It's Finally Come to This
After that night in Capernaum, Malcus and Simay’s relationship seemed to become a little less tense. Simay still avoided her husband a lot of the time, but sometimes, when neither Seda nor Diana were there to interrupt them, the two sat and talked with one another about miscellaneous things. Malcus always hoped that Simay might let him talk about his new God with her, but to his dismay, every time he brought it up, she would stop him. This did not dissuade him of course, but in some ways it made his life harder than he had ever imagined that it could be. He could not speak freely about his most personal life-changing experience to the person who he loved most in all the world. Sometimes at night Malcus lay awake thinking – praying that Simay would accept the gift of God’s salvation, but day after day she showed no signs of having given her heart to Jesus.
Malcus continued his conversations with Sojourner, and the Ephesian kept on encouraging him to never give up on Simay. No matter how hard it was for Malcus to continue to try to show his wife the love of his God, he had to try. His wife’s – and very likely many other people’s souls lay in the balance.
But no matter what he did, Malcus could never seem to get another opportunity to talk with his wife the way he had for that one night in the Capernaum inn.
During the next several months afterward, Malcus was able to find work in Jerusalem and he and Simay were able to find an older house that needed some cleaning and fixing up, but that was in fairly good condition otherwise.
Sojourner’s plans were not so concrete and he did not know where he should go. He was convinced that he needed to be close by, but try as he might, he could not find another place to stay within a suitable distance from Malcus and Simay’s new home.
When Malcus learned of Sojourner’s plans he insisted that the man live with them. The only thing he would have to do was help Malcus build an extra room onto the house and contribute to the household duties. Sojourner gladly accepted this offer and was happy to sleep on the roof of the house until his own room had been completed.
Seda was also invited to stay with them, and even though Malcus objected to the arrangement, Simay’s hot displeasure over his ruling gave her the nerve to disobey him and even though he continually disputed Seda’s presence, the young woman continued to reside in his house. To make the situation worse, she showed no sign of intending to leave, which made Malcus all the more unhappy.
The months seemed to pass much too quickly for Malcus and much too slowly for Simay. The remainder of her pregnancy seemed to draw on and on and both she and her husband were anxious about the impending delivery – neither knowing quite what to expect.
They needn’t have worried. Because of Malcus’s Jewish blood, he was accepted in the community – despite the fact that he had married outside of his race, and outside the faith of Judaism. His friends were even willing to overlook his religious murmurings about the one called Jesus – at least for a while – so when it came time for Simay to have her child the midwives did not hesitate to come. Many anxious hours passed before one of the women announced to Malcus – and Seda and Sojourner – the happy news that Simay had given birth to a healthy son without complication and that Malcus could see her soon.
When the midwife stationed at the door finally allowed him to enter, Malcus quickly slipped through the door and over to his wife’s side. She held a sleeping baby boy nestled in her arms. The next thing that Malcus registered after seeing his wife and son was the fact that the room was peaceful. The darkness of Diana’s presence was curiously absent again. Where on earth did that spirit go when it was not with Simay or Seda? He shivered at the thought that the spirit might not be on this earth but back with its master for a while.
He forced his attention back to Simay.
Malcus stared wide-eyed at the new baby. Thoughts of the years to come swept through him like a cold whirlwind. What would this boy’s life be like? He stopped himself; he couldn’t think too much about what hadn’t happened yet. God had a plan for his son, he knew. What that plan was he wouldn’t know until God had accomplished it. He just had to trust that God would not fail to complete the work that He would soon begin in this child.
“Have you picked a named yet?” he asked Simay.
At the sound of her husband’s voice she looked up. “No… I’m not sure what to name him. After all, I’m Ephesian and you’re a Jew. Any name that I would choose might not be acceptable to anyone here in Jerusalem.” She said a little bit sadly.
Malcus smiled at Simay. “Would you like him to have an Ephesian name or a Jewish one?”
Simay’s face softened and brightened a little. “Well… Come to think of it, I don’t really know of any Ephesian names that I would want to name him. I always thought he would be a girl so I thought of names for a daughter – not a son.” She looked back at Malcus inviting his input.
“My… father’s name was Abraham. I know that you have a version of it in Ephesus, ‘Ibrahim.’ Would that be a good name for him?” He quickly added with a smile, “I think it wouldn’t be too strange for the local gossips.”
“Ibrahim” her son’s name rolled easily off her tongue – unlike the local language.
“Time to leave.” The command, clearly directed at Malcus, came from the midwife that had been outside the door.
Malcus nodded to the Hebrew woman, but before he left Simay he placed a loving hand on her shoulder, looked at her and whispered “I love you.”
As the door closed behind him, Sojourner and Seda crowded around him like children wanting to know everything he would tell them. It was the first time Seda had deigned to be near him since he had first met her.
“His name is Ibrahim and he’s sleeping.” Malcus summarized as he squeezed past the two well-meaning family friends and walked out the door of the house and into the semi-busy Jerusalem street. He needed some time to himself to think and pray.
Several hours later when Malcus returned to the house Simay was sleeping, Sojourner was chopping wood and Seda was busily cleaning the house. As soon as he walked into the building however, he felt his heart become heavy again with the sense that an unwelcome presence had returned. Diana was back from its wanderings. This time however, Malcus would not stand for the demon’s presence.
“Be gone, spirit!” he shouted.
Seda looked wide-eyed at the master of the house and her eyes darkened as Malcus continued.
“There is room for only one spirit in this house and it is not you!”
“By whose authority do you banish me, puny man?” the foul rumbling voice confronted him from the mouth of Seda.
“By the name of Jesus Christ the crucified One, I command you to leave!” he pointed a commanding finger out the door that he had just walked through.
The spirit huffed and rolled Seda’s eyes, but not without visible agony at the name of the Son. “You think that I can be dislodged so easily. “Think again, mortal. Your God will not let you send me from this woman.” Seda’s own finger pointed back at her. “I am here by her consent. To send me away, you must also send her away. Or convince her to disapprove of my residence.” The spirit cackled. “Your dear wife would be sorely displeased to find that you had sent her best friend away, especially now with a new son to care for in addition to her regular duties.” The evil thing continued triumphantly, “And your Simay would not take kindly to you banishing her dear goddess either.”
Malcus stared into Seda’s possessed eyes and prayed silently, “God, I don’t know what to do! This thing can’t stay here – especially not with my son, but if I send Seda away… I need to know what to do.”
To Malcus’s disappointment, no revelation instantly dawned in his troubled heart. But just then Sojourner burst through a side door, sweat running down his face and arms, ax in hand and ready to do battle with whatever had caused the commotion he had heard several seconds earlier. One look at Seda told him exactly what was going on.
“Spirit! Trouble this man no more!” Sojourner demanded.
“I only speak the truth, former servant of Diana.” The demon said sweetly, hitting the big Ephesian with the best weapon it had – his past.
Sojourner’s face fell at the remembrance of his former life, but in the next moment he abandoned the memory of his past for the reality of his redemption in Jesus.
“What I was no longer matters, servant of Satan! I am washed in the blood of the perfect Lamb and I am His servant now.”
The demon clicked Seda’s tongue at him. “Switching armies mid-war can get you killed, little man.” Seda’s dark eyes could have seared Sojourner’s soul if it had not been for the Spirit looking back at Seda through Sojourner’s eyes.
Seda’s body shivered again as she looked into the Ephesian’s eyes and suddenly the girl began to cower.
What the two men could not see was that the demon that had attached itself to Seda was being assailed at that very moment by two of the heavenly host, and although Seda could not see them, her possessor could. As the spirit beings did battle, Seda squealed in discomfort and pain.
When the demon that controlled Seda could not take the divine onslaught any more it fled screeching from its host saying, “You cannot forbid my return! She is willing! She is willing!”
Malcus looked at Sojourner in confusion. “What just happened?”
“The demon is not gone, my friend. It is only temporarily taken away, by God’s grace. Rest assured, it will return, and probably sooner than you or I would like to think. But for now, we will have peace in this house.”
Malcus nodded, still not understanding what he had witnessed, but accepting that God had been gracious and taken away the spirit that called itself Diana for a time. He prayed that its return would not be in the near future.
Malcus’s prayers were answered in a way and a blissful year passed without a sign of the tormenting devil. Even events in Jerusalem seemed to be looking up when it declared its independence from Roman rule. But in that year, Seda became more and more fractious and irritable. Malcus could do and say nothing that would please her. But just as Seda became more disagreeable, Simay became more soft-hearted toward her husband. Even though the nights were long with a one year old baby it gave Malcus and Simay time without Seda around to talk with one another.
The time alone together did them much good and during that year without Diana’s oppressive presence the two grew closer. But the day came when the peace was broken and another dark encounter with Seda revealed that Diana had once again returned to Malcus’s household.
Simay, even with the growing appreciation and respect that she had for her husband could not seem to see that having Seda around was an undesirable thing. After all, Seda had been the first one to choose to follow Simay and her goddess. She brushed aside Malcus’s concerns about Seda’s now-frequent bouts of bad temper and disagreeableness saying that “it’s only a passing phase,” whatever that was supposed to mean.
Another year passed with more and more frequent confrontations between Seda and Malcus and sometimes between Seda and Sojourner, but on all of those occasions Simay was mysteriously absent. Not once did she chance to walk in on the spiritual stalemates. Perhaps if she had she might have seen the validity of her husband’s discomfort at the continued presence of Seda in their household.
But despite the spiritual war in their home, God was gracious to Malcus and Simay and a couple of months before Ibrahim’s third birthday, a girl was born into their family. Perhaps partially in deference to her friend and partially in a moment of defiance towards Malcus, Simay named the girl Seda.
In spite of little Seda’s genetics, she bore the disposition of her namesake. Unlike her brother, the girl was continually discontented with everything.
Three and a half years passed this way, with the elder Seda always on edge, the younger Seda never content and Malcus feeling caught in the middle of everything. But perhaps there was some good that came out of it all. Malcus and Simay’s relationship continued to strengthen as did his friendship with the mysterious Sojourner, whose real name Malcus still did not know.
Because Malcus had little peace at home, he was forced to rely on his God for it, and he found that even though his house was in constant spiritual turmoil, he could trust God to give him the peace and wisdom he needed to deal with the ever-increasing problems that he faced.
Towards the end of the year, just after his daughter’s fourth birthday Malcus began to hear rumors of zealots attacking Roman soldiers, trying to prevent them from retaking now-free Israel. His fears for his family began to become more poignant when he overheard one of the other men talking to some of the nearby workers harvesting the field he was working in.
“The soldiers stationed in Syria are retaliating against the interference, destroying our food stores as they advance on Jerusalem. If you’re going to get out of the city, now would be a good time to do it, before those cursed Romans get too much farther.”
“The Zealots will turn them back. It’s only one group of Romans anyway.” Another man replied. “And we can always grow more food – especially here.”
“We’ll see.” The first man replied.
Upon hearing this exchange Malcus’s heart seemed to clench inside his chest and from then until the end of that day he prayed harder than he had ever prayed before that God would keep his family safe from whatever was coming.
Five months later, many thousands of Jews were dead – either of starvation or by the sword of the Romans.
“OPEN UP!” a fist pounded on the door of the house. Even though it was the middle of the night, Malcus threw on his clothes and was at the door in half a minute, sword at the ready.
He opened the door and was greeted by a face full of determination, strength and wild fear. The man held a bloodied sword in one hand and a brightly burning torch in the other.“They’re coming! The Romans! Get out of the city!” he trumpeted in Malcus’s face before sprinting down the street to the next house.
“It’s finally come to this.” Malcus thought and then whispered, “Siege…”