Not a Sparrow
By Hilkiah Angell
This vow that Joseph made was a curse on himself. It steered his life toward a downward spiral. It manifested itself in many ways. Joseph began to get very obnoxious and rebellious in school. He always managed to overcome success with failure. The people around him would say that he was young and he'd outgrow it. People tended to forgive him easily because of the charm he possessed. But from that bitter root sprung a continuous cycle of rebellion, rebuke and rejection.
Rejection hovered over Joseph, never missing an opportunity to strike. It never missed a chance to inflict further damage on Joseph. It would scream in one of his ears and then the other: "You are no good, nobody likes you, you are useless, doomed to failure." This heartless beast of the underworld is a large dark mass of a monster. It has yellow putrid eyes, and very long talons. It has a shapeless face and a sharp nose. Once the ground of Rejection has been cultivated, he steers his prey toward his partner, Suicide.
Suicide would never have it's chance to strike Joseph as long as God's hand was upon the boy. The damage was still evident. The inner turmoil the demons had created boiled over and showed up in Joseph's reckless and destructive behavior.
I sent Shammah and Benaiah to spy out the enemies' camp at Bedlam. They returned and reported two clashes with the enemy troops. He said the enemy was getting bolder, due to greater numbers and strength. Needless to say, there are two less enemy troops to deal with. Benaiah reported sighting Rebellion and Rejection in a meeting with Alchemy. Alchemy was the power that years ago had led men who were named after him to invent the hellish potion called distilled spirits. It has provided the way for the demons to be actually ingested. The act of imbibing was an invitation by the will of the imbiber. Once invited in, they have a perfect cover to work on the will of their host.
I was immediately alerted to the coming plans. Alcohol would lead the next attack. I would only hope that Joseph would reject it of his own will. Free will makes man so different from the Angels. Free will is a precious gift from God. It enables man, who was made in the image and likeness of God, to inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Misused, it brings eternal separation from God, a horror I refuse to think about.
I took the evening watch from Shammah, just as Joseph was travelling to a friend's house. On the way, I spotted a gruesome trio hovering over his friend Tommy's house. In a flash I put myself opposite them in a confrontational gesture. I would have liked to provoke them to attack. Alcohol spoke first. "Hillkiah, I have not seen you since our great battle in the prohibition days." He said, hissing. He had taken a severe beating when I threw him down from his perch, for a time at least. He stood with his claws grasping a red crescent scimitar, while sulphurous smoke oozed out of his nose. In a rasping voice he cried, "I'll have my revenge! The day will soon come when you and I battle again!" His red eyes were ablaze. Yellow fluid dripped from his eyes and streamed down his cheeks. He flicked his oversized tongue back and forth beneath his bulbous red nose. Rejection chided, "Let us take him on, let's finish him! Whattsamatta, are you still afraid of him?"
Alcohol whipped around and with the back of his claw, knocked Rejection into a backward spiral, shouting epithets of the dire consequences his underling would face if he dared to speak again.
The shaken ruler of darkness gathered himself up and spoke again, this time in my direction. "We know your mission is of a defensive position, otherwise you would have confronted us long ago. I have my rights! People like me. They invite me. Stay out of my way or you will meet the sharp edge of my sword!" I was under direct orders from above to stand aside. I was to watch what I was sure would be Alcohol's seduction of Joseph. Joseph and Tommy were in the kitchen rummaging through the cabinets. They found bottles of liquor. I heard Tommy say "Just a sip to see what it tastes like. Let's try it." They did try just a taste of liquor that day. The following days brought a can of beer, then two. With that came a whisper to their ears. "This feeeels good. Makes you high...."
Joseph came to his seventeenth birthday and his fondest wish awaited him in the driveway. It was a 1951 Mercury convertible. I shuddered at the thought of Joseph driving that machine. It was capable of great speeds, and I knew that worse things were about to come. It was to be a friend of Joseph's eighteenth birthday party. In honor of the celebration, a few cases of beer were presented to the celebrants. Shammah reported to me that Joseph had gotten drunk, and was the life of the party. He had become outgoing, funny, and he even kissed the girls. All this while Alcohol had been whispering in his ears: "This is great! You are self-assured. You are confident. This is the way it's supposed to be. You feel like a real person now."
The next day many familiar spirits were out talking to Joseph's friends. One after another Joseph's friends came to him, saying how funny he had been at the party. With each congratulatory remark he received, it gave Alcohol a stronger control on him. Benaiah just shook his head and remarked: "A lightning car mixed with white lightning. Where will this end?" I sent Shammah and Benaiah to scout out all of Joseph's relatives and friends. Then they were to go to the church to seek out our allies there. It might be possible to urge some people to pray, and perhaps even get some preaching through to Joseph.
We assembled later that night at his house. Benaiah reported that although many of his relatives, including his parents, had the saving knowledge of Jesus, not one of them knew anything about the Word of God, or effective prayer. Shammah reported that no one in the local church had any knowledge of the Savior. They had apparently been studying Philosophy and Psychology. I knew these to be the inventions of the enemy. I asked him about their knowledge of the Bible. Shammah replied, "The headman thinks it's allegorical, and that Jesus was a prophet. The others believe that one is saved by their own works, and attending church on a regular basis." I concluded from this, that we were in for the long haul.