The mouth of the rocky valley I trek widens into a high green meadow. A stream meanders the length of the grassland and trickles into a reflective pool at the opposite end.
Thank you, God. I slip off my shoes and splash into the pristine brook. The smooth rounded stones massage the balls of my aching feet. I dip my cupped hands into the water and relieve my parched mouth with the sweet, cool liquid.
Restored, I strut into the meadow. Soft new grass slips between my toes. The setting sun peeks over the top of the mountainside and tinges the wispy clouds in the sapphire sky with vibrant reds and orange.
A warm breeze lifts my hair. Some barriers along my journey had seemed impassable, but my skill had prevailed. I spread my arms and twirl. I’ve arrived.
My toes sink into a cool patch of black mud. Where had this come from? I step into a deeper patch, and mud oozes across the top of my foot to my ankle.
Sinister cackling echoes off the rocks. Satan stands atop a boulder at the edge of the valley. Against the glowing orange sky, the silhouette of his open-mouthed laugh reveals his cobra fangs. He wipes a string of venom from his chin.
My muscles seem to petrify. The ground beneath me gurgles, swallowing my legs up to my knees. I scream.
He raises his hands, and the ground shakes. The force sucks me thigh-deep into the sludge.
Thousands of creatures thunder around him, decimating the delicate grass. Jumping and howling, they celebrate like a herd of boars about to be fed. Satan lowers his arms.
Encircling him in a spiral, they bow.
At the back of the circle, a demon creature turns his lizard head and meets my gaze. His forked tongue extends, and he hisses. He rakes his front hoof across the dirt and spews smoke from his nostrils. The sharp horns on his head stabs the air as if he’s imagining his attack. Looking back to his leader, he discharges a screeching roar, and the others join him.
I cover my ears with my hands. There’s nothing I can do to defend against the approaching battle. Helpless, I sink deeper into sticky muck and slime. Tears wet my lashes. I close my eyes.
God, help me. Please. I’m so scared.
Light flashes, and a human-like figure holding a circular shield materializes above me. His boots contact the ground, and their steel scales clatter. The base of his brass breastplate fans and clinks across his thighs like a skirt, and his helmet angles to a point in the center.
His huge arm encircles me, lifts me from the earth that rolls off like beads of oil. The warrior sets me on solid ground and shoves me behind him. He reaches over his shoulder and withdraws a sword from its sheath.
Letting out a battle cry, the horned, reptilian creature charges.
Hitting the angel’s shield, the beast squeals and disappears.
Another demon springs forward, encounters the sword, and vanishes. Then another. Each time a demon attacks, more appear to take its place. With each rush, the monsters escalate in size and number. The angel is a powerful warrior, but how can he defend all sides?
Darkness falls over the valley, and Satan’s eager snarls increase. My family and friends will be missing me soon, but even if they were here, they’d be as helpless as I am.
Evil creatures stampede. One breaks from the troop and circles wide. Horn aimed, it charges me.
I scream and cover my head with my arms.
The angel’s sword decimates the demon inches from my shoulder. “Your faith is weak.” His breath grazes my cheek.
I squeeze into the fetal position and close my eyes.
The wind from another assault rustles my hair. Then another.
The angel growls. “Open your eyes! Believe.”
Rhythmic, thundering beats grow louder. Another herd’s charge.
I look up at the black sky. Increase my faith. Please, God. Help me.
A floral, spring breeze caresses my face. Tiny pricks of light dot the vast, midnight sky. The North Star brightens and expands until I see a shape inside. A friend from church sits with folded hands. She recites names from her prayer list. With each individual she mentions, a misty light rises from her mouth.
More stars, inflate and fill with family and friends. Hundreds of lights blaze, illuminating the dark sky. Some I recognize, but others I don’t. The low timbre of their voices roar, shaking the valley and sending rocks cascading down the cliffs.
The fog from their pleas swirls and separates around me. Hundreds of warrior angels materialize, solidify and brighten. Reinforcements have arrived.
The demons’ yelps and hoof beats fade until all is silent in the valley again.
Peace falls over me like a warm blanket, loosening my muscles and easing my fears. I close my eyes and rest, safe, deep within faith’s circle.
“Whom Shall I Fear [God of Angel Armies]” by Chris Tomlin