Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Trees (12/05/05)
TITLE: Last Stand Among the Olive Trees
By Crista Darr
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Desolation grips the Holy City, but our hope rises above the ruins. We have a covenant with the Maker of heaven and earth.
Our army is decimated; only a remnant remains. We crawl out of the city to the grove at the mountain’s base. We will make our last stand here among the olive trees. Although the enemy surrounds us on every side, surrender is not an option. We are willing to lay down our lives for our people, for our land – the land of promise.
A strange moaning emanates from the grove. I look up into the trees, and for a moment, lose myself down the paths of twisted branches. They bow down to the earth in gruesome contortions. Dew falls on my upturned face, dropping as teardrops from silver-gray leaves.
I turn to Yitzhak. He is asleep at his post. I grit my teeth in frustration.
“Can’t you watch for an hour?”
He opens his eyes. They are lifeless, defeated.
I move toward the low stone wall overlooking the valley. Armies from all nations are scattered over the fields, desecrating the graves of our forefathers. We are hated, despised by the world. They will not be satisfied until we are cast into the sea.
Our situation seems hopeless – one tiny nation against the world, but we remember David and Goliath.
“How long, O Lord, until this giant is defeated? Where is the promise of the Messiah?”
Silence. Our persecution endures for thousands of years and still – only silence. Our sins have hid His face from us. Agony tears at my troubled soul.
The wind screams across the grove. The gnarled trunks of the olive trees groan in fearful expectation as they plea with their Creator. My prayer ascends with theirs.
“O merciful Lord, hear us. For your city and the people called by your name, rise up and defend us.”
A great tumult rises from the valley. Madness reigns as the armies raise their weapons against one another. Flames fall as lightning from heaven, consuming both man and beast. I throw myself on the ground in terror. The trees around me tremble at the fierce judgment of God. We long to flee away, but roots to this Holy Land bind us both.
Suddenly, the eastern sky is set ablaze. All darkness is consumed by Light. Messiah stands before me, as if I am the only soul on earth. My breath leaves my body; I am as a dead man before Him.
“Stand on your feet,” His voice of many waters rushes through me.
I find myself looking into His flaming eyes of fire. Their burning light searches every crevice of my soul, leaving nothing hidden. My shame is unbearable, yet He stretches out His hands to receive me.
“Lord, what are these wounds in your hands?”*
“Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”* He says.
The veil is removed from my eyes in an instant, and I wail as if mourning for an only Son.
He wipes the tears from my eyes with his nail-scarred hands. Songs burst forth from the mountains as He lifts me above the grove. No longer bowed down, the hallowed trees lift their heads to follow Him. They stretch their arms into the sky and join the chorus of praise, clapping their hands in exultation.
“For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12 (KJV)
*Zechariah 13:6 (KJV)
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