Chapter 31

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" Ephesians 6:13-17

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was already up and the sky clear and blue. School mornings just seemed easier to get ready for in the spring and fall when the sun was up earlier. Winter mornings, when it was still dark when they got to school, were tough. Elijah always felt that if the day hadn’t started before the alarm clock, then why should he?

Dad had on his best suit with the jacket draped across the seat between him and Becca. He had a second interview at the hospital at 8 A.M., which was on the hill right down the street from the school. Elijah felt more of a bond with his dad this morning than he had felt in a long time. Mainly because the way Dad had told the missionaries last night that his family was more important to him than making money. It wasn’t that he had ever believed that Dad had ever felt the opposite way; it was just really good to hear him say the words.

Becca seemed to be feeling the same way. She hadn’t been her usually early morning grouchy self today. Gram even asked her what had or had not gotten into her. It was fun for Elijah to sit in the back seat and listen to her and Dad joking around.

“And how old are you again?” Dad asked her with the fake quizzical look he always gave when asking a question he already knew the answer to.

“Sixteen next month,” Becca replied. “And you know what that means?”

“You’ll lock yourself in your room until you’re thirty?”

“No, silly! You’ll start teaching me how to like drive and stuff.”

Dad tilted over and looked at himself in the rear view mirror. “Oh man, I think I just sprouted a dozen new gray hairs.”

“The sidewalks won’t be safe for years,” Elijah threw in from the back seat.

“Oh yeah! You just blew your chances of getting rides to places with that one buster,” Becca shot back over her shoulder.

“Buster? Did you just call me buster?” Elijah replied, his voice elevating with each word. They had heard the “Did you just call me buster” phrase in a movie once and they, including Dad, used it from time to time. It was always good for an inside joke.

“Hold up, you two,” Dad said suddenly looking down the street in front of them. “Roll up your windows.”

Elijah looked up over the front seat to see what was going on. Down the street there were more news vans than usual. There had actually only been a few left hanging around the past few days.

But there was something more going on than more news reporters. Elijah could see a crowd of people standing on the sidewalk across from the school. Many were holding signs, but it was still too far to make out what they said. As they got closer, the leader of the group became clear, Pastor Mike.

Surrounded by a group of reporters with microphones extended, he stood at the street corner with a large white sign that had the words “FALLEN PROPHET” written across it. Pastor Mike’s and Elijah’s eyes met as they drove by. The preacher’s face was emotionless; he just stared at Elijah like he was trying to search his soul, as all around him people chanted “Fallen Prophet.”

********

Jonathan did not try to hide the look of sadness he knew he wore. He knew that when his father chose a battle like this he would go all out. Most of his sermons would now be anti-Mormon centered, there would be special classes during the week, and there would most certainly be more picketing.

It only increased his desire to study. Like his father, Jonathan had picked his battle. The Book of Mormon was true, he could feel it every time he read from its pages and he knew that the time would soon come where he would have to defend his faith. He would need to have on the whole armor of God.

That was where the prayer group came in. They would be able to learn together and support each other. And now with Miss Freed’s offer to teach seminary, they would have structure instead of having random lessons as he had originally planned. That, of course, depended on what the school had told her.

“Good morning, everyone,” Jonathan began. “It looks like everyone’s here so let’s get started.”

Jonathan squinted from the morning sunlight’s glare as he looked around the room. “I’m anxious to hear what Miss Freed found out about teaching seminary, so let’s hear from her first.”

Miss Freed stood up from her usual seat in the back of the room. She tentatively looked around the room. “I’m sorry to say that with less than a month before the school year comes to an end, the principal feels that it’s too late to start an official seminary program. But on the bright side, he has given us permission to start in the fall.”

Silence fell across the room for a moment until Jonathan again spoke. “Thank you, Miss Freed, that is good news and a victory for us as a group. Victories and defeats are something I’ve been thinking about more and more. It reminds me that we are fighting a battle of sorts. A battle that we can win if we’re prepared.”

Jonathan reached into his backpack and pulled out his Bible. Flipping through he quickly came to his destination. “This is my favorite passage in the Bible. The Apostle Paul is telling the Ephesians how to prepare for their spiritual battles.

“‘Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’”

Jonathan paused for a second to look around the room again. “The one thing that has gotten me through the past couple of days is the armor of God. And what has strengthened my armor has been reading the Book of Mormon. Principal Jackson is right. It is too late in the year to start seminary. And with final exams coming up it’s probably too late to start having lessons on topics too, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t strengthen our group.

“Isaiah said that after Christ comes again men would beat their swords into plowshares, but that time hasn’t come yet. Our sword is the word of God and we must sharpen it. I would like for us as a group to read a chapter from the Book of Mormon every morning before we pray.”

There was a unanimous agreement from the group.

********

“I just don’t know, man,” said Ben, sounding dejected.

“It’s like the missionaries said,” answered Elijah. “God knows we’re not going to be perfect. He only asks that we try and repent of the rest.”

“I know, but they said that even bad thoughts are against the law of chastity. The Word of Wisdom, no problem. I flushed the last of my stash last week when I committed to changing my life, but I can’t flush my thoughts. That’s impossible, I’ll be repenting constantly.” Ben shrugged his shoulders and started stirring around his pudding.

Ben, Elijah, and Jonathan had just sat down at their table in the cafeteria when Ben started expressing his concern over the law of chastity. “I’m not saying that it’s something I’d throw in the towel over, but I just don’t see how anyone can be expected to not have bad thoughts.”

“Help me out here, Jonathan,” Elijah pleaded to his friend across the table. “You’re better at this than me.”

Jonathan was staring at his tray, lost in thought. As the question sunk in he shook his head as if snapping out of a trance. “Huh? Sorry, I thought I just saw my tapioca try to make a run for it.”

Both Elijah and Ben stared back at him. Jonathan was always so serious that they were caught off-guard at his attempt at humor. Jonathan rolled his eyes. “Ben, God doesn’t expect you to never have bad thoughts. Everyone does sometimes. My dad always told us that the mind is like a television. When you’re flipping through the channels you sometimes hit a bad show. It’s not wrong to hit the bad channels, but it is if you sit back and watch the show.”

“I like that one,” Ben returned with a laugh. “Your right ‘E’, he is better at it than you are.”

“Laughter from the False Prophet table guys, must be plotting how they can fool more souls into following them.” David and his crew strode up the isle and stood behind Jonathan. Elijah looked up at them and knew that he had to do something right now or this was going to turn into an every day occurrence.

Elijah starred at their assailants and tried to think of something to say that would put an end to this. Before he could respond David’s eyes moved from Elijah’s to something behind him. Even Jonathan and David’s friend’s mouths gaped open and stared at whatever amazing thing was going on behind him.

“These boys botherin’ you, Elijah?”

Looking up over his shoulder Elijah looked right up the nostrils of Meatplow. Elijah and Ben’s mouths gaped open, too.

“Um, yes,” was all that Elijah’s stunned brain could say.

“That doesn’t seem very polite,” Meatplow growled as he leaned forward and put his hands on the table between Elijah and Ben; whose eyes followed down the massive, hairy arms to the tray sized hands and then across the table to David’s beat red face.

David just stood there, gritting his teeth. Everyone watched and waited for a response, but none came. Several times his mouth twitched as though he might respond, instead he and his group just quickly turned and walked away.

Meatplow walked around the table and sat down beside Jonathan. As he sat down Elijah felt his side of the table rise slightly. Despite his size and tough looks, Meaplow seemed a little timid as he spoke. “Hey, I hope it was O.K. for me to butt in like that.”

“O.K. That was freakin’ awesome,” Ben replied.

Meatplow smirked, “Well, I just wanted to come over and ask if it’s alright if I start coming to yun’s guys morning meeting?”

Still in awe, Elijah replied, “Sure.”

“It’s just that Mark’s a good friend of mine and I trust him. Whatever team he’s on, I want to be on, too.”

“Of course,” Elijah replied. “Any friend of Mark’s is a friend of ours.”

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