SHADOW OF DEATH
Novel #7 in THEY MET JESUS series
It’s now 6:00 AM and the Temple hierarchy has managed to find liars to testify against Jesus in their middle-of-the-night illegal court. They can already smell Jesus’ blood. They drag him through the street to Governor Pilot’s palace. Rome controls all executions. Pilate interviews Jesus in private. It doesn’t take Pilate long to realize he is standing before greatness. He decides to save Jesus’ life by having him scourged with iron bits on the tips of the whip. Jesus’ back turns to raw meat.
Barely alive (most people die of scourging), Jesus is presented to the “holy” mob. They still are not satisfied. “Crucify! Crucify!” The death penalty is granted. It takes two chapters in my book to struggle with Jesus on the cross. This is some of it (which I wrote fifty years ago when I was 17):
The pain. The writhing, seething, shooting pain. How can another moment be like the last? It can’t. But it is.
On and on, endlessly, each joint screaming, calling out for mercy. Relieve me! Relieve me! But there is no relief.
Still the pain. The pain that shoots through the body like fire arrows. The pain that tangles up the muscles like fish in a net. The pain that mounts, ebbs, then comes back more horrible than before.
“…Oh, my God, my God… Keep me strong. Strong for them.”
…On and on, deeper and deeper. Harsh, horrible, hideous, hanging on, never letting go. No relief, no release, no anything but this excruciating pain. Oh the pain…
The spasms. The unrelenting spasms. They’re back. They knot Jesus’ feet and twist them, involuntarily pulling at the rusty stake.
Jesus, God is nearby. He’s touching your feverish brow and enveloping you in his love. And the angels. They’re preparing for your homecoming. Remember? Remember how it used to be?
The longer Jesus’ weight is carried by the spikes, the more his joints slip out of their proper location. The droning of his pain slips almost secretly from his nerves and little by little sneaks into his bones.
Harder and harder it becomes for Jesus to claim his next breath. Still harder to exhale.
His muscles shattered, his shoulder bones dislocated, part of him dehydrating, part of him bloating.
The rhythm of indistinct breathing interrupted only by the spasms that gradually creep up his legs.
Jesus’ heavy laden heart struggles with his dehydrated broken body to pump thick, heavy, sluggish blood to a resistant, barely living being.
“I…uhhhhcgk…thirst,” he whispers.
One last request. It is time to will himself to die.
Can they refuse? No! Look! Someone has had mercy on you, Son of God! He’s taking a sponge dipped in vinegar, and now…and now…he is offering it to you, thirsty Savior. A drink.
With the weariness of dying, Jesus takes the vinegar and it momentarily helps the nausea.
His tormented swollen heart labors slower and slower.
Gradually and increasingly surrounded by a contemptible, mocking serum, his heart strains even harder as it struggles to pump just a few more drops of blood.
Slower it pumps, and slower…
…Everything is getting so dim, so hazy, so blurry…
Where is everything going?
Around and around. Spinning, spinning, back, farther and farther, faster, faster, faster!
Finished. Your work all completed. Everything as you knew it would be. And now, oh Lamb of God, die! The sacrifice is completed. But for your sins, Son of God? No, of course not. You have none. You’ve been perfect, unselfish one, from your human birth, the whole way. All of this has been for the others.
…Everything is drifting so far away…
So far away…
So far away.
No one here…
So hazy…All alone…
…Something drawing… something… something drawing you to it. What is it? Where is it coming from?
Look up! But the pain—the cramping relentless pain.
Torturing to the very end.
But look up.
Don’t you see?
He calls out.
Yes, he’s coming for you!
“Father…uhhhhcgk… I know…uhhhhcgk…you’re there.
My spirit…uhhhhcgk…it’s yours!”
Just a little more now!
Just a little closer…
Jesus’ head lifts up in all the defiance of death. His body jerks and writhes, his knotted muscles strain.
Just a little closer now…
His heart swells…
And with a loud piercing cry that shakes the foundations of the earth, Jesus sends his liberated spirit rushing at last to the outstretched arms of God.
OH, MY SON! MY SON!
(Later in this volume is his resurrection and appearances to his startled friends.)
Katheryn Haddad was born in the cold north, but now lives in Arizona where she does not have to shovel sunshine. She enjoys hot weather, palm trees and cacti in her yard, and a computer with the letters worn off.
With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.
Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.
Currently she teaches English over the internet every morning, using the Bible as a text book. Most of her students are Muslims. She has taught some 6000 thus far, and has former students, now Christians, in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Palestine. “They are my heroes” she declares.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers of the West, and is also an energetic public speaker who can touch the heart of audiences.
Purchase SHADOW of DEATH HERE
A couple days ago I introduced you to Kimberly Rose Johnson and her latest release, AN ENCORE FOR ESTELLE. Kimberly was gracious enough to share an excerpt with everyone here today. Check it out!
Estelle Rogers willed her galloping heart to slow. Why had she come back to Oak Knoll, Oregon? It wasn’t like the people here had welcomed her with open arms six years ago.
But that was then. Things were different now. Helen Wood had invited her for a visit
over the summer, and she could never say no to the one woman who’d accepted her in spite of her flaws. Besides, she needed time away to think about her future. Estelle
squared her shoulders, raised a hand, and pressed the doorbell beside the farmhouse door.
The door flung open. “You’re here!” Helen’s smile lit her eyes.
Estelle blinked. Helen looked like a young Mary Tyler Moore—she looked fantastic.
Could this be the same woman she’d grown close to all those years ago? Granted when she’d last seen Helen, she’d been recovering from a stroke, but a different woman stood before her now. The rosy-cheeked brunette looked fifteen years younger than her fifty five years. “You look amazing.”
Helen blushed and waved a hand in front of her face. “Derek sent me on a spa
vacation. You should try one. You’d love it.”
The mention of her one-time boyfriend didn’t affect her like it used to. Helen’s son
was now happily married, and she adored his wife, Kayla. “If I didn’t know better, I’d
say you’re hinting that I need a makeover.”
The older woman shrugged. “Not at all. You look lovely as usual.” She stepped
back, opening the door wider. “Come in. I can’t believe you’re actually here. I was afraid you might change your mind.”
“How silly would I be to do something like that?” If Helen only knew how many
times she had almost cancelled the trip. But she would never reveal that to her dear
Helen looped her arm through Estelle’s. “I prepared lunch for us in the garden.”
“I love your garden. It’s so serene. I’m glad the weather is cooperating today. I
noticed you’ve had a lot of rain lately.”
“We have, but summer doesn’t usually start here until July. Welcome back to
Oregon.” She chuckled. “I remember how much you enjoyed my garden the last time you were here, so I’ve been praying the weather would cooperate.”
Of course she had. Helen was like that—she had no qualms about asking the Lord
for a sunny day.
“You’ll be staying in the guest cottage while you’re here.”
Estelle stilled. “I thought your . . .” What does one call a man who works around the
farm doing odd jobs? “handyman—”
“His name is Blake, and he moved into the barn so you could have the cottage.”
“That was nice of him, but the barn?”
Helen patted her arm. “Now don’t you worry about Blake. He’s a grown man and
can take care of himself. Besides, he and Derek built a nice room out there. He has all the comforts of home.”
Estelle raised a brow. “If you say so.”
“I do.” She guided them through the house and out the French doors that led to the
Estelle caught her breath. Water bubbled from a fountain near the cottage. A light
breeze rustled the leaves on the birch trees overhead. A large vase of multi-colored
flowers sat in the center of a round table covered with a white cloth. “It’s more beautiful than I remember. You’ve added some new features.”
“I’m glad you like it. This space has been a labor of love. I spend as much time as I
am able to out here.” She motioned toward a wooden chair padded with pillows. “Have a seat. I’m so pleased you finally took me up on my offer to take an extended vacation.”
“Me too. Although whether I stay the entire three months you had in mind is up in
the air. If I’m needed in LA, I’ll have to return.” There was no way she could put Jeff off for three months—it wouldn’t be fair to either of them.
“Of course. After all, you’re a woman in constant demand. What with your
restaurant and acting career.”
“I don’t know how in demand I am these days. I gave up acting years ago, and my
restaurant runs smoothly thanks to my executive chef and my fantastic manager. Between those two, the only thing I’m needed for is paying the bills.” She sat up taller. “What’s for lunch?” She wasn’t hungry, but anything was better than talking about her professional life.
Helen’s face lit up as she pulled the cloth off a serving tray. “I prepared a chicken
salad, fresh fruit, and for dessert I made homemade peach ice cream.”
“That sounds delicious.” She allowed Helen to serve her then bowed her head as her
hostess offered a blessing for the food.
“Amen.” Helen placed a cloth napkin in her lap. “I wasn’t sure what you like, but I
remembered you enjoyed this dish when you were last here.”
“You have a good memory, especially considering you’d had a stroke shortly before
I arrived. I’m surprised you remember much about those weeks.”
“I recall pretty much everything. It wasn’t like I had a lot to do to fill my mind.
Having you here helped with my therapy.”
How had she not managed to find the time to visit this sweet woman sooner, and
more important why had she been so nervous? Helen was as kind and genuine in person as she’d been in their weekly correspondence these past six years.
Helen’s face brightened as she looked past Estelle. “Good afternoon, Blake. I’d like
you to meet a friend. She’s the one staying in the cottage.”
Estelle turned to face the man. She sucked in a breath. He had to be over six feet tall. His dark hair had a messy look that she liked. Get it together. He wasn’t the first
ruggedly handsome man she’d ever met. Plus there was Jeff.
He looked down at her with chocolate brown eyes. “It’s nice to meet you. Helen has
told me all about you.”
Estelle shot a look toward Helen. “Don’t believe everything you hear.”
Oooh, I LOVE where this story is going, and I think you will, too.
Amazon buy link:https://www.amazon.com/Encore-Estelle-Melodies-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B071Z3C5SG
I’m offering a short post to let you know I have two guest posts today that I believe you would enjoy.
Her site if offering a giveaway regarding her summer promotion, so make sure you read all about that, too!
It’s also my rotation at Inspy Romance, and this picture intrigues me every time I see it. Those animals are swimming in that gunk and it just gets me. I used that picture to talk about the writing process and the middle. I sure do struggle with that!
Remember, to celebrate ENGAGED releasing the 26th, I am giving newsletter subscribers a FREE e-Read of Book 1, ENTANGLED!
If you live in NE Ohio or Western PA, I will be hosting a book club for ENGAGED in Youngstown, OH Tuesday nights, August/September. Contact me for details.
June 2017 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Engaged by Julie Arduini — Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what’s next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)
Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter — When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah’s North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn’t get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])
An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner — When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez’s help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Finding Love by Toni Shiloh — Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney’s husband–will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)
The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher — When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)
Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection by Yvonne Anderson, Michael Ehret, Kimberli S. McKay, Pamela S. Meyers, Ane Mulligan, Chandra Lynn Smith, Linda W. Yezak — Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
Katie’s Quest by Lee Carver — Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she’ll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller — Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra’s heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin — In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She’s in league with the British Secret Service, and she’s harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])
Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gina Welborn — Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere — When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson — Singer Fiona O’Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father’s railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he’s the man she needs when she’s already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson — On a quest to find her mother’s family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])
Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens — Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)
Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn — When someone threatens the baby she’s adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he’ll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll — Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn’t want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)
Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen Friesen — Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor’s home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she’s done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women’s Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson — Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)
May 2017 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Amish Brides by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard — Under bright blue skies, wedding bells ring–fulfilling sweet dreams, impossible wishes, and joyous new beginnings among these three new stories. (Contemporary Romance from Kensington Publishers)
Sprouts of Love by Valerie Comer — An overzealous community garden manager delivers more than the food bank manager can handle. Can love sprout amid the tsunami of vegetables? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Summer Dreams by Delia Latham — God’s love…reflected in the waters of the Pacific, and in the eyes of a young couple who walk its moonstone shores. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
Right Where We Belong by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, Courtney Walsh — Three sweet stories of small-town romance by three tried-and-true authors. Whether in a quaint home bakery in Langhorne, Missouri, a cozy boho coffee shop in Maple Valley, Iowa, or a charming lakeside cottage in Sweethaven, Michigan, love grows best in small towns just like this! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
True to You by Becky Wade — Former Navy SEAL John Lawson hires genealogist Nora Bradford to help him to uncover the identity of his birth mother. As they work side-by-side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman — A fire blazes out of control in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, leaving an elderly, Amish bachelor dead. Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene, and he learns the fire was no accident. When the police point the finger at a suspect Henry knows is innocent, the bishop must decide whether or not to use his mysterious, God-given gift—one he’s tried desperately to ignore all these years—to try and set the record straight. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)
A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal — The heart wrenching love story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, of the two men who love her and of the forbidden kiss that changed everything. (General Contemporary from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman — A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations. (General Contemporary from Waterfall Press)
Blind Ambition by Carol Ashby — What began as a bored man’s decision to try a different road turns into an emotional and spiritual quest that changes the direction of his entire life. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)
Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette — A broken and bitter Canaanite woman dresses as a man to fight against the invading Hebrews, never expecting that she would live to be captured and married to one of her enemies, and certainly not to find love and healing among the very people who killed her family. (Biblical/Historical from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
The Secret Admirer Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitham, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Penny Zeller — Shy expressions of love lead to nine historical romances. Declaring one’s love can be hard–even risky–especially when faced with some of life’s greatest challenges. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson — She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight by Susanne Dietze — It’s a mail-order disorder when newlyweds realize they’ve married the wrong partners with similar names. An annulment seems in order–and fast. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca Rice wonders if Tad Fordham wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . . (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
A Love So True by Melissa Jagears — They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
Road to Harmony by Sherry Kyle — When Jonas returns to Harmony, Elena’s heart is torn between her secret love, and the storeowner her parents hope she marries. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman — Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it. An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman’s riveting romantic suspense novel. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])