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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)

TITLE: Between a Rock and a Dark Place
By Anita Ellis


The air was heavy and damp, as we hurried in the dark along the underground passage away from the chaos in Jerusalem and toward, we hoped, safety and freedom. I closed my mind to the terror I had seen in the streets as the Roman soldiers breached the walls of the fortress, killing anyone who stood in their path. Nor did I allow my thoughts to wander to the ones we had left behind. So many bodies had littered the streets. The acrid smell of smoke from the Temple Mount had grown stronger as my husband Jakob had led his sister Miriam, myself and our little one swiftly to one of the hidden passages out of the city.

“Quick!” he had urged desperately, pushing us toward the narrow opening. “Go now. Keep running and don’t look back. This tunnel will lead you safely out of the city, away from danger. I will follow when I can. Go!” And so I did, hugging our infant son close as I ran blindly into the darkness with Miriam close on my heels, praying that Jehovah would protect us all.

We lost all sense of time and direction. Enveloped completely by darkness, our movements were further hindered by slippery rock, unexpected changes in elevation and our own panic. Someone’s breath was coming in short gasps. Was it mine or Miriam’s? My elbow grazed the rock wall as I stumbled on. The babe, amazingly, was sound asleep. How could he possibly be so at peace at a time like this? Did he not know the dangers we now faced?

Words that had been read just days ago at the temple came to mind. “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”* Perhaps that’s why my child still slept. He trusted me completely to guide him safely. I breathed a silent prayer into the darkness, knowing the Lord God would hear me, even here.

I don’t know how long we stumbled in the dark. Eventually, it was Miriam who whispered that the air seemed clearer. Soon, glimmers of light reflecting off of the damp surfaces helped to show us the way. My son stirred in his wrappings. We pressed on, knowing that soon we would be free of this dark passage. Rounding a corner, light burst from the opening ahead of us. We raced toward it, and into the valley far below Jerusalem. Looking around us, we saw the way was clear.

“We go West, toward the Great Sea,” I was surprised by how confident I sounded. Taking Miriam by the hand, we headed away from the darkness, toward the light.
*Isaiah 42:16, NIV

Author’s note: In the year 70 AD, the Roman Army, led by future Emperor Tiberius, besieged Jerusalem. Eventually breaking through the walls, they overcame the zealots defending the Antonia Fortress, just North of the Temple Mount, and moved on to destroy the temple itself and crush the Jewish rebellion. Some Jews managed to escape, by means of hidden underground tunnels. Others made a final stand in the Upper City. As many as 1 million civilian lives were lost during the siege.

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This article has been read 524 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/28/09
I definitely wanted more of this!
Dee Yoder 06/01/09
Very nice writing and descriptive sentences! You created a tense and hurried atmosphere that gave this story a real presence.
Charla Diehl 06/04/09
Excellent job of bringing this Bible passage to life--I was right there with those in the tunnel. I also appreciated the author note which added to the tenseness of the scene when I read this a second time. I think your writing is well above level 2. Congrats on your win.
Myrna Noyes06/04/09
Wonderfully written story! I love historical pieces, and I appreciated your informative footnote. CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR 1ST PLACE LEVEL WIN! :)
Deborah Porter 06/06/09
Hi Anita. I just wanted to leave a quick note to congratulate you on your 1st place win in Level 2, and to let you know you also did extremely well overall, ranking 27th out of all the entries for the week. Well done.

If you would like to see the highest rankings for yourself, you can find them here:

The highest rankings are posted every Thursday evening on the Message Boards.

Hope to see you at the FaithWriters' Conference in August. It’s going to be an amazing time of inspiration, information and encouragement.

With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)
Janice Fitzpatrick06/06/09
I love Biblical stories that bring the passages of history to life. Well done and Congratulations on your 1st place win hon. God bless you!! I'm following behind you-like Miriam...hehe- in the challenge level win I mean-grin. :0) Keep up the beautiful writing.