by Z. B. McClure
My God, Isaac thought, rubbing his sweaty palms together, what's happening to the room? What's happening to me!
He had just walked across the floor and found himself standing in the front of the bathroom mirror looking into his own eyes. They seemed to belong to someone else and that made is heart race . His thoughts drifted back to the dusty streets of Afghanistan, back to his best friend John Edwardson and the scene that haunted him now...his best friend of twenty four years being cut down by enemy fire!
Staring down at his hands now he noticed them trembling, and this terrified him. Won't I ever forget that day? His scalp tingled and seemed to squeeze him like one of his old Army helmets.
He jumped into a defensive posture.
"Hey man, don't go all crazy on me...it's only me!"
Isaac looked up and saw one of his friends from college smiling at him.
"Are you alright man? I mean, you look a little off color or something. You feeling o.k?"
Isaac relaxed now, returning the smile, hearing himself saying that he was o.k. "Just thinking, that's all. So what's up?"
"What's up?! Remember what tonight is?" He gave Isaac a poke to the ribs and laughed.
"Sorry man, but I don't feel like going out tonight- maybe later dude."
"Are you kidding me? You're kidding me right?"
"Look, John...I just can't do this yet...cut me some slack man...get off my case!"
"John? John! Hello this is Benjamin? John Edwardson has left the building..."
Isaac threw a punch that landed on Benjamin's jaw before he could even think. His friend was crumpled on the floor now with his hand rubbing his mouth. A little blood was smudged near his bottom lip. Isaac stared in disbelief.
"You better get some help man!" He rose to his feet and hastily made an exit.
My life is ruined. It's never going to get any better. His head began to spin and he stared down at his bruised knuckles and was feeling so numb.
I was supposed to have your back John...you were always there for me...and I should have been...the one not to have come back! "I can't bring you back" he mumbled, feeling sick to his stomach, feeling as if he were tired of going on, tired of living.
The five foot nine veteran sank down to the floor and held his head between his trembling hands now and wanted to sob out loud, but couldn't. He felt as if he were a ghost, it seemed as though he was fading away, and he was doomed somehow. Oh God, I don't wanna go on!
The vortex had opened up inside and he felt himself slipping into it. The room slowly spun around his head as if he were a kid on the merry-go-round...spinning, spinning...round and around. What? He tried to focus but couldn't. He had twenty-twenty vision, but everything appeared a blurr! Oh God, oh God, I can't hold on much longer...
Just then his cell vibrated and he jumped, grabbing it out of his pocket. "Hello?"
"Hey, this is your lady, are you going to pick me up or what? Isaac are you there?"
What the? "Cynth? What are you talking about?"
"Babe, you forgot again...didn't you?"
He could hear her giggling. "I didn't forget! Honest!"
"Well if you didn't forget, you're doing a poor imitation of remembering babe!" She sighed.
"I'm not supposed to pick you up till eight!"
"You been sleeping? It's nine right now Isaac."
He glanced at his watch and had to look again because his friend Benjamin had just left the room at four o'clock, and it was ----NINE O'CLOCK!
"Isaac? Are you still there?"
"Look, I'm sorry honey, but I'm gonna have to make it up to you later. Something came up."
"Babe, you haven't been out of that apartment for over a week now. You o.k.?"
He turned his cell off now and curled up in a corner and was feeling so exhausted. Just let me go to sleep.
The room began turning around now...the vortex opened up beneath him, its darkness and power tugging him downward. His heart quickened and he felt as though he were dying. Help me Lord!
Suddenly, from the depths of his being, from his sunday school class of years ago, a voice spoke into the chaos pulling at his mind...
"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God..."
"All things?" Isaac was remembering.
He closed his eyes and wagged his head from side to side. Isaac was back in his third grade sunday school class now and his teacher Mrs. Paulie, was smiling as they all recited Romans chapter eight verse twenty-eight in unison. There was this cute little red headed girl with the most beautiful brown eyes smiling at him. WE KNOW...THAT ALL THINGS...WORK TOGETHER...FOR GOOD..."
Mrs. Paulie stopped the class with her hand and asked the class, "For what?"
"Good!" the class answered.
"Class, this is God speaking through His Written Word to you..."
"I don't know if I believe that God exists!" Isaac blurted out, wringing his hands together...
Just as clear as a bell the Scripture verse from class came back with resounding certainty:
"The fool has said in his heart 'there is no God' ".
Isaac felt as if his very soul was being sucked down into that vortex now...as if he were starting to plunge over Niagara Falls into a place from which there was no going back. Instinctively, he cried out to God for mercy! Terror seized him, and he cried out to God for help!
"Who shall seperate you from God's love for you? Shall tribulation, or distress?"
Isaac squeezed his eyes shut now, and looked to God. Standing to his right was the pretty little red-headed girl--Cindy--saying something to him now...
Her mouth was moving, but he couldn't hear her saying anything. "What?" he heard himself asking.
"Nothing" her soft, lilting voice answered. "God says that absolutely nothing can stop Him from loving you, Isaac!"
That stopped the vortex cold in its tracks.
"Cynthia is right." Mrs. Paulie agreed. "Isaac, God is in control of your entire life. And He loves you. Forever."
"But my best friend John..."
"It is appointed unto a man once to die.."
Isaac remembered that Scripture too. It meant that ultimately God alone decides the precise moment a person dies. Whether they die accidentally or take their own life.
"Hebews 9:27, is the adress of that promise, Isaac!"
The veteran noticed that he had stopped trembling.
"Isaac baby?" a voice mumured through the door of his apartment, "Can I come in?"
He opened the door and there stood his fiance' Cynthia looking into his eyes. He rubbed them and invited her in. Her hair was still as red as he remembered it looking when he had first met in her in Sunday School class so long ago. He noticed that the normal sparkle in her brown eyes was muted now by a look of concern .
"Isaac? I've been praying for you babe. It's not like you to cut me off when we're talking." He felt a lump in his throat and he took her hand gently.
"I'm so sorry Cindy." a tear was tickling its way down his cheek as he looked at the floor then back into her eyes. "I- I haven't been able to cope with what happened in the war...I really tried."
She pulled him close and nodded. "I know it was hard on you Isaac. By yourself, alone? It's just too much for any human to bear. No creature was ever meant by our Creator to carry such a burden by himself."
"I thought I should be able to..."
"Because you're a man?" she pursed her lips and smiled slightly.
He cocked his head to one side, clenching his jaw.
"Babe, the Lord wants you to trust Him with all of your cares! Not just some of them. There's nothing unmanly about leaning on Jesus."
"Besides," she added, "you have a lot of people- including me- who really do care for you. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Alright?"
Isaac nodded thoughtfully. "Cynthia, I am so glad that you've agreed to be my wife."
She smiled warmly and her eyes brightened.
There, that's what was so precious about her. He was going to take her out to dinner now, he just needed to be reminded that life goes on, and it's not ALL bad. He just needed to remember some of God's special blessings. He just needed to remember Jesus.
"I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto Him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles."
Psalm 34: 4-6
Copyright 2013 Z.B.McClure "VORTEX"