Arts & Culture, Open Mic, Theology & Worldview

Open Mic: A Promise Well-Kept by Julia Dudek

The battle was far from over. Our forces were failing rapidly.

How much more of this can I stand? I thought. Wearily, I settled into a fighting stance once more. The enemy had retired, giving us a much-needed respite. Now they had regrouped and threatened my small squadron once more. As I drew my sword, I fingered with my left hand the tiny silver crown pinned to my shirt.

It was a promise, I thought. Reassured, I turned to face the battle.

The enemy captain stared hard at me, his cold and piercing gray eyes examining my small body. I smiled, knowing what he was thinking. Yes, I might be slight—but my ability was not physical. Around me, I had the support of faithful friends. My own heart I could not depend on—from many years; I knew not to trust its weak faith. But above all, I had the promise of the king, symbolized in the little crown I wore.

A whistle, and I jumped aside just in time as his sword swooped through the air. Training took over as we fought, my sword matching his, blow for blow. A few minutes of furious fighting, and we each parted, breathing hard.

“Why do you do this to yourself?” The captain’s voice was strangely soft.

“We have a promise,” I answered, half unwillingly.

“And what assurance do you have,” he said, almost, almost kindly, “that your promise will be kept? Come with me. You can see for yourself; you can feel with physical reality that I have great things in this life. What’s more, I’m having fun, doing everything I have ever wanted to do, and there is nothing in my way.”

“Can your fun compare with the joy of being loved by the King himself?” I asked. “I trust Him—and even if I didn’t, it’s a risk worth taking.”

“It is a risk for yourself; yes, that can be understood. But your family! Must you drag them into it too? If it is so wonderful, cannot they find it for themselves?”

“I cannot force it upon them,” I replied, stung by his gentle words. “But I trust in the promise, and I will share that joy with them while I may.”

“And your son? Does he truly fight here, risking his life by his own will, or is he merely following an impulse put there by yourself?”

A wave of doubt assailed me as I looked at my young son, barely eighteen, fighting with the light of battle in his eyes. He looked over at me.

“Courage, Father!” he cried, his eyes lighting with love. “Remember the promise!”

But the enemy captain rallied with the doubts.

“And how do you know?” he demanded. “How do you know the King is real? How do you know He has any reward to give you? How do you know He is not a traitor planning to kill you? What would you say if I told you that you are about to die?”

With each question, I was driven a step backwards, realizing with horror my inability to disprove any of these questions.

I tried to say, “I trust,” but the words would not come.

Darkness seemed to fall about me as I reeled. The captain drew his sword. The look of utter hate in his eyes rallied me, and I whispered the last part of the oath I had taken…

“And may the Lord do so to me and more also if aught but death part me from Him…”

For an instant, I had a vision of a cross, blood-stained, bearing an utterly limp body.

“He is DEAD!” the captain hissed.

The words hit me like a blow. Above me, as if in slow motion, I saw his sword raised, slowly beginning to fall. But with it came clear thought.

He is alive, I thought, and that is all that matters. I raised my own sword to block his blow. In horror, I saw my sword shatter and his blade continue to fall. I heard my son’s despairing cry. With a certainty beyond all others, I knew that there was only one place to look for help.

“My Lord and my God!” I screamed. A wave of pain hit me, and I sank to my knees as blackness overwhelmed me.

 

Slowly, slowly, light returned. I opened my eyes and discovered that I was kneeling on meadow grass. Footsteps sounded, and still half-dazed, I looked up. The battlefield was deserted and silent.

A tall man approached me, dressed in blue and white. His face was so noble that I dropped my eyes, unable to look at him.

Surely, I thought, he will pass me by. What is a common soldier to a kingly man like that?

But no! He stopped in front of me. Trembling, I bowed my head.

Two firm and gentle hands were placed on my shoulders, bearing a surprisingly heavy weight. With fear, I looked up to meet two eyes that were absolutely burning with love. When at last I tore my eyes away from them, the first thing I saw was the silver crown he wore. The High King! Now I was truly in terror for my life. All the doubts I had ever had flew into my mind as I waited helplessly for what I was certain would be a well-deserved and sharp reprimand.

He smiled, and squeezing my shoulders, saying in low but powerful tones that made the ground under me shake, “Well done, my son.”

My eyes blurred with tears. He took my hand, gently, and raised me up. I would have dropped to my knees once more, but with another smile that sent pangs of joy to my very heart, He supported me.

“You have fought your fight,” He said, “you have kept your faith, assailed by many difficulties. Now it is time to rest.”

With gentle fingers He took the tiny crown-shaped pin from my coat, the assurance of a promise withheld for so long. In His hands it became a full-sized crown, a promise at last well kept, which He placed on my head. Taking my hand, He led me forward to where I could now see a beautiful gate, carved of pearl and inlaid with gold, standing before us. Together we entered.

A music that I had never heard before, in all its glory, swirled around me and my heart swelled with joy. I knelt at His feet, and there I will remain, beyond the end of time itself…

You too may await that day. Fight your battle, and “Hold fast that thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” No matter what you face, always remember, “Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy cometh in the morning.”

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Meet the Author

How old are you?
I’m fifteen.

Where do you live?
I live in Eastern Pennsylvania, about an hour away from Philly, with my parents, one sister, and four adorable hens.

What classes are you taking with TPS?
I’m only taking one class with TPS this year – Spanish 4/5 with Señor Poortenga.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is probably the way my characters bully me. It sounds silly, but they have an odd way of doing the most unexpected things to my stories. The convolutions they put me through are really shameful. 😉

4 Comments

  1. This is beautiful and so so encouraging! Well done 😃

  2. Thank you Lilwen! I love to write 🙂

  3. Nice! I also raise chickens and they are so much fun. Do you raise egg-layers or meat birds?

  4. Wow! This is So good!