Ravens Cove, An Iconoclast Thriller (Book 1)
The Spiritual Battle for a Small Alaska Town
By Mary Ann Poll
America’s Lady of Supernatural Thrillers
VISIONS AND DISBELIEF
Paul Lucas spent a fitful night, a night full of violent visions and unseen foes. He rose early. May as well get a head start on Sunday’s sermon.
Hours later, he still stared at a blank computer screen. Nothing.
Paul tiptoed from his desk to the closet, aware any movement would alert his resting spouse.
Continuing in stealth-mode, he sneaked down the stairs, managing to avoid the one which always protested in a tone loud enough to wake the dead. The front door secure, Paul headed down the outdoor steps, and arrived at the small church he poured his heart and soul into over the past several months.
The Right Reverend Plotno and his “Elders” attacked Paul at every turn. His own congregation started to question the Word of God, and he didn’t know why. His shoulders slumped in weariness.
Paul prayed, “Precious Jesus, grant me courage. Let my heart be at peace. You told us to give You our burdens. I feel like I have, Lord. So why am I so weary? Am I wrong to have come to Ravens Cove? Did I just imagine You wanted me to be here?”
Paul sighed, then continued, “Forgive me, God. I am a sinner and human; I am dust and I find comfort in the fact You know it and love me anyway. Help me to do Your will, O God. Help me, please.”
The door squeaked open, reminding Paul of the need to oil it. The morning sun bathed the makeshift pews in golden light. Paul turned toward it and squinted into the brightness.
A man who looked to be in his 70s, or then again maybe in his early 50s, walked through the church door, purpose guiding his steps.
Josiah held out his hand as he approached Paul. “Reverend Lucas?”
Probably another of the Right Reverend’s parishioners sent to discourage and maybe even threaten me. Anger colored his cheeks. He stood rigid, both hands at his sides.
“I am Paul Lucas. Not a reverend but a minister of God,” he answered. The Right Reverend Plotno used any instance to remind Paul and others of the fact Paul did not attend seminary. Paul’s studies were through a Bible College in his hometown of Missoula, and those
studies were by correspondence course. Somehow Plotno found out.
“You aren’t a real minister,” he said. “Correspondence school! You’re a fake; people should send you packing!”
Remembering the Right Reverend’s words tore a new hole in Paul’s heart. He may be right. Paul’s confidence plummeted to a new low. I should have stayed in Missoula and worked the ranch.
Paul focused on the man in front of him. “What can I do for you Mr …?”
“Williams,” Josiah continued to extend his hand, “but, please call me Josiah.”
“What can I do for you Mr. Williams?”
Josiah sighed and lowered his hand. “I come on most urgent business. I have been sent to help you.”
Cynicism replaced shame. “I’ve heard this before.”
Erwin Ramsted, a staunch member of the Congregational Alliance, offered Paul a large sum of money to leave Ravens Cove and never return.
“To help with your moving expenses,” he said.
It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now!
“I don’t need the kind of help you’re offering, Mr. Williams. Please leave. I have work to do.”
“I have never come to offer you help before. I am here to talk to you about a matter of great import—a matter of life and death! We must speak. I have been sent by God!”
Paul believed in a more authentic scenario: This Josiah Williams represented a new attack by the CA’ers. Have the Bible thumper become involved with a loony commanded by God.
“I do not believe you. Go to the Right Reverend, and tell him this plan won’t work either. Now, again, please leave!”
Josiah stood in silence, not taking his eyes off Paul.
The man’s clear, transparent eyes caught Paul off guard. They reminded him of the rich blue of the sky on a crisp, cold, Ravens Cove day. He shook his head.
Josiah took a deep breath, “I do not know a Right Reverend. I do know a humble Jewish carpenter Who is my King, Who told me to come to this church in this town.”
God, please provide wisdom, Paul prayed. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Maybe you are who you say you are, and God forgive me if I am wrong. If you are not associated with the Congregational Alliance, then you do not know how I have battled to establish this humble church in this town.
“If you are associated with them, then you know all too well the slander and schemes I have endured in the past months.
“All I know right now is I am not willing to risk disparagement of my family and this church. Now, please go!”
Josiah sighed again, heavier this time. What now, O God?
The answer came before he finished praying. Revisit him tomorrow; he will understand more by then.
Josiah turned to Paul. “I will return tomorrow. God bless your day with truth and understanding.”
Josiah strode to the entrance and opened the door.
“I’d rather you didn’t come back,” Paul answered.
The noonday light outlined Josiah’s frame with a bright silhouette. Paul watched the older man place the well-worn, black hat on his head, but not until he cleared the threshold.
As the door closed, Paul caught a glimpse of a second man standing so close to Josiah they could have been one. His height dwarfed the old man’s tall frame. An electric-blue light swirled and danced with each man’s movement.
Paul shook his head to clear his vision. Just what I need, to start hallucinating angelic beings!
A whisper with the strength of a thousand stallions plowed through the cynicism making a home in his heart. “Not a hallucination, Paul, but a vision.”
Relief and hope flooded Paul. Yet as quickly as those feelings rose, he pushed them from his consciousness. Where has hope gotten me?
Paul remembered arriving in Ravens Cove full of a small child’s optimism. He learned the devastation of crushed dreams and innocence born from the naïve belief those who professed to follow Jesus Christ told the truth.
I will not make the same mistake twice,” he vowed.