Chapter 1: Signs
Peter looked longingly on his father’s ancestral home as it burned.
Those claiming to be children of fate yet again leaving their mark against humanity…
Peter started as a hand gently gripped his left shoulder.
“Fear not Peter… Those responsible will be found.”
Peter gripped firm at the familiar hand of his loving wife Sarah, with his own right hand. Sarah, knowing full well his thoughts, drew the man slowly from his trans-fixation.
“We must not forget Peter, that we cannot let anger change who we are…”
Peter turned around to his left to face her.
Sarah smiled assuredly on Peter’s grim look, of emotionless expression…
“You are too good for me Sarah… Any word from Joseph?” Peter asked concerned, as he looked about him to find recognition of the gathering, by their clothes and their faces…
“Worry not Peter,” Sarah chided, “Joseph will be here, and he brings along with him a surprise.”
Peter grimaced hard on this thought- a familiar expression now on his face of thoughts on his older brother Joseph bringing him another unwanted surprise.
Sarah slugged the man in the left arm, causing an immediate reaction.
“Hey?!” Peter blurted aloud, causing numbers of eyes to fast upon them.
Sarah led the man away rubbing his arm, as friends and neighbors giggled and whispered on the man’s entertaining plight.
Carried upon the winds of an early Spring Maine morning, Peter caught words of comfort as if someone he knows walks close behind…
Watch for the signs of his coming… The Holy Spirit is with you, and all good things will guide you to where you need to be.”
Peter, the Christian man being well experienced in these spiritual encounters, he kept true to his learned patience and to his calmness in composure. The cool spring morning winds behind gently carrying him and his wife Sarah along the way.
United Express Airlines Flight,
Saint Petersburg To Tel Aviv
Economy Class Cabin
Joseph looked warily out the left side port airplane window, a sick feeling in his stomach. His favorite niece and stewardess of his flight, bringing him some hope in form of airplane flight motion sickness relief, the man turned from the window drawing down the blind.
Ruth shook her head on the man’s pale dreading expression.
“Joseph, if you keep looking out the window, you are just going to get sicker.”
The fifty-year old teacher managed a smirk on his stricken face, as he eyed the medicine- in her hand.
“Dramamine is all I have… You’re lucky I bring my own supply.” Ruth scolded.
Joseph accepted the bottle of medicine graciously.
“I was changing positions, and the clouds caught my attention…” Joseph challenged.
“My favorite uncle… eyes in the sky, and his head in the clouds, and still; he gets airsick- when he flies…” Ruth teased.
Joseph teased back, “Well Ruth, at least the saltine crackers that you gave me has spared and on-board sickness bag.”
Ruth smiled wide, “Yeah, I believe that we can both be happy for that.”
Joseph popped the medicine bottle open with ease, as Ruth continued- on her way toward the front of the plane, on her regular rounds.
Ruth looked at the time, and a thought now quickly occurred to her.
“Joseph?” The woman queried, “Did you tell Peter on our change of plans?”
The man grimaced visibly on the question.
“No. I forgot… I’ll contact Pete, as soon as we get to the airport… Pete has been looking- for some vacation time. Maybe he can meet us in Jerusalem.”
Ruth smiled encouragingly, hoping silently on success of this thought. Peter’s wife Sarah, she has been one of her best friends for longer than the two would ever care to admit, and truth to be told; although she would never ever admit this claim openly to Joseph, her mother and father- they love her to no end
Joseph now closes his eyes to recollect on the curious images he immediately recognized, as seen to be drawn out among the cirrus clouds. To him, a man of faith and of ministry; he could see these insights as being signs. Of course, the man out of concern for his family and his friends at present, Pastor Joe keeps these things to himself.
Joseph, he has always had this gift, and his parents, they did not like him to ever speak of it; for they were already facing heavy criticism from their own parents and from their long list of associated peers. Their position to seek faith in Christianity, it was not to be the preferred choice- of those believed to be one people under God.
United Express Airlines Flight,
Saint Petersburg To Tel Aviv
First Class Cabin
Noah looked to his wife Jezibel a happy man…
On their second year of marriage, God had blessed them with- one daughter and with two sons, each only seven months apart…
Vacation, this was their purpose; the couple here on their tenth year, on this last flight the two would take, before returning home to their nanny and to their children…
Noah and Jezibel, they are both known to be, what their neighbors would say: “modestly- rich, and all- of their children’s needs, and all- of their cares are well taken care of, even in their- continuing absence…
The two, they do not like leaving their children at this point in their lives, but their pastor, and even their parents, suggested that it was a time to: get away- from it all, that they can reflect- on all the good things that have come their way…
The two, they had both felt that they were living life in a happy marriage, and yet- in their lives these days, there was some friction over moving to live out the rest of their days in Jezibel’s country… Israel, and to her parent’s home in the city of Jerusalem…
These mild-tempered multi-family arguments, they were cause of many bad dreams, and- Noah, he was not readily known as a person who regularly dreams…
On top of these problematic troubles, Noah now forty years in- age, he has a genuine fear of flying…
Arguments replay in the man’s mind- making no end of his current discomfort… Jezibel- held his right hand, as he waited for his Melatonin to work through his system and ease his flight anxiety…
Noah thought musingly to himself on being thankful that he has been experiencing no air sickness, as he continually dreads the pictured image of the look on the face of an all too familiar passenger, that sits only two cabins away from theirs on his return from the restroom. This sickly passenger, he did not seem to be doing too good.
Noah whispered to his wife, as she drifted off to sleep, “Of all of my gifts Jez, I really and truly could have done without the photographic memory…”
Noah warily drew himself into a still silence, his wife, she was now fast asleep. The long- lasting effects of the prescription anxiety medicine, now flowing through his system, making him drowsy enough to close his own. His natural fears still forcing the man’s own eyes to wage battle against him.
Talking to someone while in flight- especially to his wife, it seems to quite literally make him feel better; his assigned psychiatrist on the other hand, how he wishes he could forget about- her all together, she told him that one of the best ways to defeat the anxiety caused by aviophobia is by facing the fears one has and by putting these fears aside with the power of the mind and not by relying too much on medicine.
Sleep, today it is a welcome comfort… Time to rest, and a time to dream…
Unexpected to the passengers, an explosion jolted the plane…
Noah was immediately awakened from his rest. Screams filled the cabins from starboard- to port.
Noah’s wife Jezibel, she was not in her seat, and Noah felt pinned to his own.
“Jez… Jezibel?!” Noah attempted to shout out- above the noise and the chaos, his throat- parched from his medication.
Noah closed his eyes, the man succumbing to his deepest fears; this flying fright was not- the life he had ever wanted to live or to make…
A calmness slowly washed over him as he did the only thing he could think of doing. The man prayed…
To his surprise, the frightened man now realized- something that he had never considered before. He reached again for his wife’s hand. Jezibel’s hand, it was right where she had last left it when falling to sleep- resting comfortably on the arm of her seat.
“Noah?”, a familiar voice now called to him. “Fear not of these phantasms of fear, for on this flight, and on this day- all will be safe.”
Noah opened his eyes again to see Jezibel once again beside him, and the passengers now gone from his sight.
“Remember Noah, I will be with you- always.” The voice calling out to him again reached him, as his medicine now drew him- back to a deep comforting rest. Jezibel now stirred awake as her husband slowly released his fear induced grip off from her hand- and heard him mumbling an all too familiar word beneath his breath… “Father.”
New Church of The Holy Spirit
Once, long ago; the total human population of the city Bakersfield was just under seventy thousand. Today, one hundred and twenty-seven thousand live and work in this- poverty stricken place that so many good people call home.
Not only have high levels of poverty been a continuing complication in Bakersfield from- time to time, but there has also been an ongoing problem, concerning the populace; that is: more- spiritual than economic in unified consideration.
Bakersfield, it has been and still is, one of the cities with the least amount- of churches.
This is not to say that the people of Bakersfield California are lacking in faith in any way. These churches old and new, they have been known to be over-crowded at times during their two days of regular service.
Sirens disrupt a once peaceful gathering. Several Christians finding faith in a new church, to be now turned away by members from a California Special Weapons and Tactics Team.
S.W.A.T. has been contacted to deal with a threat, that now has barricaded himself with a- number of hostages, inside the church. Or so, this is what the people gathered believed.
Captain Rachel Montgomery quickly checked her side-arm, as an aid helped her to secure the straps of her body armor.
A young man in police uniform, slowly approached her. At a hasted sideways glance, she recognized this officer as being new to her department.
“You’re new… What’s your name Lieutenant?”
“Steele mam… Benjamin Steele…” The lieutenant offered up to his commanding officer without hesitation.
“How many hostages is the perp holding? Give me details.”
The lieutenant paused before speaking again. Rachel now gauged the young man’s, slow- timed reaction as being- not necessarily an obvious rookie- move, but a move that is immediately telling of one’s uncertainty.
“Lieutenant?” Captain Rachel Montgomery called on his attention patiently.
“There’s something strange here Captain…” Rachel’s eyes, they now met on to his, and- Rachel, the experienced police- woman she is, could see genuine fear in his eyes.
“Speak up lieutenant!”
The lieutenant nodded on her command.
“The perp captain, he has been screaming- that he didn’t do it, and that he will set fire to the church if he isn’t left alone.”
Applied crisis training quickly guides the thirty-one-year-old Mexican/American woman- to tactical thinking.
Captain Rachel Montgomery turned her attention to the S.W.A.T. team commander.
“Commander, I need two of your men with me, to move in on the suspect…” Rachel now- turned back to the lieutenant. “You too lieutenant- you’re with me.” Captain Rachel Montgomery motioned him to her side with a simple nod to her left.
“Keep your two men- at least six paces behind us commander… I have a gut feeling, that- this situation is not what it seems to be.”
Slowly the four moved in on the entry to the church. No signs of any active shooters or of any visible hostiles drawing them to immediate concern, their arms at the ready.
The lieutenant took the low position, as the captain led him in from the high.
The two moved in cautiously- without threat of danger. To their surprise, the suspect was kneeling before the altar, and it sounded as if he was praying. Rachel, she was taken back by this display.
Captain Rachel Montgomery- motioned the S.W.A.T. team members forward slowly, one- to each side- of the rows of pews. Rachel and the young lieutenant, they slowly- made their point of position forward, as they crept up the center aisle, moving toward the altar.
“Hands in the air and behind your back- now!” Rachel demanded of the stranger suspect. Four weapons now locked and ready to fire on the man at the slightest wrong movement.
The four officers were now taken by surprise- a brilliant flash of light, causing all four to- guard their eyes. Their fingers off the triggers, the light slowly cleared. The suspect, he now rose to his feet and screamed. “My eyes! God forgive me, my eyes! I am blind!”
“Captain?!” Lieutenant Benjamin Steele scanned the two pews closest to him as his eyes- slowly cleared, his gun still aimed at the suspect. “The hostages! All I see is their clothes! Where are their bodies?!”