One after the other they filed up the gangplank and were led down some narrow steps that took them to the bottom of the ship. They stopped in a musty, dark, damp room, and the door closed loudly behind them. Anna did not like the situation one bit, and felt a shiver run down her spine. With her hands now freed from the rope, Anna began making her way around the cramped room, in hopes of finding Philip. She had to know how he was doing and what he thought of this dreadful place!
She finally located him in a corner and sat down beside him. "Philip, what are we going to do now? Where do you think we are headed?"
"I don't know any more than you do, Anna. All we can do is pray. We are at the mercy of these men and have no choice but to go along with them. Remember what Paul had to go through. He was often in worse places than this. And Jesus, He had to endure extreme pain and suffering. Do we think we should go through any less than they did?"
"I know. I'm sorry for complaining. It's just hard to keep my chin up in a place like this."
"Nothing is impossible with Christ. Keep up the faith! Perfect love casteth out fear!"
For days they remained cooped up in the dark room, not knowing where they were headed. Twice a day a sailor came down with a skimpy meal for them to share, and they all drank out of the barrel of water by the door. Most of the time they felt seasick anyway, so the food was especially unappealing to the captives. The Lord was their strength through it all and they sang and quoted Scriptures to help pass the dark hours.
As if things were not bad enough, a storm decided to blow in and began violently rocking the ship. The teens were thrown around the room, and Anna felt someone crash into her.
"Is that you, Anna?" A weak voice asked.
Anna recognized May's voice. "Yes, May, it is me. Hold on as best you can!"
"I can't take much more of this! I have never been very strong and this is taking a lot out of me." She rolled away as another large wave rocked the ship.
"Dear God, save us all!" Anna desperately prayed.
When the storm finally settled down, the room was a mess. The water barrel had cracked and the fresh water was now mixed in with the salt water on the floor. Andy, one of the other teens, was lying on the floor near the door when the it suddenly opened and Greenhart entered the room. The door clunked Any in the head and he groaned as he scooted away from the door.
Greenhart looked at them in disgust. "I see you had quite the party in here! And your water barrel is empty. No more for you unless you repair it. Are any of you hungry?"
He smiled as he heard the groans. Sea sickness had hit strong during the storm and nobody felt like eating. He turned to go, but Anna stopped him by calling his name.
"Captain, may I ask a question?"
He turned around sharply. "What is it?"
"Sir, would allow us to go up to the deck, maybe a few at a time, so we could get some fresh air? We would be willing to work for you, like scrub the deck or something if that would help you out."
"You don't like your quarters?" he asked. "Are you trying to get me to be nice?"
"I am not thinking about myself, sir. I am mainly thinking about May here. She is not doing very well and could use a breath of fresh air."
"I will think on it." Captain Greenhart said and shut the door behind him.
It was not much later when a sailor came down and ordered May and Andy outside. They came back a few hours later and two more were allowed to go up to the deck. From then on, the trip was not so dreary and boring because they had something to look forward to, even if meant having to do some work. Color returned to May's face and after a few days of this, she softened to the truth of the Gospel and even asked the Lord to come live in her heart. It was a happy moment for everyone.
Anna was mopping the deck when she heard the cry, "Land Ho!" Andy, who was bringing over a fresh bucket of water paused when he heard the sailor's cry. "Do you think this terrible nightmare will end now?" he asked Anna as he set the bucket down.
"Lord willing," she answered. "It seems like we have been on this ship forever!"
"This prison, you mean? I have been keeping track of the days and I figure we have been on here for over thirty days."
"It should be April 30th - my mom's birthday than," Anna gazed out at the sea, and saw a little tiny speck on the horizon that must have been the land. "I sure do miss my parents."
"I know, we all miss our families. But there is nothing we can do. I just wish there was some way to tell them that we are okay. I pray every day that God will give them the peace they need while we are gone."
They continued to work in silence. Anna knew it would not be long before they were sent below again and she wanted to take in every moment in the fresh air that she could. When they were finished, Greenhart came over to examine their work.
"I must admit that you Christians sure do a good job. Don't take that as a compliment though and think you are going to get out of your punishment!"
Anna frowned. "You mean there is more to come?"
"Well, of course! You didn't think this "fun" boat ride was your punishment, did you? This was just the beginning!" He turned to a sailor awaiting his orders. "Anchor the ship when we are 1/2 mile from the island, and then bring the prisoners up to me. "
"Aye, aye, sir!" he saluted and went his way.
Anna and Andy waited by the railing of the ship until it was anchored and all the other teens were brought up to the deck. Anna had not realized how filthy and ratty they had all become until she saw her friends standing in a row. She put her grubby hand to her hair and grimaced. She must look a fright too!
"Well, now, are you stinking Christians ready to get cleaned up? Sailors, help me with these kids!"
Anna watched, puzzled about what was going to happen next. A sinking feeling started in the pit of her stomach...they weren't going to throw them in, were they? Her fears came true as she watched Greenhart lift May over the side and she disappeared with a shriek over the railing. Unable to make her feet move, Anna stared in horror as one after the other was thrown into the water below. Rough arms grabbed her shoulders and she struggled weakly to get away, but was soon under the cold water, fighting her way to the surface so she could breath again. When she finally came up, she heard Greenhart's evil laugh as fourteen people splashed around in the water, desperate to stay afloat. With the stronger ones helping the weaker ones, they all began making their way to the land that still looked so far away.
"Happy swimming!" Greenhart called back at them as the ship turned around and began making its journey back the way it had come. "Don't let the sharks bite!"
Anna was tiring quickly, trying to help keep May's head above the water. "Keep going, May, together we can do this!"
"No, Anna, let me go. I don't want to fight anymore. I am so tired."
"Oh, no, May. I will not let you go. God will give us both the strength to get to the island."
The sun had just set when the weary group stumbled upon dry ground. Cold and hungry, Anna lay in a heap and watched the sky change from blue, to orange, and pink. If she had been at home lying on the lawn with her mom and dad, her thoughts would have been different. For now, she just thanked the Lord for getting them to land safe and sound.
Our usually quiet neighborhood is a bustle of noise this morning. I am sitting outside on our back deck, enjoying the cool breeze and sunshine, watching the dragonflies flitter around me - oh! One just landed on my computer! :) A lawn mower is loudly interrupting my quiet time, as well as some shouting from the neighbor's house behind us. Yet, the sound I hear most often is the angry chattering of the birds as they try to scare the hawks away from their nesting area.
Yes, the hawks have returned to the same nest this year and have been obnoxiously disrupting the peace surrounding our home. Usually it is my children that make so much noise outside, but not this year. I am constantly hearing the angry robins twittering at the hawk someone nearby. (There he goes again!) Today I watched the hawk come flying around the corner of my house with a long snake dangling from his talons. A red-wing black bird was not far behind as he landed in a tree to munch away at his meal. Shouting from the house behind us frightened him and he took off to a different tree, dropped the snake, and went down to get it. Another hawk, a baby I assume, flew down to try and help him eat it, but he did not like that idea. With a little hop and a spread of his giant wings, he took off into the woods to finish his breakfast. The other hawk did not know what to do. He ran over to the stream and began wading in the water, maybe hoping to find a frog or something that would be able to grab without having to dive bomb his meal. He proceeded to enter the woods on foot to who-knows where, but judging by the sound of the angry birds, he is not too far away.
The other day I watched as a beautiful Oriel actually attacked the hawk, who was just sitting in a tree trying to ignore the tiny bird hitting him. It made me stare in wonder at how such a little bird would not be afraid to stand up to such a large enemy, who at any moment could have snatched him for his next meal. It made me think for a moment, at how cowardly I am inside when it comes to fighting back at the enemy who lurks in the woods of my life. God has placed an instinct inside these little birds to do what they must in order to survive. They fight with all their strength, protecting their families from the evils that surround them. In order for us Christians to survive, we must do the same. We need to fight the enemy with all our strength, doing what we must to frighten the enemy away. We should not ignore the instinct, or the Holy Spirit, Who is inside us, moving us to do what is right, no matter how hard our flesh may fight it. I want to be like that little bird and scare away the enemy, the devil. And it is by reading and knowing the Scriptures that we will get to be victorious when it comes to dealing with him. God bless, and enjoy the rest of your week!
Quite a while ago I began a short story that I had written many years ago. I only posted two of the chapters and then stopped, but I received comments that there was interest in hearing the rest of the story. So, here is the next chapter of Perfect Love. If you are interested in rereading the previous chapters, here are the links to the blogs:
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When Anna had not returned home that Monday afternoon, Mrs. Livingston had grown worried. She called Philip's house to see if she was over there, but was told he had not come home either.
"Don't worry about Anna," Mr. Livingston had reassured his wife. "She probably just went out for pizza with the gang. I'm sure she will be back soon."
"Yes, maybe she did, but she usually lets us know. You don't think..." Mrs. Livingston stopped and wrung her hands in worry.
"Now, don' jump to conclusions, dear. Maybe something just came up and they had to stay longer. Remember, she is in the Lord's hands. Why don't we take that delicious smelling dinner outside to the porch and enjoy the evening as we wait for her to come home."
Anna never returned home that night. The next afternoon the Livingstons decided it was time to investigate where their daughter was. Along with Philip Barry's mother and father, they drove to the police station and waited at the desk. An older lady, with a glasses and a pinched up nose glanced up at them from her work. "Can I help you?" She asked.
Mr. Livingston replied, "We're here to inquire about our children. They never returned home from school yesterday and we were wondering if you might help us track them down?"
"We did get a call about a group of young people yesterday afternoon. They were breaking the law by having a religious meeting after school. Let me run down the list of names here and see if your children are listed. What did you say their names were?"
"Anna Livingston and Philip Barry." Mr. Livingston told her.
The secretary squinted as she scanned a piece of paper on the desk. "Um, yep, yep, there she is right there. And the Barry boy is listed here too." She set the paper down. "Serves them right, breaking the law like that. The government doesn't set the laws just so we can go out and still do whatever we want to do."
"But what is going to happen to them now?" Mrs. Livingston asked in a choked voice.
The secretary peered at them over her glasses and shrugged. "Oh, you don't have to worry about them. They are in good hands and will be well cared for. I am sure they will be returned home once they have paid their dues for breaking the law. Now, if you will excuse me, I have work to do."
Mrs. Barry squeezed her husband's arm and motioned for him to speak. He stepped forward. "Ma'am, please, this is a matter of utmost importance! We are talking about our teenage children here. We need to see them and see for ourselves that they are okay!"
The secretary squinted again and shook her head. "Nope, sorry, that is quite impossible. You cannot see your children right now."
"Because they left this morning for the coast of Maine."
"Maine? Whatever for? Why did they go up there?" Mrs. Livingston asked, panic evident in her voice.
"To work on a ship, I guess. Nobody ever tells me anything around here. I'm simply the secretary, doing whatever they give me. I hardly know what goes on beyond the walls of my office. I tell you one things though, it was plain stupid for your children to break the law. If it had been my children I would have stopped them, but parents don't say no to their children anymore. They just let them run the house. Crazy."
With sagging shoulders, the foursome turned to leave. It was up to the Lord now, and all they could do was wait and pray.
It seemed like hours as the truck drove endlessly down the road, its destination unknown to the prisoners in the back. They were forbidden to talk; a guard sat at the front of the truck and sternly watched them all with a gun in his hand. Anna had no way of communicating with Philip who was in the very back of the truck. Her legs were curled up under her, and she could barely feel them anymore. May was leaning against Anna's shoulder fast asleep. Anna was afraid if she moved she would wake her friend and did not want to disturb her. She began to pray for the group and for her parents not to worry about her.
The guard dozed off and began to snore. This was a welcomed sound because it signaled to the teens that they could possibly quietly whisper to each other. Anna sent a message back to Philip and asked him what they were going to do. His answer was simply, "Pray. Remember that perfect love casts out fear."
The guard woke up and looked around suspiciously at the group. They all smiled at him and he frowned.
The truck finally stopped and the guard jumped out first and carefully guarded the doorway to make sure no one escaped. The driver approached the guard and they talked in hushed voices. As Anna waited inside the truck, she listened and thought she heard seagulls and water. Where they by the ocean?
"Everyone out in single file!" The guard interrupted her thoughts. With handcuffs still around her wrists, and legs refusing to move, Anna struggled to climb out. The guard impatiently grabbed her by the arm and pulled her roughly from the truck. She was shoved to the side as the others filed out behind her. Philip was one of the last ones out. He caught her eye and gave her a smile as he was shoved to the last spot in line.
They were at the seaside, on a large dock, with many different size ships anchored around them. Policemen stood around with their billy-clubs in hand, guns strapped to their hips, making sure everyone behaved. Anna heard the driver of their truck ask one of the men if Greenhart was around.
"These kids are ready to embark whenever he is!"
"He is on his way over now," replied the police officer. He pointed to a man making his way toward them on the dock.
"Does he know he is getting a rather large group of them?" the driver inquired.
"Greenhart always says, 'the more the merrier'!" laughed the policeman.
"Well, so this is the group of crazies!" a loud voice barked from behind Anna. Startled, she turned to see a tall, rough looking man with a neatly trimmed red beard standing close beside her. "There are a lot of you, but no need to worry. We have plenty of room and work aboard my ship." He clasped his hands behind his back and looked them over. "I will take it from here, Stanley!" he told the driver.
The driver nodded and tipped his hat. "All right, Captain. Have fun!" He laughed as he walked back to his truck and closed the door behind him.
Captain Greenhart barked an order for them to follow him to the ship with three sails. "This is my ship, the Night Hawk, and you will have the pleasure of sailing with me as your captain. All board, everyone!"
This world is filled with so much beauty and splendor that it is oftentimes breathtaking to me. Springtime is a remarkable time of the year, and I find myself soaking in the variety of colors that surround me all around outside. The soft yellow greens of the newly budding trees after a drab gray winter turn into bold green leaves that appear as if overnight. The colorful flowers that open up to reveal their beauty inside are so intricately woven together, it looks as if a Master Artist reached down and formed each and every one by hand. Well, didn't He?
I attended two weddings these past two weeks and cannot get over the beauty I saw at each one - the color schemes of the brides were gorgeous matches and I could not stop staring at the bouquets of lavenders, mauves and rose reds, against the pureness of their white gowns. It is amazing to think that God created these colors for us to enjoy here on earth, and yet, it is not even a glimpse of what He had intended for us to experience while we lived here. He placed Adam and Even in a garden that was beyond our imagination...it was perfect. A place God called good. He was happy with His handiwork and smiled. It was a place to enjoy sweet fellowship with the people He created for His pleasure. The world was an Eden, a place of rest, free from sin and evil. Just think: the world as we see it now is not how God created it in the beginning. I try to imagine what the world might have looked like, and I do not think I can come close to even imagining a hint of the beauty, and that makes me extremely sad.
Over time sin corrupted nature and our bodies, bringing in new sickness after sickness as the years broke down the beauty that surrounded us. That one choice that Adam and Even made to disobey brought death and evil into our world. That evil has spread through the earth like a poison and dimmed the colors of creation. In Romans 8 it talks about how creation is groaning in pain, waiting for God to make everything better again. I must agree that there are times when I groan from the evil around me; to see what sin has caused in this earth. People hurting people; animals hurting each other; bodies wracked with pain - all because the first two people chose to do what they thought was best. It was not God's best and because of that we all suffer and need a Savior. What we see now is only a drop in the bucket of what God meant for us to enjoy and if this takes my breath away here on earth, when I see the beauty of heaven, it will be a good thing that I am already dead because I might not regain my breath after viewing the glory of heaven.