“Here’s where you’re staying. Enjoy the amenities.” The guard chuckled as he threw me unceremoniously, leaving me sprawled on the floor.
I heard the key turn in the old, rusty lock, and the steady “tromp tromp” of his footsteps as they faded away up the passage.
“Great! What am I to do?” I took in the dank, dark corners of the cell, and sniggered, “Home Sweet Home. Not!”
I moved over to the pile of straw that passed for a bed, and patted it down. A rat scattered out, cockroach dangling from its odious mouth. Quickly, I shooed it away, and beat a hasty retreat, until my head hit the bars. “Ouch! That hurt!” I yelped in pain, and rattled the bars in sheer frustration.
Rubbing the rising bump, I yelled, “Ok God. Now what? You know I’m innocent. What’s the plan?” Silence met my question.
I made my way to the only source of light, a small opening about 10 feet up the wall. Names were etched in the stones, and marks indicated days spent in this pit. Now I was one of them.
Disconsolately, I plopped down on the straw, not caring any more whether I disturbed any previous occupants. Pulling my knees to my chest, I laid my face down, and prayed, “God, I don’t know what to do. I’m about to have my head put on a platter, for the simple reason that I love you. Where are you?”
“What? Who are you?” I leapt up so clumsily I lost my footing in the straw and almost slipped back.
“It’s me. Jesus.”
“Jesus?” Frantically, I looked around the cramped, smelly place. I glanced up — nothing. But I knew that voice! “Jesus!” I said again. Relief flooded through my tormented soul. “Jesus, they’re gonna kill me!”
“No, not now.” Jesus’ audible voice was filled with comfort and hope. Oh, I so desperately needed that!
“Are you sure?” I couldn’t help it, for the doubts raced through my mind, and blurted from my mouth before I could stop them.
“Do you remember the lake? Remember what I told you then?”
“Feed my sheep? Well, fat lot of good I’m doing here! Can’t feed ‘em if I’m not around.” Anger rose within me at the injustice of the situation.
“No, Peter.” His tone was calm, and reassuring. “The other thing I told you. Do you remember?”
“Um…about me growing old? Hang on you said, ‘when you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you.’”
“Peter, are you old yet?” I could hear the smile in His voice.
“Not by far.” Now I could see where He was going. “So, you’re saying it’s not my time then? Even though Herod killed James, he won’t kill me?”
“That’s exactly what I’m telling you. You still have a job to do. Don’t worry about the details, but know this; Herod cannot touch you. Now, lie down and rest, you’ll need all the sleep you can get.” With that, even though I hadn’t seen Him, I knew he was gone.
Lying down on the straw, I closed my eyes. My last thought before drifting off to a deep, restful sleep was the truth of what He’d said, and the knowledge that my life was secure in His.