The Defender

I rolled out the dusty, crinkled and weather-beaten old battle map with a tired snap. Dust exploded in a small gust of tiny granules throughout the air of the tent. The map unrolled slowly outward across the round, oaken table. My captains and lieutenants circled about, wide shoulders hunched over in grief, armor beaten and dented in, crimson blood smeared across their stalwart faces and muscled arms. I could see the defeat and despair as they avoided eye contact, the brightness gone from their gaze. My entire body was sagging in hopelessness. I leaned forward across the map, pressing my palms onto the ink stained paper to brace my shaking arms.

We were surrounded by our enemies. By my enemy. Even now his fires were circling around us, blowing smoke across the desert towards our small camp buried in the ravine we had retreated into for safety. Where we were now trapped and cut off from our water supply. Just before dawn the last of our scouts had stumbled into camp, barely alive to whisper the dreaded news that our last route of escape had also been seized, a small hidden tunnel through the side of the desert cliffs to the east.

For several minutes, we all stared at the map between us. The faint lines marking and tracing out the desert geography seemed to taunt us with its clearly defined truth. We had no choice but to fight the enemy straight on. We had no higher ground, no advantage of surprise. We were outnumbered six to one, with warriors already weakened by many wounds and lack of water and food. My enemy had already made it clear he would leave no survivors. No mercy. Only me to face the humiliation of captivity and servitude to him.

And yet my small army would not leave me. I had given them choice after choice to flee if they so desired. Yet they had faithfully remained. And so many had already died. The larger army on the other side of the desert would never reach us in time. I was not even sure my spies had made it through the enemy lines.

My vision seemed blur. I had not slept in days. I pressed my lips tightly together, trying to hold back the deep swell of tears. But it was no use. I doubled over on the table weeping. I felt the rough hands of two of the captains on my back, gently comforting. I also could hear the faint cries of some of the others around me as they joined my anguish.

Our fight had been for justice and for truth. We had come to set the captives free and bring freedom to the slaves and life once more to the wilderness. Yet, it seemed as though death was our future and slavery unavoidable. I wept bitter tears, staining the map until the ink began to smear. This was not how it was suppose to end.

And as the tears and wailing rose in the tent, I sank to me knees, sand cutting into my already cracked and calloused knees. I doubled over, physically feeling pain mushrooming in my gut. It felt as though all strength gushed out of my bones.

And then cutting through the moaning tears and anguish rising around me, another sound rose, outside the tent. The night watchmen’s horn trumpeted its high piercing warning call.

Fear and dread seemed to lift my lifeless body against its own will and propel me outside the tent to frantically look across the small camp towards the opening of the desert ravine. The smoke was thick from the enemies fires around us and the morning sun was not strong enough yet to give much light.

I squinted, rubbing away my tears as I tried to peer through the thick haze. Behind me I could feel the captains and lieutenants gathering. Then, through the swirling smoke, came one of the night watchmen, sanding kicking up under his heels as he raced towards us. I expected his face to be pinched with fear. Yet as he approached I realized that his eyes were actually wide with excitement.

It took him a moment to catch his breath as he halted in front of us.

“The–the—K-King…the King is here!”

I gripped the man’s shoulders, searching his eyes, hope exploding in my heart, “Are you sure?”

“He-He is r-riding this way, with an army…” the young man gasped out.

I spun around catching the gaze of the others before gripping my sword and taking off at a run along the same route the watchman had just come.

My mind was spinning with doubt. What if it was a trick of the enemy, conjured up to incite hope right before the final blow? Our enemy’s cruelty and deception had no boundaries or limits.

But the watchmen knew the face of the king by memory, more than any others. They would be very hard to deceive. And with this fact alone I ran, hope building inside of me despite my best efforts to stall it.

The smoke around me filled my lungs as I breathed heavily. It tasted like sulphur and ash. I came up the rise and began to reach the end of the ravine. Behind me others were also running.

A few more feet and the smoke began to clear. I could see the outline of the desert floor now, many yards ahead of me sloping upwards to the distant sand dunes to the north. And through it the outline of riders on horses galloping toward me, only shadows at first, sun beams bouncing off of them coming in from the morning sun in the east.

I saw the glint of His gold crown before I saw His face, the rider at the front. And then I saw the white horse and the colors of the banner behind Him.

It was the King.

I stopped running, staring at Him in shock and relief as He galloped towards me. When He was close enough to actually see, the first thing I noticed is that He held something in His one of His hands. The riders behind Him still had their swords drawn.

My mouth fell open in utter surprise, as He pulled up His horse just a few feet in front of me and He lifted high what He held in His right hand.

It was the head of my enemy.

There were several screams of shock behind me as He threw it to the desert floor with a mighty fling. It rolled several feet away towards the left.

I gasped, covering my mouth and involuntarily stepping back a few feet. How had He come so quickly? How had He known? We were over a weeks ride from the main army. My spies had only left five days ago.

The King was now dismounting and striding towards me, colorful eyes blazing.

“It is done,” He said, voice deep and commanding like He always was on the battlefield.

I bowed my head, feeling like I should kneel, heart racing. My hand was still gripping the hilt of my sword sheathed on my hip, it was sweaty and hot.

I felt His fingers gently lift my chin so I would meet His gaze, “Did you truly believe I would not come and defend you?”

His voice had now gently quieted so that only I could hear. Silent tears trickled down both cheeks as I could only nod in honest acknowledgment.

“Have I not sworn to never leave you or forsake you?”

Again I nodded, unable to speak, because the fire in His eyes held me fast.

“I-I’m sorry…” I finally said, voice quivering.

He reached down, gently prying away my hand from my sword and grasped it in His own.

“It is done,” He repeated once more.

I took a deep shuddering breath and nodded. He had come. The King had come. There was no place for fear or shame when He was standing in front of me. He had come, despite my disbelief and despair. He had come. Before I had even made a move towards battle He had come. He was the King. And this is what He did. He not only fought with His people, He fought for them. That was what He always did.


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.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. robertadosa says:

    Great job, Tasha. You really pull me in! I hope you are feeling well!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Janie says:

    Thank you Natasha!
    It is a timely word for me and for many it seems right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bbrockmand says:

    Natasha, your gift for writing is amazing! I always look forward to your next one! Thank you for sharing. I hope your pregnancy is going well and you are experiencing good health. Love, G-Gran

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Momom says:

    Dear Tasha…As always you wrote what spoke to my heart! God will never desert us…He alone will win the battle when we are too weak or in despair! Such a wonderful reminder as one of dearest friends just lost her battle with cancer but is rejoicing with her Savior in heaven!

    Like

  5. themothersheart says:

    Wow – Love this!!!

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    Liked by 1 person

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