RACING TOWARD THE LIGHT
© 2009 Sandra Pavloff Conner
The next morning the chief called Noah and asked him to meet him in his office, along with Jim Carlyle. “I’ll call in an order for some sandwiches, and we can eat while we talk,” he said. So Noah and Jim both turned up at the office at 12:30, eager for an update.
“Boys, I’ve got some really good news,” Art began, after they had started on their meal. “I was able to get a lot of information from Lacey yesterday evening when I talked with her and her parents for about two hours. It seems our Miss Parker is herself a witch and part of a coven from the Barclay area. They evidently were attempting to plan some way to get rid of you, Noah, in order to try to stop this move against the agenda they had instituted at the school. Lacey overheard, and since she had her own grudge against you, and, of course, was being pushed and eventually controlled by that evil spirit, she decided it was her responsibility to try to do the job for them.
“We have only her testimony, of course, but I think it’s enough at this point to put the fear of God into Adrian Parker and her group and get them out of town at least. I don’t think there’s anything I can make stick for any actual prosecution at this point, but I think I can make the threat good enough to make them run and not look back in our direction.”
Jim sighed. “Unfortunately, that’s the best we can do at times. We can’t always get rid of all of these spirits totally, because there are so many people ready and willing to work with them. But we can at least bind them from the people and places that God has put in our own stewardship. You’ve done excellent work here, Art.”
“My heart’s gone out to you more times than I can count,” Noah added, “and I’m really proud to know you, Art. I’m proud of the way you’ve handled this.”
“Well . . . I appreciate those words from both of you, but we all know that this was totally a team effort. There’s no way I could have gone forward with the courage or stamina that I have if you two hadn’t been with me every step of the way. I’ll be grateful for that the rest of my life.”
“So how do we stand for the council meeting?” Jim asked.
“I’d say, we’ve just about got this thing sewn up. I won’t be giving out names of any minors, of course, but I will be giving them a report of the activities of the last twenty-four hours, as well as the decision to invite certain of our populace to move out of town once and for all. By the time we add what the mayor, the school board members, and the parents have to say, I’m pretty sure we will see a ruling by the city to clean everything related to witchcraft out of anything within the council’s jurisdiction . And if the schools, the libraries, and the theaters want Hamsted parents to send their kids back into those establishments, they’ll voluntarily clean house as well.”
Noah and Jim just looked at each other and smiled. Art sat back in his chair, letting out a deep sigh of relief. “Yes sir, boys, I’d say we’ve won this one . . . or perhaps I should say the Lord’s won this one . . . but at least He let us help.”
“Let us!” Noah said, his mouth open in astonishment. “Don’t you mean He wouldn’t take no for an answer?”
They were all able to laugh at that remark, knowing the truth of it, and yet feeling a deep joy in knowing they had been obedient to the Lord in this battle.
The following Tuesday evening proved Chief Weston right on the mark with his predictions concerning the outcome of the council meeting. The vote was unanimous. All books and movies describing or encouraging witchcraft or sorcery of any kind were to be removed from the public facilities, and the school board was commissioned to order all new library curriculum for the coming year. That job was going to be tough, since the school year was going to start in two weeks, but they decided they would rather make do with what they could until the new material came rather than keep any of the new age curriculum at all.
Principle Kelso agreed readily to all the changes. At a meeting on Friday, the board had decided that Kelso had been as deceived as they had been themselves, and offered to let him stay on and try to undo any damage that had been done in the past. Miss Parker, of course, was asked to tender her resignation immediately, which she did willingly. She had been only too glad to get out of this town where the light and power of God was growing stronger every day.
As everyone filtered out of the meeting, Chief Weston stopped to talk to Noah and Serenity. “Well, it’ll take a while, but I think our town is on its way back to wholeness, and without having to experience the devastating events your county went through, Noah.”
Noah sighed contentedly. “And I can’t tell you how that makes me feel, Art. Just to know that we’ve actually stopped this thing before it cost anybody’s life . . . and that we’re getting these kids set free from all of this evil before their souls are lost for eternity.”
Art nodded. “Yes, Jim said two other families had called him about praying with their kids. Seems there was a whole group who called themselves The Middle School Order of Magic Arts. They were meeting secretly two nights a week in an old garage and practicing witchcraft . . . at least to whatever extent they knew how at this point. But it sounds as if they’re on the road to deliverance. I even had several high school kids ask me about this whole witchcraft subject. They’re starting to see the truth.”
“SoundS like Jim and his elders are going to have their work cut out for them for the next few weeks,” Noah answered. “But they know what they’re doing, and the Lord has really given them understanding of their authority over the enemy and his forces.”
“Now that we’re about to see daylight at the end of this tunnel, there’s something else I’d like to discuss with you, Noah. And don’t worry; it’s not another problem. Come and see me late tomorrow afternoon, will you?”
“Sure, Art. About 4:00 or so?”
“All right. I’ll be there,” he said, and putting his arm around Serenity, he led her to the car. Clint had driven himself and was going out for a bite with two of his friends, so Noah and Serenity planned to take the evening to talk about their future.
The next afternoon, as Noah sat in the chief’s office, he was glad to see that Art Weston finally looked rested after what he‘d been through. The chief went out to the front office and brought in two fresh cups of coffee and then sat down to talk. “I’ll get right to the point, Noah. As you know, I’ve been planning on retiring at the end of the year. But last week my daughter called us and said that her husband has an opportunity to get a big promotion in his business if he’ll spend six months overseas at one of their work sights to get some hands-on experience. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of place that they wouldn’t want to take the kids, but my daughter really wants to go with him, especially since they have had a troubled marriage and are just now starting to see things really turn around for them.
“So . . . Shirley and I have been talking. We really think the Lord would have me take an earlier retirement . . . at the end of October . . . so that Shirley and I can go down to Texas and stay with the grandkids for those six months. Now, I’m telling you all of this because the mayor and I have been talking about my replacement. The two officers who have been on the force the longest are good men, but one of them doesn’t want the responsibility of being chief, and the other, although he’s a top notch policeman, just doesn’t have enough experience to be ready for that position yet . . . and he knows it.
“That puts the city in the position of needing to hire someone from outside the department. The mayor and I both agree that you’re the man for the job.” Noah’s eyes grew wide, and he sat forward instantly in his chair. The chief continued. “The people in this town respect you, Noah. And more importantly, they trust you. You fought for their safety and welfare even though you didn’t know many of them personally, and from what I hear, every time someone stopped you on the street in the middle of all this mess and asked you questions, you answered patiently and honestly. You’ve proven yourself a true friend to the citizens of Hamsted, and they’ve come to consider you one of their own. And . . . of course,” he added, grinning . . . “since you’re evidently about to become a member of Clint’s family, they feel as if you are family already.” He sat back in his chair, looking at Noah speculatively. “What do you think?”
Noah opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. Suddenly, deep in his spirit, he was experiencing that unique sense of knowing . . . knowing that this was a God thing. That special, almost liquid peace that filled him, giving the assurance that it was the hand of his Father God that had been behind this offer. He would never have dreamed a year ago that he could possibly find himself in this town, on this coast, with this future before him, but he couldn’t deny the deep down conviction that he was supposed to say ‘Yes.’
Finally he was able to speak. “I’m surprised by your suggestion in one way, Art, yet, at the same time, I really believe in my heart that this just may be God’s plan. Is there anyone else that you need to consider for the position too?”
Art shook his head. “The city board will have to accept other applications, of course, if there are any, but the board has the freedom to hire anyone we choose. And, quite frankly, we’ve discussed it and decided that if you’ll have us, we’ll have you.”
Noah chuckled. “Boy, oh boy. God sure has a way of surprising us by His perfect plans, doesn’t He? I can’t think of any place that Serenity and David would rather live. And, as I’ve mentioned, I really did feel that it was time for me to make a change from my present position.” He sat there another minute, just grinning to himself. Then he looked back at Art. “Let me run this by Serenity, and I’ll have a definite answer for you by the end of the week.”
“Good enough. And . . . not to put pressure on you . . . but I do want to make it clear that I can’t think of any better hands to leave this town in than yours.”
Noah had to clear his throat to answer. “Thank you, Art. . . . Thank you.”
It didn’t really take more than one day of prayer for Serenity and Noah both to be sure. And Clint and David were both in agreement from the first suggestion of the possibility, so it was decided. Noah and his new family would become official citizens of Hamsted, and Noah Bennett would be the new police chief at the beginning of November.
“So when can we get married,” he asked Serenity one evening as they sat on the sofa, cuddled up together watching David and Clint playing a word game. “Please say it can be soon!” he added, nuzzling her ear.
“Well, school starts in a week and a half. Let me get David started and settled his first week in school, and then we can have the ceremony. How’s that?”
“That’s perfect. I’ll have time to go home and wrap up any last details that have to be taken care of as a resigning sheriff. When I took this leave of absence, they knew I was considering resigning. We already have a man who’s well prepared and trained who can take over until the next election, and I really believe he’ll be elected officially when the time comes. In the meantime, you can be looking around for a house for us, and by the time we have the ceremony, we’ll be free enough to take a honeymoon before I start the new job. And then I should still have a couple of weeks to work with Art before he leaves.”
David looked up at all of them and then at his great-grandfather. “Oh boy, Gramps, I’m going to get a new mommy, a new daddy, a new school, and a new house all at the same time!”
“So I heard, Dave. I’d say you’re a very blessed little boy.”
David nodded his head, grinning from ear to ear.
After Noah left the lighthouse that evening, he walked for a long time. He knew Moondancer would no doubt like a ride, but he just didn’t want to have to concentrate on the horse . . . or on anything but the Lord and His plans for Noah’s future. So as he walked, he talked to his Father. “I can’t begin to put it into the right words, Father . . . how I feel after all of this battle and this victory. I know it was hard for You to get me to listen and obey You in this, but I’m glad You didn’t give up on me. Not only did we get this victory in Hamsted, but as I’ve trusted You more and leaned more heavily on Your Word, I feel as if I’ve grown into a bigger person spiritually in the process.”
He laughed out loud. “Of course, I don’t know that I’ll be any more ready to do the same kind of thing again if the need should arise, but . . .” He stopped talking . . . and then he stopped walking, and looked up into the stars. “Am I ever going to have to do this again, Father? Can You tell me? . . . This was the second time I’ve had to deal with that same evil spirit. Is there going to be another time in the future?”
Noah waited. Silence surrounded him. Even the ocean seemed to suspend its usual lullaby as he waited to hear the voice of God in his spirit. When it came, he recognized it instantly. It was the voice of such love and compassion that it always surpassed all other voices . . . all other feelings or intuitions. Now the Eternal Father spoke in tones so tender that it brought tears to Noah’s eyes.
“Yes, My Son. . . . I can tell you. There are other battles ahead . . . with other members of the enemy’s forces. And, yes, once more you will even face this same spirit, but only once more.” Noah’s insides began to tremble, but instantly the voice spoke in his spirit again. “But do not be afraid, Noah. You know that the battle is not yours. You are merely My instrument, and I know what I’m doing. Just trust Me as you did this time. You know how to use My Word and My name. That’s all you need to defeat every enemy.”
“When, Lord? How soon?”
“Not now,” the voice of the Lord replied. “For now you are coming into a time of green pastures and quiet waters . . . you and your new family. You will have a time of rest. So take your rest, Noah, and trust Me.”
Noah nodded his head and began walking again. He let out a deep sigh, but it wasn’t a sigh of one who is burdened. Rather it was a sigh of contentment, a releasing of his spirit, affirming the knowledge in his heart that because he was in his Father’s hands, all was well.
And three weeks later, it seemed that truly all was well all over the world as Noah stood in the church sanctuary and watched a radiant Serenity Lawrence walk down the aisle in her flowing white gown, holding to her grandfather’s arm. Noah had asked David to stand up with him, and the boy was almost too excited to hold still. Noah’s mom and dad had come in from Canada to spend several days before the wedding, and they were almost as excited as David, because they had prayed much for their son to recover from the horrible experiences of the previous year and find some real happiness in his life. They’d loved David instantly, and insisted on being called Grandma and Grandpa. And beside them Noah’s sister, with her husband and brand new baby, completed the happy family picture.
As Pastor Carlyle brought the ceremony to a close and said, “You may kiss your bride,” Noah turned to Serenity and gently took her into his arms. He didn’t hurry, but took time to smile down into her face. He whispered, “Thank you, my Darling, for waiting for me, when you could have had any number of other men. But I needed you so much. You’re the best gift God could ever give me, and I’ll cherish you forever.” Finally, he kissed her . . . gently, sweetly, but very thoroughly, and the congregation couldn’t help but applaud.
By late afternoon, Serenity and Noah were ready to leave on their honeymoon. They both hugged David several times each, promising to call him every day, and then they were off for two weeks of nothing to think about except loving each other.
Two weeks later, David was out digging in the sand when he looked up and saw two horses approaching from farther down the beach, one black and one brown with a light colored main and tail. Then as he watched for a minute, he recognized the riders. He turned and yelled for his great-grandfather. “Gramps, it’s Mom and Dad!” he shrieked and took off running toward the horses, waving his arm with all of his strength as he ran. “Mom! . . . Dad! . . . Mom! . . . Dad!” he yelled over and over again.
As the horses came within a few feet of him, the riders brought them to a stop and dismounted. Noah was on the ground first and running to David, who flung himself into his new father’s arms with total abandon. “Dad, I missed you so much!” he said as he threw his arms around Noah’s neck.
And Noah, who had thought his whole world had been made perfect when he had finally taken Serenity into his arms and expressed all of his love in those first precious hours of intimacy, now found that he contained within himself another dimension that had been waiting to be filled. But the Lord had not forgotten, and He had provided this one little boy and his huge heart filled with love for Noah to meet that need. Now Noah’s world really was perfect.
By that time, Serenity was off her horse and reaching out for David too, and he transferred his hugs and kisses to his new mother until she was satisfied too. Then they all walked the last several feet to the porch where Gramps waited, his face wreathed in the broadest grin Serenity had seen on him since her sister’s death. He held out his arms wide enough to embrace both of them at once. “Welcome home, Children,” he said, hugging them tightly, and they returned the embrace with just as much fervor.
The remainder of the evening was spent in catching up after their two-week separation, and then it was time for Noah to take his new family to their new home on the corner of Chestnut and Fourth Street in Hamsted. Serenity took her grandfather’s hand in hers and looked into his eyes. “You’re not going to feel deserted, are you, Gramps?”
“Not on your life,” he answered, smiling so widely that she knew he meant what he said. “I’m thrilled for all three of you. You three need your own home, and I know I can count on seeing you as often as I like. And we’ve already agreed that David will be welcome to spend all the weekends and summer weeks that he wants at the lighthouse, and bring his friends along too,” he added, winking at his great-grandson.
“And you will come by the house every couple of days if we haven’t been out here, right?” she asked now.
He grinned at her. “I promise, little girl,” he said, pinching her nose the way he’d done when she was truly a little girl. “Now, go home and let an old man have some peace and quiet,” he added, winking again at David. Noah stepped over and hugged Clint hard.
“Thank you for keeping them so safe and taking such good care of them until I could have them for my family, Clint. And thank you for welcoming me into your family so completely.”
“My pleasure, Noah,” he answered, his eyes a little teary. “And you know I mean it.” Noah nodded his agreement, and they all three went outside and got into Noah’s car, having put the horses up in the new stable Noah had built behind the lighthouse.
During the next week, as they got acclimated to being a family and living in a brand new home, they were all three more grateful than they could find words to describe. Several evenings that week, they went to the beach to visit Gramps and ride the horses — and just enjoy the now totally peaceful environment of this beautiful coastal community.
One evening, just as dusk was settling in, Noah and David were taking a leisurely ride along the beach and had just passed the cottage that Noah had rented at the beginning of summer. Serenity had a church meeting that evening, and her two men were enjoying the fall weather and each other. Noah was thinking again about how the Lord had been so patient with him as he’d worked his way into making the decision to be obedient even in the darkest places of his life. And the rewards had been beyond anything he’d imagined. He glanced down now at his son who rode beside him on Moondancer.
Noah had given the horse to David and had purchased another for himself and one for Serenity, and David had been faithful to take care of his own horse almost completely by himself. Noah was so proud of his new son, and he couldn’t help but show it whenever they were with other people. He smiled down at the boy now and suggested they stop for a minute to enjoy the last rays of the sun sliding into the sea.
But after just a couple minutes, David looked up at him. “Let’s race, Dad!” he said, his face covered with an expectant grin.
“Okay, and the winner gets an extra scoop of chocolate ice cream when we pick up Mom and go for a snack.”
“Oookayy!” whooped David, lifting his reigns in readiness. “Which way should we go, Dad?”
“We’ll race toward the lighthouse,” Noah said, looking at the boy’s joy-filled face. He reached out and touched him just under the chin. “That’s something you want to remember all of your life, Son. Always . . . always race toward the light. Then you’ll never get lost in the darkness.”
Thank you so much for reading this story. I will leave all the chapters on this site until the end of this month. After October 31, they will be gone from here, but, of course, anyone can order the book in paperback or digital from Amazon if they wish.
I enjoy offering some of my work for free reading periodically, and I’m considering offering another novel in this same serial format next month as well. I’ll see how things go and let you know for sure.