A Raging Monster: A Parable Concerning James 3:2-12
Brian carefully drew the whet stone along the edge of the gleaming sword. His touch was light - the great knife was sharp, sharper than he had ever had it before - yet he sought the keenest blade possible. Finally, satisfied that he had honed the steel to the fullest extent, he carefully slid the weapon into its scabbard and rested it against the wall. Brian glanced at the old man seated on the low chair near the window as he spoke.
© 2.18.06 By D. Eric Williams
"Father, worry will not help. Perhaps you should pray, that - "
"I am praying, my son" the old man interrupted. "I am praying that you will forget this madness." He raised his head and looked out the window a moment before returning his gaze to his hands, folded in his lap. "No one has succeeded in this quest; why do you believe that you can do so now?"
"I don't know that I will succeed Father," Brian said as he shrugged into a shirt of mail. "I only know that something has to be done. It appears that I am the only one left in the land who is willing to try."
"Because all the others have perished in the attempt." The old man slowly stood and turned to face him. "You know why they have failed. And yet you refuse to consider the implications; you refuse to seek the only support that will avail you anything." He shook his head and turned to look out the window once again. In the distance he could see the rising smoke of some villager's home in flames. "There is no hope for you - or anyone else - who seeks to destroy this Creature in his own strength."
Brian's laugh startled the old man and he turned to watch his son buckle a belt - and the sword - around his waist.
"So you say Father. Perhaps you are right" he drew on a pair of heavy leather gloves and stepped toward the door. He paused with his hand on the latch and spoke without turning. "It is not that I dismiss all that you say Father. It is - " he sighed heavily before continuing, "it is only that I believe differently; I have my own beliefs." He paused again, still facing the door. "Goodbye Father. Wish me God-speed."
"God-speed Brian my son" the old man said softly. "God-speed" but his son did not hear; he was already gone.
For years the Creature had terrorized the village. Brian had grown up under the shadow of the Monster's constant threat and had daily heard news of the Beast's terrible deeds. No one in the village had been spared.
Some had lost homes, every thing they owned destroyed in the flames kindled by the Ogre's hand. Others had stood by as family or friends were torn asunder, screaming in horror as the Creature satisfied its blood lust. Yet it was never really satisfied. It prowled the land continually, always seeking to maim, to kill, to destroy. The once prosperous town had been reduced to a ramshackle collection of huts and the villagers struggled to maintain a measure of normalcy even in the face of a constant fear.
Yet there were some who had been spared. Very few, indeed. The lucky ones were to be found amongst the aged citizens of the village, or so it seemed. Brian's Father and his house for instance. But rather than seek the wisdom of their elders, the villagers looked at them with an envious and accusing eye. Instead of undertaking to know the secret to their charmed life, the towns folk had concluded that the unscathed enjoyed their security because of a dark and unholy pact made with the Monster. This was part of Brian's motivation; he wished to dispel such myths. And, since his father's house had been spared, he felt an obligation to venture forth and do his best to rid the land of the Menace.
The streets were empty as Brian strode toward the smoke rising at the edge of the village. Night was falling and there was a damp chill in the air. It seemed that the cold penetrated to his very soul and Brian's step faltered and he glanced behind as if to turn back. Perhaps his father was right. Perhaps he should call upon the One whom his father claimed could defeat the Creature. For a long moment he stood still in the middle of the road, his eyes fixed on the ground at his feet. Then, he suddenly shook his head as if to clear away the doubts. No; he had made his decision. He would face the Monster alone.
As he drew near the burning shanty, he could hear the shouts of the people inside. They were faced with a terrible choice; remain in the hut and be burned alive or rush from the flames to face the Creature outside. Even if they did not leave the burning house, the Creature would eventually bash the walls down in his eagerness to destroy. Truly its fury was untamable. Brian quickened his pace. This time the objects of the Ogre's cruelty would have a third choice, he said to himself. This time a champion would arrive in time to drive the Creature away. Yet even as he thought these things Brian knew in his heart that he would likely end up as the others had. Everyone who had faced the Creature without the help of the One had failed, their bodies rent and broken, their cries for help submerged beneath the terrible roar of the Fiend.
Brian was running as he reached the scene of the Monster's ruin and he slid to a stop behind a small shed just to the side of the shanty. One more step and he would be face to face with the Creature. One more step and there would be no turning back. He closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. Then, gathering his strength and courage, he abruptly leapt from behind the coop;
"Stay your hand, foul Creature! Turn and face your doom!"
Brave words indeed; but even as they left his throat Brian's courage melted like ice thrown to the fire. He had never actually seen the Monster up close and the sight that smote his eyes caused his heart to die within him.
A hideous parody of a man, the Creature stood as tall as a grown tree. Hair hung in greasy strands from its huge misshapen head and fangs, corrupted with the gore of its victims protruded from a gaping red mouth. It turned its gaze toward Brian and its bulging eyes burned with a relentless fury. For a long moment it peered at him. Then with a gurgling roar the Creature rushed, its filthy hands reaching to capture him, to crush him and tear him with its sharp claws.
Brian felt that his knees would give way but somehow he managed to remain on his feet and raise his sword to meet the onrush of the Monster. The Giant was heedless of the shining blade in Brian's hand as it swung a heavy fist at his head. Brian raised his arm to ward off the blow and he instinctively thrust upward with the sword even as he was flung to the side by the force of the Creature. He hit the ground rolling and then scrambled to his feet, desperate fear providing the vigor that his failed courage denied. The Creature reached for him again and Brian could feel the Monster's hands close around his chest. One arm was pinned to his side but somehow the hand that held his sword remained free; he swung with all his might at the Ogre's head and was dismayed to see his blade glance off the Monster's scabrous brow without causing harm. He felt his ribs begin to crack and cried out as he stabbed his blade at the Creature's eye. The Monster relaxed its grip and raised a hand - almost a casual gesture - to turn aside the sword thrust. Immediately, Brian kicked his feet against the Monster's body and managed to wrench himself free of its grasp. He fell to the ground and the Monster raised a foot to crush him but Brian rolled to one side and found shelter beneath the shed. He scrambled away from the grasping hand of the Creature as it groped in the darkness, seeking its prey.
The Creature withdrew its hand and for a moment all was quiet save the crackling flames of the burning shanty. Then, with a roar, the Monster began to tear the shed to pieces, splintering the roof and walls as it demolished the structure which sheltered its victim. The coop shuddered beneath the force of the Creature's fists. Brian stared upward through a crack in the floorboards, watching in terror as the Monster tore the roof and walls away and then reach to rip back the thin boards that hid him. As the last boards were flung aside, revealing him to the Giant's view, a ghastly laugh came from the cavernous red maw and the Creature reached for him. Brian struggled to raise his sword, but his arm seemed paralyzed. Just as the Creature's hand began to close around his throat he cried out in desperation:
"Adoni, help me - Adoni Elohim - give me strength!" and he swung his sword at the outstretched arm of the Monster.
The towns folk never grew tired of hearing the story it seemed. There were always murmurs of approval when he told them how his sword had cut deep into the Ogre's arm. They listened with rapt attention as he described how his strength had increased even as the battle continued to rage, even as he had called out for assistance and power to fight to the end. Their only disappointment was with the conclusion of the tale. The Creature had suddenly turned and ran into the forest. Try as he might Brian had not been able to catch the Monster and eventually had lost sight of it in the gloom of the wood. So, weary with the chase, he had finally turned and trudged back to the village.
A laughing and cheering crowd had gathered to him that night as he made his way toward his father's house It had been the first time in a long while that the villagers had been willing to walk abroad after sundown. But that night was different. A hero was in their midst. Brian had said little; mostly he smiled and nodded wearily at the pleasant words and hearty slaps on the back. He had been single minded after the battle with the Creature. He had sought the doorstep of his own home. He had wanted to see his Father. And finally, there he was, an old man stooped and gray. Leaning against the doorpost of the house.
"Father..." in the dim light Brian could see the tears of joy and relief streaming down the old man's face.
"Father" he repeated. "You were right. I could not succeed in my own strength."
Brian embraced him and his words were nearly lost in the crush of the crowd.
"I found victory, Father. Victory in the strength of the One."