“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”-Eph. 6:12
As the distant separates the miles, the golden rays of fading sunlight cast their last hopes upon the sullen clouds that lie amongst the foot of the mountains. There is nere a day that remaineth the same. What man can say he hath known the works of the Almighty when he can scarcely recall one from another, twixt the hours of time that passeth understanding.
His charge, one of Keeper; to watch over those in his domain and protect them from the darkness. As the fog of ancient tomes drifts across the driven land, he is called to another such place; a memory gone by, faded from view as the vines envelop the work of one long passed. The natural world reclaiming her own. He is there to see what is needed to bring the old place back to the living. With him travels another soul, one he cannot see, but he can sense its presence. It is a gentle, kind spirit like himself; but strong in ways he cannot match. They are connected as father and son, a bond that goeth deeper than the flesh which covereth mere bone and sinew. Together, their force is nigh to the Master they serve, but neither would dare compare to their creator, for each dwelleth only to serve Him more.
As they arrive, their first visit is to an outbuilding lying on the edge of the estate, just inside the front gate. Farther up the drive on the hill sits the dark, somber decaying mansion. Once this place was an exuberant, alive institution where all manner of animals, food, and life thrived. The building in which they now stood was once a stable and maintenance shed. Now, the rusty veins of disrepair peek through swollen arms of branches and vines that have devoured its once formidable shell. As the Keeper walks beneath the sagging overhead door, the smell from within causes the hair to stand up along his spine.
Beneath the myriad of branch and leaf, there is something of a dire will that lurks. An evil being lies waiting. It has recompensed its own soul for a void it can never fill; a wickedness beyond compare. The gentle spirit is alarmed, and at once is put on guard. Both Keeper and gentle being begin to back away, but before they can reach the light of day, the swift sound of earthly flesh sliding across the antiquity of concrete splits fear into, cleaving sanity from flight, as the beast seeks to devour the good son. A sense of cunning overwhelmed the Keeper as the serpent sought a weakness from which to attack. It was as if it had known they were coming and was welcoming their offering, their sacrifice of body and soul. A feeling of pain, horror, and unfathomable power surges through the Keeper as he suffers the feeling of the gentle spirit being torn asunder. But there was no sign of physical attack. The gentle one stood prepared for battle, but there was only the feeling of the onslaught.
Each being stood waiting, each with heightened senses. Their enemy, nothing of this world nor principality, circles; watching, waiting.
Then without warning, it strikes the gentle one from behind, out of nowhere the beast sprung, its massive coils instantly engulfing the young being. There was no time to scream, so quick were its Satanic sinews entwined about his body. Incredulously, there was nothing they can do to stop it; nothing of this world.
Lightning pulses through the Keeper’s veins as he is blinded by rage. His heart falters as he falls to his knees. At once, the prayer of supplication is lifted to the Master’s realm, and as quickly, there is an answer.
The sound of rushing wind blasts past the Keeper’s ears, until he cannot restrain his body in place. As he feels the world around him begin to summersault, head over heel, all countenance of space and time passes. His eyes are closed in the transition until there is calm. A feeling of warmth surrounds him, and slowly he peers through squinted eyelids to see himself bathed in sunlight upon a freshly mown lawn. Looking up, he sees the previously decaying manor, now aglow in the setting sun. It’s alcoves, and trim are perfectly painted and shining like new. He turns to see all manner of life and activity as servants, workers, and guests come and go in their daily rituals. Below him, he watches as a young man of slender build leads a team of horses into what was before, the overgrown stables. The man disappeared from view. At the same time, from behind him, the Keeper hears the sound of an elder speaking to one of the workers, “Have you seen Jackson?”
The Keeper turns to see the well-dressed elder speaking to one of his servants. The former is dressed in tan pants with a matching vest. His girth protrudes beyond his belt line as it appears his wealth is more than just in the land around him. The black man to whom he speaks is dressed in the worn clothes that belie his position. His likewise worn hat, sits comfortably on his nearly bald but graying head, shading his eyes from the fading light of day.
“Nassuh,” replies the servant, “Last I seed him he was walkin da horses to da stables. I’se can git him if you need-ssuh?”
“No Eugene,” the elder replied, “I just wanted to see if he was about ready for supper or not.”
“Yessuh, I’se can run down to da stables and let him know if yuuz want?”
“Well, on second thought Eugene, that might be a splendid idea.”
“Yessuh, I’se be right back.”
And with that, the black man ran toward the Keeper, not straying nor altering his path as he headed straight toward him. The Keeper put his hands up to block the servant’s charge fearing that the collision would send them both reeling, but before he could blink, the man had passed through his person and was gone on heading down the hill. Not quite understanding what had just transpired, he stood, turning to watch the black man disappear past the manicured hedges that lined the drive between the manor and the farmland beyond.
He blinked and once again, he had to refocus his eyesight. The darkness of the room caught him off guard. The smell of sweat, leather, and tack filled his nostrils. The doors of the barn opened, and the whinny of the horses broke the silence.
“Easy ladies,” the young man called. “Why you girls acting so skittish?”
As the Keeper watched the young man work, he opened the stall doors for each Percheron, placing the gentle giants each into their own paddocks. The horses pranced, for something was causing them to stir. The Keeper thought it must be his own presence that created their disdain. But as the thought passed, so did the sound of that earthly scrape along the floor. The darkness had found its way into the realm, and he was not alone. The youth was unaware, but there was little the Keeper could do. For some reason, there was no way for him to call to the boy. His voice was void of his mouth. The demon slid along the corner post and cunningly wrapped itself around the beam as it climbed aloft. The thirty-foot-long python was an enigma. It had survived the train wreck when the men who had claimed it from the jungles lost it in transit to one of the city zoos. They had no idea that those who had extracted it from the South American jungle never lived to see it board the train north. Their skeletal remains long ago excreted from the beast as their souls became one with its darkness. The rescuers who were the first on the scene of the twisted train never found the brakeman or engineer. They too succumbed to the beast. The warmth of the summer had buoyed its life force until it now found itself savoring its next meal below. The yellow slitted eyes watched the boy as he worked, waiting for the opportunity to feed.
Unaware, the youth continued to try to ease the tension of the horses, but to no avail. He had backed his way out of one of the stalls when he felt the strand of straw drop from above. Just as he brushed it off his shoulder, he looked up to see what might have caused the disturbance. Before he could react, the beast sprung its massive coil onto the man. Horses screamed in unison as the lad was knocked to the floor. His hands fought against the massive sinews that intertwined his body. The youth fought to find any form of breath as the evil began to squeeze each time he exhaled until his ribs began to crack beneath the strain. His desperate hand found the wooden handled of the nearby ax he had used earlier in the day to break off a piece of rope. In a last futile act, he swung toward the lethal muscle that now engulfed his body, swinging blindly, he struck again and again. The blood of the sinister beast began to flood the stall below, but only increased the fervor for which its coils tightened about the boy. Bones began to crush as the heartbeat of the innocent began to slowly ebb.
The Keeper watched in revulsive fear as he saw all that transpired, helpless to stop the horror before him. He fell once again to his knees and wept as the sound of the human body was slowly drawn into the gaping mouth of the slithering demon. The last thing he heard was a whimpering voice cry out its last breath, “Mother.”
In an instant, something inside that paddock changed. The feeling of a spirit of evil grew. The damned had devoured the precious son, their only child, the one that was to become the heir to all that was, and now, nothing remained lest the beast allowed it. For once the soul of the boy was exchanged from one to the other, its evil and intellect were magnified tenfold. All of the envy and hate the lad had contained for the contempt of his parents forcing him to carry on the work of the plantation now transferred into the dark being. The bitterness was like sweet essence to the beast as it supped upon the hatred like honey from the comb.
About that time, the door of the barn opened, and the loyal servant peered into the darkness.
“Jackson, my boy, is you in here?” The black man shaded his eyes from the bright light from the outside trying to obtain a focus into the dank cell of death before him. He had seen the boy grow from childhood into a young man. He had come to know the boy as if he were his own. The horses continued to cry as the smell of blood spewed utter fear into their nostrils.
The Eugene timidly pushed the door aside and stepped in, pulling the cap from his forehead. The Keeper wanted to call to him, but again, it was not his time, nor could he speak. The coils of the evil one now silently slid into the shadows awaiting its next victim.
The old man wearied of the silence and called again, raising his hand to the fearful horses trying to calm them as he walked further into the lair of the darkness.
“Jackson, is you here?” He reached the paddock door and started to turn, but the sheen of red on the floor caught his eye, and his breath was taken away. At that instant, before he could think to run for the door, the feeling of cold death, wrapped around his body from above, and like his master before, Eugene began to fight for his life. Heavy, black cold flesh wrapped about his body, tightening until the air escaped his lungs. As his life force ebbed, the years of toil and arduous labor for his Master began to surface, like a black tide. The demon drank it forth, as venom is extracted from the wound, pulling it further from within the servant’s soul. The long years of utter despair culminating to an anger that fed the pulsating muscles that rippled along the beast’s frame as he finished the last breath of the old man. There was nothing left of the faithful servant, as he too joined the combined souls within the evil. The Keeper watched in utter horror as the insatiable appetite of the beast grew. He culled the darkness from each victim before their souls had passed, retaining each as an energy upon which it grew. Before he could manage to escape the macabre scene, each magnificent horse was eventually drawn down into the ever-growing beast’s coils, until they too had become one with its dark powers.
From that day forward, man, beast, and life of the plantation began to disappear as the evil grew with each soul it recompensed. Dawn after dawn, there were fewer who breathed the air of the day, while the night was filled with screams of horror and fear.
The Keeper now understood what he faced. For this was no earthly being with which he fought.
Again, the sound of rushing wind churned in the air about him, and he had returned to the sodden space from which he had left. The beast was still there, as was the gentle being, both neither had diminished nor had their battle continued, for it was as if they had been frozen in time. No matter the length of his recent escape, it was as if it were only a blink of an eye that he had returned. The Keeper called out to the son and warned him of what it was to which they now fought. From within, both instinctively called upon the only one with whom they knew could save them in this darkest hours. Meanwhile, the coils of the beast continued to attempt to suffocate the life from the gentle one.
Dropping to his knees, the Keeper began to seek God in ultimate prayer, bowing his hands upon the earth.
The darkness heard him and lurched for the chance to devour them both at once, sending its tail around the Keeper, pulling him into the maze of death.
As the serpent surged, the sudden force of energy from beneath its coils shocked the beast, stunning his advance. Pausing, it couldn’t understand what had happened, so the beast pulled at the Keeper again, this time forcing all the guile within to his surface, throwing the massive coils into one colossal force which no terrestrial being could withstand.
Once more, the power from above stunned the beast until its deathly grip lessened.
At this moment, the Keeper and the gentle one stood, shedding the grip of evil and turning, they both now faced the beast.
Eyes of blood red, with a screaming rage, the demon surged once more, massive jaws agape as the fangs dripped with deadly venom, at the two beings of faith.
The horrific screams squealed into the air, reaching a pitch that caused any living thing to cower in fear. The beast retracted as its flesh began to sizzle and burn away from the power that now flowed through the pair; Keeper and son.
The demon, feeling its skin begin to fall away, revealing bleeding sinews and bone, lurched again, only to find the force against it growing stronger.
The screams continued until the smell of burning flesh overpowered the dying sounds of the evil beast.
It was hours later as the sunrise began to break across the new day, the charred remains of the demon could be found before the weary Keeper and his son.
Exhausted, worn and spent. Each dropped to the soil below and gave thanks to the Lord.
Somewhere in the distance, a rooster crowed at the coming day.
Once more, the darkness had been defeated, as the Keeper added another dwelling to his charge.
As we go through this life, we face demons of this world that seem unstoppable. Alone, we cannot defeat them as stated in Ephesians, “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” As Paul writes to Ephesians, he shares with them that we must “put on” the armor of God. The Greek word for “put on” is also “enduo,” as if to clothe or put on a garment. If we go back to Luke 24:49, we see again where he tells his disciples to go back to Jerusalem and wait, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” In other words, Jesus was telling his disciples, that first before you go out into the world to evangelize, yea first must receive the Holy Spirit. In this story, we are allowed to visualize ourselves within the Keeper. Some may see this as being one with the Holy Spirit. If we are one with the Holy Spirit, then we can assume the “Gentle One” in the story would then be the Word. Either way, we are not alone in our battles, if we choose to accept Christ into our lives. Without Him, we cannot defeat the powers of darkness. But the good news is, we know how the story ends, we have victory in Jesus. We may not win the battle, but through Christ, we have won the war.
May the Lord’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Hallowed be thy name.
Thanks be to God.
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” -Eph. 6:13-20