The Bowing Knee

Thunder calls the lightning break,

‘Till my bowing knee start quake,

Answer back for His blood drained

That mourned the Son been slain.

Oh come you who lack faith!

He laid here for death to taste,

And three days death was faced,

But the tomb was not embraced,

Just our transgressions erased.

                        -Zachary Pinkston

A Job at the Bank

The end of my cigarette burned brighter as I inhaled.  Wisps of smoke came from both ends, and then as I exhaled, the smoke came pouring out my mouth.

“It’s too easy.” He declared as he stared out the window.

I nodded in agreement. “You’re right, it really is pretty easy, just a ‘lil risky.” I exclaimed through my cigarette smoke.  “We need it, well mom needs it, but still what if we got shot?  Mother would die if anything happened to us!”

“Yea, she really would, it won’t happen though.  We only need a few minutes, then we’re gone.” Thomas explained.  He reached into the almost empty pack and grabbed a square.  A match was struck, and his cig was lit.

“Why we even doing this. It’s ridiculous.  You’re in college, and I got a quite good job at Andy’s.  I don’t understand why mother didn’t tell us ’bout her health earlier, we could’ve found some good insurance for her.”  I uttered.

Thomas looked at me, “I know it’s been tough on you Al.” He placed his hand on my shoulder, “but we will get through this, all summer I’ve been working hard too, making sure she got her meds, and after college, I’ll be able to get a high end job, then mom won’t have any troubles.  But she has bills now, and we don’t have anything.”

“I know, I know.  It just ain’t fair on her.  She was a hard working lady, until she got sick.  It just ain’t fair.” I retorted. My head hung low for a second in shame.  Then I brought my eyes up to meet my brother’s, “You’re right Thomas, we gotta do this now.”

We sat in the truck a few more minutes.  The silence built up, but comfortably, like the cushions on mom’s couch. Both of our cigarettes were finished, and as we looked across the street at the bank, a false sense of security fell over us.  Maybe it was the nicotine in our systems, or maybe just the fact that we both knew we had a job to do.  Whatever it was, we knew that robbing the bank was the only thing left to do.  Mother was sick, and even though she could still move around and go down to the general store when needed, she was in pain.

We had all the supplies ready, and it was now or never. We decided it was best if we left the truck a block or so away, so that no one would see the truck’s plate. Everything was ready.  We had the guns, the masks, the gloves, and even some bags to put the cash in.

“Whatever happens, we’re doing it for mom.” I said as we walked out to the truck. “Only for mom, promise me we won’t use this cash for anything except her medical bills.”

“Of course Al, you know I’m only doing this for mom.  If she wasn’t in the picture I would’ve never even considered this.” Thomas clarified.

I nodded in approval as both of the truck doors screeched open.

“Get on the ground, this is a stick up!” I yelled as I raised my right arm allowing my revolver to be shown.  Men and women scrambled in a sudden jump of panic. I let off a warning shot into the ceiling, and a cry rang out in the crowd.  Then, only silence remained.

Thomas had apprehended the middle aged security guard in the front of the bank, and now held his gun to the man’s head.  “Keep your hands on your head, you do so much as inch a finger towards that gun, I’ll create a red stain-glass exposition on the front window.” Thomas ordered as he reached to the mans hip, and pulled out the gun.  The bank was ours, and all eyes were on us.

“Everyone in back’f the counter keep your hands in the air.  Where’s the manager? I said where’s the manager?” I yelled.

“Here, right here,” came the voice of a slender man behind the counter. He wore dress clothes, minus the suit jacket.  “Please calm down sir.” He nervously commanded.

I marched over to the counter to grab the manager.  All of a sudden, from the bundle of people on the floor, an elderly woman stood up.

“Thomas? Al?” The lady questioned.  “Is that you?”

In surprise and horror, Thomas sprinted over to me leaving the security guard unmanned.

“Al, why is mother here? I thought she was going to get groceries this morning!” He whispered in my ear.

“I don’t know, let’s jus’ act like we don’t know her.”

I turned around, “Lady get back on the floor right now.” I ordered, but she started walking towards us.  Without raising my gun to her, I ordered her to get down again, but she remained.

Out of our view, the security guard had leaned down and grabbed his back up pistol from his ankle holster.  He aimed it towards Thomas, and pulled the trigger.

“No, no, why?” I sobbed, it had only been a few seconds, but tears already came streaming down my face.

Mother lay on the floor, surrounded by a pool of blood.

“Mom, mom, can you hear me?” Thomas asked as he cradled our mother in his arms.

Somehow, mother had seen the security guard pull the gun, and in a split second, stepped in front of Thomas.

As her life dwindled, blood came pouring out of her mouth.  It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. It was supposed to be easy.

When It Is Finished

Two days ago, I went running in downtown Lynchburg.  The weather was great; a perfect day to go running.  As I was running on the path, I passed an overweight gentleman who wore a weighted vest and was speed walking.  I presumed he was drastically trying to lose weight the best he could.  As I passed him, he nodded at me in a friendly gesture, and I replied, “how are you doing today?”  As I kept running, I heard his reply.  He said, “we’ll see when it’s finished.”  I guess he was in some pain from working out, and wouldn’t be able to tell how he really was doing until it was over.  This brought up a theological point to my mind.  Many people in this world don’t believe they can know their position in the eyes of God.  For Christians, we know exactly where our position with God is.

God doesn’t tell us that if we believe in Jesus Christ, we might be saved.  He tells us that if we believe in Jesus Christ, we will surely be saved.

John 3:16 NLT  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

This is a common verse, that many people quote everyday.  We don’t have to wait for the finish to know whether or not we are acceptable in the eyes of God. Because of God’s son Jesus, everyone who believes in Jesus Christ is made acceptable by Christ’s sacrifice.

The book of 1st John is a perfect read if you struggle with wondering whether or not God’s grace covers you.

1 John 5:11-13 NLT “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life , and this life is in his Son.  12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.  13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.”

There is no doubt.  If we believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, we have no doubt that we are saved.  We do not have to wait until the journey is over to find out how we did, or what “grade” we got.  Believing in Jesus Christ as our savior is the way to salvation, and the Bible clearly tells us that we can be sure of it.

The Years To Come

Everyone dreams.  I too dream.  Ever since I was a small child, I would plan out my future and what I wanted to be.

The first thing I can remember wanting to be was a pilot for the military.  My grandfather, B. Smith was in the Navy for a while and learned to fly fighter jets.  I was really fascinated at how they could takeoff and land on a moving ship.  I kept that dream with me through elementary school, until I was in fourth grade.

Every morning in my fourth grade French class, the Haitian teacher would turn on the television and let us watch the daily news.  This particular morning, he turned on the news and the Montreal anchor announced to my class that there was a situation going on in the United States.  The date was September 11th, 2001.  I watched the events unfold, and I told my classmates that when I was old enough, I was going to join the United States Army.  Of course, none of my classmates believed me.

In 2007, I went on a mission trip with a group from Georgia to South Africa.  We spent a few weeks at an orphanage.  This particular orphanage mostly took in children who were HIV positive, or were orphaned because of HIV and AIDS.  It broke my heart to see a nursery full of babies who never knew their parents because of AIDS, and that many of these babies, were infected with and had to live the rest of their lives with the cripple of HIV.

I came back from my trip to South Africa changed, but my goal to be in the Army remained.

In 2009, I moved from Canada to the United States to start college.  That October, I joined the Arkansas National Guard so that I could get my degree, but be part of the military at the same time.  I also did ROTC for the first two years of my college career, but decided Officership was not for me.  I went through basic, infantry school, and airborne school in 2010.

While being in college, I realized that I loved to write, and that I wanted to do something with writing.  I decided a journalism major would help me achieve an opportunity to write professionally. I really liked reading about different cultures, especially those featured in National Geographic Magazine.  I read Thomas L. Friedman’s book, From Beirut To Jerusalem, and was inspired to be successful, but to be successful a world away from the United States.  I decided that I wanted to eventually work for National Geographic, and that to work for them as a writer would be the ultimate success when it came to journalism.  No other magazine held the prestige of National Geographic and I in turn wanted to be a part of that legacy.

Then, in the summer of 2011, I went on vacation with my family.  It was no ordinary vacation, in reality, it wasn’t a vacation at all.  We went to Haiti, where we worked in an orphanage for a few weeks.  I really fell in love with the country and people of Haiti.  The couple who directed the orphanage were natives of the United States, and in their late twenties. They had come down to Haiti to start this orphanage, and had planned it out quite well.  They had nannies who would take care of the children during the day, and then at night, the day nannies were replaced with a few nannies who worked the night shift.  The orphanage housed about 50 to 60 babies to the age of five.

This was different than the way the orphanage in South Africa worked.  In South Africa, they had about 6 nannies, and these six women were in charge of one house.  Each house was home to 8 to 10 children from the age of two all the way to eighteen.  Each house would have older children who would act as the older siblings, and the ages would diminish until there were younger sibling who had come from the nursery.  I thought this was a great system.  The children had a mother figure who would tuck them in bed at night and then go to their respective homes in the surrounding community.  After lights out, the older siblings would take care of any problems.

The nursery in South Africa had nannies who stayed there around the clock.  Most of these babies were sick, had been neglected, or HIV positive.

Over the 2011/2012 school year, I realized that I wanted to eventually start a magazine that focused on Africa, and what God was doing in the continent.  This is still something I dream of doing someday.

This summer, I was in New Mexico at a Christian college convention visiting my father.  One day, a group of the missionaries went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant, and I joined my father.  I sat by a gentleman named Randall Gallaway.  He asked me about my hobbies and what I enjoyed doing, and he found out promptly that I was in the U.S. Army.  He told me that he supported me, but then changed the tone.  He told me that as good as it was being in the Army, the Army doesn’t bring people to Christ.  That really affected me.  It is still affecting me today.  He told me that he had worked for many years with African students.  He told me that there was a huge need in the world for Christian men and women to start orphanages.  He explained that I would be perfect for it because of my military training, and that I could also write while directing an orphanage.  I told him I would pray about it.

The last month or so, I haven’t been able to get this conversation out of my mind.  I have worked in orphanages, I have loved working in orphanages, and I may have the skills to run a Christian orphanage.  I am really praying and asking God if this is what he wants me to do.  I know that it would not interfere with my writing, and if anything, would give me more to write about.  I’m really thinking about the possibility of directing an orphanage after I get out of the Army, in 2015.  I hope that the years to come prepare me for this, or whatever God wants for me in my life.

Chapter Two

Hey everyone, So I finished chapter two of my book.  I added chapter one before it so that you can read that before chapter two if you would like to refresh your memory.

Chapter One:

Welcome to my perfect life.  I couldn’t have it any better.  First of all, she was safe, and, I was safe!  And second of all, we were nowhere near where they were, and surely, they wouldn’t come looking for me.  This life, to us, was paradise.  Let me show you why!  The house was Victorian era, gorgeous, with two maple trees in the front yard, which made the loop of the driveway.  They had asked if we wanted the drive paved, since the dirt road had been eroding over time, but I steadily declined.  The dirt road gave it an authentic look.  The back yard though, was in mint condition and the view was spectacular, especially in the early evening. The shade of the mountain and lack of civilization made the stars visible even while the sun was still up.  This particular day was different, to some it might have been called a muggy day, but the mist being broken over the face of Cliffwall Mountain was indescribable.  We had decided that photography on a misty day like this could be profitable, so we were on our way to find a good place near the base of the mountain to capture the scene. She was in the passenger seat.  I really liked this girl, and the weird thing is, she really liked me too.  Her greenish hazel eyes was what had caught my attention the first time I saw her. Right out of the crowd.  But she must have noticed me that first time too; I’m sure she did.  But she had never given me the reward of knowing it.  Well that was then, now she was mine.  My best friend and the sexiest woman in the world, especially in her hiking boots.  Her fingers weaved their way through my light brown hair, while I kept my focus on the road.  When I was younger, I was a blond, but now it was much darker.  It was at least a few shades darker than her dirty blond hair, which she held as one of her favorite features.  And I promise, her hair wouldn’t disappoint even the most skeptical critics, as it sparkled in the sun.  That is, when there was sun.  But even without the sun, everyday with her was a sunny one.

Pause. I must have been dreaming. What is this empty bare mattress? Oh yea.  It’s mine.  My forehead is sweating, and I wish I could have continued in that beautiful dream, but unfortunately, I was back.  I closed my eyes for just another glimpse.  Just another glimpse at perfection.  So now what? I guess I should tell you the real story. What really happened to me.  It’s a long story.  But then again, I’m sure you have time.

It all started when I was fourteen years old. Old Man Jones down the street had made a deal with me.  If I brought him a percentage of my revenue, he would give me all the cigarettes I needed to sell to my school buddies.  Of course he knew I smoked most of the product to myself; he was still making money.  His deal with me was that I would sell the cheapest cigarettes he had in stock for top dollar.  And even though they were very expensive, all my friends would buy them from me because they were fourteen, and where else would a fourteen year old get tobacco.

 Chapter Two:

Let’s move forward a few years.  To the summer after I had graduated high school.  I was living in Dallas at the time, and just like every city in the United States, you could get in with the right crowd, or get mixed up with the wrong crowd.  Unfortunately for me, I had gotten in with the wrong people.  I had told myself early on, that I would never get into a gang, and thankfully for me, I hadn’t.  But drug dealers, that was a different story.

“Hey man, what you doin’ here? You lost?”

I turned my head from my Ipod to where the voice was coming from.  The guy looked rather intimidating, and his under-shirt revealed a tattoo sleeve on his right arm.  I rolled the driver window down a little further so I’d be able to explain myself better.

“Nah, I’m waiting for a friend.  He told me to meet him here.”  I answered.

“Who you waiting for white boy?”

“Josh.”  I said, right as the guy made it up to my window. “Joshua Everton.”

That answer must have sufficed, because he seemed to lighten up after I gave him Josh’s full name.

“Oh, you roll with Josh.  Well if you friends with Josh, you friends with me too.  I’m Dwayne.  I had to ask you what you were doin’ here, we don’t see many white guys around everyday.”  He explained.

“It’s cool, I’m Eric.”  I replied.

Eric.  That’s my name.  Eric Landon Hartman.

I saw Josh exit the building through the door directly in front of my car.  “Hey Dwayne, you messin’ with my boy?”  Josh said as he walked toward the car.

“No, I just didn’t know who he was.  Just being careful bro.”  Dwayne answered.

Dwayne walked back toward the building.  Josh walked around the front of the car and got in the passenger side.  He lit a cigarette and rolled down the window.

“Where we headed?” I asked as I turned out of the apartment parking lot.

“We gotta stop by Adrian’s, he’s got some stuff for us.” Josh said through the smoke coming out his mouth.

“Alright, and what’s this stuff he’s got for us?”

I knew exactly what he was talking about, but what I was referring to, was the quality?

“He said this was some new stuff.  Some good.  Said it had orange hairs all over it.” He answered.

“Good.  We might make something off this, instead of barely breaking even.” I rejoiced.

This news got my blood pumping.  In the last few weeks, everything that had come our way was of the lowest quality, and low quality meant low prices, which meant no profit.  Josh and I both were in need of the money; him probably more than me, since I still lived with my parents.  But Josh had finished high school two years before me, and he was on his own.  He and I had known each other since my freshman year of high school.  But we were never good friends until about a year ago.  Josh was a pretty big guy.  And when I say big, I don’t mean fat.  In high school, he played football, and even now, he did his best to keep up the muscle.  Josh pulled out two cigarettes, he handed one to me, and lit his.  I lit mine while I kept my eyes on the car in front of me.  My left hand reached over to the door and I rolled the window down slightly to allow the smoke to escape.  Right about then, Adrian’s house came into view.  The house was pretty nice.  Red bricks made up the exterior, and the grass and plants around it were kept up.  Though it was nice, it was also small.  Adrian lived by himself, and thus, didn’t need much space.  I pulled into the driveway, and cut the engine off.

“You got that envelope?” Josh asked as we made our way around the side.  Adrian didn’t like us using the front door, so we would just walk around back.

“Yea for sure!” I answered. “Everything’s in there.”


Josh opened the wooden door, and it creaked ever so slightly.

“Hey Adrian, it’s Josh!” He yelled out.

Adrian had always told us to just come on in, but he also told us to yell out so we wouldn’t startle him.

“I’m in the living room,” was Adrian’s reply.

We made our way into the living room.  Josh shook Adrian’s hand and I followed to do the same.

“What have you been up to?” I asked him as I sat down on the couch across from him.

“Not too much, I was at the bar last night, just woke up two hours ago.”

Adrian did look like he had just woken up.  He wore sweatpants, and a loose white t-shirt.  He stood about 5 foot 9 inches.  He had light brown skin and dark hair, cut short.  I didn’t know how old he was, but if I had to guess, I would have said he was in his late twenties.

“What was going on there?” Josh inquired.

“To be honest, not much at all.  But my boy was DJ so I told him I’d come out.  Not too many people showed up though.” He replied. “But anyways, I got some new stuff for you.”

He got up from the couch and headed into the next room.

“Oh.” He said as he turned back towards us, “we gotta finish business from last week while y’all are here.”

“Yea man, Eric’s got it all ready for you.” Josh announced.

“Perfect, I’ll get the book.” He said as he left the room.