The Final Battle
The small bedroom was crowded with six tall men, a small broken man on the bed, and an elderly woman sitting beside him. A cheap lamp brought only a little light into the room.
The six were not only unusually tall, but they had the long muscles of runners or volleyball players. They might have been from the same sports team. They were all dressed casually – jeans or board shorts and tee-shirts. But if you looked at their eyes, it was obvious they were on different teams. Three of the men had bright, shining eyes. The other three had black eyes with no light at all.
The Lighteners stood with their back to the broken man and the old woman. The Darkeners faced them.
One of the Lighteners spoke. “Back off, man. He’s coming with us.”
“Really? We already own him. He’s been headed our way all his life. We’ve just come to collect. So why don’t you back off?”
The Darkeners took a step closer to the man’s bed, and the Lighteners crouched slightly with their strong arms raised.
The Old Woman spoke softly. “Tommy, what’s happened to you?”
“Grandma, you shouldn’t be here. I was trying to do a little business deal and things went really wrong.” He coughed into a tissue and it came away speckled with blood. “I guess they got me pretty good this time,” he said with an ironic laugh, which turned into a coughing fit.
“I’ll call 911 and get you an ambulance.”
“Don’t bother, Grandma. It’s a little too late for that.” He pulled the sheet down and showed her a gaping wound between his ribs, bubbling red. The mattress was already soaked in his blood.
“Oh, Tommy,” she cried softly. And she began to pray.
Her prayers got the attention of the two groups of men. The Darkeners shook their heads as if flies were bothering them.
“He’s coming with us,” the Lightener repeated.
“Nope. No way. The Master said, ‘chosen before the foundation of the world,’ so just back off.”
The Darkener invoked the name of his master and cursed. “How stupid and naïve you are,” he hissed. “Soon he’ll be ours forever.”
Oblivious to the aggressive face-off only a few feet away, Grandma began to plead with Tommy. “Son, it appears you don’t have much time lift. Now listen to your grandmother – you must give your heart to Christ. Now is the time, right now!”
“Grandma, I’ve ruined my whole life. It’s just too late.”
The three Darkeners chortled, and began to chant, “Too late! Too late! Too Late.” Tommy and Grandma could not hear their voices, but the light in the bedroom dimmed slightly and the shadows grew longer.
Another Darkener spoke, more confident now. “See, he knows it’s too late. And do we need to remind you about what’s he’s done? Let’s go over the hit-parade of all the stuff our Enemy seems to hate so much. Like using and selling, stealing, murder (remember how he got his friend killed?), sexual deviancy…”
“That’s enough. We are familiar with his many sins.”
“Well, so that’s it! Look in your magical book. It says that ‘no one who does these things will inherit the kingdom of Youknowwho.’”
“As usual you guys have never actually read the Book. The next verse says, ‘And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of – ready for this? – the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’”
The Darkeners took a step back. One held his ears, one moaned, and their spokesman screamed, “Stop saying that!”
“Saying what? You mean the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus, the Light of the World, Jesus, the Good Shepherd?”
Now all the Darkeners were moaning, doubled over in pain, hands clapped to their ears. Through gritted teeth their spokesman managed to say, “But he has never believed. Say what you want about ‘chosen,” but it’s your rule, not ours – he has to believe, and he doesn’t! And we still have him.”
And the three of them began chanting again: “He doesn’t believe! He doesn’t believe! He doesn’t believe!”
But the Lighteners had tuned out their adversaries, and were turning to watch the broken man on the bed. “Grandma, I do believe. If it’s not too late…” he whispered. And then his voice became a little stronger. “Jesus, please save me. I’ve ruined my life, my family, everything. I’m sorry. I do believe that You died for my sins and rose again.”
The Lighteners cheered and high-fived and shouted praises. The Darkeners were, well, wailing and gnashing their teeth. They seemed shrunken and much smaller.
“Why don’t you boys get out of here, before Somebody sends you into a herd of swine.” At that they slunk away.
Grandma heard none of this, but she saw Tommy’s breathing cease and the light in his eyes faded away. She was weeping, but at the same time she raised her hand in praise and whispered, “Thank You.”
The walls and ceiling seemed to melt away and the room was flooded with golden light. Joyful voices sang, and what used to be a small bedroom was filled by not three but hundreds of angels, shouting and singing praises. The real Tommy, the new one, was carried upward into the light amidst a fanfare of trumpets and a welcoming committee that would be the start of joy unspeakable and full of glory.
As the caravan left, the original three Lighteners stayed with the old woman, coming near, and whispering in her ear. When she rose to her feet, still looking at the body on the bed, she smiled, and her eyes shone with that same heavenly