So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Satan has triumphed again. I return from the battle, bloodied, beaten, defeated, running to my King in guilt, embarassment, shame.
I gave him the victory. Can you believe it? I was trained to be a warrior, to fight against the enemy, to never give in, to never give him a foothold…
yet around my neck, on a cord of rusty wire, I kept a medallion close to my heart. On it is two words, written in a devilish script,
scratched with an evil claw
I remember the day he gave it to me…
I was out in the marketplace, looking for beautiful treasures, wisdom-filled literature, and enjoyment. And there he was, with the most beautiful of all the stalls, shining with gold, shimmering with diamonds, robed in lucious silks and beautiful images. I strolled up to the stall and listened to his sales-pitches to nearby customers…
“… which is why you must take this bracelet! If you wear it, it will guide you in the way you are to go! Don’t trust your life to that man, that rebel… he doesn’t know what he’s talking about… little goody two shoes- what has he seen in the real world? huh? and you’re following him? trust me maam, I’ve traveled this world, and I’ve partaken of every joy, pleasure, and beautiful experience- and trust me when I tell you this- The world is better. It is better than any “gift” or “life” that he promises you. It will make you wanted, make you rich, make you whatever you want to be… which is why you need this bracelet…”
He reached up and touched the woman’s hand, but she shuddered and turned away, running and calling back to me one word
I ignored that voice, and I browsed the seller’s wares. I watched him out of the corner of my eye watch me out of the corner of his eye. I scanned his appearance. He was dressed in the uniform of a soldier, yet… his clothes seemed to be more radiant, more lovely than any other officer I had ever seen. His face looked old, but I knew he must have been young, for he had a vibe unlike any other I have known. I looked through the stall, and, heeding the woman’s words, turned away…
but he grabbed my hand— an image flashed in my mind— I smiled and turned back—
“I can offer you better than that” he whispered
“What?” I queried.
“That picture, that memory, that feeling, that experience. I can offer you better stuff than that.”
“Well, I really don’t need anything more. I’m fine- goodbye.” I began to turn when he pulled out a box– faster than a hummingbird this man was– and shoved it in my face. I looked- and I looked. After half a minute, I turned away and glared at him. However, as my anger boiled, I heard a slight cry in the back of my mind—
“You want it…” it said.
“Hey!” I said, ignoring the voice, and looking at the seller. “I told you, I am content with what I have. I don’t need that! I certainly don’t want that!”
“Yes you do.”
“No I don’t!” I shouted.
“I can hear you crying inside for that box. You want it. Don’t ignore that voice… listen to it…”
I tried to block the voice, but it grew louder. “GET THE BOX! YOU WANT IT! YOU WANT IT!” And as it grew in volume, the music that filled my mind every second of every day, the music suddenly grew sharp and disjointed.
“You see” the man continued. “You have been brainwashed. That man you follow, he has told you that all you need to do is do what he does and trust in him. But think back… have you ever felt let down?”
“No! He has never let me down!” I uttered, but as I did, the sound-battle in my head grew raucous. The music grew… ugly, the voice continued to scream, and I thought inside— “Yes, he has let me down”
“All his promises are nothing. They leave you empty, tired, and poor. He hoards all the riches that his followers give him. He simply wants to be number one, but I can tell you something— he’s not great. I have been with him, and he doesn’t share his riches. He keeps it to himself, denying the existence of his selfishness and making high, jealous command… He’s crazy I tell you. He’s crazy. You don’t need him.”
With that last statement, I was ready to run, but as I turned, there he was in front of me. The man looked into my eyes, and nodded slowly.
“I understand… it will take some time- but you will see him as I see him now. Trust me. You will see that the world is better. Trust me. You will see that my wares are better than his promises… trust me.” With that last statement, he placed a medallion around my neck, patted me on the back and stepped away. He acted as if I was gone and pulled some passerby into his stall, yelling about “my great new crowns!”…
I looked down at the medallion and saw the two words. I flinched and felt like throwing up. On the back of it was an image of a snake wrapped round a tree…
I wanted to throw it away! I REALLY DID! I rushed into an empty alley and fell to the ground, crying, weeping, tearing at my flesh, pulling my hair- I screamed and moaned- I touched the little piece of clay, rubbed my fingers over the little etchings, and as I did, images flashed in my mind.
These were from the box. I knew they were. They were like my first flashback, but manipulated, distorted, perverted. In each image, I could see the seller, hiding in the back, mouthing the words now engraved on the back of my brain-
“TRUST ME,” he said
“TRUST ME,” the little voice in my head said.
“TRUST ME,” my medallion read.
I sighed, and tucked the medallion under my shirt. It stuck out, so I went to the market headwoman (a cousin of the devilish seller, I later found out) and bought a beautiful shirt, like my uniform, but a little more brilliant and bright, like the other man’s clothes…
I trudged back to the camp. As I approached the gate, I saw him-
My commander, my king.
“Where were you?” he asked. I looked into his eyes. They were filled with hope.
“I was in the marketplace,” I replied.
“What did you buy?”
“I bought a medallion and a shirt,” I muttered, averting his gaze. Seconds ticked by, and I looked back up at him. A tear welled in the corner of his left eye. I turned away, but then rushed back to him, grabbing his side and holding on.
“The music stopped while I was there…” I looked in his eyes again. He looked back at me and nodded.
He placed his hand on my head and instantly I heard the symphony playing sweet songs of redemption and beauty. Unfortunately, it was accompanied by a sour soloist— that voice. It sang heresies and lies (or were they? I wondered…)
I looked up at him again. He was looking down at my uniform. I glanced down and saw the bump that medallion made in my shirt. I pulled at my clothes to make them puff out and stretched and sighed.
“Well, it’s hot out here… I better get back into my tent and rest.”
“You won’t be able to…” he whispered.
“What?” I replied…
“Not for a while…”
He appeared to snap out a daydream, and he looked at me, and he smiled.
“Rest, young one, for tomorrow we fight. And we will win- Trust me.”
He patted me on the back, and I trudged into the camp. The medallion burned like a hot coal against my chest, but its pain paled in comparison to the pain of betrayal I felt in my soul. I reached my tent, climbed in, and cried.
That was ten years ago. I have battled Satan and his minions many times since then, and I have won occasionally, but lost more often. It seems like he has a hold on me somewhere, and can pull me down when he wants to. I don’t know… I really don’t know… I must go- my medallion needs to be polished.