The Thorn

Swan was beside himself with thoughts of a traitor in their midst. He knew someone had released the unedited video, but the mind control that came with submitting seemed so effective that he couldn’t imagine it was someone from the team. He would not even consider divine intervention.

Joshua was a thorn in his side that had to be dealt with. Swan knew he could have him killed, but that wasn’t the point. He was gaining a following, someone no one knew days before. Who was this kid? How did he miss the potential he was hiding?

The thorn had to be plucked from his side, but it also had to become a sword he could stick to the Christians who were beginning to look at Joshua as a hero.

He would let the boy wallow and stew in his lockbox while he considered his steps. He didn’t want to make a hasty move. He knew sometimes you take losses, but they can lead to the final victory. He knew he was going to beat this boy. He was a winner.

When they shut Joshua into his holding room, he neither wallowed nor stewed. He had known that the Holy Spirit was always with him, but now it was as if he could almost see and feel him. He had never known the Holy Spirit to feel so real as right then. Talking with Him was easy, and the Lord was answering. Joshua wouldn’t have traded the moment for the world.

Verse after verse came to mind filled with meaning and encouragement. At one point, he was jumping around in the excitement of God’s goodness and God’s love for Him. He had gone from sleeping at the church to being at the White House. Never in a million years would he have imagined any of this. “More than we could even ask or imagine. That’s what You do, Lord.” Joshua spoke to His Friend, His God, His King.

And it suddenly occurred to him that during all those times of wishing Jesus would show up and tell him what to do, God had been speaking to him and guiding him: the feeling that something wasn’t right, the knowing that there was a choice, Abigail’s conversations, Peter’s wisdom, Marcus coming to Christ and then bringing him to D.C., pictures that came to mind like the one that got Michael out of his wheelchair, and all those Bible verses that he read and took in which bubbled up at the right time. God had been there guiding him precisely and perfectly all along, and had brought him to this place, this wonderful place he was thankful for instead of in dread of. He rejoiced.

He rejoiced that he had a relationship with the Living God, and that had been all he needed. All the confusion and the wondering, all the trying to figure out what was going on and if this or that was what he should do, none of it had been necessary. He hadn’t needed specific directions because he already knew the Way, Jesus Himself. He only needed Jesus. Seeking after Jesus, wanting to know the Father, that was all that he had ever needed to do. Jesus took care of the rest. That decision in the backyard to only want to know what God was saying had saved his life. He hadn’t even gotten that right, wanting to hear from God what to do. But God took him where he was at, took the seeking and longing, and transformed him into a faithful servant of God. The way Joshua had walked through all this was by walking with Jesus. Joshua was thankful, grateful, overwhelmed with God’s love and goodness. He gave thanks for all of it, every little bit. He even thanked God for taking his grandma home to heaven before all this mess started. Then he sank to the floor, exhausted.

Of course, there were security cameras in the room. They were a bit like Santa Claus, seeing him when he was sleeping and knowing when he was awake. When he sat and leaned into the corner closing his eyes, they turned on a recording of the speeches from the event. They were going to play psychological warfare. They wanted to keep him up and mess with his mind.

He was startled by the noise coming on suddenly, but then he smiled and closed his eyes. He wasn’t going to play their games. Psalm 23 came into his thoughts; he let it play over and over in his mind. He pictured Jesus leading him beside still waters and making him lie down in the green meadow. His soul was restored. He even fell asleep.