Merry Christmas! Wow, day 9 already! Only three days until Christmas! Who's excited?? I'm thrilled to bring you part 6 of Expected End today! Without further ado, let's hope into today's story!
Part 6: Condemned to Die
The next morning, the condemned were marched down the plank onto dry ground for the first time in what seemed like forever. James found he couldn’t walk as a combination of his leg injury and being used to a rocking ship. Two fellow prisoners were chained to him and were forced to help their dizzy companion along.
Snow fell thick and fast around them as they slogged through the drifts and mud. If they had shoes, they were ragged. Those who didn’t grimly resigned themselves to dealing with frostbite in their final day. James shivered, trying to hop on his good foot, but he finally gave up; he was more of a hindrance than a help.
After five hours of forced marching and sheer misery, the twenty men were loaded onto a wagon bound for the town of Lynchburg… two towns over from James’ home. Half of him hoped perhaps he would see someone, anyone, familiar, the other half hoped no one he knew would witness his present appearance or execution. He had been a miserably impulsive soldier and not very helpful at all. But he had been eager and willing… and now he was preparing to die. He had nothing to show for his service or his life for that matter. He didn’t want them to see him like that. He didn’t want to die like that!
Around 6:45 that night, the wagon rolled into Lynchburg. The guards shouted and the men were unloaded from the wagon. They were marched to a jail house which to be honest was a big improvement from their previous confinements. The jailer watched as the men were marched into his building. James glanced at him as he limped past and read his expression clearly. He looked as if he wanted to express sympathy, but he wisely kept his mouth shut. He couldn’t say anything in front of the redcoats.
“Make sure their chains are secure and that your doors are locked. No visitors, not even the clergy are allowed. We are not taking any chances on losing these prisoners”
The jailer nodded and urged the Redcoats to hurry to the hotel before they were locked out. As soon as the brawly lot had taken their leave, the jailer hurried over to a door which led to a side room. Moments later, he emerged carrying large basket. Setting it outside the first cell, the jailer fumbled with his keys and inserted the key into the lock, swinging the door open.
“Here,” he said, briskly, “I was able to get word to my wife before you arrived, and she sent food. I’m so terribly sorry about this turn of events. Don’t lose heart yet. God is still in control. Here, take this roll, and there’s roast chicken too.”
He went from cell to cell, handing out food and then hurried away to fetch fresh water. That in itself was a luxury. Grateful, the prisoners blessed their food and tore into their bounty. James tried his best to eat, but due to his recent illness, his appetite was nearly gone.
“Come on, James, chicken will help you get stronger,” his companions urged him.
“Stronger?” he said with a humorless laugh. “Yep, I’ll get plenty strong with less than 24 hours to live.”
“Well aren’t you mister optimistic tonight.”
“I’m just stating a fact. God’s done with us. We need to accept that and not be disappointed that we are going to meet Him. It almost seems rude to pretend it’s not true.”
The soldiers looked at each other, unsure what to say. The jailer smiled. “With God, my young friend, all things, even the impossible, are made possible. Never give up hope.”
James arched an eyebrow and shook his head. He was tired of sitting up and stretched out on the floor, his breathing wheezy.
“Can’t you believe in the impossible, lad?” the Jailer asked, coming to sit beside him. Gently, he raised James head to help him take a sip of water. “Isn’t Christmas the time for impossible miracles? It started with one, the virgin birth of the Christ Child. If God can do that, can’t He do something as simple as rescuing the captive from the jaws of death? He did it for Peter you know.”
James furrowed his brow, wracking his brain for the account the man spoke of, but he was too exhausted to remember it. “You’ll have to refresh my memory, sir.”
“Well, lie quiet and listen up,” the man instructed, popping a small piece of chicken into the boy’s mouth. James relented and chewed on the savory meat. Maybe he was hungry after all…
“Peter was arrested and condemned to die in the prisons of the Roman government. There was no escape. There were over a dozen guards watching over his cell and Peter was chained between two of them! It was impossible for his friends to break in, much less rescue Peter. But God sent an angel to deliver him. His chains fell off and the door and gate opened for him, all without the guards seeing a thing!
“Peter went straight to the home of some fellow believers and after quite a mix up, he was let in. If God could do that then, don’t you believe He could do that now, this very night if he chose? Or do you believe God has lost his power?” the jailer challenged.
James finished the last bite of his chicken, considering the man’s words. “I know He is able. I just don’t believe He will this time.”
“Ye have not because ye ask not,” the jailer quipped. “You may be right, but never give up praying for a miracle. God may choose to celebrate His Son’s birthday by answering yes to your prayers.”
James looked up at the man as he stood to leave.
Be still and know that I am God… For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
The following evening, the twenty prisoners bid a silent farewell to their jailer friend and were marched out to the town square. James was held up between two men as they were marched to the execution grounds. They were lined up in front of forty Redcoats with shiny muskets. James saw a group of townspeople gathered nearby. Some were calling out words of encouragement to the poor Patriot victims; other wept for their loved ones in the line of condemnation. A preacher lifted up his voice in prayer for the brave, unrepentant heroes about to die.
He turned towards the voice just as a wild war whoop sounded from behind the troopers. James’ companions threw him and themselves to the ground as bullets flew and shouting continued. Dogs barked, and the church bells pealed through the cold winter air. James heard a snap and pain shot through his right leg as something rolled over it. His face contorted with the pain. What was happening?
Have you figured out what happened? Well, if not, you'll have to wait until Christmas Eve to hear the conclusion! Tomorrow I am sharing 5 things I want to do this Christmas! Click here for more Christmas fun and I'll see you tomorrow!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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