(I wrote this freshman year of college and it was originally titled “The Hero”)
The wounds were deep and gushing blood. Agony was beginning to blind the strength of my sight; in my weakness the sword slipped from my sweaty palms. I fell to my knees on the trampled battlefield, weeping in anguish and despair. I was giving up.
The enemy was nearly upon me. I could feel his hot breath on my neck, taste the sulfuric aroma of his deathly presence. Surrounding me the battle was raging, the sound of its violence, deafening. Every warrior was hotly engaged and the pain-riddled wails of the dying pierced my spirit with every cry. It heightened my own rising fears, as the enemy drew closer.
I refused to look behind, but closed my eyes as a terrible pressure filled my shaking chest. It was only a matter of seconds.
Then a voice screamed my name. I don’t know how I could even hear it through all the noise, yet I did. My eyes flew open. I knew Who it was. Hope raced through my heart. And I saw Him, bursting out of raging mass of warriors He came. There was no mistaking the white horse or the rider who sat in the saddle. I had not even cried out for rescue, yet He was still coming, at breakneck speed across the battlefield.
The hope that surged through me also heightened the awareness of the pain that held my body in a vice-like grip. I struggled to reach for my sword once more. Behind me the breath of the enemy was growing hotter.
I begin weeping bitterly, for I was sure I would die before the horse and Rider would reach me. I sank back once more, closing my eyes against what I thought was final reality. I had never felt so alone in my life, so rejected, even as the horse’s galloping hooves shook the earth under me.
I was nearly sick with the putrid stench of death. It was sinking in on every side, wrapping me in its cloak. Cold, hard, bitter fingers brushed my back. Then the voice shouted me name again, and it was so surprisingly near my eyes opened once more, even as a rush of wind blew over my head. I heard a strangled growl and immediately the coldness receded, the hard touch disappeared and the stench was gone. I still did not look behind me as only one thing filled my vision.
The horse and Rider standing above me. His eyes were blazing from the heated rage of battle; they locked with mine and immediately softened into tender pools of mercy. I had heard the cry of His heart when He screamed my name, I knew His only thought at the moment was me. The intensity of it made me weep, yet the urgency of the hour caused His first words, to neither calm my tears nor softened my fears.
“Grab Your sword,” He said, reaching one hand down to me.
I didn’t know if I had enough strength to respond, yet one hand managed to grip the weapon’s hilt buried in the dirt, and the other grasped His fingers. At the touch, His hand tightened around mine. At His touch, within seconds, my body filled with warmth, spilling out through my hand and arm, straight to my heart. I didn’t have to look to know my wounds were healing within themselves. I was still covered in blood.
He pulled me into the saddle behind Him, with little effort. One of my arm slipped around Him, as I buried my wet face into His back, inhaling the familiar scent of His presence. I was safe, secure, strong once more…
“Take me away from here,” I whispered.
There was a pause before He answered,” It is not time yet,” he replied,” We going back into the battle.”
My heart skipped a beat, fear pricking my mind once again. I thought of all the possible dangers going back into the battle would bring. I didn’t want to fight anymore, I just wanted rest, feel peace.
“I can’t,” I confessed, holding tighter to Him. I wanted to be with Him, for always, like He promised. Yet, even here with Him now, the threat of battle made it seem as though He could be taken from me. The thought was frightening. Glancing up I saw the battle was moving away from us. We could easily turn back, escape, return to the battle on another day…we could return to His fortress where there was safety and peace.
Reading my thoughts He spoke,” Do not fear, I am with You,” He squeezed my hand holding Him,” Stay with me.”
He was asking, not telling me too. I realized then that I could easily slip off the horse, and now healed of my wounds, find my way back the fortress. But to do that, I would have to do it alone. No matter what I decided He was returning to the battle. I would lose something if I left Him now. I would lose everything…
“I will go where You go,” I said softly in His ear, even though my voice shook.
To be without Him in battle or out of battle was too great a loss. He wanted me with Him, and realizing this I could never jump off the white horse.
I felt a deep chuckle ripple through His chest at my words. At the sound my fears melted.
“Make your sword ready,” he said, laughter subsiding.
Only a slight tremble ran through my body as I raised the sword a little higher, gripping it tightly.
The dark horizon was blacker than it had been before, the battle was no better, but staring over His shoulder into the horror, I felt peace and rest wash over me. His presence was enough. I didn’t have to be in a fortress to be secure. His touch was enough. His warmth.
The horse then lunged forward, carrying us both back into that darkness.
Natasha is a short story writer who has been blogging for the past decade. She is currently raising four kids in the midwest United States and married to her wonderful husband of 10 years. They both work with YWAM and media missions.