“We must remember, He has a plan for each and every one of us. There may be unforeseen obstacles and pressures that we have to endure. These dark influences, the urges you are feeling is Him testing us. He is testing the boundaries of our resolve. It is our unwavering belief in Him that sees us through. It pushes us through the darkness and into His Light. Amen.”
Thirteen voices replied in calm unison. “Amen.”
Father Don Winters stepped away from the lectern, giving the room a muted smile. The sermon was as much for his parishioners as it was for himself. He was still processing the loss to Cancer Jiles at ReVival 38, specifically how the reviled self-styled God of Cool managed to pick up the win. It was in the past, and Don had been resigned to dusting himself off and moving forward. There was no use in crying over broken eggs after all.
Winters sighed to himself as his feet clapped lightly on the old pine floorboards. The Revelator had taken to pacing around the empty church after service and everyone had returned to their tents. There was a clarity he found doing this, and members of the church were all too happy to give him the space he requested following service. Father Winters had found this was the easiest way to organize his thought cabinet, and the events of ReVival 38, both Jiles and the unpleasantness with that bloodsucking pinko Ruslan, had been stuffed into a manila folder, tabbed to the back and marked “Unfinished Business.”
The Revelator felt a slight breeze at his back and turned to find one of the church members before him. After rummaging around in his head momentarily, Winters remembered him as Samuel, Miriam’s husband. It was Samuel who had come to Winters with the idea that members of the church attend ReVival 39 with the Revelator. Father Don had come to recognize Samuel as a shrewd man who was willing to take his time to make sure things were done right. “All in good time” was something Don had heard him say time and time again.
“Brother Samuel.” Winters smiled warmly. This was one intrusion into his private time that he didn’t mind. Don held out his arms and they embraced. Don held both of Samuel’s arms at the elbows as they parted. “What brings you back here today?”
Don had learned Samuel was both timid and supremely confident. They had joked together in private that Miriam ran their household, and Samuel’s quiet confidence was a result of him knowing his place around his wife. Miriam was a fiery woman, which is why Samuel had suggested she be at the forefront of the traveling coterie. Whether that had been Samuel or Miriam’s idea was between the husband and wife and this wasn’t Father Don’s place to pry.
“I’m sorry for the intrusion Father, but I just wanted to check in, see how you were getting along?” The honesty in Samuel’s voice flattered Winters.
Winters smiled, a glimmer in his eye. “I’m doing well. Things have certainly been a little less boisterous without Miriam around, huh?” He laughed. “And you, are you enjoying the time off?”
Samuel offered a nervous laugh in reply. “It’s been a little too quiet, you know? I miss that firecracker.”
“Have you heard from her?” Winters asked.
“Not yet.” Samuel looked down at his feet, dismayed his wife hadn’t reached out over the last two weeks.
The Revelator put a reassuring hand on Samuel’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, Sam. She reached out earlier today. She’s been spending time with our new friend Mr. Williams. She promises me that everything is coming along nicely.”
“Good,” Samuel replied, the color of hope rushing back into his voice. “She’s very good at what she does. I’m sure Mr. Williams will be a fine ally to our cause. She has a way of bringing out the best in people.”
Samuel paused slightly, before dispensing the timidity and finding his confidence. “What about the other?”
Father Don sighed heavily as one of his hands began to peel away at the back of a pew, chiseling out tiny splinters with his thumb and forefinger. Samuel noticed this obvious display of anxiety but chose to keep that to himself.
“A Sisyphean task, I fear.” A hint of defeat tinged the response. “He may be too far gone for his own good. We’ve agreed to meet, but there’s an unease. I don’t think he can be trusted. We need him to hit bottom before he can come to his senses, but he may not be able to plumb those depths.”
“A lost…” Samuel started to respond but was immediately cut off by the Revelator.
“No one is truly lost,” Winters interjected with a snap and watched Samuel shrink in turn. “You, more than anybody should know this.
Samuel nodded. “Patience.”
Father Don nodded along with him. “We must practice what we preach, Brother Samuel.”
* * *
The frost had begun to creep in around the edges of the windows overnight, leaving the panes half-clear. A fire crackled and burned in the rectory’s small fireplace, giving Father Winters the slight comfort of a heated room. The only everpresent left with the sunrise was the chattering black-capped and his cheerful “chickadee-dee-dee” song. Tiny crystalline structures of water formed together, hardening individually across the lawn, each blade of grass reflecting beautifully in the sun’s morning light.
Don Winters took all this in from his frosted window pane, a mug of black coffee warming his left hand. He pulled out a chair and sat down, continuing to stare out the window as he did. The Revelator had always been a morning person, nobody could ever accuse him of sleeping in. Sunrise was one of life’s little pleasures that he allowed himself to fully enjoy. Overcast and stormy conditions would often ruin his mood and set the tone, but the sunrise was a healing balm for his soul.
November 18, 2023
Recently, I feel my attention starting to be pulled in multiple directions. Is this a loss of focus? No. Am I being stretched too thin? No. Am I beginning to realize the power and strength of my influence? Yes. Through Him, through me all things are possible. Rob Williams is the first to see what we can offer, what’s possible if he surrenders to His Word and Light. I believe in Miariam’s influence and I believe in Rob. I see great things for him, but he must surrender. Before he can prosper, he must give himself over to His Word and Light. Completely. There can be no half-measures.
Burn the ships.
See his light.
Submit. Surrender. Forever.
We are One.
We are L…
The peaceful silence was broken by a voice he had rarely heard. It hadn’t been lost on Don Winters that with Miriam away, others had started to feel like they could approach him. He briefly wondered why, but knew Mary had been in everyone’s ear. She was the direct result of everyone’s newfound confidence. Winters had decided that could only be a good thing for the health of His Word and Light.
“Father Winters, I’m sorry to interrupt, but..”
The meek voice was swiftly interrupted by Winters. “Delilah, you really should knock first.”
“I know, I’m sorry.” She looked at her shoes, almost mournful. “I was checking in to see if you had been preparing.”
Don’s brief flash of anger was replaced with a warm smile. “Preparing for what, exactly?”
He could feel her own confidence growing as he spoke to her, she did manage to enter the rectory without knocking after all.
“For Rob, Daytona, and…” her voice trailed off again.
“And?” Winters pushed her. Say the name.
“Adam.” she stammered it out, her certainty ebbing and flowing with each passing second.
He looked at Delilah with a kindness that belied how he was feeling. “I’m working on it, I appreciate your concern. Now, while you’re here, tell me what has you worried about this?”
Her eyes widened for a moment, perhaps surprised that her opinion seemed to have weight with Father Winters. “I know that we have put the past behind us, but I want to be sure you are focused on Adam. He may not seem like much at first glance, but he is very dangerous to you.”
The Revelator roared at this, slapping his knee in the process. “A danger to everyone, I should say! He’s the Original Sin!”
Delilah politely chuckled but moved past the rare show of humor from Father Winters. “Please take this seriously, Father. You know I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t believe there was a threat to us.”
His voice was calm, level, and reassuring. “You have my word, Delilah. Now please, leave me to my morning, and do not interrupt me without knocking next time. Okay?”
Delilah nodded as she slowly backed out of the room. The Revelator returned to his page.
We are L…
I mustn’t get ahead of myself. We mustn’t get ahead of ourselves. I need to remember Samuel’s virtues through all of this. One step at a time, one day at a time. We can only take this moment, by moment. No amount of planning in the world can prepare us for His will. I am forever humbled by His power and seek nothing but His guidance.
I could not have predicted meeting Ruslan backstage at ReVival after the Jiles match. I told him Russian giants fall just as easily as Philistine giants. And look what has happened. Flamerge is back. PRIME’s petit prince. David standing before the red Goliath.
History repeating? Clairvoyance?
No. Prophecy. Providence. Flamberge fulfills it at Colossus.
As for the more recent demands on my attention, we all find ourselves on slightly different paths. I’m at the beginning. Rob Williams is at the crossroads of his. Daytona Diamonds is about to send a 1974 Dodge Charger into the River Styx and come face to face with Charon. Call it destiny, fate, or coincidence, but I believe these intersections were meant to happen. His divine will. It must be done.
This is just the beginning. 2024 will be known as The Rise of The Revelator.
“What can I get ya, hon?”
“I’ll have Paul’s 2X4 Special, thanks.” Don Winters smiled up at the plaintive-looking waitress who scribbled his order into her notepad.
“Coffee?” She asked deadpan.
The Revelator was traveling with His Word and Light Mobile Ministry from their Michigan headquarters en route to Memphis for ReVival 40. After nearly nine straight hours of driving overnight, they had arrived in sleepy Clarksville. It was still a long while from Memphis, but Don was starving and remembered a breakfast joint that resided in a strip mall. It was still there and looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since he’d last been there 20 years ago. Yellowing, tar-stained drop ceiling tiles, neon orange counter chairs, and wood paneling cover the walls. Nothing matched, everyone looked unhappy. This was a great place to get a good breakfast.
Don also had to give Delilah credit for the idea. While not exactly in or near Missouri, she thought it would be clever to stop here and there to get a feel for Adam Ellis’ upbringing. Don argued the point that Tennessee and Missouri were quite different, but she was unwavering, so he relented. Along the way, he decided that Adam Ellis wasn’t someone who needed a sermon spoken to them. Much like Tennessee and Missouri, Adam Ellis was very different from Crash Jackson and Cancer Jiles.
During the lengthy overnight drive, he had found himself becoming mentally consumed with Adam Ellis and ReVival 40. There was something about the way Delilah spoke with him that had slowly started to gnaw away at him as those long highway miles passed one by one, marker by marker. He fished around inside his jacket and produced a shiny red apple, Red Delicious. He laughed to himself, thinking about how the name was a lie.
Winters had lost track of time, deep within his thoughts, brow furrowed when the waitress returned with his breakfast. His mouth watered until his eyes caught sight of two eggs, yolks staring back at him like soulless eyes. The Revelator’s stomach protested and somersaulted, but Abigail’s voice was in the back of his head, chiding him to push forward and eat.
He mustered a “thank you” over the nausea, knocking back a slug of black coffee before eating. Don left the eggs for last, stomaching through them, fighting the urge to vomit with every single bite. He watched on as the restaurant slowly filled with patrons. A number of regulars took their place at the counter, glancing back over their shoulder at the auburn-maned interloper. Don smiled politely at each of them as they made eye contact, before continuing on with his own meal.
The gnawing feeling about Adam Ellis returned, replacing his hunger with something equally bothersome. As he finished breakfast, he took out a pen and began writing a small note onto a napkin, and tucked two one dollar bills beneath it. He packed himself up, grabbed the apple in one hand, and swung out the front door as the bell chimed behind him.
The waitress went to clean his table and grimaced at the two dollars folded in the napkin. Her eyes rolled as she picked up the napkin and read the note to herself.
“The $2 is a courtesy. The greatest tip I can leave with you is to find comfort and grace in the arms of His Word and Light. Have a blessed day.”
She cursed under her breath as she collected the dishes and wiped the table down.
“The First Man.” Don Winters stared intently into the camera with unwavering blue-green eyes. “You must know this much, Adam Ellis. Your parents raised you in a good, devout family with strong values. Adam. The First Man. You are, by all accounts, a man who does things right, by the book. You carry with you the lessons of your faith from childhood, they have shaped the young man you’ve become.”
He’s currently sitting on the bus outside the Clarksville diner he had just left. His stomach and mind are full, and at the moment he’s only able to clear one of these things.
“You’re the First Man, Adam.” The Revelator continued. “Crash and Jiles? They were a tournament, an entry into PRIME Wrestling to whet my appetite and give me a taste for competition and action. It wasn’t in His plan for me to win the tournament, and while at times it is difficult to accept what He has planned for us, we take it in stride and learn from the trials He tasks us with. As a man raised with good, Christian parents, you know exactly what I’m talking about, Adam.”
Winters shifts his weight and produces the Red Delicious apple. “And Adam, as the First Man, you certainly know what this implies. You’re a good man. Devout. Faithful to your wife, and what a little firebrand she could be. Respectful. You seem wise beyond your years, Adam, yet you are still quite naive. This is not your fault, no, you simply have not lived enough to gain the necessary experience to expel that naivety.
The Revelator holds the apple and turns it in his hand. “Temptation, Adam. That’s what this apple means. It represents opportunity, riches beyond belief, things you’ve never even thought possible. I’m no serpent, Adam. I’m no avatar of Satan, no messenger of the underworld. I’m a simple preacher, trying to spread the gospel of His Word and Light, Adam. In the bible the apple represents temptation, and it gets you and Gin.. I’m sorry, it gets you and Eve kicked out of Eden. The Original Sin. It was all downhill for mankind from that moment.”
“Now, I’m not asking you to give into any sort of temptation, Adam” The Revelator insisted. “In fact, I haven’t been able to find what your true vice is. You truly are a good ole boy. Maybe you get a little too drunk from time to time, but what 23-year-old isn’t out abusing that somewhat newfound legal drinking age privilege? And maybe you dote on Ginny a little much, but who is going to ostracize a man for loving his wife? I certainly can’t hold that against you. That’s why, at ReVival 40, I’m going to offer this apple to you, Adam. I want you to join me at His Word and Light. I want to give you and your wife the opportunity of a lifetime. I want you to see what we are doing for Rob Williams, and know that you can have that for yourself.”
Winters smiles broadly, white teeth clenched together. “Temptation can often lead to sin, Adam, but here it doesn’t have to. The real sin, the original sin for PRIME, would be rejecting my fair offer. Like I said, you are young, but you’re an intelligent man. I know if you look deep within yourself, you’ll find a future with us. With His Word and Light. A brighter tomorrow for each and every one of us.”
“If you reject the bounty I am laying before you, there will be only one recourse for you, Adam Ellis.” Winters was reassuring in his tone. “You are such a good man, almost a godly man, and it sincerely pains me to consider that the only course of action will be to grant you Absolution. A man such as yourself should never have to seek Absolution. You, your wife, and your families are good people. I don’t want to have to hurt you, Adam.”
Winters smiled one last time before delivering his parting message. “Remember Adam, I’m not a snake. I’m just a humble preacher willing to deliver you to His Will.”