Psalm 27 v 1-8: ‘The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Saviour.’
As Miles Leonard walked, that very Psalm was repeating itself over and over. As he stepped up the darkened alleyway, the rain was piercing and the seventy-seven year old was struggling to see clearly.
‘If I see tomorrow I’ll get a CAT scan,’ he thought to himself.
He and Derek Greyer had arranged to meet here earlier but now he’d started to regret it. He could see Derek’s car, a black Bentley Continental. As Miles walked past it, Derek poked out of a recess in the alleyway wall and startled Miles.
‘Hear and pay attention. Do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills.’ Miles was nervous but was not afraid of Derek.
‘Don’t give me your petty scripture; it has no valid petition against me. You’re a weak old man. I give you one thing, you have great faith and a lot of patience. But I’m immortal. You will die soon. And your son, Paul, looks like he’ll be in God’s glory before you, Oh great Milo.’
‘Oh, we’re using our formal titles, eh Deygar.’
As Deygar stood there covered with designer labels, draped in wealth and with his gloating – the man was so full of himself, so full of arrogance – Miles had to say something just to take the chip from his huge padded shoulder.
‘I know God will bring good from my son’s life-threatening illness.’
‘There it is again your great faith. If I had a son to pass on my knowledge–’
Milo butted in. ‘What knowledge?’
‘As I was saying, great knowledge, I would be questioning God and asking why, not seeking the good that can come from it. Just face it; you have no son to pass on the mission. It’s over. This town and great city is mine. Who is going to stop me?’
Milo was struggling for something to say, to put Deygar in his place, but with his burden he was low on comebacks until his heart quickened and his faith rose.
‘Someone will stop you, I have faith in that.’ He could hear himself saying the words but was wondering where this declaration of faith was coming from. He also wondered where was this ‘someone’ who will stop Deygar, perhaps it was prophetic what he was saying, he hoped so for the sake of the church and the city.
‘Only what you call a miracle will do. What, with you in your late seventies? God only promises three score and ten. You’re on borrowed time old man.’ Everything that came from Deygar’s mouth was to bring Milo’s faith to a dangerously low level. Deygar continued his insults to bring the seventy year-old down and it was starting to grate on him.
‘You spend years training a son to replace you and it looks like it will be a complete waste of time.’ Deygar stepped in closer to Milo. ‘He is going to die soon; the cancer is terminal isn’t it?’
Milo was at a low point. Faith-wise, with every word that came from Deygar, Milo struggled for faith.
‘If only your father could see you now.’ This was Milo’s attempt to strike a blow to Deygar’s ego.
‘Yes, yes. If only my father could see me, he would be proud of what he accomplished before his untimely demise.’
‘Proud? ‘Proud of what?’ You and Paul were born within months of each other. Your destiny should have been brotherhood in Christ not enemies of darkness and light.’
‘Yes but you put a stop to that when we came of age, when you killed my father with your sword.’ Deygar was starting to lose his edge and the coolness was being replaced with anger and rage.
‘He was an object of mercy who should have known wrath. We both knew that your coming of age would bring your father to take control of the dark Lords and try to influence the government of this city.’
‘That’s why I’m pleased that I don’t have to fight anymore, unlike my father, because my opponent is going to die naturally. I do believe Paul to have been a great warrior when having a great teacher and father but who’s to know eh. It was never meant to be.’ Deygar’s ego was back and Milo’s faith was showing signs of weakening. Deygar could tell and was most pleased with himself. ‘You have eighteen months before the stars and moons rise, and then we will rise in power and take over.’
‘You and your superstitions: ‘stars and moons.’ What are you on, Derek?’
Deygar reached for the hilt of his sword under his long designer trench coat. Milo froze, stepped back and reached for his sword.
‘Hey! I thought this was going to be a bloodless meeting,’ Milo said worriedly.
‘For me perhaps.’ And Deygar pulled his sword from its sheath several inches. Milo does the same, but with great fear; beads of sweat begin to appear on Milo’s brow.
‘Scared Milo?’ Is that sweat I see? Nervousness: that can only mean one thing – you are fearful of me; you are doubting your very faith. You are a weak old man and now your faith is weakening also.’
‘Raising my sword is my last option, Derek.’ Milo called him by his correct name, the name given to him by his mother and father, but it did nothing to calm him. ‘I’m sweating because this jacket is too hot.’ With that said, Milo swept off his jacket and pulled his sword clean from its sheath. Deygar, taken by surprise, stepped back and fell over the kerb stone on the edge of the footway.
Milo just laughed to himself and replaced the sword into its sheath. He picked up his jacket and turned to start walking towards his car. Deygar, feeling stupid, pulled himself up, pulled the sword free and struck Milo from behind, but even with Deygar’s speed Milo removed his sword, turned and guarded his neck just before Deygar’s sword hit it. Their swords clashed and they both stepped back, a sword’s length between them.
‘Still need the practise don’t you, Derek.’ Milo’s faith had risen to new heights; the heat of battle always quickened his heart.
‘I have all the practise I need right here.’ Deygar was determined to teach Milo a lesson for the embarrassing fall he just had.
Milo’s chest was pounding, and he began to cough. Deygar took the opportunity to strike again.
Their swords clashed once again; they were nose to nose, both clearly seeing each other’s eyes and more importantly each other’s swords. Each of their swords were inscribed. Deygar read the cutting edges of Milo’s sword; it read, ‘Keep this at your side at all times, God’sword’. The last part was deliberately mis-spaced to spell Godsword.
Milo reads Deygar’s and it read ‘For the days are coming when darkness will rise up’. As they both read each other’s swords they were quickly reminded of their missions and both stepped back, replacing their swords as they did so.
‘I should strike you down right here right now, but it seems unfair with me being so young compared to you, a man of many years. I think I’ll have more pleasure watching you die naturally.’ Derek went to turn away momentarily, but then started to shout out his last statement to give Miles another faith-bursting remark. ‘My father is remembered for dying at his peak, in battle where true glory is found, whilst you will be remembered as an old man clutching his chest, coughing his last breath.’ He started the short walk back to his car and over his shoulder said, ‘You won’t die tonight.’
Milo’s chest began to slow and his breathing was returning to a normal pace.
Deygar was still full of himself as he got into his car.
‘Eighteen months, Milo. Be ready.’
Milo could see Deygar’s every move in the mirror-finished wheels of his Bentley. Milo stayed motionless for a moment just in case he was bluffing.
Deygar removed his jacket and sword then threw them into the boot of his Bentley, and got in. Deygar’s arrogance was still prevalent and as he started the massive six and three quarter v-eight, it roared into life and startled Milo.
Milo felt a little safer now and headed toward his car whilst Deygar drove slowly away. Milo got to his car, a Ford Mondeo ST200. ‘A humble car for a humble man,’ he muttered under his breath as he pointed the remote key fob at the car. ‘bleep! Bleep! Click’.
Milo removed his jacket and sword and placed them into the boot with a bit more respect, because of the enormous responsibility that carrying such a weapon had. Milo understood the role he played; Deygar on the other hand treated the sword as just the tool for the job, easy to replace.
Milo looked into the distance through the rear-view mirror and noticed Deygar’s car making the turn from the alleyway. Milo felt shaken by a meeting that had seemed to be a waste of precious time but made more of an impact for the undoing of nerves and faith than as a productive exercise.
Milo glanced back and saw himself in the mirror. ‘I am old but I will seek another.’ And with that thought Miles Leonard began to pray. ‘Who can I find Lord, my son is so ill, please give me discernment in these days. Lord, speak to my son, he’s weak in body but he’s strong in mind. Continue to be with him and strengthen his heart at this time, Amen.’