Rufus had been tormenting the town for quite some time. It had gotten to the point that it was difficult for children to even play outside. Though everybody in town knew about him, no one knew what to do about him. His strange behavior had become more than a nuisance...
Parents would sit by their children, stroking their hair, telling them God would take care of them, that He would protect them. Yet even as such bedtime stories were told, Rufus’ shrieking could be heard in the distance.
Parents were cautious when out and about with their children. One never knew when Rufus would appear. He was often seen in the area of the nearby mountains, darting like a deer, screaming, crying, and always naked. When he managed to wear clothes, they were always blood-soaked. Everyone knew Rufus was a “cutter.” Finding the sharpest stones on the ground, he would drive their edge into his skin, sending his blood coursing down his body.
Burying the dead was always a dreaded act. Everyone knew Rufus lived among the tombs, and he seemed to lie in waiting for a funeral procession. It was as if death were some kind of highlight in his day.
Most everyone knew that something evil seemed to have taken hold of Rufus. Though people possessed by evil were not uncommon in those days, Rufus seemed unlike anyone they had ever seen, or heard about. His behavior was beyond odd, outside the realm of strange.
On occasion the towns’ leaders had approached Rufus to subdue him. They had used fetters and heavy chains in the hopes of binding him long enough to find a cure. But all such attempts had been in vain. Some strange, evil power would soon overcome him, and he would break the chains in two. The townsfolk were at a total loss as to what could be done.
And those screams! They were awful. Often heard in the middle of the night, children would awake with a cold sweat. Though Rufus lived in the graveyard, when the odd powers stirred in him, his shrieks could be heard for what seemed like miles. “O God, please help Rufus, and help US!” This was the ongoing cry of the townspeople. “He has a devil,” the Rabbis at the Synagogue explained. But that was only partly true. In fact, over 2000 devils had crowded into Rufus’ wounded heart. The prayers were steady.
And the Warrior God heard their cries. The Good was coming to town to confront the Bad: The Ugly would soon be a sight of beauty...
“Get in the boat men - we need to go to the other side,” the Warrior King told his soldiers. One by one they climbed into the ship, having no idea of what lay before them. They had seen their Warrior King do so much, but the episodes that would unfold over the next few hours would heighten their state of awe.
Troubled waters were common in this sea. One could leave the shore on a cloudless day and encounter a life-threatening storm in a matter of minutes. And such would be the case on this day for the Warrior King and His motley crew.
None of His warriors knew why they were going to the “other side.” They were not aware of Rufus, nor Rufus of them. But the Warrior King was always thinking ahead. He knew why He had come into the world. His mission was aimed at such people as Rufus. The Good was coming after The Bad - to rescue The Ugly.
There was another who knew the Warrior King was coming - and why He was coming. He was the one responsible for Rufus and the havoc he wreaked. He owned Rufus, as he did so many others. It delighted him to see the chaos Rufus created. This “other one” -The Bad - watched the Warrior King and His followers board the boat. He knew they were coming after Rufus. And as he had done so many times before, he plotted against them. He remembered how, so many years earlier, he had been allowed to tamper with the weather. By the use of the high winds he had murdered the children of Job. “Perhaps I can kill them at sea,” he murmured.
As he saw them drawing nearer to the region of the Gadarenes, he stirred the waters with a ferocious storm. The thunder clapped, the lightning struck, water filled their tiny ship. The warriors panicked. Several of them, trained fishermen, had seen the wrath of the sea before. But this storm seemed to be different. It was as if some dark power had taken control of the skies, and was now pouring its anger upon the waters. “We’re going to die,” they cried. Fear engulfed their hearts.
“Wake Him up!” Peter shouted. “Perhaps He’ll have an idea about what to do.”
A couple of them rushed over to the Warrior King. He was sound asleep. How could He sleep through such an ordeal? they wondered. “Wake up! Wake up! Don’t you care that we’re about to die?” They shook Him as they screamed.
CONTINUED IN COLUMN TO THE RIGHT....