The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. -John 1:5
Everything is crashing down. Literally.
Faith is going up in flames, as are the buildings around us.
Virtue is dumped in the trash, just like the shards of broken windows.
Love is dissipating, unlike the thick smoke that’s choking the air as we speak.
Hope is silent; all that can be heard on the streets are the cries of those fleeing the country.
The lights in the street lamps are blown out by the bombs’ explosions. Everywhere you look, there’s War’s signature written on buildings, streets, and cities.
Citizens, like us, are standing up to fight the threat. War looms over us, all tall and proud like he is, but we will conquer in the end.
Living in camps and fleeing for our very lives is a regular part of our lives. War, being the bottomless pit that he is, hungers and thirsts for brothers fighting brothers. War licks his lips like a hungry lion, wanting only to devour the innocent. His roars are the gunfire of ten thousand men. His bellows of canons make mountains tremble. The fear he instills on his victims is not from this world. He makes strong men quiver in their boots; he tramples anything that stands in his way.
The way of War is fiercer than ice giants and more reckless than ogres.
Yet here we are, gathering our strength to defeat the undefeated monster, who has reigned for six thousand years.
The government is already handing out guns to any and everyone who can manage them.
Jack and I happen to be one of those people.
“Hey, Jack, when do ya think this war will end?” I say eagerly, as we approach the table.
“Probably just as quickly as it started, Alex. Don’t waste your time worrying about it,” Jack says, as he picks up a gun. “All we can do is pray. It’s not our fault that War decided to dip his toes in our water.” I admire Jack’s level-headed temper and his abundant joy that always spills into others.
“Ya know something, Jack?” I ask as I pick up my own gun. “This whole war business… did you ever think you’d end up doing all this? I mean, to have your hopes and dreams exploded on by a bomb is rather life changing, wouldn’t you say?”
“It is rather life changing, Alex. But you know what else is life changing? God at work in us. He’s always got the higher advantage in our lives. He’s got a plan, and I know it’s gotta be a good one. Just think about it as being tested and persecuted for our faith. Just like Jesus was tested and persecuted.” He lays a hand on my shoulder as we walk away. “God’s got this, Alex. Never forget that.”
I look up at his gentle smile.
“I’ll never forget, Jack. Never.”
“That’s what I like to hear my pal say! Now, we should probably get to our stations before a bomber decides to visit us first. C’mon!”
We race each other like children to our new assigned posts. We arrive panting and sweating, and all the childishness and carelessness drains from us.
“War’s been here alright,” I say grimly. Children and adults alike are fleeing while they still can. Protesters held blue and yellow signs and flags supporting things like ‘End War, Start Peace’, ‘No War Allowed,’ and ‘Stand As One, Not Divided As Many’.
“You know what’s missing here, in the midst of them? Jesus. But it’s amazing how we can all come together to fight for a cause. I just wish people would fight for the right cause. It’s a shame that they don’t know the power of The One who has already saved them. Which is why they need someone to tell them, for ‘how can they believe in the one of whom they haven’t heard? And how can they hear if there is no one to preach? And how are they to preach if no one is sent?’ I certainly love that one from Paul in his letter to the Romans.” Jack says.
Before I get a chance to respond, more news of bombers hit us, just as planes fly into view. The overwhelmingly loud airplanes zip over our heads faster than the speed of light. I instinctively duck into a protective ball, caring for only my life.
Alarmed and frightened, everyone begins to openly fire their guns. War has appeared and vanished again with new damage done. Chaos ensues, just like War wants. A tall apartment building across the street now has two new holes in its side as scars. Bomb scars. A feeling like rolling stones piles up in my throat. The dust clears, and new cries fill the air.
“That was dangerously close,” Jack mutters. “War is getting too close. I’m fact, I fear he’s already here.”
Helicopters hover over our city. Men dressed head to foot with guns and ammunition appear in the doorways. Their bullets rain down on us, and we all try to find shelter amidst the vicious rain of War.
“Over here, Jack, quick!” I duck behind a car as Jack struggles to keep up. One moment, Jack’s fine and dodging bullets like he was born for it, but the next, he’s crumpled on the cold, hard ground. A red puddle leaks from his shirt.
We instantly lock eyes; the pain in mine reflects the hurt in his.
“Alex…help…” he moans over War’s thunderous cry.
“Jack! No no no don’t die now! I need you! I’ll…I’ll go get help, don’t worry! Hang on buddy, hold on there!” In my haste, I drop my gun and sprint for my life, and for the life of Jack.
“There’s a medical ward a few blocks down, but I know it’ll be too late by then,” I mutter. “Oh Jack, please be alright.” As I pant and jog, my hand wanders up to my cross pendant around my neck, a precious gift from Jack. What would Jack do in this situation?
Then it hit me faster than any bullet could.
“God, if you really hear us, please help Jack to be okay,” I whisper quickly.
The medical ward is in sight; my adrenaline rises and my heart pumps faster than jet engines as I take the last few steps.
“Doctor…I needa doctor…” I pant.
Nurses scuttle about attending to the patients’ gun wounds and broken parts. A nurse responds to my call, and picks up her travel bag as we sprint back to Jack.
A verse that Jack quoted left and right pops into my mind.
“In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33.”
“God, I’m sure having trouble right now. I don’t want my best friend to die. He’s helped me through so much. He’s faithfully served you for 2 years now. Please…please don’t let him die. Help me to have the kind of faith that he has.”
The nurse sprinting beside me must not have heard me or she must not have cared if she did.
“Looks like this is the fella?” she asks as we approach the open streets.
“Yes…ma’am. Can you help him?”
“I can certainly try.” She immediately set to work opening her medical bag and pulling out gauze and bandages.
“Listen, Jack. It’ll be okay now. I found a nurse to help you.”
“Alex…it’s-it’s always been okay. It-it’s been…great. It’s been great…ever since Jesus came into my life…He changed it for…for the better, Alex. It’s not about me…anymore…It’s all about Him. I’m confident that…that He who began a good…good work in you will carry it…it on to completion…until the day of Christ Jesus. God’s got this…”
“His blood-loss is very high, he might not make it much longer…” the nurse intercepts.
“But Jack, I don’t want to lose you!”
“I’ll always be…with you, Alex…and so will God. God’s got this…Alex…n-never forget it…”
With that, Jack wheezes his last full breath.
The battle all around seems dim and fuzzy as I collapse on my knees beside my friend.
The harsh, cold tears of pain flow down my cheeks.
For the first time in a long time, I feel empty and lost, like a blind man searching in a dark forest. I look up to the men that took Jack’s life, and a new feeling, like that of revenge mixed with anger, creeps into my veins.
“Wait for what? Those men took Jack’s life, and they need to pay.”
Look up again.
That little nudge moves me to glance up again. To my astonishment, the men are gone, and in their place is the sun’s radiance spilling through the clouds.
It’s gonna be okay, Alex. What would Jack have done if you died?
“He probably would have asked ‘What would Jesus do?’.
Well, what would Jesus do?
I ponder for a moment.
“He would have wanted to continue to tell everyone about His name.”
Today is the day that I no longer am lost. I pick up Jack’s pocket-sized Bible and flip to John 1.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were created through him, and without him was not anything made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
We. Will. Conquer.
Based on true events. Please pray for Ukraine and for Russia as they fight this war.