Short Story Fridays: The Belt of Truth
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 2:5 NIV
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea: Psalm 46:2 KJV
Her feet stood on top of the hill, looking down into the valley. She lifted her head to look at the marvelous mountain on the other side. The dampness on the grass shimmered in the morning sun. Slowly she placed one foot in front of the other; one could hear her heart pounding in her chest; the grass brushing against her boots. Focused on her destination, she jerked her head when a crow flew behind her. After looking around she started further down the hill. She paused a moment, glancing in the direction she came from. She considered turning back, yet for some reason her feet couldn’t move.
Not knowing what to do, she turned her head back and forth until she started panting. Why couldn’t she move? Where should she go? Visions began to cloud her mind, voices began to fill her head. “Go forward.” “Go back where it’s safe.” “No, go forward.” She watched as a barrier began to form around her. She gasped in fear, taking a step back only to stumble against the see-through wall. She turned around, realizing she was trapped. She began panting even harder, until she felt vomit crawl up her throat. She pondered and pondered, trying to figure out what to do. The thought of never moving terrified her. What happened to her? She couldn’t stop panting. She looked through the barrier, into the valley. She turned around and looked up the hill: if she walked back now everyone would know she failed. Everyone had watched her go, even when she knew the dangers involved. Did she dare turn back and know she never even made it down the hill? The thought of it shot boiling water up her throat. Never.
She turned her feet toward the valley; lifted her head and began to shout, “I will not fear. You have called me by my name.” Then she raised her foot and stepped out of the barrier. She started to jog backwards. The scene of the barrier discussed her so much, she started running faster and faster down the hill. She stumbled often, but she couldn’t stop until the barrier vanished from her eye sight. She halted when she nearly crashed into a tree, slowly she backed up realizing she reached the valley.
Pushing a branch out of her way, she stepped into the valley. Her mouth dropped in shock, for the flowers smelled so sweet she could almost taste them. The fruit trees shone with colors of red and green apples. The peaches hung so low she could reach up get nearly a dozen at a time. Bumblebees buzzed around the flowers, hovering over the glowing grass leaves. Birds played underneath the bright blue sky. She began to laugh, twirling in the grass, running around the fruit trees. Until she plopped down underneath the warm afternoon sun. Soon enough her eyes began to feel heavy, her body ached of the constant running and panting. She yawned as her eyelids shut the sun out of sight, slowly everything went black, and the sounds to vanish in the distance.
The next morning, she woke up rested and ready for another day of traveling. She picked three apples and two oranges and stuffed them in her rucksack. Next, she knelt by a small creek and filled two bottles with spring water. She’d have to cross the creek at some point yet, crossing here wouldn’t get her to her destination. She started walking beside the creek, examining the beauty of the forest. She thought of what she would do when she reached the top of the mountain. She always wanted to reach the top of the highest mountain, when all she had to do is lift her hands and she’d touch the sky. Where she measured at the bird’s level, where the stars looked closer and the moon looked brighter. However, she’d never gathered enough courage to try. She always told herself she would another time, the next day, at daybreak, yet dawn never came. Until yesterday, when she finally walked down the hill. And already she had had troubles simply going down a hill, how would it be when she started up the mountain? But had the Mighty One not given her a wonderful valley to rest in? When she reached the top of the mountain she would not go back, she would stay with the beauty until her life’s end.
She turned her face to the creek that now looked far wider than it had earlier. Fortunately, perfect rocks arranged across the river, making a smooth pathway. She stepped toward the creek when her foot slipped in between two rocks. She wiggled her foot trying to get free, unable to keep her balance she fell sideways, landing on her arm. She bit her teeth trying to ignore the pain. Setting her good arm on the ground she hopped up on her foot, trying not to use the bruised one. She yanked the boot out from the rocks and gently slid it back on her foot. She puffed a strand of hair from her face and realized the air had begun to feel chilly. Ignoring the cold, she focused on crossing the creek. The creek that once looked so tiny and harmless, now look like a wide, angry river. Gently she placed her bruised foot on the first rock. The spring water soaked through her boots, flowing against her feet. Looking along the river she saw fog forming on top of the water. Looking up she realized fog surrounded her. The trees in the forest became hidden, birds suddenly vanished, and the air grew even colder. She hugged herself, rubbing her arms to warm her shivering body. Continuing to place one foot in front the other, she managed to make it the other side.
Scanning the area, she decided on what to do. She couldn’t see within ten feet; her ankle was bruised, and her arm might be fractured. What once seemed like a welcoming, resting valley now looked a dark, gloomy isle. She sat down beside a tree trunk and ripped a piece of her skirt to make a sling from for her arm. Looking ahead on the trail she saw a tunnel that she’d have to walk through. What if she never makes it to the mountain? What if she’s not good enough? What if she’s not strong enough? What was she thinking? She thought she heard the trees begging to whisper, “You’ll never make it.” The crows started to mock her; in her eyes they flew in circles above, laughing at her. She wept bitterly, hiding her head between her knees.
A soft voice began to drift in the still air. She looked up to see where it came from. The voice began to ring louder and louder, soon covering all the voices in the forest. She felt courage sneaking into her heart, doubt escape from her, and power wrap it self around her. Words whirled around the tree trunk, power, strength, fearless, doubtless, love, courage, all formed in a line, until they wrapped themselves around her waist. It took her a few moments to realize she wore the belt of truth.
Wiping her tears, she took a sip of water and got up. She could do this! She had to do this. She would do this! The voice of truth told her she could. It told her she would never walk alone. Her voice rang high, her head faced the tunnel, then she said, “You have called me. I will go forward, boldly and fearlessly.” She hiked through the forest, her feet jumping from one rock to the other. She wrapped her fingers around branches for balance when needed. When the path became steep she gripped the earth with her hands, placing her feet firmly behind her, crawling up the way to the tunnel.
When the tunnel seemed about eighty feet away, she rested and took another drink of water. She slipped the bottle back in her rucksack; looking up and saw what looked like a twelve-foot beast. She took a step back, trying to figure out what to do. If she ran she’d get lost, if she stood still she’d get nowhere, if she fought—wait! What would she fight with? Suddenly a deep voice came from the beast. “Go around. A bright and sunny path will lead the way to another mountain. The mountain is high, with the best of the best on it. The path is light and easy; everyone will speak in awe of what you’ve accomplished. Continue where you’re on and there is no assurance of success. Traps may fall on you; the earth may swallow you up and no one will ever know of your whereabouts. You might reach the top of the mountain with hatred from all the people on the hill.”
She pondered awhile, shocked from the beast’s words. Would the people shout with hatred, would no one see what she’d done? Would no one see her on the mountain? Would no one accept what she had learned on the way there? Would the mountain not even accept her? Would the birds fly away in denial? Would the stars shrink back in shame of her? No! She remembered the voice of truth. Love would follow her all her days, fear would never again be a part of her.
She replied to the beast with her feet placed firmly on the gospel of peace. Worry and stress would not over take her. “No! I will climb up this mountain. I will walk through this tunnel. I will fight pain, I will stand against falling rocks, I will walk against the current of the river, I will not go around, I will not stop, I will not listen to you! If no one ever knows what I’ve accomplished, I will not stress. If no one cares what I’ve learned I will not worry. If no one loves what I’ve done I will not care. I will do what I was called to do. I will do what I was meant to do. For I am not alone. I am promised help, I am promised companionship—greater than any of the people could ever give me. I will follow this path, on which I know I will never be alone. The stars will shine bright and the birds will fly around me with joy. Let it be one bird, let it be one star, my reward is great. My journey will not be for nothing.”
The beast’s face grew grim, he formed two fist and shuck them violently. She tilted her head unsure of what he was doing, but then he grunted and walked off. She sighed deeply, relieved of what she said. Shaking her head, she noticed a piece of red metal buried in dirt. Brushing off the dirt, she pulled through a breastplate. Curious of how it would feel to wear it, she hung it on her shoulder and slipped underneath one arm. It felt like she’d worn it all along, so she carried it with her into the tunnel.
The tunnel was worse than she imagined. She walked in an amazement, yet soon started jerking at every noise she heard. Fortunately, the tunnel led in a strait path, with no forks. Yet with no light it was hard to see where she was going. She knew the light would come so she kept moving. She hoped the light would come. She walked for what seemed like hours. Occasionally she stopped to eat her peaches and apples. When she decided the day must have faded, she retired for the night. Why hadn’t she reached the end yet? Why couldn’t she see anything? Using her rucksack as a pillow she fell asleep with on going thoughts in her head.
When she awoke she had no idea whether it was night, morning or in the afternoon, yet unable to sleep any longer she cleaned up her stuff. It seemed pointless to walk any further. She couldn’t see anything, she felt only walls and dirt, noises came from all around her—where was the light? Would she be able to see? She walked on for half the day–she assumed. Her peaches and apples would soon be gone; she didn’t have much water left. But she couldn’t stop. She reminded herself that the Mighty One was always with her. She even told the beast that—and she believed it. She continued walking when a glimmer of light began to shine through. She jumped in excitement. She started running, only to tumble over rocks. Yet to excited to feel any pain she got up and ran until she saw the exit.
The minute she stepped out of the tunnel flaming arrows shot out of the forest. She didn’t know where they came from, until loud voices began to call out. “Do you still think you made the right choice? You will never make it through these arrows. You will never reach the mountain.” She ducked and ran across the forest, not knowing what to do. One arrow shot straight through her rucksack, piercing her water bottle and leaving a burnt whole in the cloth. Hiding behind a tree she found a rusty shield and a helmet just waiting for her to take. She put on the armor and dove out from behind the tree, running with all her speed, blocking the arrows. She started yelling, “I can not see it, but you will go away and I will get to the top. I will not be harmed.”
Suddenly the beast appeared out of nowhere. She halted, nearly crashing into him. Miraculously the arrows avoided them, but then the beast started talking. “Why are you so sure you’ll make it to the top of this mountain?”
“I have the armor of my Lord. My God said go now and preach the good news. He said He gives me peace, He said don’t be afraid just believe. He told me to love, because He loves me. He told me to have faith, He says believe and it will be yours.” She paused for a moment, “I want to get to the top of that mountain. Where I can touch the sky, sing with the birds, and feel the fresh soil on my toes. If not one of my friends like what I do, if no one sees the reward, if no one follows, I will rejoice gladly. Knowing I made it the top, and I did what I was called to do. If I die on the way there; I have done enough. I will travel until I die or until I reach the top. Whichever my Lord choices, but I, I am aiming for the top.”
She noticed another piece of metal by the beast’s feet. She bent down and picked up a bright and shiny sword. “Now, my armor is complete. If you’ll excuse me, I will be on my way.”
“Wait,” the beast said as she turned to leave.
Slowly she saw the beast shrink, until he reached a few inches above her. “Can I follow you on your journey?”
“Follow me?” She couldn’t believe what he was asking.
“After all, we both want to hear the birds sing and touch the sky when we lift our hands.” The man replied.
“You’re right. Same mission, same journey. Join me and we’ll travel this trial together.”
She laughed in astonishment as they walked off into the forest. Once again, the day looked promising. The trial continued to climb upward, but she placed her feet firmly on the earth. She gripped the branched to help her move forward. The trail looked long, but the warm sun shone on their faces and the air smelled of sweet honey. Already she and her friend sung with the birds, their voices rang high, until they drifted above the clouds; above all creation.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and request. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:10-20 NIV