When The Sky Comes Falling Down

At college, my group of friends and I got an idea to write our own story. We’ve been building a world from scratch, writing plot-line details, and creating our own characters. This is the sketch for my personal character.

A crowd of rowdy men was gathered around various, rickety tables within a dark, inn tavern. The counter towards the back was lined with disoriented, hulking drunkards discussing subjects of all sorts, ranging from dirty politics to the latest street gossip. There were no windows to reveal the faint rays of sunlight receding from the twilight sky; and thus being the night was afoot, little good waited within the shadows of Trevethan.

As business carried on, three men discreetly entered the tavern and found a table at the far corner, across from the entrance. The moment they sat down, an enormous man from across the room looked over his shoulder and paused. With an aura of disbelief, he stood up with widening eyes and let out a heavy laugh. With a confused smile on his face, the man weaved his way through the packed tables, walked up to the three men, and slammed his fist on the rotting wood.

“Three weeks! Three weeks and you all have the audacity to come back alive! We couldn’t find any of you! We assumed you were dead!” Of the three men, one had a long cloak, and the other two wore dark, military uniforms. The cloaked man reclined back with a grin and replied, “Stake-outs are quite something, they never turn out how you expect them to.” The man in front of the table straightened his back and squinted his eyes. Crossing his arms, he lowered his head and snuffed out, “What happened?” It was obvious from apparel that the cloaked man was the leader of the other two sitting to his left and right. The soldier on the left muffled a laugh, while the other took a deep, nervous breath. “After a week,” explained the cloaked man, “we concluded that the premises was vacant. We then proceeded to scout the area to search for any clues of our targets’ whereabouts.”

The large man grabbed a chair from a nearby table, pulled it up, and sat down with a serious demeanor. The cloaked man leaned up from his reclined position and placed his elbows on the wooden surface, reflecting the aura of the man across from him. “We were ambushed. There were others after our targets as well. As for us, we were at the right place at the wrong time. Outmanned and outgunned, they took us hostage to interrogate us about what we knew.” He hesitated after finishing his sentence, as a smirk grew on his face. “Why are you smiling?!” the man retorted. “Hah! What could we tell them?!” “So, then-“ “How did we escape?” interrupted the cloaked man. The large man nodded with interest. “Let’s just say –  they left the back door unlocked.”

As the cloaked man finished speaking, he spotted something across the room. He could see, just above the large man’s right shoulder, an arm lifting with a handgun, and out of reflex, the cloaked man quickly and intensely spoke, “Down!” With a unified downward motion, all four of the men instantly veered downward as a CRACK resounded across the whole tavern, and a bolt of electricity whizzed right over their heads. In an instant, the cloaked man hurled himself over the table and burst across the tavern. He knew the shot was meant for them, and he knew it was an experienced marksman because the bullet passed through an entire tavern full of drunkards.

Lunging through the back door, he was able to see the backside of the shooter dash out of the dark alley. “Sky!” shouted one of the soldiers running across the tavern, but it was too late; he was already at the end of the alley, turning into the street. The chase had begun.

He could see the shooter dashing through the filthy streets. Although it was night, there were still civilians walking about, and a shot from ground level would be risky at best. Risking loss of ground, Sky rushed to the nearest side wall and climbed with all haste to the rooftops. He instantly spotted the man sprinting through the dispersed crowd. Quick on his feet, running and leaping from roof to roof, he was slowly but surely gaining on him. They were nearing the outskirts of Trevethan, which meant that he had to act soon.

Unbeknownst to the man, his pursuer was almost parallel with him as both of them neared a clearing outside of the town. Bounding onto the final rooftop, Sky, with one last burst of speed, leaped off of the roof, throwing his knife full speed at the man’s leg while in mid-air, and pounced on him. The man, thrown forward by the downward force, rolled away from Sky and let out a shout of pain as he stood up and pulled the knife out of his leg. Chucking it to the ground, the man drew a blade from his side and bolted towards Sky to stab him. Sky, reaching behind his back, drew a bow-blade and quickly spun around, dodging his foe’s lunge. With the momentum of his spin, Sky swung towards the man’s shoulder, but he deflected it – just barely, and with a shove forward, the man stumbled backward gasping for air.

Sky observed the man’s face in the moonlight and tilted his head in confusion. “I don’t know who you are.” The man stumbled to the side and clenched his leg in an attempt to stop the bleeding. “It was because of you that my friends are dead!” grunted the wounded man. “Which friends?” “The Wrythom brothers!” Sky’s knuckles grew white as he clenched his bow blade even tighter. “They were serial killers.” “They loved me!” “They were insane.” “They were family!” “They were dealt justice.” The man glared at Sky who took a step back to soak in the absurdity of this man’s mind.

As this dialogue was taking place, Sky heard the sound of electricity building up, followed by a ZAP, but before he could react, he felt a surge of pain come from his lower right back from the impact of a bolt. Falling forward, he was able to recover one-eighty degrees just in time to see another man twenty yards away in the moonlight. Without hesitating, he drew his handgun and, before the man could shoot again, shot his shooter hand. The man, though in intense pain from his badly wounded hand, reached to pull out a second gun. Sky, seeing this motive, and knowing his gun’s cool-down would be a few seconds too long, dived for his knife two yards away, picked it up while rolling forward, and exploding upwards, flung it eighteen yards, burying it in the man’s heart. Sky’s core undergarment was impenetrable, yet he could tell at least a few ribs were broken.

After taking mental note of his wounds, he turned around to see his original foe had gained a good amount of distance up a nearby hill and had just reached an abandoned four-story storage house by the edge of a river. With a scowl, Sky mumbled to himself, “Two can play this game,” and he began his ascent.

Reaching the abandoned storage house, he crept up to the side of the front entrance. He moved alongside the storage house until he reached the corner, and looking over to the other side, he spotted an inconspicuous, secondary entrance. Backing against the wall, he side-stepped until he reached the door; he then slowly twitched the handle to see if it was unlocked, which it was. As carefully as ever, he opened the door just enough so he had room to slip in. The main floor was concrete, and boxes were stacked up against the walls. “He must be on the upper floors,” he thought to himself, “Simple rules of a solid ambush: stay in the dark, stay in the quiet, stay where they’ll come, then kill.”

Noiselessly gliding to the far wall, he crept up the stairs, and when halfway up, he examined the second floor. Though dark, he could tell it was clear. Calmly stepping onto the second floor, he leaned back against a large door. The locking mechanism that had once kept it shut was completely broken, so when his back tapped it ever so slightly, it swung open to the river behind him. He turned around to look down at the rushing waters from two stories up. It appeared that at one point, a bridge connected the storage house to the opposite side of the river, but it was no longer there. Turning back around, he paused to take in the situation and strategize as to how he would overcome his new foe.

It was then that he felt a drop of something on his right shoulder. Looking down to what dropped, he rubbed his finger against the liquid, smelled it, and then tapped it against his tongue. Blood. He looked up to the floorboards above him, and hearing a few creaks above the sound of rushing water, he realized that his foe was directly over him. Nonetheless, he still did not have a clear shot from below; the man was in subtle motion, and a shot missed would give away his position and make the situation worse. That’s when he recalled the architectural layout of the storage house. There would be a window behind the man as well. Looking back down to the dusty concrete in front of him, he noticed something across the room: a steam generator with electrically wired pipes running up to the roof.

His strategy was set. Sky, drawing his two bow-blades from under his cloak, connected them with a mechanical maneuver, attaching the string with an effortless motion. He then took his handgun and held it in the same hand that held his bow. With his back to the open doorway above the river, he aimed his bow and handgun towards the generator. Pulling the trigger, a bolt of electricity quickly caused an explosion, sending flames shooting up to the roof. He drew an arrow, pulled the bowstring back as far as he could, and then leaned all of his weight backward. Solid as stone, smooth as air, falling in reverse to a ninety-degree angle, gravity pulled him towards the river in slow motion. As the fire illuminated the man about to jump out of the window to safety, he looked down to the river, and his last sight was that of an oncoming arrow. As for Sky, before he could reposition his body-weight to sleekly dive into the river, the water slammed against his upper torso, unwrapping its slithery arms around his rag-doll state, carrying him down the river.

Darkness. Silence. Silence? No, there was a sound: a familiar sound. The sound of an angry crowd was hollering about something. A haze came into vision; a blur etched itself into sight. Six men stood lined up on a scaffold. The scaffold stood in the middle of a town square, and from the looks of the crowd surrounding them, they were thieves, criminals, and murderers. These men had something very horrific to do with this town. The atmosphere of the people held tears of lost family, fumes of revenge, and shouts for justice. It appeared that these men had stolen, killed, and escaped this town, yet were later captured, and now they faced their judgment.

Towards the back of the crowd stood a young boy with an escort. He was maybe thirteen years old, and his clothing was that of military order. The man escorting him must have been one of his commanders from boarding school. These were the men that killed his family, and streaming down the boy’s eyes were the tears of regret. If only he had been home, he could have helped his father protect his mother and two sisters. None the less, it was all done and past, and as the nooses surrounded the six men’s necks, with one final shout from the angry town, the lower boards dropped.

The boy jolted his head downwards, shutting his eyes in grief, horror, and pain. After a few, long, agonizing moments, he opened his eyes, and a fresh burst of sunlight flashed against his contracted pupils. He was soaking wet, lying on rocks beside a river. Cloak completely saturated with water, knife and handgun missing, bow thirty yards down the river, he understood where he was and began to recollect what happened the night before. The shiver up his spine wasn’t necessarily from the cold, but more-so from the reoccurring memory that never ceases to haunt his dreams. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; men who commit a crime should never escape the consequences of their decisions. And apart from the law, he will never cease to regret not being there for his family. Notwithstanding, he stumbled to his feet and winced at the pain in his lower back.

Regardless of his present state, he walked down the riverside and grabbed his bow, then began to sluggishly walk back to town. Slowly detaching his bow and placing the two bow-blades in position behind his cloak, a nagging sense of nostalgia preyed upon his trek back to Trevethan. Reaffirmed that his duty to protect others will never be fulfilled, it must still be pursued at all cost.

If not for the sake of others,
For the sake of his family.

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What It Means to Fall in Love

A nineteen-year-old young man shifted a little in his chair as he held his notebook and pen, writing down a few minor details before beginning. As he wrote, a man slightly older than him (maybe mid-lower twenties) twiddled his thumbs with a childlike contentment. Once the young man was finished with his preparatory writing, he set his pen down on his notebook and looked up. The man smiled kindly in acknowledgment to the young man, and they both took a deep breath.

“So tell me, what does it mean to fall in love?” asked the young man. The man across from him let out a minor laugh and sat up straighter with a grand smile, meanwhile crossing his arms with interest. “Well, that’s quite the question,” he said as his eyes fixed on the young man, studying his intent gaze. “Why would you like to know?” The young man paused in surprise. That was a question someone like his mom would ask. “Because I’ve yet to find a solid answer.”

The man nodded, understanding the young man’s dilemma. “And why do you think you’ve yet to find a solid answer?” he asked. The young man hesitated, looking upwards to think. After a few moments of hindsight, he replied, “Because no one’s answer seems to last.” At this response, the man accumulated a peculiar twinkle in his eye. “How’s that?” he asked. The young man scooted forward in his seat, meanwhile beginning to flip through his notebook, glancing at all of his writing.

After finishing flipping through his notebook, he looked up and said, “The young couples that I ask give the same answer that the middle-aged couples give. And the middle-aged couples that I ask give the same answer that the older couples give. All the while, the young couples appear happy. The middle-aged couples appear slightly happy, yet somewhat monotonous. And the older couples, sometimes retaining a fragment of happiness, seem somewhat distant. Therefore, because their uniform answers ween over time, I consider their answers invalid. i.e. not solid.”

“And what are their answers?” asked the man across from him. The young man sat up, sorting through his previous thoughts. “If I were to boil all their answers down, to fall in love is to ‘realize that the other person is “the one” and pursue accordingly’. The younger couples lean more towards the response of emotion. The older couples lean more towards the response of choice. But they all sort of mix together.” Once again, the man nodded. A moment of silence ensued as the young man waited for a response, but none came, so he asked, “But what do you think? What does it mean to fall in love?”

The man chuckled. “What makes you come to me if I’m not married yet?” This thought had occurred to the young man before he came. “I was told you’d have the right answer.” This response caused the man’s eyebrows to lift in curiosity. With a sly voice, he asked, “Who told you that?” The young man’s eyes grew slightly large with embarrassment. “Well-uh, I-I’m not quite sure exactly.” The man laughed and nodded, uncrossing his arms, and folding his hands on his lap, releasing some of the momentary tension. “You’re a Christian, correct?” asked the man. This brought a certain light to the young man’s face as he joyfully responded, “Yes! I am!” The man nodded, being well pleased. “Okay, okay. Let me ask you some questions:

Does God love mankind?” “Yes!” “Does He ever stop loving mankind?” “No, never.” “Will mankind ever do anything that will change that fact?” “No.” “Can you define love?” “1st Corinthians 13:3-8 says, ‘Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.‘”

The man nodded in agreement. “Good. When do you suppose God fell in love with mankind?” This question took the young man off guard. He had not expected a question like that. “1st John 4:8 says that ‘God is love.’ It’s not that He ever fell in love with mankind, but that He is love. It’s an eternal fact that forever has been and forever will be.” “Does mankind know true love without God?” “No.” “So then, is it possible for man to truly fall in love with another without God being in the picture?” The young man paused to think hard, but couldn’t respond. “How did God show His love to us?” “Romans 5:8 says,But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.'” “So then, when God comes into man, how does He ultimately reveal His love through us?” “We are to lay down our lives for each other.”

“Now, is that an emotion or a choice?” “A choice.” “Did Christ want to be crucified on the cross, or did He chose to be crucified on the cross?” “Mathew 26:42 says that He chose.” “Was his choice dependent on man’s decision to accept His choice and repent?” “Well..” “What if no one repented and no one accepted His love?” “Uh..” “Is God still love?” “Yes.” “So would He have still chosen to be crucified?” “Yes.” “And when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, Galatians 2:20 says that you are ‘crucified with Christ: nevertheless you live; yet not you, but Christ lives in you: and the life which you now live in the flesh you live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved you, and gave himself for you.’ (‘You’ switched for Paul’s ‘I’) So were you crucified for your sins, or was Christ crucified for your sins?” “Christ was.” “And that was His choice?” “Yes.” “That was His act of love?” “Yes.” “Will that act of love ever be changed or ever fail mankind for the rest of eternity?” “No.”

The man let loose to a heavenly smile, mixed with a content squint of his eyes, revealing that his point had been made. He repositioned his posture to its original straightness and crossed his arms with contentment. The young man sat still with his jaw dropped open. It was as though he had heard a book’s worth of theology, and he was supposed to summarize it to a single notebook page (somehow done in a fifth of a single post). The young man cleared his throat and nervously asked, “Uh, I don’t mean to be rude, but could you elucidate your point?”

“From the world’s perspective, to ‘fall in love’ is ‘fall into man for man’s sake.’ Henceforth, the so-called ‘love’ is only functional as long as emotional and physical needs are being provided. However, once the emotions fade, physical traits die, and all other reasons for believing that the other person was ‘the one’ are gone, there is no fuel left to continue on as all once was. Man can never satisfy man.

However..

“From the Bible’s perspective, to ‘fall in love’ is to ‘consciously walk into Christ and His sacrifice, with a God-given desire for another, for Christ’s sake.’ A relationship is anything but the focus. Christ is first and foremost the focus. And when one is crucified with Christ, there is a capability to love as Christ loved, which is the fuel and overflow for the ensuing relationship.”

The young man nodded, but then with a hint of doubt, replied, “Well, as a Christian, is it possible to ‘fall in love’ with the wrong person?” The man smiled. “You won’t be looking for the person. You’ll be looking to God alone, and when God places in you a desire for another, you’ll continue to look to God alone. And when that desire for another stays, you’ll look to God all the more. And even when you try to shake the desire as hard as you possibly can by a vigorous pursuit of God, and the desire stays, you’ll find the verse to be true which says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.”

At this point in the conversation, the young man was scribbling down notes in his notebook with a satisfied facial composure. After a minute or so, he looked up and asked, “So, hypothetically, if I have a God-given desire for a young woman, and the more I pursue God, the more weight it gets, how am I supposed to continue from there?” The man smiled wide, knowing that the young man obviously was not talking in hypothetical terms. “With or without you, Christ alone is meant to be her satisfaction. Therefore, the only thing that you should focus on is pointing her to Christ at all cost, even if that means never being there to point her to Christ, but simply pleading before God in prayer to draw her closer to Himself. Do whatever it takes to make sure that Christ has her heart and not you. Then, in due time, He will see to it that your hearts are eventually knit together as one.”

The young man blushed as he closed his notebook and put his pen in his pocket. “You know, you sure know a lot about love.” The man across from him bowed his head in humility. There wasn’t really anything to acknowledge. “And I guess that leads me to a second question, which I hadn’t anticipated on asking, but I’ll ask it anyway. Have you ever fallen in love with someone?”

The man’s bowed head quickly shot up, draining the blood from his face, yet revealing dangerously blushing cheeks. “Why do you ask?” The young man laughed. “Some people speak best from experience.” The man slowly stood up and walked over to a window near his chair. He solemnly stood there for awhile, distraught as to how he should respond. “I ought not to tell you. I ought not to tell anyone.” “Why not?” asked the curious nineteen-year-old. The man looked over his shoulder, and then looked back outside.

“Suppose you walk into a jewelry store, and you stumble upon an extremely rare diamond, one of the rarest in the world, if not, the rarest. So you pick it up with one of the store’s cloths, and you take it to the jewelry dealer, saying, ‘I found this, and I ought not to even touch it. Please take it back before I even cause even a single smudge!’ However, much to your surprise, the jewelry dealer looks at you and exclaims, ‘Please, please. No. It’s yours, but only on one condition: that you leave it with me, and see to it that I clean it to its utmost beauty. Then, when my appointed time comes, I will give it to you. But remember, this is our secret.'” There was a hesitant pause as the man finished, asking, “Do you understand?”

The young man, realizing the connection of situations, stood up. “I do. Thank you.” And so he began to walk out, when the man by the window said, “Wait..” He turned around to face the young man. “Although.. it might seem as though time is moving like molasses, the following years will be worth it. She’ll be worth it, and Christ will be worth it!” The nineteen-year-old squinted his eyes, re-observing the man who was slightly older than him. Suddenly, his eyes widened, realizing something that he should have realized the moment that he had sat down. “H-how?!” The man smiled. “I wanted to say hello, and I wanted you to know that… you’ll speak best from experience.”

The young man, stiffening his neck with a respectful composure, firmly nodded and walked out of the room. After he walked out, the man by the window turned back around to view the swaying trees outside. He stood there for quite some time, gazing at the green scenery, deep in the thought. But as he listened to the delicate clattering of leaves, he heard someone walk through the door.

“I told him you’d have the right answer,” said a woman with a soothing, gentle voice. A chill ran up the man’s spine as he vaguely recognized the tone of who was speaking. His palms began to sweat in nervousness as he turned around. His entire being seemed to freeze as he could barely fathom her presence, but he somehow managed to choke out the words, “H-how did you know?” Her beautiful smile brightened the room as she came closer.

“Darling, some diamonds can only wait for so long.”

Tearing Down the Gates of Hell

A morning breeze swept through the air, passing over a thin cloak of darkness covering a modest neighborhood. As houses lined by plants and trees intertwined among paved streets, they all seemed to surround a charming, little park, in the midst of which lay a beautiful, symmetric, cobblestone path, weaving and winding throughout dispersed trees and Narnia-type lamp posts. These lamp posts illuminated the dim pathway with an old shade of orange, creating a surreal feeling of being among another era.

As the first birds began to chirp their morning hymn, two pairs of footsteps could be heard strolling down the cobblestone path. These footsteps grew louder and louder until they slowly came to a stop, and a young man and young woman could be seen standing in front of an old, rusted bench. The young man looked straight ahead to the dark horizon and then sat down in silent approval of the spot. The young woman, with a patient aura of gracefulness, sat down beside him, gazing up at the receding stars.

For awhile, they sat there without saying a word, until the young man broke the silence. In a quiet and distant tone, he said, “I think I understand.” The young woman smiled. There was a momentary pause, but then he added, “Should I be getting used to this?” She shrugged. “That’s not for me to decide.” The young man nodded, acknowledging the divine providence of such an occasion.

A slow gust of wind blew around the two as their eyes began to pick up on the dark shades of yellow and red, caressing the distant horizon. It was an early morning in the spring, yet in the midst of such a chilly calm, the two of them seemed to keep warm, almost as if the presence of the other was enough.

After quite some time of peaceful stillness, the young man softly spoke, “Hello.” A sarcastic smile glazed the young woman’s face as she glanced over at him. “Hello,” she replied with something of a composed laugh, “That’s what I wanted to say.” The young man paused, grinned, and took a deep breath. “I wanted to say it this time.” “And why’s that?” she asked, continuing to observe his expression. There was a long pause. The young man’s eyes seemed to quiver as he looked down at his cold hands. “Because, I’ve been wanting to say it for so long, and I thought I’d take you up on your offer.” The young man anxiously twiddled his thumbs as he looked over, gazing into her eyes. “So, hello.”

The twinkle in his eyes melted her heart as blood involuntarily rushed to her cheeks. This being the case, she broke the enchanting gaze and returned her attention to the horizon. The young man, embarrassed by this interaction, looked back to the horizon as well, but then shut his eyes in dismay. His thoughts trembled as half of him wished that when he opened his eyes, she wasn’t there. But when he reopened his eyes, he looked over and saw her there, sitting patiently, adoringly observing the faint shades of orange above the skyline.

She noticed this glance, however, and looked back at him. “Was there something you wanted to tell me?” she asked. He quickly looked away and cleared his throat. “What? Me?” She laughed. “Yes! You! Weren’t you the one that wanted to say ‘Hello’?” The young man acquiesced to her remark and gave in to a huge smile. His eyes attempted to pick up the hint of a rising sun as she continued to look at him.

“I-I don’t deserve you,” he said, blinking multiple times as if to shield the moistness of his eyes from escaping. The big smile on his face suddenly melted into a nervous grin. “And, well, none of this makes sense.” The young woman tilted her head. “What doesn’t make sense?” The young man glanced over to pick up on her questioning look. “Like I said, I don’t deserve you. Why God put you with me, I’ll never know. And so, I feel bad that you have to spend the rest of your life with someone like me. I mean, I’ve made so many mistakes. I have so much baggage, not that I haven’t placed it all at the Lord’s feet, but I have so many things left to work on, and you deserve a guy who can be the guy that you deserve to have: someone who is cool, super intelligent, probably better looking, maybe taller, can grow a cooler beard, maybe less of a stutter and slur on the back of his tongue. An-“

“Stop,” she said firmly with a tear in her eye. Her attention was still fixed intently on the young man as he looked off into the yellowish distance. “Why do you love me?” she asked. The young man immediately looked at her. With boldness, he replied, “It’s a decision! Just like Christ died for the Church, I’m called to die for you. And even though the Church was originally the crowd nailing Christ to the cross, I choose to love you, no matter what. Even if God doesn’t open the first doors between us for years and years, I’m willing to wait, sacrificing for you all the while. Because if I don’t sacrifice for you now, I won’t sacrifice for you then. Love isn’t a feeling. Christ chose the cross, and even His feelings said otherwise! True love isn’t something to fall into, it’s something to grow into! And God’s chosen me to be yours, that’s why.” The young woman nodded in awe and appreciation of such God-given chivalry, as the small tear began to trickle down her cheek. She bowed her head in an attempt hide the tear, but while trying to wipe it away with her sleeve, she shyly looked up with an innocent smile. At the sight of this, the young man broke away from her gaze and looked back to the horizon, gleaming with different shades and mixes of reds, oranges, yellows, and blues.

The first ray of sunlight showed through the trees of the park, turning off the nearby lamp post with a mechanical click. “Why don’t you deserve me?” she slowly asked. The young man’s eyes turned to her, but then veered off of her and into the distant trees behind her. “Because,” he mumbled, “because I know what you are to be.” There was a slight pause, mixed with confusion, resulting in her asking, “How’s that?” The young man looked back down at his cold hands, and leaned over, placing his elbows on his knees. He opened his mouth to speak, but the words seemed to escape him, yet he pressed through with a slight stutter.

“I-I pray for you. Every single morning, I pray for you. Every day, I pray that God will do the most radical things in your life. I boldly go before the throne and I plead with God that you seek Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. I boldly ask Him that you be the next Amy Carmichael, Mary Slessor, Sabina Wurmbrand, Elisabeth Elliot, and Corrie ten Boom of this generation. I pray that your prayer life is that of a warrior-poet. I pray that every demon, including Satan, trembles for fear when you get on your knees and pray. I pray that the gates of hell be torn down at the sound of your bold prayers. I pray, every day, that when you get in the Word, you take every jot and tittle as fact and then throw your life onto the promises of God, knowing full well that He will not fail you. I pray that God will prepare you to the utmost for the war that He has called you and me to fight. I pray that you break away from the youthful lies of this generation and that you stand up as Ezekiel did on Mount Carmel, undaunted by the false prophets of the modern day. And above all else, I pray these things in full faith, in the name of Jesus Christ, knowing that God will not deny me any request that I make for you! And I know for a fact that each and every request will be so. That is why I don’t deserve you because a princess ought to have a prince fit for her hand.”

The young man looked up from his shaking hands and saw the young woman’s eyes streaming with tears. Her sleeves were wet from wiping each tear away, and an adoring smile pierced through her blushing cheeks. This emotion seemed to translate into his veins because his shaking hands seemed to intensify as his moist eyes began to accumulate the ingredients for tears.

“So tell me, do I love you?” she asked in a quavering voice. This question took the young man off guard, and embarrassment flooded through his very being. His eyes widened as he stiffly sat up, and he could feel all of his muscles become tense. He attempted to open his mouth, but his jaw was clenched in fear. How was he supposed to answer a question like that? She continued with a waver in her voice, “For the relationship between Christ and the Church to work, in its full beauty and intimacy, the Church must return Christ’s love in full force. So tell me, will a single drop of your love go unreturned? Doesn’t love provoke more love?” Once more, he was speechless. His eyes began to water with a well of tears ready to explode, and the rising sun reflected these tears with a glorious shimmer. She finished by tenderly saying, “And don’t ever forget, even when you fail to love me as you ought, my focus will never be taken off of the love of Christ, and no matter who you are or what you do, I’ll love you to the death.”

The young man burst into tears as he stood up, turning his back to her. His clenched hand rose to conceal his mouth, as his other arm attempted to support his collapsing chest. He endeavored to step forward, but his knees collapsed, folding in on themselves, and so the young man covered his eyes in shameful agony, hanging his head over the ground. “I-… I-…” “I know,” she said in a soft tone, followed by a creaking of the old, rusted bench. The young man, realizing that she had left the bench, removed his hands for a split second when he saw her gentle, caring eyes, side by side with his. A new rush of humiliation overwhelmed him, as his hands retreated to shield his red eyes once more. “My friend,” she whispered, “it’s you I don’t deserve.”

The young man wept, and wept, and wept. His thoughts had been so full of love for her, he had never once considered the love that she had for him, her future husband. As he slowly removed his hands from over his bloodshot eyes, his feeble knees and elbows barely managed to hoist him up off the ground. He turned around to view the old, rusted bench, where there lay a giant pile of leaves, guarding where she had never sat. And so, acknowledging her absence, he stumbled over to the bench and sat back down. Yet, in the midst of his melancholy nostalgia, he could still hear her voice echoing along the cobblestone path.

“There are yet many doors to be opened,”

“So I’ll trust the Lord to lead me through each and every one,”

“And I’ll always be waiting patiently on the other side,”

“As shall I always long to see you on the other side,”

“And until each door, I’ll be tearing down as many bars as I possibly can,”

“As shall I be tearing down as many bars as I possibly can,”

“For as God leads us through each and every door to follow,”

“We’ll tear down the gates of hell,”

“Together!”

The Day You Composed a Masterpiece

“Compose a masterpiece.”

You look to your left and then to your right, questioning who such a command could actually be directed to.

“No, you. Yes, you! Compose a masterpiece!”

Your thoughts melt as an internal laugh implodes your creative speculation.

You scowl at the complex articulation of wordage.

You question your vocabulary skills from school.

You rebel and question me.

*pause*

(cue The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly soundtrack music, followed by a gunshot)

*resume*

Consider this: most musicians begin the best of their songs based off of a simple idea, a thought. They probably weren’t necessarily focusing on anything, but maybe they were simply going about their day when they heard something in their head. It may have been born out of musing, or maybe thinking of daily events. Maybe they were in literature class, unintentionally zoning out. Or, what if they were reading a post when they heard…

Reverberating footsteps. You hear footsteps, one pair’s worth, echoing off of distant walls. From hearing such a sound, it would seem as though that they are coming from a very large auditorium: a professional one. As your mind tries to grasp the depth of such sound, you momentarily realize that the footsteps have come to a halt, followed by a long pause,

When suddenly…

You hear a quiet breath proceeded by a woman’s beautiful voice humming a simple, lofty note. She continues sustaining it while maintaining a gentle carefulness, like a mother swaying a newborn in her delicate arms. As she continues, you think you’ve heard her voice before, so you try to take the tone and connect it with previous memories, but you can’t quite place it. She runs out of breath of course, and she takes another quiet breath to resume her lovely tone.

A concert grand piano plays a low, minor chord beneath her renewed note, contrasting the highs and the lows perfectly. The humming continues as you hear the piano begin to fade away; the keys can only sustain their volume for so long. It’s sad. One hum and one minor piano chord, though simple, can conjure up such melancholy emotions. The beauty of such simplicity crawls beneath your skin as you hear her run out of breath once again.

The concert grand piano, once more, plays the same low, minor chord beneath her hum, except this time, the chord repeats itself every two beats, creating a certain momentum that had not been there before. This drive incites your heart to beat just slightly faster. After the chord repeats beneath the hum for an even amount of times, it suddenly changes to a lower major chord for four repetitions, and then it resolves onto an even lower major chord. The sound stays as the woman’s hum comes to a close.

As the sound of the hum exits the foundation of the piano, your breath escapes you as if you want it to come back.

The fading away of the piano lifts, leaving an evanescent reverberation.

The pause agitates you. You’ve never heard such a thing. You want more.

That’s when you hear two taps, as if a conductor had been waiting at his stand the whole time, waiting for the introduction to come to a close.

You hear some shifting in chairs, as if a full orchestra had just lifted their violins, violas, and cellos.

After hearing a quiet breath, the same woman sings an ascending note pattern up to her signature sustained note. However, the beat after she hits her note, a full string section eases into the low, minor chord that the piano had once played. And so, in the same manner, as the piano had changed chords, you hear the strings smoothly transition to that lower major chord, slowly followed by the even lower major chord. You know that the woman had discreetly taken a breath within such transitions because when the strings ease out in their due time, her voice remains consistent, humming her lofty note.

After humming for a few seconds, the violin section eases back into their three, low chords with ease: the first chord being minor: the longest, the second being major: transitional, and then the third, bringing the idea to a resolution. As your held captive by the beautiful simplicity, you suddenly hear a second voice preceding the next musical repetition.

A man’s lower hum mirrors the woman’s hum as both ascend to that signature note, followed by the concert grand piano with that lower chord, quickly reflected by the string section the beat after. The man’s hum, however, every beat or so, descends, returning to the top note to descend once again. The notes fit perfectly with the woman’s upper hum, the piano, and the string section.

A chill runs up your spine as the man’s hum harmonizes with the string section, all the while being complimented by the concert grand piano, repeating its solid chords.

As these musical ideas continue to your ears content, you suddenly hear all sound slow to a pause by the end of the last repetition.

Your breath, once again, escapes you.

Suddenly a faint snare roll is softly heard. The softness does not remain, however, for it grows louder, and louder, and louder, until a bass drum is violently hit along with a massive cymbal crash, beginning all music ideas once more, driven by an epic snare rhythm, carrying all sound along.

Such music makes you want to pick up a sword and fight for something worth dying for. It evokes emotion that threatens a tear to fall, meanwhile strengthening your knees to stand on Solid Ground. The three chords, supported by the humming, concert grand piano, string section, and snare rhythm enwrap your consciousness as they take hold of who you are, pointing you to who you can be, who you’ve been made to be, and Who has bought you to make you who you are to be.

As these ideas repeat, a climax suddenly comes into view as a valiant brass section booms, ascending to the most epic melody that you’ve ever heard. It trumps all other aspects of the song, conjuring up a picture in your mind:

You see clouds parting, revealing the King of kings, the Lord of lords riding upon His white steed. You instantly know His name: Faithful and True, crowned by many crowns. His long vesture is dipped in the blood of the martyrs, and He has come for His own. He has come for the faithful, the ones who have been watching, waiting. Your adrenaline begins to pump as your mind’s eye is preparing to faint at such a thought. Nonetheless, His eyes quickly to turn you, and you’re not sure whether to panic or shout for joy, but none the less, He holds out His hand to you and says,

The music climaxes to an unresolved chord, intensifying, intensifying, and intensifying, until suddenly coming to a complete, silent stop.

“Follow Me.”

A gigantic resolution chord is hit by all th-

Your mind’s eye shuts down. You can’t take it anymore. The visualization is gone. The music is gone. All is dark.

But then the silence is broken, and you hear a faint clap, followed by a second, followed by multiple, when suddenly you realize that it is as if thousands upon thousands are clapping, filling a reverberating auditorium. On top of such sound, you suddenly hear shifting in chairs, revealing that people have begun to stand up, showing an entire standing ovation.

Your mouth seems to be paralyzed. Your jaw wishes to drop, but confusion holds you in dismay. After a fair amount of time, the clapping comes to a stop. You hear one or two reverberated footsteps, followed by a clicking sound, as if a director has laid down his baton. Then you hear a reverberating voice, topped off by a James Bond type accent,

“A masterpiece, truly a masterpiece!
It has been an honor to play what was yours of thought,
And today will forever be remembered as
The day you composed a masterpiece.”

A Work of Art

A young man slowly strolled down a worn sidewalk of an urban neighborhood. With hands in pockets and steps in rhythm, his eyes nostalgically gazed at the old homes passing by. “Too many years,” he thought.

As he passed by a house with an old man watering his plants, he stopped to observe the old man’s yard, well kept and clean. The old man, noticing the young man gawking, turned off his hose and indecently remarked, “What?” The young man smiled. “Nothing, I just.. haven’t been here for awhile.” “So?” “I grew up here. By the time I was in pre-school, I had moved away, so it’s nice to visit for the first time.” The old man shrugged and wagged his head as he turned his hose back on to continue watering his plants. The young man, finding this humorous, continued on with a reminiscent aura surrounding his composure.

Then, as he turned right into the next block, the corner of his eye caught a house halfway down the road. His steps grew shorter and shorter in length as he drew nearer. “Hasn’t changed much,” he thought.

*HONK HONK* What?! He looked to his left to see an oncoming car, then looked down, only to realize that he was on street pavement. Before he could reac-

*Silence*

*Darkness*

Fingers, he twitched his fingers. Were they there? He sure hoped so. A tunnel seemed to form within his vision. Meanwhile, a flickering light seemed to grow brighter and brighter at the end of the tunnel. Noises began to grow louder and louder. Did he hear cars? Murmurs? Children? Yard workers? A whizzing-

*WABAAM* His upper body jerked up as his hand flung to press against the side of his head. A baseball slowly rolled away from him as a teenager stood across the road, not knowing whether to laugh or apologize. The young man stood up in confusion, quickly looking all around him as if preparing for either a brawl or death. The teenager tilted his head in confusion, waiting for the young man to burst out in anger because he got hit in the head with a baseball.

“Did… did you see that car?” The teenager scratched his head. “Uh… what?” “Tha-that car, I… I thou-… well it wa-… and I-” The young man felt the side of his head; it was beginning to swell up. After taking his hand off his head, he felt his arm and then patted himself on the chest. He then proceeded to do a thorough examination of his limb functions. He looked up at the teenager. “I-… I think I’m alive.” There was an awkward pause. “Can I have my baseball back?” The young man laughed as he picked up the baseball. “Yeah, sure.” After tossing it across the street, he did a 360-degree spin to take in the urban panorama.

He stopped and winced as if thinking that he was thinking something absurd. He retraced some steps that he thought he had taken before and then stopped beside a well-kept house. A middle aged man was watering his plants where an old man had once stood. “How… similar they look,” he thought. Shaking his head as if trying to get rid of a thought, he went back to the previous street. The houses seemed to be the same, but.. they look younger. It seems as though they have lost years upon years of aging. Even the sidewalk which he was standing on had once again recovered its smoothness and color. In fact, trying to recollect old memories, everything seems to be the exact same way that he had remembered.

Even.. that house. His house. His home. It matched his memories to perfection. “No,” he thought while shutting his eyes extremely hard. “Just, no. Never. Never ever.” The sound of a bicycle zoomed by. The young man opened his eyes to see a paperboy tossing newspapers to the door steps of all the houses. “Hey! Hey, you!” The Paperboy stopped to see the young man waving his arms. “What.. what’s the date today?” “Why, it’s the 2nd.” “No, no. I mean, the year!” The Paperboy let out a hearty laugh as he shook his head and began peddling once again. Hesitantly, the young man walked over to a nearby house and nervously picked up a newspaper.

After staring for more than a few seconds, his eyes widened in horror as the newspaper came crashing to the ground. He began walking away from the house, but his muscles seemed to be locking up. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to faint, stop breathing, or laugh in disbelief. His subconscious seemed to be debating which one of these options to embrace first. Maybe the latter mixed with the second.

The young man, beginning to shake uncontrollably, sat down, putting his head between his legs and folding his arms above his head. Thoughts seemed to be escaping him, not that he wanted to keep them in the first place because it’s best to not hold those kinds of thoughts captive. Why? Well, why hold something captive if the captive is stronger than the captor?

But then something caught his attention: a sound. He looked up to see his home, the exact place where he had spent his early childhood years. The sound was that of a two-year-old, stifling an innocent giggle while making his face into a masterpiece using chalk. Various colors composed this young canvas, and to the young man, this seemed delightful. So removing his arms from above his head, he stood up. The toddler’s clear, adorable eyes caught sight of this motion and locked on to the young man.

His breath vanished. Those eyes.. they were so familiar. The toddler, in response, tried to stand, but realizing that his momentum was not to his advantage, plopped back down to his imaginary palace. His eyes illuminated with humor as his tiny fingers clenched his colorful array of chalk pieces.

The young man, looking both ways, crossed the street. The toddler’s smile compromised his chubby composure as a friendly high pitched laugh welcomed the young man to his side of the block. The young man stood on the sidewalk, afraid to take another step forward. But nonetheless, the sight of this familiar toddler penetrated his already weakened defenses, and he walked up to the side of the house where the toddler was located.

The two-year-old gazed up at the tall young man. He wasn’t really all that tall, but from a sitting perspective and being two years old, he was a tower. “Uh.. mind if I sit?” the young man asked quietly. The toddler, still piecing the question together, gently smiled as if to agree to the tower’s terms of surrender. The young man sat down criss-cross in front of the toddler who was continuing with his artwork, revealing his mastery to the new intruder of his territory.

“Are you.. real?” whispered the young man. The toddler glanced up from his work, paused, and shrugged in innocent confusion. “Are you.. a dream?” This time, the toddler let out a giggle as if to mock the absurdity of what he didn’t truly understand. The young man leaned in a little closer and whispered even quieter, “Are you… wel-… ar-… are you m-..” He paused to rephrase such an improbable question. “Wh-… what’s your name?” The toddler looked upwards to the sky as if to think, and then let out a few familiar consonants and syllables; they were jumbled and spread out. It was clear that the toddler was in the processing of forming an uncontrollable stutter: something that would haunt him for years to come.

Despite all impossibilities: the consonants, the syllables, the stutter, and everything surrounding them… his worst fears had been confirmed.

The young man laughed. “You know, it’s funny. Everyone says, ‘well if I could talk to..’ well, yeah.. ‘I would say so and so, and really make sure that I made so and so clear so that so and so would never happen.’ Haha, well.. my mind’s blank. I got nothing.” The toddler squinted his eyes in a cute fashion and let out a high pitched chuckle. “Having fun, there?” asked the young man. The toddler slightly opened his mouth, thinking of how to respond. “B-b-b-bbbbb… bluh… n’ n’… r-red.. mmmm.. n’ n’… ye-yelow… n’ mmm.. n’ gggggg… gggggg… g-g-greeen!” The toddler let out a triumphant laugh of victory as he had thoroughly described his arsenal of weaponry in which no other child could possibly take away from him.

The young man smiled for a second or so, but then he turned his gaze to the ground. “If only you knew how rough things are going to get. All those years of kids clarifying to you how you already knew you talked. Don’t worry though, you’ll grow out of most of it… You’ll lose your best friend in the 6th grade, you know. Brain cancer.” He shook his head in reminiscence. “You won’t cry for at least one year after that because it won’t be until then that you’ll dare to remember the friend that you never were to him.” The toddler’s gaze was fixed on his quivering eyes. “People will think you’re the greatest at music for a long time.” An evanescent laugh escaped his breath. “But it’s funny because few of those people will ever know the tears of a boy who never quite felt that he was good enough. And what’s even funnier is that you’ll never stop crying about the fact until you come to the realization that you’ll never have to be good enough; you’ll just have music as a friend, sort of.” He sighed. “Once God gets a hold of your life, He’ll destroy you.” The toddler’s eyes widened at the two words, “destroy” and, “you” being in the same sentence. Nonetheless, the young man smiled. “But He’ll only destroy you for the task of rebuilding you. And all the while, you’ll cry a hundred times more tears than anyone around you would think you actually cried. Everything about you will be dragged through the mud, and in return, God will replace you, bit by bit, with Himself.” A smile spread across his face. “You’ll get a new smile! Your school photos will look horrible for years, but once God gets you, He’ll give you back the smile He always wanted you to have.” The young man’s light spirit in the moment dropped to a sorrowful tone. “And your personality will always be a work in the process. Humor will continue to be your facade.. your mask that you won’t let down for years.” The toddler tilted his head as if to inquire what was to happen with such a thing. The young man smiled. “You’ll become a man, and humor won’t be your identity anymore. You’ll be more. Eventually, your humor will be nothing more than the cherry on top of the icing. The icing? It’ll be your joy, your humility, your servant-hood… but the cake, oh… the cake. Jesus Christ will bake such a fine cake out of you; Him being the only ingredient, really.”

The toddler’s eyes fell into a dreadful confusion as to how he would be baked into a cake.

The young man, realizing that toddlers aren’t meant to think so deep, solemnly stood up and took a deep breath. The toddler took a high pitched deep breath as well. Dry of any more words to add, the young man nodded to his little friend and then turned around to walk away. But as he took his first few steps, he heard a quiet sound from behind him:

“B..b-b-bbbbb… bu-…”

The young man stopped and slowly turned back around.

“Bu..-bbbbbbu… buh wat abot yu…?”

“Me?” The little toddler, in response, vigorously nodded up and down. “What about me?”

“Iiih it wort it?”

The young man kneeled down in front of the toddler. “Well, you see. With every stroke of color, Jesus Christ will get more and more glory.. so in that case-” The toddler, realizing that Someone needed help with coloring, held out one of his pieces of chalk, with an innocent sparkle in his eyes. This sparkle reflected a hidden tear that contrasted beautifully with his tiny, chubby smile.

“Theh ‘dis ihs foh youw C-C-CccColorer… Heh c-c-cccccc-c-can useh ‘dis.”

The young man grinned at such an offer. “Oh, buddy, no need. He’ll use you.”

ToddlerMilwaukee, Wisconsin. May 2, 1998.

The Eye of the Storm

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

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

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

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

Love at First Sight, or Lack Thereof

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

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

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

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

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

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