NICHOLAS WAS a man of God. That’s what got him noticed by the demons. He had never even given much thought to the goings on in the spirit world. Oh, he knew that evil existed, and he believed with his whole heart in the power of prayer to keep the evil at bay. Unfortunately, that didn’t keep a couple of malevolent spirits from taking a personal interest in him, with his very soul at stake.
SAKAAR AND Barak glided noiselessly through the pre-dawn sky over town. They were flush with their recent successes. Because of their meddling, several souls had been corrupted on this night. When they saw the aura of protection surrounding the little house on Oakwood Drive, they couldn’t resist the challenge.
“How about a little wager?” rasped Barak.
“What did you have in mind?” responded Sakaar.
“The man of this house has a strong faith. The aura is so bright I get a warm, pleasant feeling when I look upon it – and I HATE that! I propose that we attack him over the next twenty-four hours. The one who is able to get him to deny his God wins.”
Sakaar eagerly took the challenge. He didn’t bother asking what the winner might receive. Any demon that could claim the soul of a Christian was both revered and feared among his peers. That was incentive enough.
NICHOLAS AWOKE in a panic. His heart was racing, and cold sweat dampened the sheets. He couldn’t pinpoint the source of his fear, but then he was not able to see Barak looming over him, whispering thoughts of despair into his mind. Nicholas couldn’t shake his feelings of hopelessness as he prepared for the day. He snapped at his wife over nothing, and left the house without having his usual devotional and prayer time. As his car pulled out of the drive, Barak gave Sakaar a triumphant look. It was only a matter of time.
Nicholas struggled to concentrate on his work. He was a successful financial planner, and his manager always had high praise for the job he did. Nothing was going right today, though. Even so, he was totally unprepared when Ken called him in just before lunch. With no warning, he was dismissed from the firm. He could feel the eyes of his colleagues on the back of his neck as he was escorted from the building. He may have even felt the malevolent gaze of Sakaar, who watched him go from his vantage point just behind Ken.
Nicholas drove around the city for hours, trying to find the words to tell his wife what had happened. Amy was seven months pregnant with their first child. They had recently stretched their budget to the breaking point to buy a house. Sakaar fed upon Nicholas’ anguish from his spot in the back seat. He was very pleased with himself, unaware that Barak had also been busy.
As the afternoon sun faded from the sky, draining the city of color, Nicholas’ cell phone rang. The message he heard struck him like a punch in the stomach. Amy had been taken to the hospital. She was unconscious, and in danger of losing the baby.
Barak stood by the hospital bed, waiting for Nicholas to arrive. He was confident that this turn of events would cause Nicholas to curse his God. No man could withstand so much in such a short time. Nicholas came into the room and rushed to his wife’s side. Sakaar trailed behind, a concerned look on his face. He wasn’t sure he could top Barak’s latest move, or that he would even have the chance.
The demons flanked the bed, waiting for the inevitable response to such tragedy. They began to quiver, however, as a new source of energy grew in the room. They snarled and hissed at the brilliant white light, unseen by human eyes, that accompanied Nicholas’ heartfelt prayer:
“Dear God, though I don’t understand your ways, I know that you are holy and just. I trust in you to protect my family. Thank you, Lord, for surrounding me with family and friends of strong faith. Their strength sustains me now. Lift us up; give us peace in the storms to follow. May all that happens in my life, even these trials, glorify you, for you are worthy of all thanks and praise. Amen.”
Barak and Sakaar fled, unable to remain in the holy presence that now filled the hospital room.
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