The U.S. of After Chapter 27


Clayton

I was bound and determined to get Jacob alone so’s I could talk to him.

It seemed as if people really liked him here at this camp.  I don’t think he’d ever really been here, but I figured he just had a way with people.  Boy, was I shootin’ in the dark.  He had been given something much more real and turns out he weren’t the only one.

I waited ‘till he walked on down to the river to wash his face and that’s when I joined him.  At first I didn’t think he noticed me, then he spoke in a real quiet voice but one that sounded very similar to my Dad’s.

“I see you are a man of faith,” he said.  “Clayton, is it?”

“Yeah,” I said, soundin’ as I did when my Dad would get on to me for somethin’.

“God led me to you, Clayton,” said Jacob, standin’ from a crouching position and puttin’ his gentle hand on my shoulder.  His other hand held a staff made from a small hickory tree.  I suddenly thought about when my grandpa grafted a waxed pecan branch into the top of one when I was a little boy.  That big ole tree was prolly still there.

“God?” I asked.

“The Living God, our Father in Heaven.  You have trusted in his grace.  I can tell that about you based on the way you talk, the way you live.”

“I try,” I said, a little embarrassed.  “I figure we just take one day at a time and don’t worry ‘bout nothin’ and then he kinda takes care of the rest.”

“Exactly.  Except that reading your Bible every day and praying every day isn’t enough.  It is a relationship that we have with him.  It is a way of life that refuses sin and realizes that we have died to this world, that we have been crucified with him on the cross, that our old self is gone and that Jesus is now living out his life in this dead husk of a body.”

“I trusted him with my life about a year ago, after all this nonsense happened.  It’s what’s kept me from goin’ outta my gourd.”

He laughed a little funny laugh.  It wasn’t mockin’ me or nothin’, just kind of that laugh your Mom gives you when you mention some gift you want for Christmas and she’s already bought it but won’t tell you about it.

“Remember the story of Moses?” he asked, grabbin’ his hickory walking stick with both hands and leanin’ heavily on it.  It looked as if he was holding up a lot of stuff on his shoulders and just needed a rest.  “Moses was a man who was a murderer, a persecutor of his own people, a simple sheepherder, but God did amazing things through him.  He used this simple flesh and blood man to part the sea, bring water from the rock, call bread down from heaven and many other miraculous things.  Those were extreme times.  I would argue that we live in times just as extreme.  The world is ending, son.  The war is over but the battles are winding down and getting more and more intense.”

“I can see that,” I said, scratchin’ my chin stubble.  “I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff.  Worse than most of the bad stuff that happened in the stories in hist’ry class.”

“True,” he said.  “Many more bad things are coming.  There is a power rising in the east that I have heard some speak of around camp fires.  It is growing in strength.  I was told to go there three years ago.”

“The guy who told you this…was his name Gabe?” I asked.

He smiled wide and I noticed that one of his back teeth was missin’, the others were kinda yellow.  His eyes, as blue as the river used to be I suppose, glimmered and shined like the peace in my heart.

He knew.

“I have to go to New Orleans,” he continued.  “There I will find what destiny awaits me.  I have heard that there is food and shelter there.  Possibly if we go together, I can show you what I have learned about fighting the battle that is unseen.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He turned and walked to the water’s edge, placed a booted foot in the glassy water and flipped out a little of it, sprayin’ some droplets across the surface.  He turned and looked directly at me.

“Paul said we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of the air.”

“Yeah,” I said.  “I read that part a few times.  Are you sayin’ this Gabe fella is part of that?”

“Yes,” he said, as he walked toward me and put that gentle hand on my shoulder.  He locked his steady, clear eyes on my face.  “If you have enough faith, you can indeed move mountains, friend.  God does all of it, but we are his children and he listens to a diligent child.  If it is his will, and it is definitely his will to win, the battle belongs to the Lord.”

He walked away from me then.  I went back to find my old Targus backpack, dug through it and pulled out my Bible.  It was time to study it to find out what he meant.

I found it on page 1347.

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