In Shining Armor
By Debbonnaire Kovacs, copyright 1999, posted Aug. 19, 2015
This week we are going to do something rather significantly different. One of the lectionary passages is the one in Ephesians 6:10-18, concerning the armor of God. I wrote a small booklet years ago that tells a story based on this passage, and ends with a Bible study. Here is the first part of it. If you like it and want to read more, go to my website every day for the next several days (or wait a week and read the whole thing together).
IN SHINING ARMOR
Trying not to make a sound that would draw attention to him, Paine struggled into a sitting position against a broken stone wall and opened swollen eyes. The night was black, not a single star out, but he could see a little by the red flicker of fires that were still smoldering. Nothing he could see gave any reason to hope. He breathed in shallow, aching gasps, trying not to gag on the smoke and the choking smell of ruined lives and shattered dreams. He wished he were dead, like so many others.
A noise behind him made Paine whirl and take some attempt at a defensive position.
“Don’t be afraid,” said a quiet voice. “Are you thirsty?”
Paine squinted at a woman holding out a cup, somewhat warily, as if she were a little afraid of him. His lip cracked as he tried to smile derisively. She was the one in full armor, obviously a warrior. No telling on which side—they all looked alike these days. Surely she could see he was no threat to anyone or anything.
“Are you thirsty?” she repeated.
Paine looked at the cup. Yes, actually. His throat was clogged with dust and defeat. Why not drink? If he was lucky, she was an enemy and it was poison. If not, it might really be water.
Saying nothing, he held out a shaking hand, and the woman put the cup into it. It wasn’t water, it was the dew of heaven! Paine drained the cup and leaned back against the wall with his eyes closed. He felt as if he had gulped life itself. He frowned and opened his eyes. Gulped life? His condition must be worse than he realized to make his thoughts wander like that.
The woman had squatted on the ground near him. He gave the cup back. “Thanks.”
“There’s more where that came from,” said the woman.
Paine looked more closely at her face than he had before. It was a strong face, but the eyes were not the eyes of other warriors he had met. He gave a dry croak of a laugh. “I get it. You’re one of those recruiters, aren’t you?”
She shrugged. “I guess you could say that. My name is Petra.” She eyed him for a moment and added, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be on the winning side for a change?”
“That’s what they all say,” Paine pointed out.
“True. Why don’t you come with me and meet my Commander, then decide for yourself.”
“No, thanks. I’ve had enough of charismatic leaders who promise you the moon, and all they ask in return is your lifeblood. I’m sure you mean well. I mean, it’s easy for you. What do you know of blood and pain and being so tired you could die from it? If I could afford armor like that, I could go around like Mighty Warrior, too!” The sneer was a deliberate attempt to make her go away and leave him to his misery.
The woman didn’t move. “This armor was free. You could have a set just like it for the asking. But don’t expect it to magically keep you from all those things. You wouldn’t need armor if you weren’t still going to be in the War.”
“Free? What do you mean, free?”
Petra smiled. “I mean free, gratis, no charge. You see, lifeblood has already been paid for it.”
“What in the world—?”
“It’s a long story. I’ll explain it all to you on our way to—shh!” Petra’s head snapped up and they both listened. There was a grate of heavy boots on rubble and then a guttural laugh.
“Behind me!” hissed Petra. She was already on her feet, her sword drawn. Not waiting for Paine to reply, she moved in front of him with a swirl of mantle. Paine was silent, his heart pounding, wondering if her sword had really flashed as he thought it had, or if his mind was slipping further out of the bounds of reality.
In the next few minutes, he was sure it was the latter. Crouching behind Petra, bitterly aware of his cowardice, he couldn’t be certain of what exactly was happening. Petra murmured something and moved her hand, and a shimmering glow surrounded both of them. Around Paine, and where the glow met the stone wall, it seemed to crackle and spark, as if it were shorting out. Paine barely had time to register this (or imagine it?) when the fierce fighting began. Petra seemed to be ten warriors—flashing here and there, back and forth, wielding her sword as if it were lightning, but never moving more than a few feet from Paine. There were growls, mutters, and roars, and through it all, the murmur of Petra’s voice—and another?—saying things he could never quite catch. Suddenly, she gave a great cry and a mighty sword thrust, and it was over. All Paine could hear was Petra’s harsh breathing and the enemy’s heavy, retreating feet.
She turned, and Paine could see that she held a communications device in her hand. “Thank you!” she panted into it, and Paine realized why he had heard another voice. He could hear it clearly now—a strangely beautiful, melodic voice that pulled at him in a way that was almost frightening.
“All will be well now,” said the voice. “Bring him, if he will come.”
To be continued…