Once there was a war.
In this war, one of the sides was a vicious enemy. They were brutal, and they had no love for life at all. They had bloody hands and thoughtlessly killed as many people as served their purposes – men, women, and children. They started many, many wars and loved death.
The commander of this army was an older man. He had a stout build and glasses and a bristly beard and arrogantly wagged his finger when he made his speeches, taunting the other side with his weapon slung over his shoulder and sneering down his nose to mock them. He was so conceited that every turn of the war he spun in his favor; whether winning or losing, he would always somehow claim victory. There was such darkness inside him and all the horrible power of the devil; he had fallen into Satan’s trap so deep that you could listen to his speeches and actually feel Satan speaking through him. He had a pride that was like cardboard walls all around him – he couldn’t see this, of course, because he thought they were real stone, impenetrable walls. He couldn’t see that they were just cardboard. He also couldn’t see that all his pride was filthy, rotting garbage that he had vainly stacked up in a tower to reach heaven. These were his mighty deeds that he saw as good. He couldn’t see that all he was offering up was trash. If good were right and evil were left, he really couldn’t tell the two apart at all: he did evil and thought it was good.
This commander was married, of course, and had many children – it doesn’t matter exactly how many. The youngest was a little girl, and she had a mental disability of some sort. She was around four years old at this time. It was winter time and was cold in the country where they lived and snow began to fall when their enemies launched an attack on the house of the commander’s family. His wife – it should be mentioned – was also strangled by the power of darkness and had the deep claws of the forces of evil dug so deep into her skin that she loved death like her husband did. She was driven mad by it. She always wore black and she never wore another color. Most of their children died in the attack, and the commander’s wife and the youngest daughter who was mentally disabled got trapped under a pile of rubble. They were still alive, but when help came to excavate them, the commander’s wife refused. She made up some reason, but really she was driven so mad by the spirit of death that she wanted to be a martyr in her husband’s war. So she and her mentally disabled daughter were left out in the cold pinned under the debris and died in the snow.
The little girl went to heaven to be with Jesus. She didn’t know much of where she had come from, at least not at first. He would let her in from time to time, but it was all just in feelings, something vague, that there was some darkness that he had plucked her from and saved her from a wretched family that no one could love. She was a girl with a beautiful spirit, and so full of joy and songs and dances and she would always wear white. I guess it is impossible to feel sad in heaven, but from time to time Jesus would tell her about how his heart mourned and cried and though he protected her from the knowledge of most of it, he let her see just a little shadow, a little darkness that was cast over the story she had come from. She had a few memories – of that last day on earth standing in the kitchen and her mother yelled at her for doing something of course she knew no better than to do. She had one of her father sitting her in his lap and teaching her to count and telling her that their enemies were “demons” and “dogs” and they should all be killed. She knew that other children in heaven would talk about their families, some knew their families or had them there with them. But all this girl knew about her family was the empty black sky that Jesus took her out and showed her. It was big and blank and had once had many stars, but by now most of them had fallen from it. She knew nothing but that there was a loss, and that was all she was allowed to know. By now only a few stars were left.
Meanwhile, the commander was still alive. He was almost killed many times, but managed to survive and escape to continue leading his wicked army. He lived in a tall tower. At the top of the tower, a black bird circled around day and night to guard it, and below on the ground a band of soldiers barred their teeth and marched in circles night and day to prevent anyone from ransacking the tower. The commander lived in the tower, of course, but from looking at the outside you would never expect that anything alive could possibly be found inside. Every window was pitch black with a vile blackness as though it was abandoned. The commander’s daughter once asked Jesus if the wicked power that held her father could ever be defeated. Could he ever be rescued from that hideous tower? Jesus told her that taking the tower was a small thing for him. His armies were much mightier than those of Satan, and he could easily attack it and storm it and take it by nightfall. But in war, you must be careful of civilian casualties. If he was going to take the tower, he must be careful to do it without hurting who was inside. So he would watch it night and day waiting for his opportunity. He was a wise commander-in-chief.
The commander’s daughter wondered. She had childish faith, and believed that Jesus could do miracles and save even her father the commander from the powers of darkness. But Jesus looked at her soberly. He didn’t want her to be unaware of what people were saying, the talk that was going around. They had used the words “beyond redemption”. For a moment the commander’s daughter’s face fell, as if she had just been given the doctor’s prognosis that it was terminal and there was no cure. The commander, of course, was a very sick man and vomited from the insidious bile inside him. He couldn’t help but vomit; he was very, very sick. And if he couldn’t help but vomit, he vomited lies all over his children. They had been born, raised, and ultimately died drenched in the vomit of lies. That was why, Jesus explained to the commander’s daughter, in war some people must be unwilling to surrender. It must be what they are made of, they must be incapable of doing anything but going down fighting. If anyone were to fight for her few remaining stars, they must be of that sort. They must have no other options but either victory or the ultimate sacrifice of dying attempting to gain the prize … and prevent any more stars from falling from her sky.
And the prizes that could potentially be won for the commander grew dusty. He was an old man, and by now those prizes were covered in blankets of thick dust, untouched and unclaimed. Even the angels gave up hope that they ever would be. And instead of prizes, maggots awaited. Already voracious maggots nibbled holes in his clothes and his beard and were anxiously awaiting the whole man to be cast away so they could devour his flesh forever. The angels walked by the unclaimed prizes and shook their heads in sorrow. If anyone, Jesus told the commander’s daughter, would fight for those prizes, they must be of the sort who would never give up or surrender. He told her soberly that most of his warriors, unfortunately, were giver-uppers.
The purpose of this story is to remind you to think about the things that you cannot see. Earthly events as we see them are only a reflection of the true events. There may be more going on behind the worldly veils than you can imagine. Things that happen on earth have implications in the other world, but perhaps it is better to say that things that happen in the other world have implications here on earth. Weigh carefully what kind of warrior you will be. Take seriously the weight of your work, because it may well outweigh you. And anytime you get involved in something that is heavier than you are, you must be careful not to let it fall on you.
The real battle, of course, is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers, the rulers, and the authorities in the dark spiritual realm.