Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: A MIGHTY FORTRESS (don't write about the song) (04/23/15)
TITLE: In the Secret Place
By Ann Grover
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Earlier, His Majesty’s men had surrounded our home. As they pounded on the door, I kissed my wife and leaped through a back window, only to find myself staring up at a soldier, his eyes bright in the moonlight.
“I submit to your power,” I said, and held out my hands in surrender.
“Aye, but I’m not inclined to apply my power. Be off with you and hide yourself. Quickly, now.”
I nodded my gratitude, and ran, fleet as a bounding roe deer, through the heather, slipping into the secret place in the gorge. I prayed as I trembled, for our land and for those who rule. For did not God choose them Himself, to have authority over our lives? Yet, nae, we’d not submit to this travesty, their calling themselves Head of the Church. I’d been “outed,” prohibited from preaching in any church, for believing that no man sitting on an earthly throne shall usurp God’s sovereignty, yet I continued to share the Word at converticles in barns or fields. It was an offense punishable by death. I was a hunted man.
Before dawn brightened the sky, I returned to my home. Janet was stirring a pot of porridge, the little ones clamouring about her feet.
“Oh, Thomas. How much more shall we bear?” she cried.
“Though He slay us, Janet.” She bowed her head in answer, for Janet was a woman of fervent faith.
After eating and helping Janet with chores, I retired to study God’s Word; a converticle was planned for two weeks hence. I must be wise and gentle; I must bring hope in these precarious times.
I surveyed the crowd of saints, their faces reflecting weariness and joy, expectation and fear. They’d walked from as far away as fifteen miles, in defiance of imminent danger. Some spread blankets on the ground; others pulled up clumps of heather to use as pews. Children hushed as I stood.
“My beloved, run to Him, for He is our stronghold. Not Edinburgh Castle with its magnificent ramparts. Not Dunottar, where some of you might find yourself in days to come. For these fortresses are fragile, fashioned by the hand of man and will crumble to dust with but a whisper from God. Nae, He is our only safe place.”
For six hours, I encouraged and entreated, imploring everyone to secure themselves in the immeasurable depths of God’s faithfulness. My recent nocturnal sojourn in the rocky cleft was a timely inspiration.
How soon would my own words return to me.
I continued to speak whenever God bid me, often travelling a good way. Everywhere, we were distressed by tales of brutish torture and executions of our Covenanter brothers and sisters. One evening, as my family sat down to dinner, the door burst open, admitting a dozen soldiers, all with muskets leveled at my children, at Janet. I surrendered, asking only that they not harm my wee ones or my wife. They seized me, imprisoning me in the barn, and then made merry with our dinner, emptying the stew pot, devouring every crumb of bread, and draining the kegs of homemade beer.
Aye, but God used their intemperance. Inebriated, the soldiers rode away, forgetting I was in the barn, trussed up like a partridge.
Quickly, we gathered blankets and a cooking pot and hastened to the refuge in the gorge. There did we abide in that damp and secret place, sometimes joined by others fleeing the wrathful, long arm of His Majesty. We slept peacefully, though water trickled down the stony walls and peat smoke smarted our eyes, knowing that the finger of God had hewed that cranny in the rock long before any man or beast roamed the moors, for such a time as this.
Then came the welcome news. Our oppressors had been crushed, and we could walk forth into the sunshine, out of our humble and splendid shelter, free to worship and proclaim the gospel without chastisement. Aye, but with the profound understanding that all who dwell in the Almighty are safe for all eternity, for a truly impregnable fortress is not built by setting stone upon stone, but by placing hope upon faith.
“The Covenanters - The Reformation.” www.thereformation.info/covenanters5.htm
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