Somewhere in the Atlantic…1660’s
Blackness, stench, and sweltering heat pressed heavily on the young man fettered to the hold, manacles tight about wrists and ankles.
Aaron barely noticed.
He’d lost count of the hours, the days, maybe even weeks he’d been confined in the bowels of this ship, staring blankly into the darkness.
Chains from a fellow prisoner clanked nearby. Rats squeaked and scuttled across naked feet. Someone groaned.
The sounds went unnoticed. He was alone within himself.
He, along with these sorry shipmates, had been sentenced in the courts of justice, found guilty of wrongdoing, and banished—exiled—to some faraway land. He wasn’t even sure where.
It didn’t matter. He’d already lost everything he cared about. Family, friends—self-worth.
They’d all abandoned him, leaving despair as his only companion. It began to echo in his ears—thrashing, pounding, wrenching chaos filled his mind. Icy saltwater washed over his feet and licked his calves.
Aaron came out of his trance with a start realizing this wasn’t part of his inner turmoil. It was happening in the physical world.
The ship heeled sharply and he slammed into the bulwarks.
Collective oofs and screams sounded nearby as the other prisoners were treated likewise. Water was coming fast now; climbing to his hips, his waist, his chest.
‘Oh God, he was going to die.’
Stories from long-ago inconceivably brought themselves to the forefront of the soon to be drown mans mind. Stories of love and light, hope and promise.
Aaron clung to them. He remembered the simply story about God and His Son, sacrificed for the sins of all men.
The memory of a prayer buried deep in his mind surfaced. One that acknowledged the sacrifice, and the gift—free for the asking.
Free. Now there was a concept he’d twisted as surely as he breathed—only breathing was becoming difficult. Water licked at his chin and he tugged experimentally on the chains, still fast.
This was the end. He closed his eyes and prayed the simple prayer, inviting Jesus to become master of his life, however short that was. He felt the renewal, the peace that came with the answered prayer.
Suddenly a thundering crack sounded and the ship began to break apart, beaten thoroughly by the ravaging storm.
Sometime later Aaron woke to the sound of squabbling seabirds. He opened his eyes and winced, the brightness of the sun too harsh for eyes untouched by light for so long.
It was blotted out by a large cloth that someone tucked around his naked form, mumbling incoherent words of comfort. It’s sweet perfume tickled his nose.
He sat up and looked around the unfamiliar shoreline, trying to remember what brought him here. A piece of flotsam washed up nearby. Part of a hull—and it all came crashing back to him. The prison ship—the outpouring of his heart to God—and the storm that set him free. He sat stunned with wonderment.
God had given him another chance.
He looked down at the soft robe sheltering his aching limbs. Purple. Richness, power, wealth and royalty were purple. Not so long ago the color would’ve helped mark his prey. Anyone wearing purple would be worthy to shadow, awaiting the right moment to steal their purse. What ‘free’ used to mean to Aaron.
Aaron was a thief. A pickpocket, a burglar, a taker of what wasn’t his. Now, with his heart newly washed, the shame of what he’d done, of what he’d been, burned over him like the merciless sun.
"Please, I’m unworthy. Don’t soil your garment for the likes of me," Aaron croaked to the savior on the beach as he tried to hand back the handsome robe.
"Nonsense," the voice answered as they helped him stand. "You’ll stay in my home until you’re well."
‘Couldn’t they see he was a prisoner? Was this some kind of trick?’
He took a step unhindered by shackles. They’d disappeared. A voice spoke from somewhere in his mind, no, his heart.
‘You’re my child and I the King of Kings. You’re worthy of this and more. You’re clean in My sight. Go and sin no more. By My mercy you are free!’
Aaron began to weep as he realized the depth of the gift he’d received. And from that day forward he endeavored to serve his King in all he did.
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