The Tall Man And The Preacher
He was a tall man, who seemed even taller because of his long, lean and lanky gauntness. His stride was strong and brisk, filled with intent and purpose. A cloud seemed to follow him, hovering just above his head, seeming to forecast impending doom. No one in this poor ghetto neighborhood had ever seen him before. They stared at him, not daring to question his presence. The neighborhood toughs glared at his striding figure, but something in the strangers countenance forbade confrontation. They whispered fearfully among themselves, careful not to be overheard.
The tall man continued his walk, oblivious to the malevolent eyes piercing his back. He came to a stop at a neighborhood storefront church. It had been there for many years, a forlorn, lonely and unassuming edifice in the midst of purgatory. It had done its' part in sheltering and nurturing the few lost and hopeless souls who had, as a last resort wandered in between, and through its flimsy wooden, twin doors, in search of peace, A peace they had found. Its pastor was old, antiquated. He led his flock with the compassion of a shepherd for his sheep. 40 years, he and his wife had served the Lord in their ministry. She, working just as hard as he. Between the two of them, they had brought many souls to God.
Now today, the tall man confronted the old pastor. Until now, no one had seen the tall man's face. Though he wore no hat and his face was bare, without even a trace of beard, no one had found the temerity to gaze upon his face. For the first time, the tall man allowed his visage to be inspected, As they gazed into each other's eyes. a faint chill ran down the old man's back, and the thought: "This is no ordinary man." ran through his mind. But he gave his fear to the Lord and faced the tall man.
Pain, misery, death and hell were written in the man's arrogantly handsome face. A beautiful, sensuous face, filled with unfathomable desires, pleasures, ecstasies, but at the same time, the face of ageless corruption and unspeakable destruction. The face of a demon. But the old pastor was undaunted. "In Jesus Holy Name, what do you want?": he said.
The tall man smiled, if you could call it that. It looked more like the snarl of a wild beast. "I want your soul. And after that, I want your flock, and after that, I will destroy this church and this whole neighborhood. It all belongs to me, I am Legion"!
But the old pastor remained strong. He feared no one, but his Lord. "Get thee behind me, Shaitan, The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not fear, nor shall I grieve. By your evil tricks, I will not be deceived. By Christ's Name, be gone, foul serpent. I denounce you, in Jesus Name".
For the first time, the tall man wavered. Red hot, angry fire, flashed from his eyes, which now smouldered like burning coals in a self consuming blaze. From his throat came a deep guttural growl. His long fingernails curved and cut into his balled up fists. No longer beautiful, his demeanor grew dark and menacing, and he seemed ready to pounce like a hungry tiger, upon the hapless old man.
But the old pastor stood his ground and began to pray, the Psalm of David: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for thou art my rod and my staff and thou shalt comfort me". On he prayed and as he prayed, his voice grew louder and stronger and as he prayed, a strong wind came and blew through the church, and the sound of thunder rumbled and lightening flashed and where the man stood, rain poured down in a torrential flood. The old pastor's hair stood straight up on his head, and a light shone in a halo above him, and he was dry to the bone. And still he prayed on.
The tall man drenched and wet, shriveled down to the floor and on all fours crawled backwards out of the twin doors, no longer striding with intent or purpose. The neighborhood toughs watched in awe as the tall man they had feared, crawled backwards down the street, metamorphed into a rat, and scurried down an open sewer.
The old pastor finished his prayers, combed and brushed his hair down, turned off the church lights, locked the flimsy, wooden, twin doors and started toward home. The neighborhood toughs bowed their heads in reverence and renewed respect, as he walked by.