RACING TOWARD THE LIGHT
© 2009 Sandra Pavloff Conner
Serenity was on her knees with her arms around him instantly, praying for him. After several moments, Noah recovered enough to raise his head from his hands, and wipe his face with the borrowed handkerchief. Finally he reached his arm around Serenity and hugged her. “Thank you, Serie . . . for praying. But please don’t stay down there on the floor on your knees. Sit back up on the sofa where it’s more comfortable.” When she didn’t move, he said. “Please, Serie,” so she gave up and did as he asked.
“So they had sacrificed the little girl?” Clint asked Noah quietly.
Noah nodded and finally managed to say, “Yes . . . and . . . that’s enough for me to tell you. You know enough to be able to imagine what kind of death it was and what other butchery was involved.” He let out one more heavy sigh. “I can’t begin to tell you how it feels to see that something like that has happened to a real child from your own community. . . . Or how it feels to know that you were the one responsible for protecting that child, and all the others like her, and that you had failed utterly.”
Clint reached out his hand to stop Noah. “That isn’t true, Noah. Deep in your heart, you know it isn’t true, and you’re going to have to make yourself recognize that fact.”
“Well . . . anyway . . . it was the most horrendous thing we’d ever had happen in our county since I had been appointed a deputy years before.” Noah rose from the footstool and moved over to the sofa again, sitting back far enough to lean against the back of it. He still had more to tell, but at least the worst was over. God had gotten him through it.
Clint got up then. “I think you need a cold drink. I’ll bring a glass of that lemonade I saw in the refrigerator. Take a breather until I get back, and then you need to tell us the rest.”
Clint brought over glasses of lemonade and sat back down. “So then what happened?” he asked.
After taking a long drink of the cooling liquid, Noah answered. “Well, needless to say, we stepped up the investigation. We were still pressing to find out who the other members of the coven were, and Danny had never seen any of them without their hoods over their heads. However, he was finally able to tell us how he and Melinda had gotten separated from the rest of the kids. They were all sent out on what was supposed to be a treasure hunt, and as he and Melinda were wondering around in the dark close to each other, they were approached by two figures in gray cloaks with hoods.
“Evidently they said something to the kids that was much like a line right out of the Sally Stone books, and since they were so used to reading all that stuff, it didn’t seem particularly abnormal to them. The two figures told them that they had been sent to help them find the treasure, so the kids went with them, and of course, they ended up at the meeting of the coven and the ritual ceremony.
“Danny saw what they did to Melinda, and while that was going on was when he finally managed to get his ropes loose enough to escape. And even then, he wouldn’t have made it home when he did if he hadn’t been able to run through the woods and fields. It would have taken him close to two hours to get there if he had used the roads.”
“Did the people of the county finally see the truth about the Sally Stone books and all the other horrible stuff like it?” Serenity asked.
“Some people did finally realize that it was dangerous and threw away the books and games so that their kids weren’t exposed to it anymore, but you know how people are, Serenity. A lot of people in the county just sent up a great hue and cry against me and my department because we hadn’t done enough to keep this kind of thing from happening in our county. And they were right in part . . . in a large part . . . but when I had tried, through the pastors, to help the community see what we were up against early on, I didn’t get a whole lot of cooperation either.
But … after days of intensive prayer for the Lord to show me what steps to take, I finally managed to trace the two sponsors for that club back to the coven, and then I knew I had a little clout to work with.
“I arrested those two on suspicion of their connection with Melinda’s murder, and we managed to bring enough evidence to get a judge to deny bail. I tried to get information out of them, of course, but they kept denying their involvement with any coven . . . until I presented them with the evidence I had, and then they finally stopped acting like they didn’t know anything about it. After about a week, one of them got really cocky and started making some remarks that sounded too much like a threat of more plans by the coven for additional kidnappings and sacrifices for me to ignore it.
“So the first thing I did was to make sure we had Danny covered. He was getting some pretty intensive counseling, and we arranged with his family to have a security officer on hand at all times until we had the whole case put down. The only other thing I could do where the children in general were concerned was to encourage parents and school personnel to be extraordinarily diligent and protective of all the children at all times . . . and I put on two extra deputies to help with that job.”
“Was your own church standing with you in the spiritual warfare of this whole thing?” Clint asked now.
“Well, after I got to know Mark pretty well and realized that he believed what I was fast coming to recognize was absolute truth from God’s Word, I moved to his church. And I can tell you this; those people went to war for me and for the whole county. They had intercession around the clock in that church until the whole thing was over, and I don’t think I would have lived through it if they hadn’t been praying continuously for me. Nor would I have had the wisdom to do the job even as well as I did it. But I was attacked with several things in my body during that time, and I know it was prayer that got me delivered and healed. And then there were other attempts made on my life too, but God kept me.”
For the first time in the whole conversation, Noah actually relaxed back against the sofa as he told the next part of the story. “Anyway, we gradually collected more evidence concerning the whereabouts of the other coven members on Halloween night, and I finally had enough to arrest two more of them. I had been torn all along, trying to decide whether to arrest the ones I could prove something on (which would warn the others that we were onto them) or to wait until I could get everyone in the coven at the same time. But I finally decided that if we arrested enough of them, at least it should shake the others up enough to stop their activity locally, and our children would be safe.
“Of course, that still left the coven free to practice their deadly sorcery somewhere else. So my constant prayer was that the Lord would show us a way to bring all of them in. And to be completely honest, I don’t think my faith was very strong that we would ever get those results, but Pastor Mark and the congregation were still doing spiritual battle around the clock, and praying especially for the conversion of the four witches we had in custody.
“Mark came once or twice a week to try to talk with them, and finally . . . one of them . . . one of the sponsors of the Sally Stone Club . . . repented of her involvement with Satan and surrendered her heart to the Lord. Mark and I prayed for her deliverance, and we transferred her to another jail for her own protection. But before she left, when she was alone with me and one of the deputies, she told us about a plan within the coven to kidnap another child before Christmas and sacrifice her as a way of appeasing Satan for the sloppy work they had done in October.”
Noah sat forward and drank the rest of his lemonade before he continued. “You can only imagine how frantic I was at that news. How do you protect every child in the county . . . especially when so many of the adults who are supposed to be leaders in the care and nurturing of children . . . in schools and churches . . . didn’t believe there was a real menace out there anyway? But I did everything I could think of, and rather than sound like I’m defending myself by listing all those things, I’ll just say that I’ve racked my brain since the event, and I honestly can’t think what more I could have done. And, without question, it was the consistent prayer that actually brought us success.
“In spite of everything, though, I got the call at 10:09 on the night of December 21. I remember it as if it had happened yesterday. It was the first missing child report since Halloween, and it practically caused my heart to stop beating. I sent my best deputy ahead of me to the parents’ home to start getting all the facts he could. I called in every deputy I’d ever used and told them to report to my office as fast as possible. And then I threw myself on the floor, face down, and pled with the Lord to show me every step to take so I wouldn’t make any mistakes or lose any time. I prayed until I heard the deputies assembling in the outer office, and when I went out to join them, I finally had a sense of victory in my heart.
“I met my other deputy at the child’s home, met the parents, and after hearing all the facts, I just began to give out instructions concerning where we were going, and what we would do when we got there. I knew the Lord was speaking through me, and when we ended up at a deserted house, not far from that abandoned school, we could tell there was a ceremony in progress. My heart almost stopped again until I had sneaked up to a window and seen through it enough to see that the little girl was still alive. After that I felt so empowered by the righteous anger of the Lord that I knew that night would be the end of the witchcraft from this group.”
“You captured all of them?” Serenity asked, her eyes burning with the same kind of righteous indignation that Noah’s were.
He nodded. “I won’t go into all the details, but I can say humbly that no member of my force had ever performed better than they did that night. It was as if we could almost read each other’s minds, and we worked in such synchronized precision . . . and I know that was because angels were making every move with each one of us … and because the prayer cover was keeping us hidden from the demons controlling those witches. We had all of them surrounded and in custody in a short time, and with enough evidence of the kind of crime they were in the process of perpetrating that they didn’t have a chance.”
“So that was really the end of it?” Clint asked now.
“The end of the activity, but not the end of the story, because the trials were pretty horrendous in themselves. They couldn’t all be tried together because of varying degrees of charges lodged against different ones, and all together, the trials were strung out through May of this year. It was especially hard on the families who had lost, or come close to losing, their children, but the whole county suffered through all of them. In order to get the convictions we needed, we had been forced to go after other evidence of the coven’s activities too, and the testimonies and other articles of evidence were pretty horrific at times.”
Noah had been leaning forward with his elbows on his knees again, gripping his hands in front of him, but now he leaned back again, laying his head on the back of the sofa and closing his eyes. “Four of them were convicted of first degree murder. Four others were convicted of second degree murder, and the other five were found guilty of concealing a homicide, as well as a number of other charges that should keep them locked up for several years.” He let out a heartfelt sigh. “Thanks to the Lord . . . and only to the Lord.”
Serenity reached out and took his hand in hers, squeezing it gently. “I’m so grateful you were able to tell us all of this, Noah.”
“Did most of the people in the county finally change their attitudes about the Sally Stone books and movies and other things like that?” Clint asked.
Noah had squeezed Serenity’s hand too, and now he raised his head and smiled at her before he looked at Clint and answered. “Most of them did . . . at last. They had been through hell and back before they had been willing to see the truth, but when they did, they began to act accordingly. Now most of the libraries and schools are clean of that trash, and I don’t think any theatre owner in the county would dare to bring in one of the movies again.”
“Praise God!” Serenity said.
“Praise God, indeed!” Noah answered, squeezing her hand again.
“Amen!” Clint added, leaning back in his chair and taking a deep breath of relief.
Serenity got up, saying, “I’m going to peak in at David again,” and left the room. After she did, Noah looked at Clint, his eyes intent upon the older man’s.
“Thank you for praying for me tonight, Clint. I’m not sure I could have gotten through all of it without your support . . . and Serenity’s.”
“I appreciate your courage in telling us all of it, Noah. Not to mention your courage in doing the job you did. But I can see why you needed a rest and a good deal of inner healing.”
Noah nodded his head. “Yeah . . . and I’m not sure that’s all it is. I’m not positive that I’ll be going back to that job.”
“Not because of the people . . . and not because I’m afraid to go back to it . . . but . . . I don’t know. I just don’t have any sense of joy in doing that job anymore . . . the way I did have when I took it. And that’s one of the things I’m here to seek God about. I need to know what He wants me to do.”
“What He wants you to do about what?” Serenity asked, getting back in time to hear the last statement.
“About continuing to be the sheriff back home. I think it may be time to move on to something else, but I still have to have some answers from the Lord.”
“Noah, one thing still puzzles me,” she said. “What did you mean when you were standing at the window fingering your earring and asking the Lord to forgive you?”
Noah instinctively reached his hand up and gently touched the ring in his ear, fingering the cross and smiling before he answered her. “You remember David told you that I had put this ring in my ear to signify that I was becoming the Lord’s servant for the rest of my life. And I promised the Lord then that I would do whatever He wanted whenever He wanted it done, without hesitation and without asking questions. But when I began to realize that some of the same witchcraft was getting a foothold here, and that I knew how horrible it could be if it weren’t stopped dead in its tracks immediately, I made a decision that I was not going to be involved in all of it again. So I turned my back on it as much as I could. In short . . . I broke my promise to the Lord. Because deep in my heart, I realized that He’d brought me here for that very purpose . . . to stop it dead in its tracks.”
Noah rose and paced back toward the bookcase and then turned and leaned against it again, looking at Serenity. “When I realized that David and Moondancer were the victims of that same witchcraft . . . and that we had almost lost David as a result . . . I finally came to my senses and started really listening to the Lord, and I finally made the decision to obey Him.”
“And so you believe that what happened with David and Moondancer today was the result of that same kind of witchcraft?”
Noah nodded “Yes . . .” He paused to collect his thoughts. “Last week, some kids on the beach came down to my cottage to see Moondancer and ask for a ride.”
“David told me it was some of the kids from the Library Club, Lacey Dillard and her friends,” Serenity said.
“Yes, her brother did call her Lacey. But the oddest thing was that when she was there and making the big scene, I kept thinking I’d met her somewhere before . . . that I should know her . . . but I couldn’t remember any place at all where we had met. Then today . . . after what happened with Moondancer and David . . . I finally realized that what I thought was recognition of the child was actually recognition of the demonic spirit inhabiting her. I had seen that same evil being look at me out of the eyes of the witch who was finally delivered. And, of course, I saw a multitude of similar spirits showing themselves in the eyes of all of them. But evidently that spirit now inhabits Lacey and recognized me also, and that’s why the vicious attack.” He sighed again, but smiled at them. “But the Lord has protected us . . . praise Him for His merciful love!”
“So what do you feel the Lord is telling you to do about the problems here, Noah?” Clint asked.
“Well, I still need to pray for more direction, but as I’ve talked with the two of you, I’ve had a plan begin to form in the back of my mind. I’d like to run it past both of you and get your input, but I really think we’ve discussed enough of this witchcraft business tonight, don’t you?”
Serenity looked at her grandfather, and he lifted his eyebrows in a question. “Serenity . . . what’s your answer to that?”
She let out a deep sigh. “Well . . . I want to know your plan, Noah, and I want to help with it as much as I possibly can . . . but I think you’re right. I think we need to refocus our thoughts and emotions on the Lord and try to get some rest. Besides, it’s already 9:00 now, and we’re not going to be able to confirm a plan and start carrying it out tonight. So why not wait until we’re all fresh tomorrow?”
“Sounds right to me,” Clint said, leaning forward in his chair. “I say let’s pray together now and then collect our little boy and head for the lighthouse.”
After prayer, thanking God for his merciful protection and asking Him for wisdom and strength to do whatever He called on them to do, Clint went into the bedroom to get David, and Serenity stepped over to Noah, slipping her arm through his. “I have no words to tell you, Noah, how grateful I am that you risked your own life to save David’s”
Noah shook his head. “Only the Lord saved David, Serenity. If I had been willing to act on my knowledge and experience sooner, that whole event might not have happened. So it was my own disobedience that opened the door to putting David in that danger.”
“No, I don’t believe that, Noah. It’s reasonable that you had to have the time you’ve taken to be able to decide to throw yourself into a horrendous problem like that a second time. And I doubt that the enemy would have gone very long without finding some way to attack all of us, simply because of the stand we’ve taken against all of the Sally Stone materials and new age curriculums. Besides, you didn’t send David out into that ocean after Moondancer. And you didn’t cause the wind to start whipping that ocean into fierce waves that far out. Remember that! But you did go in yourself and save him. Remember that too!” she added, stretching up and kissing his cheek.
Noah grinned. “I’ll try, Serenity.”
Clint returned to the room leading a very sleepy David by the hand. The boy was rubbing his eyes and yawning, but he managed to thank Noah again for his rescue. Clint reached out and patted Noah’s shoulder once more. “Goodnight, Son.”
“Goodnight and thank you both . . . more than I can say. See you tomorrow.”
Only 8 more chapters to go. Look for Chapter Fourteen here tomorrow. And thank you for reading.