Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: A MIGHTY FORTRESS (don't write about the song) (04/23/15)
By Gary Ritter
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A series of robberies had occurred recently. Because of that I’d considered getting my carry permit to potentially protect myself. I mentally berated my procrastination. My gun sat at home. Lot of good it did me there.
I didn’t need to be afraid. I repeated the phrase, “God is with me. He is my Protector.” The driver finished pumping and reseated the gas hose. I took a deep breath as the passenger entered the convenience mart.
“How much?” he asked, nodding toward the car.
I told him. He said, “A pack of Marlboros, too.”
Before I turned back with the cigarettes he grabbed me. His mustache brushed my ear as he whispered, “Come with me.”
I tried to break away but his iron grip propelled me from behind the counter and outside. His buddy had the rear door open. They shoved me in the car. A moment later the station lights disappeared.
Screaming I fumbled with the door handle. Locked. I saw that glass separated the front and back, like a taxi. I pounded on it. “Let me go!” They ignored me. That began three years of terror and my deeper walk with God.
We rode for hours into the deepest part of night before the dawn. With all the turns and small roads we took I had no idea where I was. My fear kept me awake but exhaustion dulled me. I had no fight left when we arrived at the lonely farmhouse. They left me in the cellar where I found an old mattress and blanket before I passed out.
I found a small toilet when I awoke. As soon as I flushed they came down, the rickety stairs creaking in protest. Their eyes held a hunger that made me shrink back. One advanced toward me. My breathing grew into a raspy cry, “Stay away!” He ignored me and ripped at my blouse. When both finished with me they brought down food. It was hours before I could touch a bite. Pain, anger, and shame boiled up within me. I hated for the first time in my life. Each day brought more of the same.
In the intervening hours I had nothing but my own thoughts. My mother cared for my child when I worked. The one comfort I had was that my precious daughter was safe. The single question I came back to again and again for my own predicament was, “Why, God?”
He didn’t answer, and I raged at Him. Time meant little in my prison other than the daily use of me by my captors. How I dreaded the sound of the door opening above me, the men’s joking about how they’d better fix those decrepit stairs.
Days, then weeks went by; months, years. I lost track to the routine of abuse. Despite no response from God I pleaded with Him to save me. He didn’t. But an unreasonable peace came over me. I knew…I knew the Holy Spirit’s presence was near. In my desperation I reached out as though I could physically hold Him. I touched nothing, but felt my entire being cradled, as though in God’s hands. They held me, soothed me, and I knew all was right regardless of my circumstances. His reassurance became my stronghold. Nothing could harm me there.
I woke early one morning. The worst part of the day was ahead, but also the best. I’d come to understand that once the men had their way, the Holy Spirit would help and comfort me.
The door above opened. Halfway down, the creaking stairs gave way. Both men tumbled through to the concrete. Their heads bounced on the hard surface and they lay still. A voice spoke in my head: “Go.”
I scrambled up past the broken stairs into the kitchen. Car keys lay on the table. Wild with fear, yet having a sense of being guided, I pushed through the outer door into the day. Sunlight blinded me. An invisible hand directed me to the car. Sight came. Without another thought I drove away, knowing my Savior lived.
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