Late in the night, whispers sounded through his window and shadows danced between buildings. Fearing the worst, he grabbed his sword and stepped quietly to the door. Floorboards creaked with each of his gentle steps, but he couldn’t care; he had no time to care. Someone was about to enter his home and he must rise to guard it, for in the word of the King, “It is the wellspring of life.” Gripping the hilt until his knuckles turned white, he set his eyes on the door before him.
As he stood in the center of his home waiting for his enemy to burst through, his feet began to tremble. Looking down he realized that it was not his feet, but the ground beneath his home. He turned his ears to listen outside. No whispers, but there was a distant thunder rolling in his direction. He ran to the window and glanced out. Dozens of torches danced through the woods just outside his home, charging towards him. Quickly he darted to retrieve his armor, but in a matter of seconds several large boulders had crashed through his walls, tearing half his home apart. Scrambling, he sought after the one thing he knew would give him a fighting chance.
“It’s too late, Thomas. You are all alone with no one to help you.”
He knew only one person in all the world spoke with a slithering tongue.
“Of course, you never believed the King had actually come back to life in the first place, so really you never expected anyone to be here to help you. And now you’re desperately searching for a shield that you never had.”
Two arrows tore through Thomas’ shoulders, knocking him to the ground by their momentum.
“You see, Thomas, your friends Stephen, Peter, Paul, and John have already tasted what you’re about to taste: death. They were your King’s finest warriors and yet in a matter of a few years they were thwarted from the battlefield and can you guess by whom?”
Thomas held his tongue.
“Ah, you know but you don’t want to admit it. It’s okay to accept defeat, Thomas; your King did it and He died rather quickly. Of course, He experienced quite a bit of pain, quite more than you’ll experience here tonight. But that depends. Are you willing to join my side? I have the power to make you far greater than your King ever was.
Thomas continued to throw aside the debris from his ravaged home searching for his only weapon of defense. Another arrow pierced his arm and his sword fell from his hand.
“Thomas, Thomas, Thomas; you realize that it is far easier for you to merely accept my generous offer and save your life. Your King certainly can’t save you from His grave!”
“He’s not dead,” Thomas whispered through his teeth.
“Well of course he is! You never believed that He had risen, so to you He’s still buried behind that tombstone. And if He’s still there, then you have nothing to hope for in Him. So do yourself a favor and put aside this whole ‘Not of this world’ business and join the world that you know to be real: mine.”
With blood dripping down his arms, Thomas crawled through his wrecked home feeling around for that metal plate that he knew would save him here. The soldiers who fired the arrows were now surrounding him, awaiting their king’s orders to kill. Several dozen of them stood with arrows notched to their bowstrings.
“Thomas, my patience is running thin, and so is your blood. Before you enter the realm where no one can save you, you might want to accept my offer and prolong your life. I have the power to heal you on the spot if you just say the word. You know better than I do that your King is dead and that your friends sacrificed their lives in vain. Quit this whole ‘gospel’ thing and live at peace with the things I will give you.”
A foot now pressed down in Thomas’ back, pinning him flat and making him unable to move. His hands were sprawled out to each side, digging through the pieces of wood to find what he had been looking for.
“You know you want to bow down and worship me.”
Thomas’ fingertips touched the metallic object he sought after. A grin came over his face.
“Lucifer!” he barked, “You know better than I that the King does live! Your demons spend their nights in fear of His return! You can’t call Him by name because you’re afraid He might be right here right now. I assure you, though,” Thomas gripped his shield still buried beneath the wooden wreckage, “He’s been here all along!” With a might heave, he unearthed the shield and slammed it into Lucifer’s leg, knocking him aside. The night air hummed as dozens of demons loosed their fiery arrows in Thomas’ direction. In a flash, Thomas closed his eyes and raised his shield. One struck his leg and another nicked his ear, but the rest struck his shield.
Lucifer recoiled and charged with his own sword drawn. Thomas stepped back and blocked every hack and slash with the shield. But Lucifer’s attack was too powerful for his weakened body. Thomas dodged and sidestepped as many advances as he could, but eventually he grew too weary and fell to the ground. Though he couldn’t stand, he still defended himself with his shield to lessen the blows from the demon army.
Kicking him back and forth across his demolished home, Lucifer and his minions wore Thomas down to where there was no willpower left in him. He had clung to his shield until his hands blistered and bled. When he became like a rag doll and no longer raised his shield in defense, Lucifer pressed his foot down on Thomas’ chest and held him there.
“If He’s been here all along, where is He now?” Lucifer gritted and growled at Thomas’ limp and defeated body. Fighting to keep his eyes open and life within his veins, Thomas padded the ground beneath him and felt a familiar hilt. “I came to give you a Sword,” he recalled the King saying. Taking several deep breaths and gripping the sword with all he had, he opened his eyes and glared directly into Lucifer’s.
“He’s right here!” and stabbed through Lucifer’s leg. Crying out in pain, Lucifer recoiled like a whipped dog and ordered his soldiers to draw their swords. Thomas lay panting on the ground, bloodied and bruised with both hands still gripped like iron to his sword and shield. He gazed up at the nighttime sky as he felt the demons approaching. It was no longer night, but in the beginning stages of dawn. Thomas marveled at the reds, purples, oranges, and blues mixing with the shimmering stars. And as he prepared to breathe his last, a wonderful sound pierced through the air, terrifying the demons circled around him with swords drawn.
To the eastern hills, the sky burned a bright orange and there stood a figure standing on top, blowing a loud horn that could be heard leagues away. The demons, though frightened, turned their faces towards this figure and prepared to charge the hill. Lucifer reemerged from the woods, gimping from his wound, and shouted orders at his soldiers. Reluctantly, they trotted forward, up the hill, to attack this one figure. And Lucifer returned to Thomas, stilly lying on the ground nearly dead.
“You’ve wasted your life, Thomas. I could have – ”
“No!” Thomas interrupted, “You’ve wasted yours! Look to the eastern hill!”
When Lucifer glanced up, horror filled his body; rising from the other side of the hill was a massive army, hundreds of thousands in number, led by massive chariots of fire, and one Man with a magnificent, burning crown leading the way.
“Do you remember what I said about the King?” Thomas teased.
Lucifer remained silent.
“The kingdom I serve is a fire that cannot be quenched,” as Thomas spoke, life returned to his limbs, “An ocean that never rests,” his wounds healed up before Lucifer’s very eyes, “And a Word that is never silent!” and he jumped to his feet with shield raised and sword poised for attack. Still shocked by the slaughter his army suffered, Lucifer glanced at Thomas and noticed something changing. The clothes he wore seemed to catch fire, but he didn’t smell smoke. It was a fire so bright he had to look away. But when he looked back, Thomas stood before him in full armor that appeared brighter than the sun. Lucifer cowered back.
“You aren’t going very far!” a booming Voice bellowed from behind him. Startled, he spun around to see a massive fiery crown supported by a mighty King. His right and left wrists bore a terrible scar, as well as His legs.
“You pride yourself as a roaring lion, Lucifer, but you forget that I am the Lion of the tribe of Judah, I am Alpha and Omega, I am the I am!”
Thomas knelt on one knee and bowed his head as Light ended dark.