Dec. 16th, Year 1 of the Vow
“You really think that you can take down– me?!” The Swazi Preacher, Sibusiso, questioned Blaze.
Blaze was a bloodied pulp, strapped to a chair, tethered by knotted rope.
Sibusiso was drenched in sweat. He wore light tan slacks, and a white Hawaiian shirt with palm tree leaves on it. He held a 9 mm glock in his hand and he waved it around as he talked like a pentacostal preacher waves his bible around all fired up with a sermon.
Nike and I hid behind some wooden crates in this huge storage warehouse near the ocean shores of South Florida.
Oh, yeah, I guess I have to journal about how we ended up rescuing Blaze from his foe. Though it’s only been a few days… a lot has occurred.
So, the night Nike arrived at Ricki’s…
Nike immediately sat next to me in the booth. Blaze was relaxed, nowhere close to fuming like when we first met back in New Mexico a couple months ago.
Wow, I realized it had only been a couple months since I’ve known Nike. If my life operated like a real-world-folk, I wouldn’t be contemplating marriage with a total stranger.
Mother said, as humans, we were capable of falling for anyone, because we were designed to love. The important thing was not to fall for a toxic person or someone who didn’t stir us to be all we could be in life.
I find that odd for mother to say because she also claimed she could never love anyone the way she loved father. He was her person.
Ricki sat back down and an awkward silence settled among us. How did one covertly attempt to convert someone? Choosing Jesus the Messiah was an open choice, not a closed and concealed one like the many paths of Satan.
“Mama Ricki, you know why I’m here, right?” Nike plainly asked, grabbing the woman’s hands and clasping them gently in hers.
“To convert me to avoid eternal damnation. I know you and your father are deeply religious, and I am spiritual. Though I’m not certain what will happen when I die, I cannot join a religion responsible for some of the most unspeakable horrors in our world. Christianity is not peaceful.” Ricki said retracting her hands from Nike.
I’ve seen this alot before growing up. Us believers can be really pushy and off-putting to the ones we loved most and that we deemed lost by biblical standards. Almost like we didn’t trust the Lord enough with their salvation. As if we thought we had the power to wield salvation like a sword and slay their unbelief. That somehow our presence could pressure them into believing in the LORD.
We should know by now that if salvation was a choice for us, salvation was a choice for all. Sometimes, no matter how convincing and compelling you present the gospel, people don’t want to believe.
“Ricki, I know it’s hard to believe that if there is a God, who and what is it, but trust me, we can say God is real. Probably more than others can say.”
Oh yeah, Ricki didn’t know about Blaze’s Nazarite Vow. She thought he was an independent contractor for Government Black Ops projects, and a bounty hunter on his off time.
“Did your prayers work for your wife to survive her injuries in the ICU? If you know who God is and so personally, why did God deny your petition?” Ricki argued standing up. She crossed her arms over her chest, waiting huffily for an answer.
“The LORD is sovereign.” Blaze said.
That type of answer ticked off faith-strugglers, even ones that claimed they believed.
“With a sovereign entity that implies all things, good and bad, are a result of the sovereign, correct?”
Blaze stayed quiet.
“No. When people have free will their choices, majority of the time, shape their reality. That means bad things happen to good people because of the choices governments make– strangers, neighbors, friends, and family members make. God is sovereign over the totality of things, especially in the life of believers because His insight knows the best outcome for everyone involved, especially the life of believers. Who knows, perhaps, given the choice, my mother didn’t want to come back. But we can’t plague ourselves with what-ifs, and maybes– all we need to do is trust in the LORD.” Nike explained.
The two-headed snake spirit detached itself from her skin and slithered around her neck to face us. It opened both of its mouths with a hiss. We knew to the natural onlooker her eyes would appear those gorgeous ginger eyes, but to us her eyes turned pitch black.
“No religious person ever has answers for the visions I’ve had. The experiences I’ve had. I’m alright woke. My encounters with the light are probably stronger than what you have with Jesus. How can some of the most loving people I know in the world be so narrow minded and not accept there are many paths to god.”
There were many paths to the god of the air: Satan, but only one path to God the Father. Satan didn’t care how a soul pays homage to IT, as long as a soul didn’t openly acknowledge JESUS as the way, the truth, and the life then Satan counted that as a victory.
I didn’t say anything though. I barely knew the woman.
“You believe in spirits, right? That there are good ones and bad ones?” Nike questioned Ricki.
“Yes, I cleanse my home every morning of negative energies and unclean spirits.”
“Well, we believe most spirits are unclean and the only way to be rid of them is through Jesus the Messiah.” Nike explained.
Jabbing her hands to her sides, driven with clenched fists, Ricki got defensive, “I don’t like the negative vibes emanating from this gathering. We either drop the religion conversation or all of you can leave now.” She stated with a stern, assertive voice.
Nike slammed her palms on the surface of the table rocking the houseboat nearly tipping the floating home over.
“Fine, go to hell and burn because you can’t forgive church people hurting you as a little girl. Just admit, you don’t want to know God.” Nike hounded standing up.
“I don’t understand how an all powerful being would actually allow a world like this to exist! If He is real – and that is a big IF – then I think He is the cruelest creature to ever exist.” Ricki argued back lunging forward to get in Nike’s face.
“If He were cruel, He would force you to love Him against your will. He would give no free will. Just because crummy people make awful choices, we can’t ask God to forsake who He is to make life candy canes and rainbows for us. He is just just as much as He is good, and justice spares nothing for wicked but gives ample time to repent for that wickedness. The one that hurt you when you were little will see justice if not in this life, but on judgement day.” Nike explained without blinking or breaking eye contact.
Then she walked past her godmother. She picked up her black leather duffle bag off the ground.
Nike slung the bag on her shoulder and said, “Sorry for being so pushy, but I kinda don’t wish hell on my worst enemy. If you want to learn who God is, call me.” Walking to the door, “I have business to finish and I don’t have time to waste.”
“You’re not going anywhere.” Blaze said in his firm, fatherly tone.
“Unless the LORD orders me to stay, I’m going.”
Not a millisecond later we all heard the LORD’s voice: … stay …
Ricki probably didn’t hear God speak. That still, small voice usually was only heard by believers. Though, when I toured, I talked with people who tripped acid and claimed hearing from a voice I would describe as God… weird how humanity works.
“I should know better than to bring Him into this… I guess I’ll stay.” Nike huffed.
“I don’t appreciate being spoken to so disrespectfully in my home. If it happens again, I don’t care that this could be the last time I see you… You’re gone.” Ricki clarified.
I still wasn’t sure if Nike was going to storm out, breaking the door off its hinges or if she was going to play nice and stay.
Both women got teary-eyed. Nike slumped her shoulder down, the one that hoisted her duffle bag up by the strap, and let the bag plop to the floor.
She softly cried, “I’m sorry, Mama…”
The serpent spirit simmered down and slithered back into a spiritual tattoo on the back of Ricki’s neck. Ricki embraced Nike into her arms and they wept for giving each other trouble together. It was a tender moment.
The sleeping arrangements were lame. I got to sleep out on the open deck with a sleeping bag. Blaze got the couch inside. Nike shared Ricki’s bed.
The starry sky was a perk though.
The rising sun woke me up… Well, that and choking on some sort of bug flying into my mouth. One could never get too much protein, could they?
I stumbled loudly pack inside the houseboat. I tried super hard to be extremely quiet, but my best efforts were an epic failure.
I thought for sure I’d wake everyone up.
Ricki was up, on the floor, the very center of the dining space, kitchen area, and living room. She was burning incense and meditating as she recited chants. The spirit serpent attached to her was out and active. It was big, nearly consuming the entire place. Other spirits buzzing about seemed to dance with the serpent. Neon colors flashing like sparklers in the air hovered around her head like a halo. I had never seen anything so spectacular in all my life and my experience with the supernatural.
The feeling of euphoria in the atmosphere was otherworldly. No words really to describe it. I sorta felt like I was melting into whatever this sensation was.
However, deep in my core, my spirit in communion with the Holy Spirit was repelled by this goop of darkness. I couldn’t stand to be around it. The icky feeling in my gut picked at me like an itch I couldn’t scratch.
Cautiously, I backed up to go back out onto the deck. The moment I stepped back, and made the floorboard creak, Ricki popped her eyes open.
“Don’t go!” She exclaimed.
The little spirits scattered like roaches. The neon sparkler colors disappeared and the double-headed serpent spirit shrunk down and retreated into its’ hiding place on her body.
She blew out her incense sticks in the jar before her, and she stood up, picking up the jar as she rose. She walked over to the kitchen sink and sat the jar down on the counter near the coffee pot.
“I’m sure you have a ton of questions about last night.” She said as she started rummaging through her cabinets.
“It’s not my place to ask.” I said honestly.
“I appreciate that,” she said as she paused what she was doing to flash a smile at me. Then she continued to collect what she needed for what I assumed were the things to make coffee. “How do you like your coffee?”
“However,” I said.
“Not picky, interesting,” she said.
Blaze and Nike come back with bags of take out for breakfast. For the man not being rich like my family, he sure ate out a lot.
Breakfast presented interesting information, and some of it was predictable.
Ricki grew up in a deeply religious family. A part of her loved being a girl of religion. No mean man in the church sexually abused her or anything like that as assumed last night.
Ricki was 16 when she got pregnant out of wedlock. She experienced horrible treatment from the congregants at her church. Especially, when she decided not to marry the boy she conceived a child with. Tragically, she went into labor early and her premie died 10 days later. People at her church, more specifically her pastor, told her that the child died because of her sin and her lack of repentance for her sin.
Instead of comforting her in her hour of need, she was judged onto despair.
“I remember praying, and begging God to save my son, and I swore I’d convert for real and live my whole life for God, but my little boy still died.” Ricki spoke monotonically with tears swelled in her eyes.
Unfortunately, people don’t understand God isn’t like Karma. You don’t do good to get only good outcomes. You could be faithful to God, and do everything right, and still get a bad lot, because God isn’t solely about rewarding you for your actions. God’s purpose is to make you a whole human being, and a strong human needs to be able to have character that can withstand adversity. Plus, if one understands the worst is bearable because one can find refuge, strength, and courage in the LORD, then one has found the path to life, which is the LORD and the circumstances of their life.
It is unknowable why God allowed Ricki’s son to die, but Ricki choosing not to follow God because she didn’t get the outcome she wanted was no excuse. The so-called believers in her life didn’t help her either. If they loved her more and judged her less, then maybe her thoughts about God would be aligned with His Word.
After breakfast, Nike stayed back with Ricki while Blaze and I traveled a couple hours to meet up with Cutter Steel. Yes, to my knowledge that was a person’s real name and not an alias. He would be the contact Ricki had to find us the Swazi Preacher.
*Edited by Kristen Wenneborg