I could see it in the distance. A dark, threatening cloud was forming on the horizon; a sure sign of a coming Storm. Oh, and to be sure, this after only recently drying out from the last Storm that had brought floods of despair. After the last sudden relentless drenching, there had come a much needed time of warm sunshine and an Invigorating Breeze. Oh, the sweet, Invigorating Breeze! How beautiful and vitally important it had been to my temperament to receive the vibrant, refreshing Breeze; a wind of faithful encouragement, providing renewed confidence. What a pleasant memory….
But then another memory came that was accompanied with an uncontrollable shudder. This memory was one that was not so pleasant. The last Storm had not only brought torrential rain, but then, in the darkness and turmoil of the Storm, there was the equally dark manifestation that rode in on the unpredictably turbulent clouds. The tempest of the thundershower was difficult enough to find shelter from, but with it came the Dark Star who somehow seemed to be intrinsically connected to the Storm (although he was not the Lord of the Storm). He came with hopeless despair in his twisted words that seemed to fall on me like the punishing hail as he rode the current of miserably writhing clouds. He threw confusion and discord all around me like the bolts of lightning and roaring thunder. His form seemed to swim with the fluid movement of the violent clouds that came boiling down on top of me. Smoke of a great furnace seemed to billow out of him, causing the sun and fresh air to be finally choked out. And then there were his eyes. Eyes of such hatred and malicious intent as I had ever seen before or ever desire to see again. But it seems that with this rapidly arriving Storm, I was destined to witness them again, irregardless of my desires.
Then there was the cold yet Belligerent Voice that announced his name as he rode in on my location to disperse fear and loathing, screaming, “I am Destruction!” Another shudder.
As I forced this memory away, I realized I had better find shelter immediately. The Storm was coming and with it the inevitable appearance of Destruction. This would prove to be especially difficult, as in my current state of travel, I found myself exposed upon a wide open plain. “Just like last time,” I said to myself in disgust. How had I allowed myself to be so vulnerable? Hadn’t I learned from the last Storm how quickly these things pop up? Hadn’t I even vowed to myself to never allow myself to be caught in such a compromising situation again? Some lessons are difficult to learn. Yet others are learned but lack the precision required for proper application. And yet, in hindsight, there is the Invigorating Breeze that followed which somehow seemed to make the Storm tolerable.
As I scanned my immediate surroundings, I glimpsed a short Tree with low hanging branches not fifty yards away! Mercy! Possibly I could reach it in time to avoid the drenching deluge of the Storm. And, more importantly, to possibly avoid detection by those fiery, hateful eyes. I set out on a sprint. As a long distance Runner, my strength was in my ability to pace myself. I wasn’t a very fast Runner, but I had been given the ability to be able to travel great distances at a steady pace which enabled me to finish races well. But now, I found myself in a sprint because of the imminent Threat. As I ran, the Tree of Security clearly in focus, I was acutely aware of the obstacles of uneven, rocky ground beneath my feet that was hindering my steps. Even more of a detriment to my progress was the weight of my Bag of Necessities, which I had thought were essential to my travels, yet now, I realized, were only serving to slow me down. Risking a brief look behind me to see the proximity of the rolling clouds with their flashes of lightning, I realized that at this pace I would not make it to the Tree of Security. I was then faced with a dilemma that was easily rectified; lose the excess baggage or else I wouldn’t make it to the Tree in time. Not taking the time to deliberate long in my mind, I released my grip on the Bag of Necessities, picking up much needed speed as I gained ground toward my shelter. I could feel the temperature dropping rapidly as the Storm began to close around me. The dirt and debris that was being picked up by the violent wind somehow found its way into my squinting eyes, making it difficult to see. Minute droplets of moisture were beginning to hit the ground all around me. But on I ran.
Then came the voice. The Belligerent Voice that matched the eyes in its intensity of hatred and hostility, boldly and arrogantly declaring, “I am Destruction!”
The shelter of the Tree could not come fast enough as I darted into the safe haven. As the branches closed in around me, providing me cover from the torrential rain that was now falling without mercy, I heard the Belligerent Voice of Destruction as he boastfully declared his supremacy and my inadequacy. Exploiting my situation, he hatefully vomited obscenities and threats about my character. Declaring irrational arguments of hypocrisy, he cried out to me in accusation, “Faithless Coward!”… “Unloving Wretch!”… “Impatient Idolater!”… “Immoral Hypocrite!”… “Toxic Sinner!”…, to which I struggled to find substance by which to defend myself. Along with Destruction’s loud, boastful allegations were challenges tempting me to leave the security of the tree and face him in dialogical battle. But I knew enough that to engage in many words with this dark prince would prove foolish; better to resist and remain under the shadow of the security that the Tree gave me. Surely it would end soon…
As the cacophonous noise of my situation escalated to a near deafening level, being caused by the combined effort of the unhappy Storm which depressingly raged on and Destruction’s continual flow of blasphemy and hypocrisy, I despaired believing I would not be able to endure another second of this misery. Clapping my hands over my ears and closing my eyes as tightly as possible, I despaired of ever seeing the warm light of the sun or the sweet Invigorating Breeze again. Yet, to the memory of this goodness I clung and the tighter I clung, the more I found I was comforted in the midst of the Storm and the ugly accusations of Destruction’s Belligerent Voice.
Soon, I awoke with a start. What had happened? Somehow, miraculously, I must have found rest despite the sudden catastrophe that had befallen me. Here I was still in the protection of the Tree, safe and dry. The dark Storm had passed. The light of the sun was filtering in through the branches of the Tree of Security. The blasphemy of Destruction had departed. The Invigorating Breeze had begun to blow, causing a slight movement in the limbs of my shelter. And as I stood to leave, what is this I see carved into the trunk of the Tree???
“EMMANUEL WAS HERE”
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” Proverbs 18:12 (NASB95)
“They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he has the name Apollyon (which means Destruction).” Revelation 9:11 (NASB95)