shoulder. He took Shelagh’s hand and then they rushed into the daylight. Shelagh put her sunglasses on and Smitty followed suit. He looked around. Nuclear winter was such a bummer.

 Shelagh looked at all the buildings. Ten years of ash and neglect really showed. She didn’t know what to think. She looked up at the horizon. She could see the red sky and see the lightning. It was faint but she could just make out the sound of the thunder. She looked at Smitty and pointed to the mountain.

 “Is that where we are going?”

 Smitty looked at the mountain then back at Shelagh. He smiled at her and then nodded his head.  She looked at him.

 “Why?”

 “Because I believe that is where I can find God. I believe that is where I can finally be with my Lord and Master Jesus Christ.”

 Shelagh nodded her head. She let the matter drop and said nothing more about it. She just smiled.

 “Where to now?”

 Smitty pointed to his right. He knew where to go for now. After a bit he would be going on gut instinct.  He started walking that way with Shelagh in tow. They walked through the streets. The buildings were falling apart. The corpses of automobiles were scattered like cord wood. Shelagh peeked in one and saw a skeleton. She jumped back. Smitty joined her. He pointed to the silver cross around his neck.

“No worries that poor soul is not going to hurt you. He died during the fallout. Probably a year or so into it I suspect. He might have been a Christian or he might not have been. A lot of people wore crosses then but didn’t believe in God.” Smitty explained.

 “Why would anyone wear something that means something you don’t believe in?”

 “Because that was the way it was. It became a fashion statement to wear a cross. It became not a show of faith but rather a show of vanity. It was a spit into the eyes of God. That is what happens when you take Jesus out of the equation. Put Him up on a shelf where He can’t bother anyone and then go about your daily life as if He isn’t there then when the need arises; claim Him as your Savior and Lord. Come let’s get going. I have something I want to show you.”

Smitty took her hand and led her down the street. They passed by old destroyed stores. She saw the remains of dresses and other items. She saw jewelry all over the ground. She bent down to look at it then walked away. She caught up with Smitty and took his hand. After an hour of walking through dust and ash, they got to where they were going. It was the ruins of an old church. Shelagh could still see the cross standing tall against the ash and duct. She stared at it. It seemed to shine in the dismal light like a beacon, almost as if to say that God had not abandoned the world. Smitty found the remains of a door and opened it. Shelagh walked in before him.

 The pews that still stood were beautiful. The intricate scroll works on the sides were signs of a master’s hand. They were made of the finest oak and a deep rich brown. Some even had the original plaques on them from when people paid for the pew. One read The Miller Family, Nineteen Eighty Five. She looked at the others. They also had names and dates. Smitty pulled her hand gently.

 “Come with me into the bottom level. That is where we will stay for the night. There is no one there so we can leave our stuff and then go back outside and look around.”

 They went downstairs navigating the rubble carefully. Smitty reached the bottom first and moved a rock out of the way. They were still a few supplies there from the last time he had been here.

“You have been here before?” Shelagh asked.

“Yes, I was here about a year ago. I spent two days here trying to find God. As you can see, I found Him.”

 “So this place is safe from the monsters?”

 “Yes, we are fine. They consider this place taboo so they won’t come in. Our supplies will be safe. Let me stow this stuff and we can go.”

Smitty quickly got the guns and some ammo. He rolled the rock back into place and then after sliding the guns into his belt and the ammo into his coat pocket, he motioned for Shelagh to follow him as he made his way back up through the rubble. They returned outside and saw the cross again. Smitty scanned to his left, right and in front of him. He pointed to his right and they headed off that way.

 They trod through the dust and the nuclear snow. As before the remains of rusted out cars were everywhere. Store fronts were destroyed. Looting had happened but those who had done the looting were dead before they had the chance to enjoy their booty.

 As they turned the corner they could hear screaming as if someone was being attacked. They followed the sound to see monsters attacking a woman. Smitty pulled his guns and pushed Shelagh into the doorway. The girl was pretty badly beaten. Smitty walked over carefully all the while keeping his eyes on the one that had his back to him. Holding the gun firmly in his hand, Smitty brought it down butt first and knocked the thing down. Smitty watched for any notice from the other two.

 The girl slid down the wall of the building that supported her. She had blood pooling on the ground. Smitty raised his gun and fired. The shot rang out and hit one of the monsters in the head. He quickly fired again and hit the other in the chest. Smitty ran over and put two more rounds into each creature.  She watched him through bloodied eyes and cringed. Smitty walked back over.

 “It is okay. Do not be afraid. I will not hurt you.” He said as he held out his hand.

 The girl took his hand and got up on her wobbly legs. She started to fall and Smitty grabbed her. He helped her over to a place to sit. She sat down and looked at the bodies.

 “What is your name child?” Smitty asked.

 “Moriah is my name. What is yours?”

 “You can call me Smitty. What are you doing out? It is not safe.”

 “I was coming out to see what the world was like. It has been so long since I had seen it. It is not as I remember it.”

 Smitty looked up to see Shelagh coming closer. He motioned for her to come She looked over at the girl. She was bleeding. Shelagh ripped a swath of material from her shirt and dabbed some of the blood off the girls’ face.

 “There that is better….”

 Shelagh saw the instant fear in the girl’s eyes. She turned around to see the monster rising from the ground. She looked for Smitty but he had gone off to get something. The creature moved closer. Shelagh looked for something to protect herself with. She found what looked like a large stick. She struck the monster with all her might but the stick shattered. Moriah started throwing rocks but it did not stop it.

 “Smitty, help!” Shelagh cried out.

 Smitty came running. He had his guns out. He fired above the monster. It turned towards Smitty and spit venom. Smitty dropped behind an old car and looked at the monster through the broken window. He aimed carefully through the same window. He squeezed off a shot and hit the monster. The bullet whizzed through the air and hit the leg. The monster sank to the ground. The girls got up and ran. Smitty got up quickly and advanced on the monster. It lay on the ground clutching its leg. Smitty looked down and opened fire. He emptied two full clips into it. By the time he was finished, there was nothing left. Smitty turned towards the girls.

 “Are you two alright?”

 Shelagh and Moriah both shook their heads. Smitty dropped the guns and then sat down. He was sad and tired. He didn’t like killing but had no other choice.  Moriah came up towards him.

 “What are those things?”

 “They are mutants. I call them troglodytes. They came into being a year or so after the bombs were dropped. They normally don’t come out during the day. Night time is their time to roam and feed on what is stupid enough to come out.” He replied.

 Smitty looked up at the sky. The shadow of the sun was high in the sky. It was afternoon and darkness would be coming soon. They needed to get to cover.

 “Come we must be going.” He looked at Moriah. “Do you have a place to go?”

 “No. My place of hiding is far away from here. I would never make it back in time.”

 “Very well then, you can stay with us for the night.”

Moriah nodded her head. She glanced at Shelagh and smiled softly. She looked so young and tender. She glanced at Smitty and grinned. He must enjoy her a lot.

 “Is she yours?” She asked pointing at Shelagh.

 “What do you mean mine?”

 “Is she your, you know?”

 Smitty opened his eyes wide. He knew what she meant now. He thought about what to say. He had to protect Shelagh. She was only ten after all, far too young to be used for sexual perversion. He stopped and looked at Shelagh then motioned for her to come to him. She did so and curled up into his arm. He smiled at her like a father would at his daughter. Smitty always told the truth and this time was no different.

 “No she is not mine in the sense that you speak of. She is my daughter and under my protection. Does that explain it?”

 “Yes it does. I shall not bother her. Where are you traveling to?”

 “We are headed to the where the thunder roars.”

 “Why go there. There is nothing but death there. No one and nothing lives there. I am told it is because of the heat.” Moriah said.

 Smitty looked at her. He made it clear with his face that he would not speak of it until they were in a safer place. He took Shelagh`s hand and pulled her gently along. Moriah followed close. They made their way back to the crumbling church. Going downstairs, Smitty moved the rock and pulled out the supplies. He opened a can of peaches and spit it between Moriah and Shelagh. He took a small can of mixed fruit and ate it slowly. He said a quiet grace as he ate.

“I am told that God is at that mountain.” Smitty said.

 Moriah looked at him. Her grey eyes seemed to mock him. She tossed back her blonde hair. She smiled a mocking smile.

 “If God has any brains, He won’t be up there. He will be somewhere safe and warm. Nothing against God but He would be a fool to go there.”

 Smitty smiled. This was a girl that had been to the mountain or at least very close to the mountain. That meant she knew how to get there. He had to find out from her how.

 “So am I to assume that you have been to the mountain?”

 “Close enough to know that it is bloody hot.” Moriah replied with a nod.

 Smitty nodded his head slowly. He slowly rubbed his graying beard. he looked over at Shelagh and smiled. He got up and placed a blanket from the bags over her. It was going to get cold tonight. He looked over at Moriah.

 “I will help you get to where you want to go.” She said as she laid her head down.

 Smitty closed his eyes and said a quiet prayer. Soon he too was asleep. All three slept peacefully though the night. Morning came to rain and cloud.

 Day Four

Smitty woke up first. Moriah and Shelagh slept. He said his morning prayers and then made coffee. He made a small fire and heated some water. He drank his coffee before anyone else awoke and while he read his bible. Moriah stirred first.

 “You have coffee?”

 Smitty nodded and then tossed her a plastic mug.

 “Yep and the water is still hot. Help yourself.

 She smiled and then made her coffee. She sipped it slowly trying not to slurp. She had gotten use to black coffee and sipped it slowly.

“Are you a bomb worshiper?”

 “No.” Smitty replied.

 “Do you worship the goddess or any of the other gods?”

 Smitty turned around. He looked at Moriah and smiled. She asked all the right questions just not in the right way. He didn’t mind her ignorance. Those who did not know the Lord God were not wrong in doing what they did. They had probably never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and therefore were ignorant of Him.

 “No, I do not worship the goddess or any of the other gods. I do not worship a bomb nor do I plan on it. I worship the One True Living God. Not a bomb or an idol made by man’s hand but the only God that is worthy of my praise. His name is Jesus Christ.”

Moriah smiled softly but her eyes said otherwise. She was taught that the goddess taught tolerance but she was not so tolerant. If he would not worship the goddess then he deserved to die.

 “I see. I worship the goddess. She teaches tolerance.”

 “I understand.” Smitty said through a nod. “We can learn much from each other I think.”

 Shelagh stirred. It was getting light out and they needed to get going. They had far to travel and little time to do it in. Smitty opened a small can of peaches and handed them to Shelagh. She ate them down and then quickly got dressed. Smitty got the supplies out and arranged them into the knapsacks. With a third person more could be carried. He passed one to Moriah, a small one to Shelagh and the other two he took himself. They started upstairs then stopped. Smitty passed Moriah a gun.

 “You do know how to use this right?”

Moriah nodded her head. She took the pistol and the half dozen clips. They continued their way upstairs. The sun was up high enough that the troglodytes should be back in their dark lairs. Smitty headed for the door first. He looked out and saw nothing. He motioned for the girls to join him.

 “It is early and the sun is up. High enough I think to make the troglodytes go back to their lairs but one never knows. We must be wary.” Smitty looked right at Shelagh. “You stay between me and Moriah. Do not leave, get distracted. We must get as far as we can before sundown.”

 Shelagh nodded her head. She watched Smitty take the lead with Moriah bringing up the rear. She felt like a sandwich and she was the tasty filling. She kept pace as best she could. Sometimes she was too fast and sometimes too slow. Smitty kept look out for trouble. Moriah did the same. Suddenly Smitty heard the sound of a bullet flying by his ear. He could actually feel the faint whoosh of air as it flew by him.

 “Hit the ground.”

 Shelagh did as she was told. She did not have to be told twice. She crawled towards a burnt out car and waited She could see Smitty pretty well but Moriah was nowhere to be found. She looked to find Smitty again.

 “Smitty, look out!” Shelagh screamed.

 Moriah came running around the corner and shot. The bullet flew through the air and caught Shelagh square in the chest. Blood splattered outwards and she sank against the car. Her body quivered then stopped as her life ebbed from her. Smitty heard her scream too late. He quickly swung around and caught Moriah as she looked at the dying girl. The evil grin on her face was testament enough for Smitty. He caught her ankle with his leg and watched as she came crashing down. He punched her once. She still breathed.

More bullets whizzed by him. One caught him in the shoulder as he looked towards Shelagh. She was pressed up against a car. He looked back to see another bullet hit him in the other shoulder. He scrambled behind a car and looked for Shelagh. She was still pressed against the other car. She was looking at him. He could see her fear.

 Moving towards her slowly, the pain was almost too much to bear. He commando crawled along the ground. The pain from his shoulders was bad enough that he winced. He got to Shelagh and saw the blood. She had been shot in the chest. Her eyes did not move when he called her name. She didn’t hear him. He closed his eyes and said a quiet prayer all the while holding back the anger that was building.

 While he was in prayer, Moriah started to stir. Smitty didn’t see her but he did hear her. He stayed still and waited for her to get closer. He suddenly stood up and hit her full force on the jaw. She started to go down but Smitty caught her. He dragged her back to the ruined church. Night was falling as Moriah started to stir. Smitty guessed that he had hit her a little too hard. She sat up on her elbows.

 “Why did you hit me?”

 “Because you were going to kill me just like you killed Shelagh.”

 Moriah looked at Smitty and wry grin crossed her face. She didn’t even try to hide her surprise. She hissed at him venomously.

 “Yes I killed her. I would have killed you too if that brat had died the way she was suppose to. But no, she had to use her last breath to warn you.”

 “Why, for the love of God?”

 “Why, because you dared to come out into our territory. You dared to go to the mountain of the goddess. There is no God. You worship a false God. Only the goddess is worthy of praise. The girl was yours. I wanted her. The goddess wanted her. She would have pleased many men as she was passed around. The goddess wishes…”

Smitty watched as Moriah fell to the ground. She moaned as she slid down the wall. She hadn’t even seen Smitty’s fist coming. He quickly tied her up and then gagged her and dragged her outside. He knew it would not be long before they would come looking for her. He grabbed his guns and ammo and ran. He left the supplies behind.

 Running as fast as he could, he left everything behind. He tried not to cry but the tears came anyways. Shelagh was gone and he was alone. Moriah had betrayed him and he was alone. He tried to think that he liked it that way but he knew it was a lie. He loved that little girl like a father loves a daughter. Smitty stopped and fell to his knees. He cried out to God as the tears flowed undaunted.

 “WHY?” He cried. “Why did Shelagh have to die? She was close to coming to you!”

 Smitty got up off the ground and stood still a moment. He waited t0 hear from the Lord but heard only the crunching of his feet against the dust as he began to walk. He looked back but he kept moving forward. The mountain was his goal. He started his journey to the mountain again but this time he wanted answers.

 He had walked for hours and noticed that it was getting dark. He needed to find shelter. He had walked a fair distance. The glow from the mountain was closer. He looked around and found a store that had been boarded up.

 “This looks as good a place as any other place.”

 The door opened easily. Smitty shone his flashlight slowly. No one had been in here for quite a while. He slid down the wall and dropped his guns on the floor. Looking at the door, he found no lock but he didn’t care. He looked around and found the place empty. He tried not to think about the events of today. Tears started to flow. Except for earlier, he had not cried for years.

 “Why? She was so young. She didn’t deserve to die. She was on her way to you. God, tell me! Explain to me why she had to die!”

 His tears flowed and he cried himself to sleep. He didn’t say his evening prayers like he normally did. He didn’t read his bible. He ignored God. He was mad like a little child that had had his favorite toy taken away from him. Sleep came quickly. He tossed and turned. Sleep was restless. He dreamed of pain and suffering. He dreamed of Shelagh’s mom and the way she died. Smitty saw her face and the way it was contorted in pain. He didn’t want to look anymore. Suddenly he heard a voice.

“Jesus loves you Smitty. He loved you enough to die for you, love him enough to realize that I already took Him as my own. I am with Him and you can be too but you have to quit acting like a child. You have to finish what you started. You have to go to the mountain. Go and see what He has in store for you.”

 It was Shelagh’s voice. He smiled. The dreams stopped and he fell into a fitful slumber.

 Day Five

 The morning light filtered its way down through the dust turning it from a bright yellow to a dingy gray. A slight beam hit Smitty on the face. It warmed him enough to wake him up. He sat up and wiped the sleep from his eyes. He still had a smile on his face. He looked around the store to find canned goods galore. He spied a can opener on the floor and grabbed a label less can. He quickly opened it.

 “Peaches again!”

 Using his fingers he quickly ate them and then gathered up his guns. He found a backpack and threw a few cans into it. He threw in the can opener to. Picking up the knapsack, he opened the door and started on his way to the mountain. He knew that he had far to go and little time to get there.

Smitty walked and walked. He didn’t talk to anyone. He saw no and saw nothing but destruction and more destruction. He came upon a burnt out church. He stopped to rest and saw burnt bodies. He looked away and prayed. Soon afterwards, he stood and resumed his travel. He pulled out his bible and began to read.

“Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings of eagles. They shall run and not get weary. They shall walk and not faint.”

 Smitty read it and felt his soul liven up. He walked with a purpose. He knew that he would get to the mountain. He would stand in the heart of the storm and feel the power of the Father, the Creator.

 Smitty walked for hours. He didn’t stop to rest nor did he stop to eat. His feet rose and fell in time. Seconds turned into minutes and minutes turned into hours. He looked up into the sky and saw the setting sun. The building appeared out of nowhere. He would have sworn it was not there a moment ago. He quickly ducked in and took refuge.  He sat down and opened his sack. He took out a can of peaches and after opening it, ate them down. He laid his head down and was asleep in a matter of moments. He did not dream.

 Day Six

 Smitty woke up slowly. He sat up and wiped the sleep from his eyes. He looked around and found that he was sitting in an abandoned mosque. The bombs hadn’t cared about religion. They were an indiscriminate killer.

 Smitty stood up and looked for a place to do his business. He finished up and then covered it. Grabbing his pack, we walked out the door. Strained sunlight hit his face. He didn’t fail to notice the heat. He looked around and saw the mountain. It was closer then he thought or he had walked a very long way yesterday.

 He moved towards the mountain, shedding clothes as he walked.  Soon he was down to his shorts and an undershirt. He walked up the mountain. He saw people standing around and they were waving at him. Some he knew and others he didn’t. Shelagh came running up to him.

 “Smitty!” She cried.

 She jumped into his arms and hugged him. He didn’t understand. He was sure he had seen her dead.

 “Hurry! Taste and see that the Lord is good!”

 Smitty started walking up the hill. It was steep but he did not seem to mind. He reached the peak and stood in the heart of the storm or rather he stood with The Heart of the Storm. He looked right into the eyes of Jesus. He fell to the ground and cried. Jesus reached down and picked Smitty up.

 “Well done good and faithful servant. You came to me and here I am.”

  Day Seven

 The store was quiet. Not a thing moved. Smitty was lying right where he had the night before. The empty can of peaches sat where he had put it down when he drifted off to sleep. Suddenly there was a light in the room. Two men walked in and rummaged around for food. They came upon Smitty. One of the men kicked at him. When they saw that he didn’t move, he reached down to search him. He found nothing but the guns. He pocketed them and continued to search.

 The other man found the knapsack. He emptied it out. He looked at the cans and put them aside. He tossed the clips for the guns to his partner. He took the Bible and tossed it aside.

 “Don’t need that rubbish, didn’t do this slob any good.”

 The two men gathered up their treasure. They looked over the scene one more time to make sure that had everything. They walked out never to look back.

 The bible had landed on Smitty’s chest when it had been tossed. The force of the landing had caused the left hand to bounce. It landed on the bible. The two men had never noticed the faint smile on Smitty’s face. It would remain there.

 End

Gabriela

The little girl sat on the couch. She giggled at the picture of her parents kissing. Her eyes were wide, bright and full of life. She giggled louder when she turned the page and saw another one of them kissing. He daddy’s hand was up held in a fist with his thumb sticking up. He looked so happy.

 “And what pray tell are you doing?” someone asked.

 She didn’t look up as she giggled. “You and mommy kissing.”

 He walked over and sat beside his daughter. She was and always would be as pretty as a picture. He looked at the picture and laughed. Those were indeed good time but those times were over and done with. There was no going back.

 “Daddy why were you so happy then?”

 “Well sweetheart, because mommy was happy and God had given me the one woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with. My soul mate.”

 “Why aren’t you happy now? Were you happier before we came along? Did Payton, Tristan and I do something wrong?”

 “No you children are not to blame. You are the only good things that came out of this marriage. As for the rest of the reasons, you are not old enough to understand.”

 They looked at the pictures together. He laughed and cried with each one. Angel giggled with each one specially the ones of her parents kissing. She had kissed her daddy once when he had shadow and it tickled. When they got to the last page, she looked at her father and kissed his hairy face. She closed the book and then held his hand.

 “I’m gonna pray to Jesus every night that you and mommy get back together.”

 “If you wish. He doesn’t seem to listen to me anymore.”

 “Sure he does daddy. You just have to listen.”

 Mario was about to say something when Angel jumped down and ran into the back yard. She reached the yard and turned back towards him.

 “Bye daddy. I’ll be back later.”

*******************************

 Angel Rocha was eight years old. She could be like all children, little devils. But sometimes she could be wise beyond her years. Her long blond hair hung down to her lower back. Her blue eyes shone like fine blue sapphires. She turned around and was gone from sight.

 He waved at her but was too late. She ran into her brothers as they were playing. Mario went to the door and watched them. He watched them hug and then run into the makeshift fort that he had helped them build. He saw Angel look at him as she went in. She held up her hand with a raised thumb and smiled, then she went inside the fort . She sat down and looked at her brothers.

 “We have to pray to Jesus.”

 “For?” Her older brother Payton asked.

 “So that mommy and daddy will get back together.”

 “But daddy doesn’t believe anymore.” Tristan replied.

 Angel looked at him and then smiled. She reached over and stroke his cheek softly.

 “Sure he does, he just doesn’t realize it. He is hurting and needs help. We have to start on him first.”

 Tristan looked at Payton. They shrugged their shoulders then nodded their heads in unison. They each took one of Angel’s hands then grasped each others. They bowed their heads and Angel spoke slowly.

 “Jesus, please help our daddy to believe again. We know that you love him and so do we. Oh and God, help our daddy and mommy get back together again.”

 Tristan peeked at his sister and slowly nodded his head to himself. Not bad, he thought. He spoke slowly also.

 “Dear God, please help our daddy. We know that he still believes in you but that he blames you for mommy leaving. We know that it isn’t your fault and we want him to know that too. Also God, help our mommy and daddy get back together again.”

Payton kept his eyes closed and nodded his head in agreement. He was the oldest and he was almost thirteen. His short brown hair was cropped close to his head. He liked it that way. He spoke softly as if it were a private prayer rather then a public one.

 “Father God, I agree with Angel and Tristan. I ask for the believing to come back to dad. I love him so much and I know he needs to come back to you.

 “Lord Jesus, I bring my mom to you too. I love her too and I want her and dad to get back together. I know he misses her. I can hear him crying at night. Help them to come together and at least talk things out.

 “Lord, be with us as we continue to pray for mom and day. Encourage us to set things in motion and Lord if we can’t then please Jesus, step in and get things moving. In Jesus name. Amen.”

 Payton opened his eyes to see Angel and Tristan looking at him. He raised his hands.

 “What?”

 Angel crawled over and hugged him and then kissed his cheek.

 “What was that for?”

 “Because I love you.”

 Payton smiled and then pushed her away. “Get away from me ya mutant.”

 The laughter grew louder until it spilled into the yard. Mario looked out the door and saw the children come running out and into the house. The phone rang and Angel was the closest one to it. She picked it up.

 “Hello, Rocha residence.”

 “Hello my angel.”

 “MOMMY!” she cried.

 “Hello my baby. Is daddy home?”

 Angel looked up at Payton and then shoved him the phone. She ran through the house calling for Mario. Payton put the receiver to his ear.

 “Hi mom.”

 “Hello Payton, how is my big boy?”

 “I’m okay, I wish you would come home. We all miss you. Dad misses you the most.”

 “I know baby, but your father and I have a lot to talk about before that can happen. We will see. How is Tristan?”

 Payton handed Tristan the phone and watched as his little brother spoke into the mouth piece.

 “Hi mommy. I love you!”

 “Hey honey, how is my little guy?”

 “I miss you mommy.” Tristan started to cry and almost hung up. He felt the strong hand of his father on his shoulder as he took the phone.

 “Hello Linda, did you call to bust my chops again?”

 “No, I called to let you know that I have to go away for a few days. Some conference and I have to go if I want to survive. I need you to say it is okay if they stay with you till I come back.”

 “No Linda it is not a problem. They are my children too. Enjoy your conference.” Mario hung up the phone and then sat down.

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  Mario Rocha was a proud man. He was proud when his children were born and he strutted around like a peacock. He was proud of his Italian heritage and that he had, even though people said he shouldn’t, kept his native language. He loved his children and would give his life for them. He loved them so much that he had them tattooed onto his back.

 Back when he was an angry young man and he was on the brink of prison, he had met Linda. She brought him from the brink of destruction. She loved him for who he was. She didn’t care about what he had done all those years ago. She had become his world and she was never to leave it. It had been her that had brought him back to Christ. She had been so patient with him. All those years ago then he had to lash out at her a few months ago and she left him.

 He was so proud when Payton had been born. It was so hard to believe that a man with such anger could produce such a good thing. He was even prouder when Tristan was born. Then Angel came along. She was the one that was not suppose to be. She was their miracle baby.

 After Tristan had been born, he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He won the battle but had been told that he would never father another child. Then months later Linda said she was pregnant. He questioned it but when he saw her he knew that this little child was his own. There was no mistake. The doctors were wrong or it could have been the Lord that made it happen. He didn’t care, all he knew was that she was his blood.

 Now his life was in shambles. His marriage was over. He had lost his first love and didn’t know how to get it back. He didn’t even know if he wanted it back. The only reason he existed was for his kids. His life was empty and he liked it that way. He stood and walked away from the phone table. It was quiet and he walked into the playroom. Payton was playing on his Xbox and Tristan was reading. He looked for Angel and found her curled up with her huge teddy bear, using the stomach as a pillow, sleeping soundly. He looked at each one of them then walked away.

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 Linda Rocha sat at her desk. She glanced at the pictures of her children and the one of Mario. They were her lifeline. They would be her lifeline while she struggled to kick her habit. She had struggled all of her life. She just couldn’t shake the drugs. They mocked her when she tried to get clean. They whispered in her ear and said awful things. She cried and cried and every time she gave into them. She didn’t call out to God because she felt that what God wouldn’t want her as one of His children.

 She, although hard, she stayed clean throughout her marriage and when she had found out that she was pregnant with Payton, she gave them up totally. She stayed clean with Tristan and Angel. Then things exploded. That’s when the drugs reared their ugly head again. She fell into the trap all over again. She tried to hide it from Mario but he knew that she was having a hard time. He tried to hide it from the children and act like everything was okay but his patience ran out. He lashed out at her and she left. Left her children behind and made the drugs her best friend.

 Linda wasn’t a bad person. She wasn’t misunderstood either. She knew what she was doing and that it was bad for her. She knew that she had no one to blame but herself. She understood that she was an addict and that it was her fault. Linda had believed in God once. There was a time that she would have run to Him with the slightest problem. Now she tries to hide those problems from Him.

 Linda had not told Mario the truth. It was not a conference that she was going to. Rather a court appointed detox to clean out her body. She had tried to sell herself to get drugs. She tried it with an undercover cop. She had had a choice. Either go to prison and spend five years there or take the detox. She had a choice and she chose the detox. For the next five weeks, she was going to be guarded by prison guards. Not allowed to leave the premises nor was she allowed any visitors. She could only talk to the other patients. She would be watched like a hawk and she would get clean. It was not going to be a walk in the park. It was going to be hard. The hardest thing she had ever done.

 Linda sat on the edge of her bed. She took the pictures of her kids and the one of Mario and put them into her bag. She pulled the one of Mario out and kissed it softly. She wept silently and whispered.

“I am doing this to win you back.”

 With her bags packed and she was ushered out to the car. She was off to the center to do her time. She was alone now or at least she thought she was.

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 Green Hills Rehab was not a new business. They had been around for decades but it was a new building. They had all the same equipment that all the posh rehab center’s did except for the fact they didn’t cater to the rich and famous. They charged far less and were not afraid of taking government money. They accepted all the medical plans that were available. They even took a pro-bono case from time to time. There were no movie stars here. The people in Green Hills had real problems not made up ones.

 Linda was ushered into the main seating hall. Every new member had to listen to a message from the founder. It was a taped message for the founder had died many years ago. She found a seat and got comfortable. Two women sat beside her and they both looked at her and grunted.

 “God works in mysterious ways. God does things that seem impossible to the mere mortal but to Him they are not all that impossible but then again God is the God of impossibility. He will do the same for you is you let him.”

 The tape stopped and a woman stepped up to the microphone. She looked out around the crowd and smiled softly. She moved closer and then spoke softly.

 “My name is Mrs. Gwendolyn Myers. I am the administrator at Green Hills. Some of you have been here before and know the speech that I am about to give. Some of you have only heard it once while some of you are new and have never heard it.

 “Let’s get one thing clear. There is a zero tolerance policy enforced here and there are NO exceptions. There are no drugs here unless you have been prescribed them by your doctor. You will not find your drug of choice here. There is no smoking, no alcohol, no sex and certainly no swearing tolerated here.

 “You will be each assigned a caregiver to attend to you. She or he will be with you at all times. They will keep a daily journal about you. Everything you do, say or act upon will be jotted down. Every night the journals will be read by me and then the necessary actions taken if there are any to be taken.

 “Let us be brutally honest here. You are all addicts. You have a drug of choice. It may be cocaine or heroine. It might be pain killers or speed. It might be alcohol or methamphetamine’s. To say that I don’t know what you are going through would be a lie.”Mrs Myers lifted her arms and pulled down her sleeves to show her tracks on her arms. “My drug of choice was cocaine and then it became heroine. I know what you are going through. I went through it. I spent my time in here as well.

 “It’s not an easy road to kick a habit. It takes time for your body to become accustomed to being clean of the drugs you are on. All the staff, even the chaplain, know what you are going through. They are all recovered addicts. They are here to help.

“Lets move on to other topics. Some of you are here by your free choice. Some have been signed in by family while others are here under the government plan. I am the only one that knows which one you are. No one else knows not even the rest of the staff. It is up to you to get clean. We can not help you. We can guide you and comfort you but you MUST be the one willing to do it.

“There is no such thing as recovered addict. Once an addict always an addict. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about getting high and forgetting about the world and all the problems I have in it. But then I remember all the time I have put into get clean and it brings me back to earth. So what does this mean to you out there. Well it means that you are not alone. WE all know what you are going through. You are not alone.

“Now it is time to get you to your rooms and get unpacked. We are having a late lunch and then you will go into your groups. If you don’t know which group you are in, ask your caregiver.”

Linda stood up and looked for her caregiver. He walked up to her and smiled.

“Hi, my name is John and I am your caregiver for the next few weeks. If you need to talk or you need anything then just come to me and I will see what I can do.” John turned around and then turned back. “If you follow me, I will show you to your room.”

Linda followed him and looked around as she followed. He opened a door and then watched her enter. He closed the door and then left her to settle in. Linda looked around at the bare room and then plopped down on the bed. She was finally alone. Her hands came up and immediately covered her face. She rubbed it softly then started to unpack. She laid down afterwards and took a nap. She slept softly, her mind going over the events of the day. She woke up to see a woman sitting in a chair.

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Angel sat at the table and watched the birds at the feeder. She wondered if God loved them as much as He loved her. She looked at her dad and smiled.

 “Daddy, does God love me as much as He loves the birds?”

 “I suppose.”

 “And does He love me as much as He loves Mommy?”

 “I suppose?” He said looking up at her. “Why are you asking such questions?”

 “Cause.”

 He looked at her. “Cause is not an answer.”

 She nodded her head softly. “Yes daddy. I want Jesus to help mommy. I want Him to heal her so that she can come home. Do you think He will do that for me?”

 “All you can do is ask.” Mario replied.

 Angel got down off her chair and ran over and kissed Mario on the cheek. “Thanks daddy.” He smiled as she ran off and he went back to his paper. He stopped reading when he heard her words wafting out of the playroom.

 “Dear Jesus, it’s Angel again. You must be getting awful tired of hearing from me. I pray all the time and yet you never complain. Well you just might this time Jesus. I want you to do something for me. I want you to get in there and heal my mommy. You have to do something for my mommy. If you love her as much as You love the birds, then you have to get in there and do something.”

 She stood up and went out to the back yard and played on the swings. Payton rushed into the house and after grabbing an apple, ran outside to join Angel. Tristan came running out next and sat on the grass.

 “We need to pray for mommy.” Tristan said.

 “I have been, almost all day.” Angel replied.

 Payton bit into his apple and then after swallowing the chunks he looked at them both. “We have to pray for dad to ya know.”

 Angel nodded her head just as Tristan did.

 “We know. We have been and we know that Jesus has been looking out for daddy. He’s safe as long as we pray for him but mommy needs more prayer.”

 “Why do you say that Angel?” Payton asked.

 “I don’t know. I just know that she needs more prayer then daddy does.

 They gathered together on the grass and held hands. They felt two more hands come into the little group and heard Mario’s voice.

 “Can I join in with you?”

 The three of them nodded their heads and then watched as Mario sat down. He settled in between Angel and Payton then he started to pray.

 “Dear God, I don’t know if I believe anymore or if this is an attempt to get back into your good graces. I know that I have been struggling with my faith and I also know that it will take baby steps to get back into the swing of things. The one thing I do know is that I love you and that I love my children and that I love Linda. I don’t know what she is doing right now but I want her to know that I love her and that she needs your help. I need your help Lord. Please help me and help my beloved…….”

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 The room sat quiet as the words filtered up. The man who sat on the chair listened intently. His head bowed as he listened. He shifted a little and there was a scar on his side. He lifted his hands and you could see the holes that no longer bled but reminded Him of what he had done. He heard the prayers from the three children and the father and then stood up. He walked out into a large area and then headed up to the throne area.  The veil was torn away. The remnants left to remind everyone the sacrifice the Son had made. He smiled as he looked at them then entered the room.

 “Yes My Son.”

 “Father, I have had a special prayer come to me this morning.”

 “From Angel again I suppose.”

 “Yes Father.”

 “What do you wish to do?”

 “I promised my brothers and sisters that if they ask anything in my name that I would give it to them. I wish to grant this child’s prayer.”

“Who do you want to send?”

 “Gabriella.”

 The Father smiled and nodded his head at his Son. He moved from the room and found an angel.

“Find me Gabriella.”

 He sat down and waited. He watched as people moved to and fro caring for each other and caring for their homes. He listened silently as the choir sang of His glory and he bathed it in. He opened His eyes to a girl kneeling in front of him.

 “Stop that. Get up already. I do not want your nonsensical platitudes. I am not like the other gods of this world. I want my little ones to come to me freely and to know that they will get the answer they want. I also want them to know that I love them and that they are my only concern. No sacrifices and no  incense. I want nothing from then but their love and devotion. Now get up.”

 The girl stood and looked at him. She stroked His face and then spoke.

“Sorry Father.”

 “Yes Lord Jesus. You called for me?”

 “Yes, I have a job for you. Remember Clarence?”

 “Yes Lord. He earned his wings by showing that man that his life was not as messed up as he thought. Who do you wish me to save?”

 Jesus sat down and motioned for Gabriella to do the same. “I have a similar job for you but it is not a plea from a man but rather a little girl. Listen to this.”

 He motioned slightly and a sound echoed through the room.

 ‘“Dear Jesus, it’s Angel again. You must be getting awful tired of hearing from me. I pray all the time and yet you never complain. Well you just might this time Jesus. I want you to do something for me. I want you to get in there and heal my mommy. You have to do something for my mommy. If you love her as much as You love the birds, then you have to get in there and do something.”’

 Jesus looked at Gabriella. “The plea from an innocent child. Go and help the mommy that she speaks of.”

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“Hello.”

 “Hello, who are you?” Linda asked.

 “My name is Gabriella. I am your new roomie.”

 “No no. I was told that I would have a single room with nobody else in it. You can’t stay here.”

 Linda went to the door and went to open it. Gabriella stood up and held up her hand.

 “Wait, this is only going to be for a few days. I was told that this was the only bed available and they didn’t think that you would mind all that much.”

 “Well I do mind but if it is only for a few days, I guess I can live with it.”

 Gabriella smiled and then waited for Linda to speak.

 “What are you in for?”

 “My drug of choice is cocaine, laced with heroine and morphine. A lovely little cocktail that will get you up and keep you up for a while. That’s the good side and of course it does have a bad side. The coming down is murder.” Gabriela smiled. “You?”

 “Drugs and alcohol. I want to get clean this time. I want to go home to my kids and husband.”

 “I understand that. I tried so many times to stay clean. I kept slipping and now I am back in here. I want to do it right this time. But it is hard to do. Drugs are such a demon. They get into your soul and then stay there even after you get clean and then, sorry to say, not even god can help.”

 Linda nodded her head and then laid down. She closed her eyes and was asleep in no time. Gabriela watched her then silently left the room. She made her way to the chapel and sat down in the first pew. Bowing her head she started to pray.

 “I have made contact Lord Jesus. As Simon did with Imia Wilson. Help me to get through to Linda Rocha. Help me to lead her back to you. I sense Lord that it is not going to be an easy road.  She knows you Lord but the demon has taken control of her. I need Your strength to break through and free her.

 “Lord, she knows You. I can sense that. She has not let go of You yet she is ashamed of what has happened and is afraid to confront you for she fears you will be angry with her. She has backslidden so far Lord that I fear that if something is not done soon, she will be of no use. I know you love her Lord and that your love for her will heal her.

 “Lord, I beg forgiveness. I lied to her. Well not lied so much as bending the truth. I told her things that were true but not anymore. I am not the person I was before. I am a new creation in You. When I died, I took you as my own and you changed me and made me clean. You have given me the chance to present you to a woman that already knows you. She has just lost her way. Lord Jesus, help me bring Linda back to you. In Your Name I ask this, Amen.”

 Gabriela sat with her head hung low. She didn’t move a muscle. She waited for the answer that she wanted. She worshiped silently. She heard foot falls coming up from behind her. She looked to see the priest sitting across from her. She smiled softly at him.

 “Are you alright child?”

 “Yes I am. Who might you be?”

 “I am the priest here. My name is Father Williams. Is there something I can council you for?”

 Gabriela got up and slowly walked away. She smiled quite nicely and then walked away. She looked back at him.

 “I am alright Priest William.”

 The priest stood up and looked at her. “That would be Father to you.”

 Gabriela smiled. “No it wouldn’t Priest Williams. I call no one Father but the one who created me.”

 He continued to look at her as she walked away. “Wait, why do you say that?”

 She turned around and walked up to him. Reaching down she grabbed a bible from the pew and gave it to him. She smiled quite nicely again and whispered in his ear.

 “Look up Matthew 23:9.” She said as she walked away.

 Father Williams looked up the verse and read it aloud.

 “Do not call anyone on earth father. Only one is your Father, the one in heaven”

 The priest put the bible down and then went about his business. Try as he might, the words stuck with him and wouldn’t let him go. He knelt down in  prayer, speaking the words silently. He stayed kneeling waiting for an answer.

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 Mario Rocha sat at his desk. He looked out onto the sales lot. Cars weren’t selling right now. He didn’t have to worry though, he got paid weekly. He didn’t do commission work on a regular basis. He watched as the lot manager came in. He waved at Mario and then headed into office. Mario waved back too late. Michelle walked into his office and placed his paycheck in the in box. He picked it up and then opened it. His raised an eyebrow and then folded it and slipped it into his pocket. He would Mr. Stone about it later.

 Going back to his paperwork, he signed some forms requiring parts for different vehicles they had in getting repaired. He whistled softly some tune and from time to time answered phones about parts required. He looked up at the clock and saw how late it was. He picked up the phone and spoke to Mr. Stone.

 “Sir, might I come in and have a word with you?”

 Mario put the phone down and walked to Stone’s office door. He knocked and then entered in. Stone looked up at him.

 “Yes Mario, what do you need?”

 “Well Sir, I was looking at my pay check and noticed an extra thousand dollars added to my regular pay. I was wondering if it was a mistake?”

 Stone looked at him. “Nope, no mistake. You sold the mustang and you deserve the commission.”

 “But sir, that was Paul’s sale.”

 Stone put his pen down and looked up at Mario again. He smiled softly. He was a very patient man. He never was quick to blow up or yell or scream. Mario always thought that he looked a lot like that Shannara writer.

 “Mario I understand but I don’t play favorites. Never had and I never will. I was watching. Paul got called away and the buyer was about to leave. You walked up and kept him on the lot. You sold that car to the buyer. It might be Paul’s name on the contract but it was you that sold the car. So it is only fair that you get the commission. When Paul comes to me, and he will, he will be told the same thing. Do I make myself clear?”

 “Yes Sir.”

 Mario walked out of the office and saw Paul go in. He could hear the yelling and the screaming. Paul was cursing up a storm. He heard the door open and heard Stone’s voice.

 “Clean out your desk. I have told you before about the language. You’re fired!”

 Mario watched Paul walk away. He didn’t didn’t look at Mario instead just cleaned out his desk. Mario couldn’t help but smile and then stopped just as quick. Mr. Stone had been looking for a reason to fire that jerk. Today had been the day.

 Paul Stubbs had been a marine. He was use to yelling and screaming but even he knew he had crossed the line. He pulled things out of his desk and shoved them into a box. He looked up when he heard footfalls. His face was full of disappointment when he saw it was Mario.

 “What is it Rocha?”

 Mario passed him a check and walked away. Paul looked at it and then went into Mario’s office.

 “Why?”

 “Because you deserve it. You were the one to grease the wheels. I just got him to sign on the dotted line. You deserve the money. It was your sale after all.”

 “No, that is where you were wrong. He wasn’t going to sign or even consider signing. He wasn’t interested yet you were the one that sold him that car. So you deserve the commission. I over reacted and paid dearly for it.?”

 Mario watched him tear up the check and then walk away. Mario felt good and went to Mr. Stone’s office. He was in there for quite sometime. He opened the door and caught Paul as he was about to leave.

 “Paul, before you leave, Mr. Stone wants to talk to you.”

 Paul put the box down and then went into Stone’s office. Mario was about to leave but was told to stay. Stone looked at Stubbs.

 “Well it seems you have a guardian angel Stubbs. Seems at least one person likes you. Seems Mr. Rocha has taken it upon himself to plead for your job. I on the other hand would just as well be done with you, but I will allow you to stay on one condition. You will stay in my employ as long as you curb your language. There is no swearing allowed in this place of business. Am I clear mister!”

 Stubbs shook his head. “Yes sir, I understand sir, Thank you sir.”

 “Don’t thank me, thank Rocha.”

 Paul walked out of Stone’s office and right into Mario’s. He extended his hand and Mario shook it softly.

 “Thanks man. You saved my life.”

 Mario nodded his head and Paul left. Stone walked right in after him.

 “What is it with you? Why help out someone who is always making fun of you? I don’t understand?”

 Mario looked at him, Stone’s graying hair was short cropped. He like Paul Stubbs had been a marine. He had a kind face and yet could be mean. Not mean in a violence way but in the way he did business. With all of that, Terrance Stone was a fair man.

 “Well I thought about it and wondered two things. What would your father, Jackson Stone do? I think that he would have had him stay. Yes he is a loud, foulmouthed human being but he is the best salesman you have. Beside that, he makes fantastic coffee.”

 Terrance Stone nodded his head and walked away. He knew that Mario was right. He turned around to address all the employees.

 “Listen up all of you. I will not tolerate any oneupmanship. I will not tolerate swearing of any kind. What you do in your own homes is your business. What you do and say here is another story. This will be your only warning.”

 Terrence Stone walked away into his office. He heard the grumbling from outside. He liked being in charge. He sat at his desk and began working again. He chuckled softly. He needed to give Mario a raise.

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 Linda sat in her chair. It was big, comfy and made of black leather. She liked black. It was an all consuming color. It suited her mood right now. She listened to everyone speak and found out that she really was bored. That was until she heard Gabriela.

 “My name is Gabriela. My father sent me here. He thinks I am nuttier then a fruitcake. I’m not ya know. He just doesn’t understand.”

 “Doesn’t understand what, Gabriela?” the Doctor asked.

 “That I am an angel!” she replied.

 “You mean a real honest to goodness angel, with wings and everything.” someone said.

 “Well no. No wings yet. I have to earn them.”

 “And how do you earn them?” Linda asked.

 “By bringing a lost sheep, or in this case, two lost sheep back to the fold.”

 The other women, except Linda started to laugh. Gabriela sat back down and listened to the laughter. She fought back the tears. It was the same everywhere. Even the angels laughed. She looked at all the women hearing their continued laughter. When she looked at Linda, she heard a still small voice.

 “She is your mission. She is one of the lost sheep. Bring her and the other back to Me and you will get your wings.”

 “Yes Lord Jesus.”

 Taking Linda’s hand Gabriela whispered. “Let’s get out of here.”

 Together they walked out. Linda looked at her as they sat in the common area. She wanted so much to ask her about what she said in group. Gabriela looked at her.

 “Go ahead, you can ask.”

 “Well either you are nuts or you really do believe what you are saying.”

 Gabriela looked at her. She had a small grin on her face and her blue sparkled. They gave away the fact that she actually did believe the things she was saying. Linda cocked her head slightly unsure of her new friendship.

 “Well I am nuts. Not the nuts that everyone thinks about. I believe what I say. Some say they know the way to heaven and how to get through this life, but I can tell you that they don’t and that they are very wrong.”

 Linda looked at her and took her hand. “Oh and I take it that you do.”

 “Yes I do. You do to. You have not fallen so far that you can’t come back. I watch you at night and you say your prayers. People that have fallen so far as you think you have have no need of prayer. You on the other hand pray.

 “Linda, you don’t need doctors or the groups. You need only one thing and you know what that one thing is. I heard you once say in your prayers that you had lost your first love. If that was true then you wouldn’t be praying to him.”

 Linda had noticed that a small crowd had formed. They seemed transfixed by what Gabriela’s words. They seemed quite interested in what she was saying. Gabriela ignored them and spoke only to Linda.

 “Do you understand who your first love is? Do you know his name? Do you?”

 Linda nodded his head. “Yes his name is Jesus but what would he want with me. I have sinned to bad for Him to have anything to do with me!”

 “Oh sweet lady, you are so wrong. Most people say that when things go bad, they fall and then they sin and suddenly they think that God wants nothing more to do with them, but that is so not true. Truth be told, these are the times He begs for us to reach out to him.

 “You have to understand, God loves you and hates the sin. It isn’t God hates the Sinner and the sin. Linda, somewhere deep down inside you, there is love for Him. He still knocks at your door. He is still your first love and he always will be. You just keep the door closed and stop him from coming in.”

 Linda looked at her. “How do you know that?”

 “As I said earlier, you lifted prayers up to Him. What really convinced me was that you put your family first. You spent a very long time on each one of them but very little time on yourself. You have not forsaken or lost your first love.”

 “How do I get Him back?”

 Gabriela looked into her eyes and smiled. “Just ask him.”

 “But how, I have done so many things wrong and yet you tell me that he still loves me. I forsook him and I closed the door on him. I told him not to come in.”

 “What, you think God is just someone you can close a door on and he will just walk away. Sorry but it don’t work that way. He knocks and knocks and knocks till you open the door. Some will never open that door but those that are his, hear his voice and open the door.  You are his. You know that.”

 “What do I do, say I’m sorry and then all is settled. I get a clean slate.”

 “Well not exactly but close. I can lead you through the sinner’s prayer. Linda, time is running out.”

 Linda sat and thought about it. She thought about her children and Mario. She wanted to be out of this place and be with them. Together again as a family and one in Christ. She nodded her head slowly. Gabriela looked up and smiled and saw the crowd that had gathered were also nodding. Linda bowed her head the other women followed.

“Repeat after me.

 “Father God, I come before you as a child. I come before you in fear and trembling. I come before you in awe and wonder. Most of all Lord Jesus, I come before you in need. I come before you in need of forgiveness. I have sinned mightily and only through your blood Jesus, can I get that forgiveness.

 “Lord Jesus I need you. I need You in my life. I need you most of all in my heart. Lord Jesus I give my life to you. As I open the door, come in and sit on the throne in my heart. Make me into the creature you want me to be. I love you Lord Jesus and I want to follow you. I give you all the glory and honor and power. I ask this in your precious name Jesus. Amen.”

 Linda looked at Gabriela. She had a soft glow around her just as the other women did. Gabriela smiled softly.

 “No wings.” Linda noticed.

 “Nope, my job is not done yet. I have one more person to see.”

 Gabriela stood up and then walked out of the room. All the other women came in and sat with Linda. She smiled at each and everyone of them. She smiled softly and then they all started talking.

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 Gabriela stood at the altar. She knelt down and looked up at the empty cross. She smiled softly and then waited. Her eyes never left the cross but her lips moved silently. She closed her eyes and then opened them again to find herself in God’s presence.

 “You are not done yet child.”

 “I know Father, but did you see what I did. I brought more then just Linda Rocha back to you.” Gabriela replied excitedly.

 “Yes I did child. I am very proud of you but you must remember your mission little one. The prayer of a little child. “

 “I remember Father. Can I go tell Jesus now?”

 “Yes child but He already knows.”

 Gabriela smiled then kissed God on the cheek. He giggled softly as he watched her run out.  He sat and thought about all the angels with no wings and found that she was his favorite. He loved his children all the same but Gabriela seemed to bring out that little bit more. He saw the door open and she was in Jesus’s arms.

 Jesus laughed and tickled her. Jehovah looked a them. Jesus was always so gentle.

 “Father, Jesus thinks it is great that those ladies came to him too.”

 Jehovah motioned for Jesus to put her down. She looked up at both of them and then she was gone. The smiled at each other.

 “She is a fine angel.” Jesus said.

 “Yes she is.” His Father replied.

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 Mario Rocha sat quietly. He turned the television down and listened for noise. He could hear sounds coming from his daughter’s room. He quietly went upstairs avoiding the squeaky one and then went silently to her room. He listened at the door.

 “Mommy came back to Jesus?”

 “Yes she did. So did a few other women. Some might have come to him for the first time.” Gabriela replied.

 “Then why are you here?”Angel queried.

 “To answer the second part of your prayer. You asked that your mommy and daddy come back to Jesus.”

 “You can do that?”

 “I am gonna try.”

 Mario considered going in but chose not to. He walked away leaving Angel to her imagination. He went back downstairs and went back to his quiet. He picked his bible and  started to read again.

 “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 He put the bible down and then looked out the window. He looked up to the sky.

 “If you are there, send me a sign.”

 He looked around and grinned. “Just as I thought.”

 Upstairs Gabriela sat talking with Angel, She smiled softly then kissed Angel softly on the nose.

 “I have got to run. Your dad just asked for a sign and that is my cue to bring him back to Jesus.”

 Gabriela disappeared and then Angel could hear her downstairs. Gabriela was talking to her dad. She ran downstairs a little and sat listening.

 “Hello.”

 “Who are you?” Mario asked.

 “My name is Gabriela and I am the sign you asked for.”

 “You are joking right? Where are the cameras?”

 “Not at all Mr. Rocha. You asked for a sign just a minute ago and I am it. Usually the father doesn’t send angels like this but this is a special case.”

 “Why is it special?”

 Gabriela glanced over at the stairs. Angel sat transfixed waiting for an answer. Gabriela smiled softly and then turned back to Mario.

 “Well the answer is really quite simple. Your daughter, Angel, prayed for it. She prayed that you and your wife, Linda, would get back together. She also prayed, in her childlike way, that you would both come back to Jesus.”

 “I understand that but her childlike ways aren’t gonna help.”

 “Not true. The Father sent me down here to facilitate the prayer of a child. Well here I am. Your daughter loves you so much, in fact all your children love you so much that for days they have prayed for you every chance they get. They send out their pleas to the Father to help you.”

 Mario chuckled. “I don’t believe in god anymore!”

 “Sure you do besides it doesn’t matter cause truth be told, He still believes in you.”

 “How do you know that I still believe in god?”

 “Because you see, when someone lifts a prayer to the Father, He looks down upon their hearts. He looks to see if there is any belief lift in them, no matter the amount. If He sees belief, then He sends an angel down to show the way. If He doesn’t see any belief then he answers the prayer in another way.

 “In your case He knows you still believe. He knows your heart Mario. He knows you blame Him for your marriage going south. He knows you blame him for your wife leaving you. He knows that you blame Him for her getting back into drugs. I am here to tell you that it is not his fault. Your wife is the one that chose to get back into drugs. It is the fault of both of you that your marriage went south. It is the both of you that caused the split to happen. You didn’t go to the Father. You stopped lifting your prayers to Him.”

 Mario sat down on the couch and held his head in his hands. He whimpered softly trying not to be heard. He was a man and needed to show strength but he had run out of strength.

 “I know and I want her back.”

 “What about the Father? Do you want him back?”

 Angel heard those words then leapt up and ran down the stairs. She flew into her father’s arms and wept in his shoulder. She looked up at him and cried.

 “Say yes daddy. Jesus loves you daddy. I love you daddy and I want my daddy back. I want mommy back daddy and that can’t happen till you get Jesus back.

 “Daddy, I heard you praying the other day. You said you would do anything to get mommy back. You have to take Jesus daddy. Mommy will come back then daddy.”

 Mario took Angel’s face into his hands. He kissed her forehead softly then looked into her eyes. They were bright and full of tears. He smiled softly and then looked at Gabriela.

 “What about my first love, will I get that back?”

 Mario looked at his feet. He so wanted his first love back. He needed it to be able to go forwards. He sat in silence then heard a knock on the door. He looked to see a man standing, patiently knocking at the door. Mario thought it was strange but got up anyways and went to the door.

 “Yes.”

 The man looked at him. “I never left, you just pushed me aside.”

 Mario looked at him. He saw that scars on his wrists and then scars on his forehead. His mouth dropped open. The man looked at him.

 “May I come in?”

 Mario moved aside and watched him walk in. The man wore a white robe that flowed behind him and seemed to barely touch the ground. His long brown hair flowed down over his shoulders. He had the nicest eyes and the nicest smile. His eyes sparkled with love and forgiveness. He looked at Mario and all he could do was shrink back a little.

 “You asked for your life back. You asked to get your first love back. You asked for a sign. Mario you asked my Father, The Great I Am, to give back something to you that has never been lost. How can one get something back that has never been lost.

 “First you asked for your life back but your life is here. It has gone nowhere. Your life exists in these precious children. They give you the life that you crave so much.

 “You asked for your first love back. I am your first love because I first loved you. I didn’t go anywhere, you just pushed me aside. You chose to ignore me and chaos happened. Your life fell apart but I promised that I would never leave you nor forsake you and I meant it. Even though you ignored Me, I was the silent visitor. The unseeable guest. I was always there watching over you.

 “Just a little while ago you asked for a sign. So I sent you one. I sent my special angel Gabriela. She came down to show you that I was listening but you chose to ignore it. So I had no other choice to come down Myself.

 “Mario, you remind me of Thomas of old. He was so much a ‘see it first’ person. He wouldn’t believe it unless he saw it first hand. You are just like him. So see this.”

 Jesus stuck out his wrists. Mario saw the scars and touched them. He could still, even after all the time had past, put his fingers in. Jesus lifted his robe and Mario saw the scar on his chest. He put his hand in and it came out bloody. He looked up to see drops of blood dripping from Jesus’ head. Mario reached up to feel the still warm blood. Mario tried to stop it but tears welled up in his eyes. He fell to his knees and cried out “MY Lord and My God!” He crumbled and cried openly.

 “You didn’t leave me. You are my first love. I left you and I am so sorry.” Mario cried out.

 Jesus lifted him up and held Mario in his arms. Mario wept still and Jesus cooed him. “No need for sorry. You have come back to me and all is forgiven.”

 Angel had been sitting on the couch. She watched the scene but had not said a word but rather was intently watching the interaction. She felt a tear flow down her cheek as she saw her daddy come back to Jesus. She ran out to the backyard and grabbed Payton and Tristan. They came running in and the boys jaws dropped in unison. Jesus looked at them and smiled.

 “You did a very good thing for your parents. You and your brothers.”

 Mario looked at Jesus. “What about my wife?”

 Jesus looked at Mario and raised an eyebrow. He wanted to help him but it was up to Mario to get her back.

 “Linda has, as you have, come back to me. You need to work things out with her. Through prayer and compromise, the both of you can get back together.”

 Mario watched as Jesus turned towards Gabriela. He looked at her with a smile that was wider then the whole of his face. Her face shone with a brilliance that no diamond could ever equal. Gabriela watched as Jesus turned his head to the others.

 “Witness the joy!”

 Jesus kissed Gabriela on the forehead and she could feel something happening. She could feel something growing out of her back. Angel was clapping and making bird motions with her arms. Gabriela giggled.

 “Really!”

 Angel nodded her head as did Payton and Tristan. Gabriela smiled and looked to Jesus.

 “Well my child, you did well. You brought the two people back to me as you were told to. You brought a few more along with you. I am very proud of you.”

 They started to leave when Mario spoke up.

 “Wait, now how am to get Linda back? I don’t know how.”

 Jesus took his hand and smiled. He stroke it slowly then stroked his head as father would a child’s.

 “Lift your need to God and trust He will answer. Remember God, the Father, is a God of Promise. He told the Israelite’s of old, IF YOU I WILL, God will answer your prayer.” Jesus turned back to Gabriela. “We must go. Her work is done here. She has done her job well but now it is time for them to work on it on their own.” He looked at Mario. “Do so in prayer and forgiveness. Talk, do not yell. Discuss not argue. Include those closest to you, your children. They have a say as well.”

 Mario nodded and took angel’s hand and his sons hands. They watched Gabriela and Jesus walkout the door. Angel looked at Mario and smiled. Mario wiped away the tears. He leaned down to kiss each one of his children’s foreheads. He looked out the window and they were gone. Angel jumped when she heard the phone ring. She picked it up.

 “Hello.” Angel said.

 “Hello baby, is daddy home?”

 Angel passed Mario the phone.

 “Hello.”

 “Mario, I want to come home.” Mario fell to his knees and wept openly. Angel looked at her brothers.

 “Mommy.”

 The boys smiled wide.

 “Yes, Yes, come home. We will come pick you up then we can talk.”

 Epilogue

 “Good morning Jesus, this is Angel. I wanted to let you know that it has been three years since Mommy came home. Things have been great. They don’t fight like they use to and they go to church every chance they get.

 “Jesus, the best part about it is that, you are gonna love this, is that they gave me a baby sister. When they were choosing a name, they chose Gabriela. I gots to go Jesus. Mom is calling and breakfast is ready. One thing though, let the baby mommy is carrying be a girl. He he he. I love you Jesus, talk to you soon.”

 FINI

Spiritual Baptism..Does It Save You!

What is Spiritual Baptism? Is it different than Water Baptism? Will it save your soul? Well let’s break each question down. Try to understand the difference and how it works for a Christian. Let’s start with something easy. Who is the Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. The three in One. The Spirit was with God when He created the world and the universe. (Let Us). Now some will say that is not what it means. That it means it was only God and no one else. Now if that were true then it would read “I will” but it doesn’t say that. It says “Let Us” meaning more than one.

Genesis 1:26

26 Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So there we have it. Let US make man in OUR image. Pretty simple. See God put into place the Trinity way back then. It was always the Three. Nothing was done without the Three.

The Spirit is the same Spirit that came down upon the disciples when they were all up in the upper room. The same Spirit that came upon Christ when he was baptized by John. The same Spirit that came down and struck all the Assyrians when Sennacherib mocked the Lord. (2 kings 18-25). The Spirit is through out the bible. Not always called the Spirit but is nonetheless.

BAPTISM!

God instituted Baptism for one reason and one reason only. An outward sign for cleansing of sin. Even when John roamed the earth, it was two system thing. “Repent and be baptized.”

We weren’t saved in spots so why should we be baptized in spots. Some people say that we should be sprinkled. Ever noticed that in the Bible, baptism is full immersion rather than sprinkled.

Baptism is a commanded by Jesus.

Matthew 28 :19 -20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Notice that Jesus says make disciples of all nation (bring them to Jesus) and then baptize them. Yup, dunk em!

What does this all mean. You need to be baptized in water after you get saved. There is no other choice. Becoming a Christian is a two fold process. Taking Christ, being washed in the blood. You get baptized in water to be cleansed of your sin.

SPIRITUAL BAPTISM!

1 Cor 12:13

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

So what is Spiritual Baptism. Well it was predicted by John The Baptist.

Mark 1:8

“I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

John baptized in water. He knew that you have to be cleansed before anything else could happen. Jesus himself predicted Spiritual Baptism.

Acts 1:5

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So here we see Jesus say the same thing. After baptism in water, then baptism in the spirit.

But still what is Spiritual Baptism? Well basically it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (in a nutshell). It happens after we have been saved and baptized. When does it happen? Well that is up for debate. Some get it when they get baptized in water, some get a a day or two later and some, like the apostles, some 50 days after Christ’s ascension, were baptized in the Spirit.

Do you need to be baptized in water to be baptized in the Spirit. No you don’t. There are many examples in the bible when they were filled with the Spirit and they were not baptized.

Luke 1:5

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”

Luke 1:41

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

There are many more. So many more that I will just put the Book, Chapter and Verse down.

Luke 1:67, Acts 2:4, Acts 4:8, Acts 4:31, Acts 9:37, Acts 13:9, Acts 13:52 and Eph 5:8

Being baptized or baptized in the Spirit will not save you. The only way to be saved is through the Acceptance of Jesus and taking Him as your Personal Lord and Saviour.

 

“Keep Looking Up!”

 

Say The Word

This story is inspired by a song called Say The Word by the Christian band White Heart. I hope you enjoy reading it and please let me know what you think.

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With vacant eyes she scanned the room. She didn’t want to be here. This was a depressing place and she was depressed enough as it was. The scars on her wrists were testament to that. She stared out the window. They, the birds and squirrels, were free, why wasn’t she? Tears started to well up in her eyes. She shook her head. She wasn’t going to cry.

 “Lunch time, everyone return to your rooms.” a voice said.

 She mechanically got up and returned to her cell. To her it was a cell, nothing else. The tray was slid through the slot in the door. She looked at it making her way to the tray. She could smell the food. She picked up the metal cap and looked. She took the roll and the Jello. She hated green Jello but it was better then Salisbury steak. She grabbed the milk and went back to her bed. She grabbed her name off the tag. Imia Wilson that was her name, she tucked it into her shirt pocket. Looking at the Jello and the bun she wondered how to eat them. She got off the bed and went to the tray. No knife.

 “Of course no knife, they think that we might off ourselves.”

 Imia settled down on the bed and ripped her bun in half. Using her right hand she put some of the green Jello between the bun halves. She bit down and smiled. `Not bad’ she thought to herself.

 “Better then the other crap they gave.”

 Imia ate slowly and drank her milk. She thought back to when she got here. She had tried to kill herself so many times. So many scars but no one seemed to care. She laid her head down and drifted off to sleep.

*****************************************************

 She woke up sometime later. She sat up and noticed her tray was gone and that the door to her cell was open. Imia sat on the bed and cocked her head. She didn’t hear any sounds. She stood up and headed to the door. She was not sure if she should go out or not. She started to back away.

 “Please don’t go. Come talk to me.”

 Imia looked out her door. Sitting in a chair was a man. He was dressed what looked to be street clothes.  She ventured out a little more. He smiled at her.

 “Please, come, sit with me. I will not hurt you. I promise.” He said as he motioned towards a chair.

 Imia walked towards the chair and then sat down. She looked at this man. What she thought were street clothes turned out to be something else. It was a robe or something like it. The sash was a dark brown. He wore sandals that were made of leather and very simple looking. He had long hair and a long beard. He looked like he belonged in a time long ago.

 “Who are you?”

 “My name is Simon.” he replied.

 “What are you doing here?” Imia asked

 “I am here to help you. That is why I was sent, to help you.”

 “What are you talking about? Who sent you?”

 Simon looked at her. He smiled softly. He pointed towards her heart. She looked at him with no emotion. She thought she was loosing her mind again.

 “No this is not real. You are not real. This is all a crazy dream, nothing but a deluded dream because of my depression.”

 Imia stood up quickly and ran back to her room. She shut the door and tried to forget. She pulled the covers over her head and hid. Now she wished for a way out. She wanted to die. To her dying was the best way out. She heard noises. Uncovering her head she saw people, nurses and doctors walking around. She jumped out of bed and walk into the common room, and then she saw him. He was still here, him and his old-fashioned clothes and sandals.  He waved at her and for some reason she waved back. A nurse walked in front of her and when she was gone, he was gone. Going back into her room she saw him sitting on her bed.

 “What are you doing?” she asked.

 “It looks like I am sitting on your bed.” he replied.

 She sat on a chair and looked at him. Her eyes fell to the floor. She was so sad.

 “Why do you cry?” Simon asked.

 Imia looked up at him. She had tears coming from her eyes. She ran her finger across her wrist. Simon looked at her. She held up her arms to him. He saw the scars. The multitude of times she had tried to end her life. He could see the scars on her heart as well.

 “Don’t you understand? I don’t want to live. I have tried so many times to end it all. If it wasn’t a knife then it was a hangman’s noose. If that didn’t work then it was pills. So many pills that my body was a walking drug store, all because no one would listen to me.

“I’ve been in this place for so long that I know the nurses by name. I don’t belong in here. I belong with my family. But that would mean they would have to deal with the problems that the elephant brings with it, but they don’t. They want nothing to do with me. God doesn’t even want anything to do with Me.” she replied.

 Simon looked at the floor. He knew how she felt. He had been depressed before. He was sad when he saw his Master whipped. He had been sad when he saw his Master carry that heavy cross up to Golgotha. He watched as the nails were driven into his Master’s wrists and feet. All the while he knew there was nothing he could have done about it.

 “I do know what you are going through. I wanted to die as well, but I chose to live.”

 Imia looked at him. She tried not to laugh. He just didn’t get it. Nothing he had gone through could be as bad as what she had gone through. Nobody knew the pain she suffered. No one ever would.

 “I see. Do you know what it is like to be a girl? Do you know what it like to live with depression? Have you any clue as to how it feels to be unloved or unwanted? Well do you?”

Simon looked at Imia with eyes that had seen those things. Had he ever lived with it, no. He was not a woman so woman problems were not his problems. Love was not a problem. The love he received was the greatest love of all.

“Do I know about pain, yes I do. Do I know about women problems; no I don’t, for I am not a woman. Do I know what it is like to unloved and unwanted, yes and no?

“I know the pain of no love. My wife said she loved me but she kept having other men in our bed. My mother use to say she loved me as she beat me. Was I unwanted, no? My wife needed me to bring money home. My mother needed me because she needed someone to beat.

 “Imia, you say you have it rough but you don’t. Other people have it far worse then you do. You have tried so many times to end your life but didn’t. Think about all the people that are dying and that want the chance to live.”

 Simon got up off the bed and headed towards the door. He turned back towards her Imia with tears in his eyes.

 “You don’t even know that someone loves you more then you can know. He did everything for you. All you have to do is say the word.”

 Imia looked up and Simon was gone. Tears started to roll down her cheeks. She didn’t know why but fall they did. Imia cried for what seemed like hours. She put her head on the back of the chair and closed her eyes. The entire place was dark when Imia opened her eyes again. She looked out the window and saw the lighted clock. It read eleven pm. Her neck was sore. She rubbed it slowly feeling the pain go away. She looked to the tray and saw her dinner. She grabbed the roll and nibbled on it. She tried to figure out where she was. Then she remembered, still in the hospital. She went to her bed and slept. She did not dream.

******************************************

Morning came and so did the knock on the door. It was shrink time. She quickly got dressed and then the door opened. The shrink looked at her with eyes that knew no compassion. She knew he didn’t care but only did his job. He started to walk off and she followed him. It wasn’t like she had a choice. He opened the door to the interview room and let Imia go in first. He watched as she sat down. He sat down across from her. He brought out his dinky little recorder and spoke into it.

“Interview with Imia Wilson, time is eight thirty three am. Now Miss Wilson, how are you doing?”

Imia looked at the doctor and sneered. He knew she didn’t want to be here. He also knew that she was allowing this interview because it killed time.

 “Alright, I will tell you how I am doing. I am in a place I don’t want to be in. I am locked up most of the time. I am treated like an inmate in prison. No one trusts me. People put food into my room but leave me nothing to eat with. No fork or spoon. So I have to eat with my hand. I’m not a patient, I am a dog. That is the way I am treated. Like a freaking dog!”

 The shrink looked at her. He knew that she was venting, but the lack of eating utensils bothered him.

 “What do you mean no fork or spoon? There has to be one or the other.”

 “Well there isn’t. I have never received one. Even when I ask for one, they won’t give me one.”

 “Well that is not ri….”

 Imia cut him off. She was tired of this. All the questions and all the false concern, she knew it was false.

 “Look, you don’t care about me. You are only doing your job and I understand that. But if you want to do something, then get me a fork, plastic or otherwise to eat with.”

 The shrink sat back on his chair. He looked at Imia and tried to figure her out. One minute this long haired woman was so fragile and the next she was so strong and vibrant. He wanted to know so much about her but she was being so closed.

 “Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up? How many siblings do you have? What about pets?”

 Imia looked at the doctor. He wasn’t so bad after all.

 “I will tell you anything you want to know on one condition.”

 “And what might that be?” he asked.

 “You tell me about yourself first. If you are going to hear all about me then it is only fair that I should know all about you.”

 He nodded his head. It did seem fair. To be able to treat her he must be open with her. He smiled.

“Okay. My name is David Matthew King. No relation to the master of horror. I was born May Fifteenth Nineteen Forty Nine in Vida, Oregon. When I was five, my family moved to Steamboat, Oregon. I grew up there, went to school there and even married the town sweetheart there. After I got married I went to the University of Oregon. Then off to doctor’s school. In the meantime I had three children, bought a house and then had two more kids.

 “I have been a practicing Psychiatrist for fifteen years. I have two sisters, three brothers and both my parents are dead.”

 Dr. King looked at Imia. He had a small grin on his face. His bright eyes had a certain kind of childlike gleam in them.

 “Okay, now it is your turn.”

 Imia squirmed in her seat. She didn’t think that he would call her bluff. She sighed softly the sat up straight.

 “Okay, my full name is Sarah Imia Wilson. I was born February Twenty ninth Nineteen Sixty Eight. We celebrated it either on the twenty eighth or the first non leap years. So in fact I am only ten years old. I was born in a little town called Globe, Oregon. When I was four, we moved to just outside Portland. I grew up there. I didn’t graduate with honors; in fact I didn’t graduate at all. I have a grade eleven education. My mother and father are both still alive and I have two brothers, one sister and you wouldn’t know it because they never come to see me.”

 Doctor King watched her face all the time she was speaking. It tormented her that no one in her family would come see her. It also bothered her that she was in here. Of that there was no doubt. He wanted to help this girl but was unsure how to. She spit venom every time she talked about being here.

 “Okay I think that is enough for today. I am starting a group for those who have tried to kill themselves. I would like it if you were to come. You would get to talk to people aside from yourself and you might even make some friends. Will you come?” He asked.

 Imia looked at him. He sounded so sincere. The last doctor she had didn’t give a thought about her. He was just doing his job.

 “Well… sure, but if I feel uncomfortable I can leave, no questions asked.”

“Agreed.” he replied.

 Imia stood up and started towards the door. The doctor opened the door for her and after saying their goodbyes, he watched her walk away.  He sat back down at the table and rewound the tape. He listened to it again and again. He kept hearing the same thing. He heard desperation. All the while during the session, Imia wrung her hands. Standing up he looked at her file. He walked out and went to get some more information on Imia Wilson.

**********************************************

 Imia sat and rocked back and forth. She was so sad. She wanted to go home. Talking to the doctor didn’t help much. She heard knocking on the door and she tried to ignore it but the knocking continued. She got up and looked out the window in the door and saw a nurse. She had something in her hand. Imia opened the door and the nurse handed her the note. Imia took it and sat back on her bed and read it.

 “Come to the recreation room. I want to talk to you about something.”

 The note was signed `Say the Word, Simon.’ Imia quickly changed her clothes and headed off the rec room. She stood at the door wondering whether she should. She could hear people playing the dumb games. No pool table or anything like that. She pushed open the door and walked in. No one looked up except for Simon. He stood up and waved. She waved back half heartedly. She didn’t realize that she had a smile on her face.

 “Hello Imia. I am glad that you chose to come. Please sit; I want to talk to you.”

 Imia sat down across from Simon. She looked into his eyes and saw something or was it someone. She was not sure. She smiled softly.

 “Hello Simon. What do you want to talk to me about?”

 Simon shifted in his seat. He knew he could tell her about Jesus but he never knew how to start off. He quietly said a small prayer.

 “I want to help you. I want you to have peace. I want you to know that there is someone that loves you with all your scars, warts and all the unpleasant things in your life. Someone loves you. He was born for you. He died for you. He rose from the dead for you and everyone who is searching for the right stuff. He loves you with a never ending love.”

 Imia smiled. She knew that Simon meant well. She also knew that no one could love her. Not even God. One look at the scars on her wrists would stop the love.

 “Simon, thank you for your concern but no one could love me. The scars on the outside are bad enough but the scars on the inside are even worse. The emotional baggage I carry is enough to send anyone screaming into the night. I can sense that you are doing what you think is right but I am not worth saving. Do I want to be your friend, yes? But please, no more talk about love.”

 Imia got up and walked away. Simon didn’t get the chance to say anything else, He looked at the floor.

“I failed.”

 “You did not fail my child. You planted the seed and now it is time to water that seed. Show her the same kind of love all the time and the seed will germinate. I have great plans for her.”

 Simon heard the voice. He recognized his Master’s voice. He could tell whose voice it was. His Master’s voice was so gentle and full of love. The enemy’s voice was so full of vile and anger. He spit venom. Simon got on his knees and started to pray.

 “Master of all, you are the mighty God. You are the God of Israel. You are the God of Jacob, Abraham and Isaac. You are the God that parted the Red Sea.

 “Dear God of All, I planted the seed. Help me to not only water but also help to germinate it. You are the God who sent His only Son into this world so that your children might have peace and salvation and if any of your children needs peace it is Imia.

“Lord, she is so broken up inside. The scars on her wrists are not the only scars she has. She has scars on her heart and soul. She has been hurt so much by her family and friends that it has caused her to hurt herself.

 “Father, you know her pain. You know the pain of friends leaving you. You know the emotional pain she is having. Father, touch her. Let her see you in me. She needs you so much and she doesn’t even know it. She has cried out to you and doesn’t know it.

 “Lord, I am not one of those who believe without seeing. I saw you, walked with you. I talked with you and learned from you. Dearest Jesus, let me be the one that brings Imia to you, but Lord, let your will be done. I know through someone, Imia will come to know you. For Your glory Lord Jesus, Amen.”

 Simon stood up and walked out of the rec room.

*****************************************************

 Dr. King sat at his desk. He had read and reread Imia’s’ file. So many drugs and none of them did any good. Each drug that had been tried caused so much trouble. One caused her to sleep while another caused her not to sleep. While another caused rashes and itching. He spent the next hour trying to find a drug that would work without a thousand side effects. He read about the old ones then about the new ones. He could use Valium but there was too much chance of addiction. He decided to forget about the old ones and new ones. She had never been given Prozac before.

 King felt something for this girl. He was a doctor and he had a good bedside manor. He felt compassion for people but this was different. It was sympathy. She was not a happy camper. He had to try. He got up and went to the nurse’s station.

 “Nurse Sharp, I need to change a patient’s meds.”

 “Which patient Dr?”

 “Sarah Imia Wilson.”

 “Oh yes. What is she on right now?”

 “It is one of the older one. Hold on a minute. Here is it is, Immigate.”

 “Yes, that was around when I was her age, old and outdated and too many side effects. What is the new drug?”

 “Well I want to start with Prozac. If that does not get the desired effect then we will try something else. She has been on Immigate for some long and it is not doing the job.”

 “Very well doctor. When do you want the change over?”

 “Tomorrow is fine.  I want to take her off the immigate slowly. She has been on it for so long that her body has become accustomed. We want to ween her off the Immigate.  Start at ten milligrams twice a day. See how that works for a month or so. We can increase the dosage if needed then.”

 “Very well.” The nurse replied.

 Nurse Sharp walked away at the same time as Dr. King went to see Imia. He got to her room and knocked on the door. Imia opened it and let him in. It was plain to see that she had been crying. He sat down on the chair and looked at her.

 “What is the matter?”

 Imia looked at him. She didn’t want to talk but he just sat there.

 “What if I don’t want to talk.” she said through a tear.

 “Then I will sit here till you want to talk.”

 Imia looked at him with questioning eyes. He was nothing like her old doctor. He didn’t give a flying fig what happened.

 “You are nothing like Dr. Campbell. He would pop in and ask how I was feeling then leave. He didn’t care. He put me on Immigate then just went on his merry way. You are different. You seem to care.”

 “Well Dr. Campbell was from a different era. I am here to help you if I can. Will you come to the group?”

 “Yes I will come. Maybe Simon will be there.”

 “Simon. Who is Simon?”

 “Some guy in here. He is dressed in some really old looking clothes. He keeps saying “Say the Word”. I haven’t got the foggiest clue about what he is talking about.”

 “Well maybe he will be, one never knows.  Now for the reason I came. Right now you are Immigate for your depression and from what I have seen it is not doing the job. I am changing your meds to Prozac. Let’s see how it works, okay.”

 Imia nodded her head.  She had been on so many drugs that she didn’t know one from another.

 “When will the change happen?”

 “Well Immigate has some withdrawal problems if taken off of it too quickly. So I think we will do it like this. Today is Immigate and tomorrow is Prozac. Then next day a lower dose of Immigate, then the Prozac and so on and so forth. In a week or so you will be off the Immigate completely and on the Prozac full time. We will see how that goes. Clinical depression is not an easy thing to control. So we take it one day at a time. Okay.”

 Imia nodded her head. She didn’t have the least bit of understanding of what he just said, but he was the doctor.

 “Whatever you say, you are the doctor. You know more then I do.” She replied.

 “Good. I am not like your old doctor. He was more concerned about medication where I am more concerned with recovery. That is why I started the group, so that you and people like you could have a release valve. To talk to people that actually know what you are going through. Tonight after dinner will be the first group. I will see you there?”

 Imia looked at the floor the back at King. She nodded her head then put it down on the pillow and was soon asleep. King left quietly and closed the door. He walked down to the nurse’s desk and looked for Nurse Sharp. He found Nurse Sarita. She was a short Latino woman with striking blue eyes. She looked up at Dr. King and smiled.

 “Yes doctor, may I help you?”

 “Yes, can I get the chart on a Simon? I don’t have a last name. Maybe you can help. Look him up yourself or get someone else to find all the files of all the men named Simon. Imia Wilson talked about meeting a Simon wearing weird clothes. She said she met him at least twice. I would like to speak to him if he exists. You can reach me in my office.” King replied.

 King left and went to his office. He settled down for a long read. Imia’s file was rather thick. Seems Dr. Raymond made lots of notes but nothing else. King shook his head slowly as he read. He lifted his head when he heard a knock on the door.

 “Come In.”

 The door opened and Nurse Sarita was there. She had nine folders in her hand.

 “These are all the patients named Simon. There are nine of them. I checked them out. None of them seemed fit the bill.”

 King took them and quickly scanned them. He looked up at nurse Sarita and smiled.

 “Thank you. I will show these to Imia. Maybe one of them is the one.”

 Nurse Sarita nodded and smiled. She opened the door and left. King picked up one of the files and started to peruse it then heard another knock.

 “Come.” he said.

 Nurse Sarita opened the door again. She smiled her sweet smile at him. She passed him another file.

 “There is another file. I wasn’t sure if I should being it or not so I left it. This is it. The patients name is Nicholas. But according to the file he goes by Simon. According to the file he believed himself to be Simon the Zealot.”

 “Simon the Zealot?” King answered.

 Nurse Sarita looked at him. She nodded her head.

 “You don’t know your Bible do you Dr. King?”

 Doctor King shook his head. He was not up on something he had no use for.

 “Simon the Zealot was one of Jesus’ disciples. He was a hater of Rome. He gave up his hatred to follow Jesus. I know this sounds crazy but this man died five years ago. There is no way she could have seen or spoken to him.”

 “I see. Well I will show her the picture of him. Maybe she dreamed it.” King replied.

 Nurse Sarita nodded again. She opened the door and did not return. Dr. King looked at the file. Nicholas Richardson, He was admitted in nineteen fifty four for schizophrenia.  He was twenty one when he was admitted and he died in nineteen sixty six at the age of thirty three from heart failure.

 “Hmmm, she must be dreaming.” King said to no one.

*********************************************

 He poured over Imia’s case for what seemed for hours. He got to know her inside and out. Her parents came to see her very infrequently. He siblings never came at all. Not counting this term on the ward, Imia had been here eleven times starting from when she was seventeen. She had tried to kill herself twelve times. She had two abortions, three miscarriages and one still birth. She has one living child that she has never seen since the child was born. Her husband left her after the last child was still born claiming that it was her fault.  That is when she had tried to kill herself for the eighth time.

 King got up shaking his head. He went to the doctor’s lounge. He found a seat and slowly drank the coffee he had just got. He was waiting for someone to come in. As if on cue, the person he was waiting for came in.  He waved at him. The doctor joined him.

 “What’s up David?”

 “Well Bob, I have a question for you. Do you know Imia Wilson?”

 “You mean the Suicide Queen?”

 David looked at him, “What do you mean `Suicide Queen’?”

 “Well she has tried so many times to kill herself that she should have set some kind of record by now. Look don’t get me wrong, I think it is awful what has happened to her. But trying to end your life is just calling out for attention.

 “I realize that she has never had her siblings here to see her and as for her parents, well they don’t seem to care much. But that is still no reason to try to kill yourself. It is just an attention getter saying `look at me poor pitiful me. I am so messed up. No one loves me, no one cares about me, and no one likes me.’ Please if she were to just give it a rest and get on with her life then maybe we could all get on with ours.  For to try so many times to off herself and still not succeed, well she is not doing it right.”

 Dr. King looked at Bob Jackson. He stood up and just shook his head.

 “A trained professional and that is all you can come up with. Where is your compassion? My word, you can do better then that. I pray that the next person who tries to end their life doesn’t end up with you as their doctor.”He said as he walked away.

 Dr. King made his way back to his office. He shook his head and softly giggled to himself. What a jerk. He arrived at his office to see Imia sitting by it.

“Hello Imia, what can I do for you?”

 “Nothing, I just thought we, well, we could talk for a few minutes.”

 King opened the door. Imia looked in and then sat on the nearest chair. She tried to curl up but was unable to. King made mental note of that.

 “What is the matter?”

 “Well I just talked to my mom.”

 “Oh that is good to hear. What did she say?”

 “Well I asked her if she was coming to see me soon. She just laughed. She said that if she wanted to see a nut all she had to do was open a can of them. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.  I just wanted to die. I cried and she just laughed.”

 Dr. King put down his pen. He looked at a girl that had already been through so much and now to put this on her. No wonder she wanted and tried to end her own life.

 “I am so sorry. She should not have said that. Would you like for me to speak with her?”

 “If you want to but she won’t talk to you either.”

 “Fine, I will call her tomorrow. Now as for today, would you talk about it in group?”

 “Yes, if you like.”

 “Good then. Group is in about ten minutes so we can walk down together. While we are walking I want to show you some pictures. I want to see if you recognize anyone. Okay.”

 Imia nodded her head. She liked Dr. King. He listened to her. They walked down towards the conference room. He showed her the pictures. She shook her head at all of them. She didn’t recognize any of them. He opened the door for her when they got to group. There were other people there. Imia scanned the room looking for Simon but she didn’t see him.

**********************************************

 “Welcome to group people. My name is Doctor David King. When we are in group, first names shall be used at all times and straight talk only here. You say what you mean. You may call me David. So let’s get started. Who wants to go first?”

 A man stood up. He was tall with short brown hair. He hid his hands as to not show all the scars. He looked weather beaten like life had been beating the crap out of him. His face was lined with creases.

 “HI, my name is Robert George. You can call me Bob. I am a clinically depressed person. I have tried to kill myself twenty five times. The last time was three weeks ago. I put a razor to my arm and then stopped. I was going to slice open my veins and bleed myself dry. I put the razor down and then booked myself into this place. I call it the Loonies Shangri-La.”

 Bob sat down and another person stood up. She was tall with long black hair that had been braided. She pulled down her sleeves to hide the track marks on her arms. She held her hands in such a way to hide the razor marks on her wrists.

 “My name is Ruanne Jolan. You can call me Ruanne. If we become friends, I might let you call me Ru. I tried to kill myself as well. That is why I am here.”

 Ruanne sat down and one after another the rest of the group stood up and gave a name and a brief reason why they were here, most of them for the same reason. They had all, in one way or another, tried to kill themselves. Suddenly it was Imia’s turn.

 “Hi my name is Sarah Imia Wilson. You can call me Imia. I have also tried to kill myself. Twelve times I have tried and twelve times I have failed. If it wasn’t drugs then it was razor blades. If they didn’t work then a noose. I even tried to kill myself by sticking my head in a gas oven. Unfortunately for me, the gas had been turned off earlier that day. Someone or something always stopped me.”

 Sitting down, Imia wiped tears from her eyes. She looked at the floor. No one would want to talk to her now. She has revealed all of her flaws and her scars, even one or two that no one knew about. She had showed the imperfectness of her life. She shouldn’t be here. She was nothing. Standing up to leave she looked at the floor.

 “Wait girl, where do you think, you are going?” Ruanne asked.

 “I’m leaving. I don’t belong here. I am a failure. I deserve to die.” Imia answered.

 “Oh yeah, you deserve to die. Is that what you think? You think that you have it so bad. Look here.” Ruanne ripped up her sleeves to reveal her arms.” You think I got these by doing embroidery. These are track marks from needles. I’ve been trying to kill myself since I was nine. If it wasn’t heroin then it was cocaine. It didn’t matter my drug of choice. If I could inject it then I used it. Now you sit your butt down cause honey, you belong here. You need to be reminded that if for nothing else that you are not the suicide queen.”

 Imia sat back down. She looked at Ruanne and then at the floor. Dr. King stood up and walked to the door. He closed it again then looked at Imia. Tears flowed down her face like a dripping tap. He was about to speak when a knock came at the door. He opened it to find Simon standing at it. He looked at King then walked into the room. He stood in front of all of them then sat beside Imia. She looked up and then latched onto him. He held her close for a minute then gently pushed her away.

 “Say the word Imia.”

 “What word? You keep saying that but you don’t say what word.”

 Simon stood up. He smiled but was frustrated. He looked at the rest of them. Ruanne looked at him.

 “It’s you. You came to me and said the same thing.”

 Simon smiled and nodded his head. He nodded his head at each one of them. They all looked at him.

 “Look, two thousand years ago a man came to take all your sins and carry them to Calvary. He didn’t do it because He had to. He did because He wanted to. This is the same man who cried when you tried to kill yourself. Each one of you, even you Dr. King. “

 King looked at him. He tried to figure out how he knew.

 “No one knows about that, no one.”

 “One person knew Doctor. You might ask yourself, each one of you, why He cries.  He cries because He loves you. He cries because whether you know it or not, you are His children. You cry out to Him every time you try to end your precious life.

 “Now I know I must sound like a madman and you would not be the first. But what I tell you is the truth. God loved you so much that He gave His only Son for you. He did it because it was His plan.

 “Jesus didn’t have to die but He did. He didn’t have to bear all that pain and shame but He did. He knew what He was doing. He looked down through time and saw the pain that the world was going to go through. He died to take the sins of the world upon His shoulders.”

 Imia stood up and walked over to Simon. She looked into his eyes. She could see the truth in them. He spoke the truth and he saw in her eyes that she knew.

 “Jesus wants nothing to do with me or them for that matter. We are all damaged goods. Too many times we have tried to kill ourselves. No God in heaven or anywhere else would want us. We are just not worth saving.”

 “That is where you are wrong Imia. You and the ones like you who are sick are the reasons that Jesus came. People think that Jesus came for the healthy. He didn’t. He came for the sick. The sick just like you. Just like the rest of you. He even came for the one that has no use for the word of God.

 “All you have to do is say the word and Jesus will dwell within you. He will enter your heart and start the work that will make you into the being you should be. Drugs and drink will not help. Death will not help. Only the Son of God can help. Only He can give you the freedom that you crave. I will be here if you want to know more.”

 Simon walked over to the nearest chair and sat down. Dr. King looked at him with a perplexed look on his face. How could he have known what he said? How could he have known that he had tried to kill himself all those years ago?

 “Simon, this group is for those who have tried to commit suicide, if you don’t mind.”

 Simon stood up and walked to the door. He turned around and looked at the group.

 “He is yours for the taking. All you have to do is say the word.” Simon walked though the door leaving the group looking at each other.

 Imia looked at the floor. If her own parents wanted nothing to do with her why would God. She got up and went to the door. She looked back then went through. She found Simon sitting in the chair by the door. She sat next to him.

 “Why would Jesus want anything to do with the likes of me?”

 Simon looked at Imia and touched her face softly. He had a tear in his eye. He looked at her. She looked into his eyes. She saw a man. His hands were stretched out. She could see the scars on his hands. They looked like they went right through. He smiled at her. A tear ran down Imia’s’ face.

 “You saw Jesus didn’t you?”

 Imia nodded her head. She started to cry. The tears wouldn’t stop.

 “Say the word Imia. Say you want Jesus. Say the word.”

 Imia looked at the floor. She wanted to but was afraid. She was ashamed. She had tried so many times to kill herself.

 “I don’t know.” she whispered.

 Simon lifted her head and smiled, “Those who come to Jesus don’t know that is what they want until they do it. They fight and fight and then they take Jesus. All of a sudden they forget why they fought. They have let the barrier down and let Jesus come in. Jesus cleans house and takes out the trash. After He is finished, there is nothing left but the love He gives.”

 Imia sat and looked at her arms. The scars and the pain they pain they caused. The fact that they showed that she had tried so many time to end her life She looked back into Simon’s eyes and saw the man again. She saw the scars on his hands again. She cried openly. She looked at Simon and nodded her head.

 “Yes I want Jesus. Help me.”

 Simon smiled. He took her hands then heard other voices. The rest of the group were standing at the door. Each one of them had tears in their eyes. They gathered around Simon and Imia.

 “Please kneel with me.” Simon said.

 They all kneeled with Simon. Dr. King was there too. Nurse Sarita came over and put her hand on Kings’ shoulder. She put her other hand on Imia’s’ shoulder. She joined them as Simon led them through the sinner’s prayer.

********************************************

 Three Years Later

 Imia sat in her office. She was getting ready for group. She talked to one of the girls in the group. The girls looked into Imia’s’ eyes and saw a man. He was holding up His hands showing her the wounds on them.

 “Who is that man in your eyes?”

 Imia looked at the girl and then smiled softly. She looked at her own scars.

 “Say the word.”

 Imia got up and walked with the girl to the group room. Walking in Imia smiled and started to talk.

 

Finis

Baptism, Does It Save You!

Sorry to tell you but no! The act of baptism does not save you in the least. To be baptized first you have to take Jesus as your own. The act of taking Jesus saves you, the baptism, seals the deal.

After taking Christ, you are baptized so that you may receive the Holy Spirit. Yup believe it or not the Holy Spirit does not indwell till you are baptized. Some put it off and some never get it but the Bible is very clear. Baptism should be done right after taking the Lord.

Now some will tell you that baby baptism is okay, but there is no Biblical scripture to back it up. No where in the Bible does it say that. Beside, to be baptized is a personal thing and the last time I checked, a baby didn’t say yes or no. The baby has no idea what is going on. To it, it is getting wet, that is about all the baby knows. But we are not talking child baptism which is a whole other question altogether.

Is the act of the baptism enough to save your soul. Well if it was the only thing needed at the time sure but it doesn’t work like that. The simple act of being dunked under water is not enough. 1st Peter reads thus.

1 Peter 3:21

21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God [b]for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

So what does this mean. Simply put, the baptism is of no use unless you are saved by The Blood Of The Lamb! Jesus died then he rose again. Through his resurrection, you are saved by the baptism. The two go hand in hand.

Let me give you an example.

Acts 8:26-40

26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” ([a]This is a desert road.) 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his [b]chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this [c]chariot.”30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:

He was led as a sheep to slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth.
33 In humiliation His judgment was taken away;
Who will [d]relate His [e]generation?
For His life is removed from the earth.”

34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [[f]And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the [g]chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, [h]but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip [i]found himself at [j]Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.

Notice in 36 it reads that the eunuch listens then sees the water. He jumps out of the  chariot and wants to be baptized but Philip responded with . “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

With that the eunuch is baptized but not before taking Jesus as his own.

Even Jesus was baptized but that was a different kind of baptism. As Jesus was sinless, it was not a baptism to cleanse. His was a baptism of announcement. The minute Jesus came up out of the water, God himself spoke.

Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and [a]he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and[b]lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is[c]My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

John 1:29-34

29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who [a]has a higher rank than I,for He existed before me.’ 31 I did not recognize [b]Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing [c]in water.” 32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize [d]Him, but He who sent me to baptize [e]in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes [f]in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”

Mark 1:9-11

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens [a]opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

Luke 3:21-23

21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

I asked my best friend and brother John Howard about Jesus’ baptism. It was not a baptism to cleanse sin and he responded with.

 “You’re right – it wasn’t for cleansing from sin. And because Jesus never sinned, he didn’t need John’s baptism (which was to show that people repented of their sins (Mt 3:11). When John didn’t want to baptize Jesus, Jesus said to do it “to fulfil all righteousness” or “to carry out all that God requires”. We see in Mk 16:16 that baptism is a sign of belief, and according to John 3:16-18, only believing in Jesus is necessary for salvation. Once we believe ( and are baptized as a sign of our belief) we learn to follow Him and be His disciple, as our Saviour and Lord.”

Jesus is perfect. He can be nothing else for He is the Son of God. God made flesh so that we might, by way of salvation through the lamb, enter into heaven. The sacrifice made, for us, on our behalf, even though we did not deserve the sacrifice made.  We are washed in His blood.

So does baptism, in itself actually save you. No. You can be drowned, dunked, sprinkled and sprayed and guess what. It is not going to save you. Just like sitting your fanny in a church pew every Sunday is not going to save you. You can do it til the day you die and you will still not get to dwell with the Father.

Salvation is a two fold (simple) thing.

1 You come to know the Jesus I know. The holy Son of God. The one who died for you. Taking him as your own. Accepting Him as you Lord and Saviour.  Letting Him into your heart. Letting Him guide you in your walk. Oh and you have to mean it.

2 Being baptized. Take Jesus, be dunked in His name.

Very simple. Sure there are ministers out there that are going to say that it is a little more complicated than that. Well in fact it’s not. Look back at the Eunuch. Accept Jesus..be baptized. Simple!