“Kiss my feet!” demanded my captor.|
His bare feet were plastered with mud and filth. He had obviously stepped in a variety of animal droppings over a long time. I doubt if he had washed for years. The stench made me want to vomit. What I was being asked to kiss must have been writhing with enough germs to kill a battalion. He used no force or threat. I knew what he was capable of. That was enough. I kissed his feet, in between gasps for breath.
“Now repeat after me,” he ordered, “I am the lowest scum in the universe.”
You are the lowest . . . I might have felt a rebel on the inside, but unspeakable horrors threatened like a knife to my throat. “I am – (gasp) – the lowest – (gasp) – scum in – (gasp) – the universe.”
Why am I so short of breath? Is this a panic attack or something to do with the atmosphere?
“I exist only to serve my master,” he coached.
“I exist – (gasp) – only to – (gasp) – serve my – (gasp) –master.”
“I hate God for abandoning me.”
I couldn’t get the words out. I think it was more exhaustion than heroism.
“Doesn’t matter,” he snapped, “God’s no use to you here, pimple puss!” The tone in his voice oozed such disgust it would make even a compliment seem like the grossest insult. I marveled that such non-verbal subtleties could be transmitted cross-species. As I write, having had more time to think about it, I take this as evidence that all of us were originally designed by the same God, no matter how diverse we might be and how much we might mutilate his handiwork.
“Get on your feet!” said the tyrant who was now my slavemaster, “You’re coming with me, plaything!”
What can I do? There’s no way I can outrun him. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop puffing from my last run! At my best, I couldn’t outfight even the weakest angel I’ve seen, let alone this thug!
Yes, I knew all the theory. In Jesus’ name, demons should be subject to me. I had thought of demons as nasty little critters that I might have a fighting chance with, if only I could somehow muster enough faith – and energy – to shout loud enough to bluff them. I did not even know if these evil beings were demons. Were they something of higher rank in the dark realm of evil? I thought of how Ephesians seems to list different classes of evil spiritual powers when saying we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Whatever they were, these demented beasts were monsters! They were totally out of my league.
I stumbled to my feet as best as my breathlessness would allow. Doubled over, and heaving like an asthmatic, I meekly staggered behind him. I don’t precisely know what a demigod is but I guess I was treating him as one.
He brought me to the other angels. “Look what I’ve got!” he proudly exclaimed.
The others seemed envious. Some came up and handled me. I felt dirtier than I’ve felt in my entire life.
“Where does he come from?” asked one of them.
“Dunno. Haven’t interrogated him yet.”
“Where are you from?” demanded one of them. The intensity and violence in his stare made me wonder how close I was to heart failure.
“E-earth,” I stammered.
Their faces filled with skepticism.
I knew I was about to be beaten.
“I want the time-space coordinates NOW,” snapped my new owner.
Yeah, . . . right! “Er – um – ahh . . .”
“Don’t mess with me,” screamed the would-be demigod, in hate-crazed fury.
I panicked. “Please, Sir,” I begged, “I don’t know what’s been happening to me. I’ve been taken from world to world against my will. I’ve been here less than an hour. I don’t even know where I am. Is this hell?”
At the mention of hell the angels looked uncomfortable.
“He really must be confused,” said one.
“No, this isn’t hell,” growled my nemesis, “but when we end up there, be assured that you’ll be keeping us company. We’ll make sure you get every bit of torment that’s dished out to us.”
The others laughed, nervously.
It’s going to get worse? I thought I was a Christian! What went wrong? Why didn’t God protect me? Why had my master – hate using that word – said earlier that God is no use to me here? Was he bluffing? He certainly seemed confident.
“Where did you say you are from?” asked my owner incredulously.
“Planet Earth,” I said, worrying about where this would lead.
“Earth? As in dirt?”
The question floored me. My brain jammed. With each millisecond of silence I could sense my interrogator becoming increasingly impatient. I panicked like having stalled a car on a railroad track when a freight train is hurtling toward me. That just compounded my brain malfunction.
“Yes,” I finally blurted, having no confidence in my response.
“You’ve got to be kidding! Who in their right mind would call their own planet, ‘Dirt?’ ”
“Well . . .” I’d never had to answer such a question before.
My subjugator started poking at a gadget he held in his hand. I’d never noticed it before. “Ah, here we are! ‘Stilas, third planet from the star Seutone 462, known by the majority of its most advanced lifeforms as Earth.’ He looked at me, “Earth? What an unimaginative name! Surely symptomatic of a dull, inferior breed. You do breed don’t you?” He stared hard at my body with eyes that seemed like cold blades of steel.
Words continued to elude me.
“Let’s see . . .” he fiddled with his gadget again. “Yes . . . formed by sexual reproduction . . . gestation period approx 4.65 quintones or 270 revolutions of their planet.”
He looked up. “Well!” he announced cheerfully, “We’re going to have such fun together, aren’t we?”
I said nothing.
“Now what are we going to feed you, my pet?” he said with mock affection. He thought for a moment or two. “I know! You’d love a nice meal of slugs, wouldn’t you!”
Oh, no! Does he mean real, live slugs?
“Ooooo! You’re so evil,” gushed one of the underlings. Apparently, that was high praise. There could be no denying that I had been profoundly sobered by overhearing in the forest the other angels’ assessment of human morality. Nevertheless, I still found myself unable to control the disgust I felt towards the sickeningly beautiful sadists who had reduced me to a cowering slave.
“Oh, and don’t be concerned if you have difficulty keeping the little critters down,” my master said sweetly, “If that happens, you’ll enjoy the double treat of eating your own vomit.”
I was sent off to look under rocks for slugs and bring them back to the group, presumably so they could all enjoy seeing me eat them alive. No one followed me. The power of these beings! They’re not even bothering to guard me. I bow to their every wish. Though superficially beautiful, each of them seemed like a dozen giant crocodiles, cobras and grizzlies melded into one terrifying mass, pumped with superhuman intelligence and propelled by unspeakable evil.
Over and over, my slavemaster’s words ran through my head, “God’s no use to you here.” Suddenly I stopped. Hang on! God is God. There can be no place in the universe where God isn’t. Wherever I am, God must be here, too.
I could never blame God for abandoning me. Only a conceited, self-infatuated fool would think he deserves anything from God, after the way we’ve each treated him. But hasn’t God promised never to forsake us? Didn’t I once, in the blasé state of not being in a crisis, say that God has staked the integrity of his character on that promise? If only such a naïve view of life worked here!
A saying I had once composed smashed into my consciousness. “The only difference between the valley and the mountaintop is how far you can see. You should walk through the valley according to what you saw from the mountaintop.” Is that the empty platitude it now seems? Or is it my only link to reality? Bah! I prayed for deliverance and nothing happened. Can anything be more real than those demonic beasts that towered over me?
It seemed an eternity ago, but I could still vaguely remember those ‘sparklers’. Right now, that weird event seemed more a delusion than a mountaintop experience, but if it held any truth at all, it must be that spiritual life is never a question of what anyone deserves. It is solely a matter of what Jesus has done for every single human being. According to the theory (yes, in my mind it had shrunk to a mere theory) – all that any of us need do is to let God have his way in our lives – let him forgive us and set us free. Ah, free – I could sure use some of that right now! Anyhow, at the moment Santa Claus seems more believable.
In the past, I’ve told others to trust God and ignore their feelings, but I’m not grappling with feelings here. I’m face to face with the grimmest of realities. The theory is that God is too loving and faithful to have abandoned me. Then why am I in this mess? I didn’t ask to be here! I didn’t turn my back on God.
The soul-crushing reality is that I had prayed and nothing happened.
I recalled what someone once told me. His assertion was that God loves us so much that, as a father wants his favorite son to become like him, so God wants us to become like him. I could swallow that bit. It was the rest that was harder. To be regal like God is, the theory continues, we must exercise divine authority. (Even at the best of times that seemed to me too much like hard work.) The Almighty has given us that authority, but it won’t help us behave even slightly Godlike if, through fear, ignorance, or whatever, we never use it. So, claimed this guy, to help us grow up and take upon ourselves the dignity God wants us to enjoy, he lets us get into situations he knows we can get out of, when we use the authority he has given us. Then, goes the assertion, God restrains himself from delivering us, waiting for us to learn how to be Godlike.
Another beautiful theory! I sarcastically told myself, as I found a slug under a rock.
Face it! I chided myself, The theory might seem as real as Mary Poppins right now, but it’s your one and only hope. I shuddered to think what would be involved in being that tyrant’s plaything. What if it’s up to me whether I remain enslaved? What if I could have remained free if only I hadn’t given in to intimidation?
No human is a match for these crazed beasts! I argued with myself. They’re so vicious and unpredictable that they’re even afraid of each other!
Then came the counter-argument: If the Almighty were to fight on my behalf, the size of the foe would be irrelevant. But is God on my side? I thought for a moment, then carefully rehearsed the theory to myself in a way least likely to devastate my flimsy faith. Any suggestion that God’s acceptance depended on me would scuttle me. The theory is that God chose to be on my side, not because I’m good or desirable, but because he’s so good and loving that the Son of God has gone to the extreme of sacrificing his life to make it possible. I thought I had already proved that to myself in the endless Palace and here I was back to square one again.
It was just making enough sense to be half convincing when another crushing thought came thundering through my brain. What if the era I’m now in is some time prior to Jesus’ sacrifice? I pondered the dilemma and hoped it didn’t matter. Never had I needed so desperately those peculiar Scriptures about Jesus being slain before the foundation of the earth. I felt mildly confident about it because for years I had been convinced that Jesus died for all generations. His sacrifice was as much for those who lived and died before he physically entered the human race, as for those born after his return to heaven. That seems to fit snugly with the full teaching of Scripture. My memory flung in my direction a key verse from somewhere in Hebrews that says that if Jesus’ one-off death had not been sufficient for all generations, he would have had to die over and over since the dawn of human history. Of necessity, the destiny-determining death and resurrection of Christ occurred in a specific point in time and space, but it was an act of the Eternal Lord.
Drawing comfort from the words, ‘Eternal Lord,’ I tried convincing myself that with an eternal God, timing is not an issue. If I were somehow bouncing from era to era, surely the Almighty could.
Besides, I assured myself, Jesus and his disciples cast out demons before his death and resurrection. If that made me feel better it was only for a split-second before another thought gatecrashed the party. Remembering the disciples brought me face to face with the memory that in least one instance they had failed to cast out a demon and Jesus had to rescue them. I tried to push this aside and spur myself on, I must do my utmost to exercise my Christ-bought authority. There’s no other option! I can’t outrun these superhuman brutes. I can’t imagine myself outsmarting them. And even if I escaped, where would I go? I’d still be in this God-forsaken . . .
In my delicate state of mind, “God-forsaken” was an unfortunate choice of words.
I lifted a sizable rock and recoiled in horror. Under it was a hideous centipede-like creature. Its every leg was the size of the centipedes I was used to on earth. When I felt I had run a safe distance away and at last my heart began to return to its normal rhythm, I reverted to my mental wrestling. But for this to have the slimmest chance of working I need faith! On a scale of one to ten, my faith must be around minus 100 right now. I’m afraid even to utter a word in their presence.
Then the Scripture came to haunt me: “Faith comes by hearing . . . the word of Christ.” Fat lot of good that is – cut off from the Bible and from all preachers!
A mere four chapters a day gets you through the Bible in a year. I had at least the memory of a few Scriptures, and over my life I had read through the entire Bible many times, but it seemed easier to give up in despair than to try to dredge Scripture up from the murky depths of my memory and then try to build up faith with the fragments. Being a defeatist is about the only thing I’m good at! My faith has always been pathetic. I’ve never had any experience with demons. Over all my life I’ve had little success with answered prayer. If I was like that in the times when I had so much going for me, it’s ridiculous to think I could do better now that things are a thousand times harder.
Then I returned to the inescapable reality: If my chance of successfully using my faith to get out of here is only one in a thousand, it is still my only chance. I might as well focus all my efforts on that one, solitary chance.
I scanned the archives of my mind for Paul writing that absolutely nothing could separate us from God’s love. In my frazzled mind I blew off the dust but the print was still faint. Did he include demons in his list? Can’t remember. I think it was something along those lines.
“. . . in God I trust; I will not be afraid.” That fragment of the Bible was just beginning to pump a little faith into me when a bolt of panic shot through me. Hey, doesn’t the psalmist go on to indicate he’s referring to fearing mortal man? I strained to remember. I was only eighty percent sure, but that was all it took to swamp me with despair. If only I had the luxury of being overpowered by mere humans! Icy terror swept over me, shattering my tiny jar of faith. All my faith drained out like water. I angrily fought off more of those insect-like flying blood-suckers.
To my annoyance, David and Goliath seized my consciousness. There was no point remembering that. Not only was his foe merely a gigantic human, I’d always regarded little David as a superhero whose boldness I could never come within a thousand miles of. Did he say to Goliath something like, “I come to you in the name of the Lord”? Somehow, I found that statement comforting. I might not have faith worth mentioning, but “the name of the Lord” somehow seemed simple and obtainable.
The word is near you, even on your lips (or was that ‘mouth’?) That’s Romans 10 – or is it 9? – no, I think it’s 10. Oh, you ant-brain! Stop fretting about the reference! While lifting more rocks, I continued struggling to haul up Scriptures along these lines, hoping to convince myself. The issue was not whether God is powerful enough to deliver me – that is a no-brainer – but did he want to deliver me and if I took a stand, has he promised not to let me crash to oblivion?
What if mentioning Jesus just makes them angry? The thought of dealing with an even more enraged evil being was too much. That poor angel’s screams, though physically over, were still echoing in my head. But I’ve got no alternative! I’m going to have to go back there and somehow try to use Jesus’ name as if it were a loaded gun.
I prayed feverishly.
With a few slimy slugs squirming in my hand, I made my way back to the angels with a;; the enthusiasm of a naughty schoolboy sent to the principal’s office. The moment I saw one of them, I wanted to slink away again to try yet again to muster my elusive faith.
“Oh, there you are!” he whispered. It was the angel I had felt sorry for – the one who had received the horrendous beating. “Come with me! I can get you away to a safe place.”
Was this the answer to my prayers?
“Quickly!” he whispered, “Your only chance is this instant!”
I followed, wondering if I were making the mistake of my life. Who can trust a demon or fallen angel or whatever he is?
“Quietly!” he ordered, showing fear on his face. “Do you have any idea what will happen to you if you’re caught trying to escape?”
As we silently crept farther away from where the others were, the speed picked up. I had great difficulty keeping up. I was gasping so much that I concluded that the atmosphere must have less oxygen than on earth. I kept pleading with him to slow down but he wasn’t interested.
A crash in the undergrowth startled me into looking up and I was suddenly face to face with a muscly, six-legged, car-sized carnivore. Its massive, fur-covered hind legs seemed designed for leaping and its front legs ended in formidable claws. Somehow its solitary, wrap-around eye was highly disturbing. What riveted my attention, however, was its bared fangs in shark-like rows. Its colossal jaws widened even farther as it emitted a spine-shuddering noise that fell somewhere between a hiss and a snarl. I was frozen in fear but fleeing was hardly an option anyhow. I guessed it could seize me in a single pounce and rip me apart in seconds. We stared at each other: a hunter and its prey.
The angel had been leading the way. He ploughed on, oblivious to my peril. I found myself too petrified to call out. In a flash – quicker than you can read this – I debated with myself. Is there any point in praying? God seems to have abandoned me. But Jesus promised never to leave or forsake his followers. Why not try praying anyhow? What do you have to lose?
Before I could complete my inner debate, a terrifying roar brought me closer to a heart attack than I think I have ever been. The carnivore fled. As fast as my trembling body would allow, I spun round in the direction of the roar, wondering what new terror I faced, and there stood the angel. Had he made that sound?
I can barely imagine what a disappointment to brainwashed viewers of action movies I must be, but the sheer trauma of the encounter incapacitated me. I was nearly paralyzed by the shock and again peculiarly breathless but the angel, unable to get me to walk, impatiently dragged me along. Eventually, the increasing pain of my feet being scraped across the ground and my maddeningly slow recovery met at a point where I managed to stumble on independently.
My brush with death confirmed that I now had little choice but to stay with him. What a situation to be in! I lamented, . . . having to regard evil as my protector.
Not that I needed anything to make me feel even more miserable, but I was still fighting off nasty bee-sized flying critters. I still had not got around to counting their legs, but they were roughly like insects.
We had not walked much farther when a sudden growl broke the silence. I shot in the air like a shell-shocked jack rabbit, and then froze.
“Keep walking!” ordered the angel.
I remained nailed to the spot.
“It’s just fungus!” He was clearly disgusted by my ignorance-cum-cowardice.
“Fungus?” I asked in amazement. Fungus that growls like an animal? I puzzled over the enigma, eventually concluding that the fungus must somehow imitate the sound of an animal of prey to keep grazing animals away. “How does it produce the sound?” I asked.
The angel ignored my question. Yes, I found the notion of growling fungi intriguing, but I suspect it was less scientific curiosity than my desperation for a distraction from having to think about my predicament. I must have Brussels sprouts for brains, because I kept testing that brute of an angel’s patience by pestering him for an answer.
“Gas!” he finally blurted, in a way that convinced me that I dare not say another word. From that one word response I guessed that the fungus must produce gas that builds up in chambers within it until just the slightest vibration on the ground releases the gas, and the sudden expulsion of gas produces the sound. But why doesn’t a mere breeze set it off? We passed another fungus of the same species and I noticed spreading out from it along the ground what looked like rootlets. I guessed these must act like trip wires.
Eventually the Scripture, “Set your minds on things above,” emerged in the untamed wilderness that is my mind. At that reminder I grew annoyed at myself for squandering valuable time pursuing trivia when I was in a life-or-death situation. I remembered the disciples snoozing at the critical time in the Garden of Gethsemane – the very time when they should have been following Jesus’ lead by praying like him. So I resolved to silently pray for God’s help and for increased faith, even though, to my annoyance, my mind kept wandering, and God continued to seem a million miles from me.
We walked and walked and walked. I was nearing exhaustion when at last we came to the mouth of a cave. “Now you’re my slave! Get in there!”
I was afraid of such! At least he’s not quite as powerful as the other angel. I wildly hoped that was some kind of advantage, but I failed to imagine how. He towered over me and had the biceps of a rhino.
“Hey!” I said with some alarm, as I peered into the cave, “could there be anything venomous in there?”
“Dunno! How to you expect me to know your susceptibility to venom?” He roughly thrust me towards the cave. “Get in!”
I have no explanation for the marked drop in temperature but it felt deathly cold inside in that dark hole. “Hey! I’ll freeze in here!”
Unconcerned, he began piling massive boulders over the mouth of the cave. The strength of that brute . . . !
“I’ll be back in a few days when the others give up looking for you.”
A few days! “What will I eat?”
“Who cares? Am I your nursemaid?”
“I felt so sorry for you when you were beaten,” I told the angel, hoping he would soften towards me.
“Oh, you’re such a good friend!” he gushed. “You’re going to make me feel sooooo much better. Do you know why?”
The mock friendliness in his voice convinced me that I didn’t want to know, but I felt the need to humor him. “Why?”
He continued in his sickly sweet tone, “Because from now on, whenever I’m hurt, I’m going to take it out on you.”
I shouldn’t have asked.
He had almost finished sealing off the entrance to the cave when I remembered I was going to have to breathe – for days. He didn’t care.
You might think it inconceivable but as I languished in total darkness, I suffered something horrendously worse than my dire external circumstances. Freezing in a sealed hole, losing everything, and being enslaved by a sadistic tormentor were as nothing compared with the empty deadness, darkness and devastation inside of me. God had abandoned me.
To glimpse a shadow of the unutterable agony of my soul, take the feelings of a jilted lover, add the shock of being ruthlessly betrayed by your best and only friend, and combine it with the death of the most precious person in your life.
I lamented ever having been born, and regretted ever having heard about God.
All the wealth of a million worlds, all the friends in the universe, every conceivable high (even all those ‘sparklers’) were utterly useless. They could never drag me out of the unthinkable calamity of losing God.
After far too long, I somehow clawed my way toward sanity enough to realize that no matter how angry, spurned and betrayed I felt, the only possibility of escape lay in trying to believe the best about God, despite the crushing weight of all the evidence to the contrary.
Then something in Jesus’ life that had always puzzled me came to mind. It might be boring to you but I cannot put into words how much it meant to me at that critical time. I recalled once hearing that in the original, Scripture speaks of Jesus being driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. I was not even sure if that were a correct rendering and in any case what happened to Jesus must have been very different to my predicament. Spurious coincidence or not, however, driven sounds as forceful and involuntary as my arrival on this God-forsaken (I despise that word) planet.
Regardless of that, what felt as comforting to me as a lifebuoy thrown to a drowning man, was that despite the torrid time Jesus must have had in the wilderness, it could not have meant that God had abandoned him. Peculiarly, in fact, plummeting to those depths seemed associated with God’s approval. It happened immediately after what was presumably the highlight of Jesus’ earthly life so far. He had just been baptized, filled with the Spirit and the Almighty had audibly proclaimed his love and approval of Jesus.
What also meant more to me than ever before was that immediately after his ordeal in the wilderness, Scripture speaks of him still being filled with the Spirit. How Jesus felt in the midst of oppression is anyone’s guess but God had been with him through it all.
Surely, I’m in a completely different category and yet –
“Here they are!” The voice was faint. No doubt the boulders sealing the cave had something to do with that. I strained to hear. There had seemed something disturbingly familiar about the voice.
“Your two-timing slave came willingly! I saw it all, O Magnificent Despot!”
With those few words everything clicked like the cocking of a gun pressed against my head. The voice sounded like one of the angels I had seen earlier. Never have I ached so bitterly to be wrong. It seemed to me as clear as a death sentence, however, that he was talking to my former master. I must have been the ‘two-timing slave’ who had ‘came willingly.’ Oh, great! Just what I always wanted – a tattletale demon. Things keep getting better and better!
Someone moved one of the top rocks blocking the entrance. Without daring to move closer, I quickly found a climbable side of the cave and scrambled high enough to peer through the crack. I was just in time to see my latest captor crumple to the ground in sheer terror. Had he been outside the whole time? Maybe I had not been in the cave for as long as it had seemed.
He looked like trembling jello on the ground as he awaited his fate. “Exalted Lord,” he addressed the brutish one, “I’m not smart like you. He tricked me! It’s all his fault!” His pathetic whimpering was not exactly encouraging and I certainly hoped the bigger one didn’t believe him.
“Move the rocks away,” ordered the gorilla who had come to repossess me.
They brought me out. I looked around. All of the angels were there. My original master scowled at me. “Do you know what we do to two-timers like you?”
No, I didn’t and I certainly had no interest in finding out. Here’s my chance to discover why I had heard my second captor screaming like nothing I’ve ever heard before just after I had fled in terror. Come to think of it, their pain threshold is probably far higher than mine.
It was obvious that at any split second my torture would commence. I began to lecture myself. Pull yourself together! You’ve got about two seconds to pluck faith from nowhere and try to exercise the authority that is meant to be yours as a child of God. “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” I was thankful for that Scripture rising from somewhere within, but I fiercely tried not to dwell on the implications of that verse ending with “the world,” since wherever I was, it was far from the world in which that Scripture was penned.
I cleared my throat, “Ah hum!” Oh, brilliant start!
“In the name of Jesus . . .” I said, with all the attention-grabbing power of a squashed flea.
“How do you spell that?” asked my master. He started spelling into the gadget he held in his hand. “G-E-E-Z-”
Oh, no! Don’t tell me he’s never even heard of Jesus! Hey, I’d heard them talking about him! My mind skidded back to the conversation I’d overheard. Alarmed, I couldn’t recall any mention of Jesus’ name. I’d assumed Jesus was the Messiah they spoke of but what if it were some other person on some other planet?
“Jesus!” I squeaked. I had intended it to be a shout, hoping that volume would count for something. I spelt it out, “J-E-S-U-S!” He pointed his gadget at me as if trying to record what I was saying.
Peering intently at the gadget he muttered, “Oh, here we are! ‘Jesus: one of the countless thousands of make-believe gods on a backward little planet in the Milky Way.’ ”
“Liar!” I screamed, trying to sound far more certain than I felt. Then, in what I was sure was a flash of genius, I added, “And if earth’s so backward, how come you speak English!”
He erupted into the most terrifying laugh I’ve ever heard, “You pathetic little creature! You have no conception of my intellectual powers, have you! Don’t you think I can scan your brain and instantly lock in to your language system!”
My mind spun at the implications of an opponent with such intellectual power. I tried to pull myself together. Was he bluffing about his ignorance of Jesus? I craned my neck to glimpse his head. Surely such monsters would have no need to resort to bluff. Trying to make sense of any of this is migraine material!
Still having no alternative, I mustered every bit of voice I could find, “In the name of Jesus, be gone!”
Nothing happened. My faith – desperate wishful thinking? – slumped even lower. Then an angel staggered. He fell. And as he did, others began to stumble.
Suddenly everything vanished.
I was safe!