Thanks for joining us, Reading Friends! This is David Telbat with new Christian fiction for your enjoyment: “This isn’t the End,” a short story. Guns, shootings, and tragedy seem to be all that secular news has to share with us these days, but we often miss the Christian dimension in the catastrophes.
How did the Christian respond when bullets started flying? What did the Christian say to the gunman? How did the Christian keep hope in the face of loss when the world didn’t know how to go on? Let us be the light of Christ in a world that only sees an end without hope. I wrote this short story with many horrible incidents going on around us, but remember, God is still bigger, and—
This Isn’t the End
by D.I. Telbat
Randall Murphy saw the gunman pause to reload his handgun. Letting go of his wife’s hand as they both lay on the restaurant floor, Randall sprung to his feet and stepped over two other patrons. He shoved aside a table and toppled a chair. Before the gunman could finish reloading his weapon, Randall faced him and wrapped his arms around the disturbed killer, who appeared to be just in his early twenties.
The gunman struggled against Randall’s embrace, but Randall was inches taller and over fifty pounds heavier than the youth.
“God, save this man!” Randall screamed at the ceiling, his chin firmly resting on the top of the young man’s head. The smell of blood and gunpowder made him choke. “Help us, Lord!”
“Let me go!”
The gunman wiggled his arms and shook his head, but Randall only squeezed tighter.
“Save him, Father!” he cried, tears brimming from his closed eyes.
Randall could feel the gun against his hip, still gripped in the youth’s hand. The young man was somehow trying to reload the gun, but Randall was between the magazine in one hand and the gun in the other. Since Randall had built homemade furniture most of his life, there was no winning against his strength.
“I’ll kill you! Let me go!”
“Lord, open his heart!” Randall cried louder. He opened his eyes and saw people laying all over the restaurant floor. Many were shot—too many. Others were too afraid to move, sobbing in terror. “God, You are not far from us! Help us! Help this young man!”
In the gunman’s battle to free himself, he stomped on Randall’s toes, but Randall—taking the pain, abuse, and fury—held on tighter.
“It’s going to be okay, son,” Randall said softly. He and Francis had never had children of their own, but he’d always been willing to help the church youth group leaders when they needed an extra hand. “Just relax, son. You’re not alone. Jesus, help us now!”
“Leave me alone!” The young man batted his head back and forth, bruising Randall’s chin and chest. “Let go!”
The youth screamed and cursed vile promises. Again, Randall shut his eyes to the pain, the wickedness, the fear . . .
“No!” Randall cried. “I’m not letting you go! I’m here for you. Don’t fight it. Just let go. God is bigger. He is bigger than your hurt.”
The cries of the wounded in the room prompted stunned patrons to respond to the victims. A waitress crawled over and knelt next to a wounded man, and a man in an expensive suit held a bleeding woman in his arms during her final moments.
“God, reach into each of our hearts and calm us,” Randall prayed, softer now, tears streaming. “I’ve got you, son. This isn’t the end. This is bad, but we’re going to get you through it. Hold on, now. We need to hold on to Jesus.”
Flashing lights appeared outside.
“Please, let me go.”
“No, I can’t let you go. Just relax, okay? The police are coming now. They’re going to take you, but you’re not alone, you hear? I’m going to be with you through this. It won’t be easy for either of us, but we have Jesus. Let go of the gun. Let it slide to the floor. It’s over now.”
Randall felt the youth’s resolve soften. The rigidity in his limbs washed away. The gun clattered to the floor, then he let go of the extra magazine in his other hand.
The police officers entered the restaurant cautiously, weapons drawn.
“Hold on, now,” Randall said. “This’ll be the last contact you’ll have with anyone for a while, I’m guessing. Have you heard of Jesus?”
“What’s your name?”
“Seth, you’re going to jail now.” Randall felt the young man’s arms slip around Randall’s sides, his head against Randall’s chest, sobbing into the collared shirt Francis had bought him. “But I’ll be visiting you soon. You just cry out to God for help. He’s helped people far worse than you before. But you have to give Him your hatred, your anger.”
Randall released his embrace with one arm and raised his hand to the officers as other patrons directed them to him.
“Now, Seth, put your arms behind your back for the officers. Go ahead. Do it. This isn’t the end.”
He obeyed, and the officers moved up swiftly. They cuffed him briskly, and Randall held the man by the shoulders at arm’s length. Seth, trembling, was just a boy barely old enough to be out of high school.
“This isn’t too big for God to reorder your heart, Seth.” Randall placed his hand on Seth’s head. “Good-bye for now.”
The police took that as their cue and led Seth calmly out of the restaurant. Randall turned and acknowledged the carnage across the floor, the shock of it still lingering. There would be much grieving, but Randall knew what he told Seth was true—God was still bigger than even this. That’s what they had to focus on, when the nights seemed unbearable and the explanations seemed senseless. God was still bigger, and God was still good.
Then, he knelt beside his wife, Francis, who had perished in the first seconds of gunfire, and he wept for them all.
This isn’t the end . . .
NEWS: Stop by our new book pages of David Telbat’s upcoming new End Times, futuristic series! Learn more about The STEADFAST Series here, and Steadfast Book One here, the Steadfast Book Two here, and Steadfast Book Three here. The three novellas will be released early 2017.
SALE! By Faith Alone: Confessions of a Bible Smuggler, by Patrick Klein, Director/Founder of Vision Beyond Borders, is on sale right now! Order it for $10 +3.00S&H through the link on David’s By Faith Alone book review page here.
Prayer Prompt for Myanmar: “Earlier this week several IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps were attacked by Burmese army. Mortars were shot at IDP camps. Hundreds of mostly elderly and children needed to flee out of their camp and spend the night in the cold. Earlier this month other camps were also attacked, and pastors were arrested and men and women were taken as human shields. The situation is grim, foreign aid agencies are not allowed to bring any food and aid to the more then 100,000 Kachin IDPs. Please continue to pray for the Kachin IDP’s and refugees in Myanmar!” (VBB 1/13/17 newsletter; subscribe to their newsletter here.)
COMING UP: Join us next time for David’s book review on another favorite Christian novel, Gold of Kings by Davis Bunn. And for the following post, David has another new short story for you!