Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)
TITLE: In The Cleft Of The Rock
By Holly Westefeld
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Hannah put a finger over her lips as her eyes darted toward their young children, but it was too late. Six-year-old Caleb jumped up from entertaining his sister Ruth with drawings on the dusty floor. "Dad, can I come watch?"
"No, Caleb, this is no practice. It is real battle and some of our soldiers may get hurt. You stay here and watch over your mom and Ruth."
"Okay. I can do that." Caleb made as big a muscle as his small arm could muster. "Dad, will you be fighting?"
"If I am needed."
Caleb's lower lip quivered ever so slightly. "You could get hurt."
Daniel dropped to one knee and cradled his son's face in his hands. "Whatever happens, Caleb, Jesus will make it all right in the end." He hugged Caleb, scooped a giggling Rachel into his arms briefly, then embraced Hannah fervently before returning to his duties.
Hannah attempted to engage the children through the afternoon with games and stories, but every time a rumble vibrated the rock Caleb ran to look out, and it was all Hannah could do not to do likewise. Finally she took them to gather with other mother's, children, and elders in the sheltered area which served as communal kitchen and dining room. After a simple meal of stew and bread, word came that everyone was to assemble at the ancient amphitheater for prayer.
Hannah returned to the cave to grab some blankets, both to cushion the stone seats, and to keep warm as sunset approached. She gave a couple to Caleb to carry, then hoisted three-year-old Ruth onto her hip for the trek down the valley. The ache in her legs reminded her of another time she had carried little Ruth, fleeing Israel, weak from morning sickness. Daniel had practically needed to carry her. The closer they got to the amphitheater, the more the vibrations shifted to disturbing thuds.
Finally Hannah was able to set Ruth on her feet. She arranged the blankets, then settled in with Caleb nestled beside her and Ruth on her lap. The setting sun on the reddish mountain walls surrounding them on three sides lent the area a fiery glow.
All hushed as Simeon, the elder who had always kept them focused on hope, raised his voice in prayer. "Lord Jesus, You know our current plight. We trust in your guidance in this time..." When he concluded, someone toward the front broke out in song, rapidly joined by all old enough to know the words.
"O Come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear."
As the first refrain echoed through the amphitheater, Daniel's bass slipped in on the other side of Caleb, encircling both him and his mother with one arm.
"O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight."
While the exuberant strains of the final refrain echoed off the stone walls, the sun dropped behind the western side of the fortress. But suddenly, all eyes turned heavenward.
There before them "was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but He himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
Scripture excerpts are from Revelation 19:11-16, NIV.
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