Six Shorts: A Devotional Study of Literary Devices in the Bible

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Take an in-depth look at why fiction is so important to the Christian faith and to our overall biblical reading experience and spiritual growth by studying literary devices in short stories and the Bible.
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Six Shorts:

A Devotional Study of Literary Devices in the Bible

Alisa Hope Wagner

Marked Writers Publishing

One Way Up

The breath within her halted as her body floated lifelessly in currents of the arid compound explosion. The numbing noise beat her eardrums to submission. For a moment, she thought she would stay in the sordid status for unceasing suspension—a time of infinite torment. Finally, her body crunched onto the concrete like a bird flying into thick glass. No shattering, though. Stunned but awake. She still lived; all bones were intact but dying would be easier. Hot oxygen filled her lungs once more. Hope seemed too elusive to grasp, but the adrenaline pumping through her veins vexed her to advance.

It happened all at once, this madness. Aliens, demons, hybrids of some sort—all fighting humans. Men and women wearing camouflage with flailing limbs as blood splayed across their uniforms and USA-patched sleeves, called to duty and to dying, and most were fleeing. The monsters hunched over the soldiers like falling mountains eager to crush them.

Where were the civilians like her? Normal men and women and children. Dead? Hidden? Safe? No thoughts. Just run. Get to a place with less screams, less blood, less madness.

An alien haunted her side view. Anger streaked across his face. Hate thundered even more. His appearance didn’t simply send shivers down her spine. Her entire body wanted to freeze with fear. She would have laughed at the cliché of words in earlier days as an English major earning her Master of Arts Degree. Her greatest fear only a week ago was getting a low grade for a course or not having enough money for rent. How easy those days now seemed since the monsters revealed themselves. No spaceships. No warning. They simply appeared as if they were already on earth dwelling among them unseen.

The words “steal, kill and destroy,” rang through her mind like the shockwave of the bomb that flung her to the ground. Sounded familiar. Maybe from the college Bible club her roommate dragged her to. God? No thanks. His Son coming to Earth? It all sounded ridiculous at the time. Now surrounded by monsters the prospect of a Savior sounded less preposterous. A sharp snarl scraped behind her. Run faster. This enemy’s shadow usurped her on every level. No win in the books for the undervalued humans who now seemed like mere bugs. The bugs had not scared and scattered. The monsters had no agenda but to terminate. At first, she thought it was a political ploy but listened to the news as heads of state all over the world succumbed to invasion. Famous people too. The list of dead names multiplied like rocks being hurled in a hurricane from the quiet yards of island homes. The hurricane must have ripped through the news too as the monsters silenced them.

A college student wouldn’t survive this apocalypse if the rich and famous fell. Yet, suddenly, she sensed a clearing in the morbid mayhem that smiled on the mess. Not a Savior but maybe a way out. The beast chasing her tore up another victim that ran just behind her. She felt the victim's blood splash against the back of her shirt. It gave her just enough time to follow the civilians who ran with intuition. What did they know that she didn’t? They silently slipped into this underground holding area. No aliens. Only people running into the quieter shadows. The light evaporated to a hazy dusk. The bombings blared less. A large, thick gate blocked the way, but a man pulled out a key and unlocked it. He held the metal door open as the civilians and some soldiers passed through the slim entrance. He was just about to shut the door.

“Let me in!” she screamed.

He looked at her and shook his head. “You don’t have access.”

“But you just let all those people in with your key. Would you leave me behind with monsters killing everyone?”

“They asked to enter beforehand,” he said simply.

“I’m asking now!”

He looked beyond her to the blood-stained devastation. “I will let you in, but the hope you are looking for is not down here.”

He held the door open briefly, and she glided in. What did he mean there was no hope down here? He had just let dozens of people in. This place had to be safer than outside. The man locked the door behind her and ran forward. The dark atmosphere caused her pupils to fully dilate. She needed to find the man and the others. Where had they gone? Something was different about them. They rushed with purpose, and confusion didn’t distort their faces. They had some secret of safety.

Before she could look for them, she stepped several feet back and gaped. Unspoiled uniforms were working on a massive wall-lined machine barely lit up with dangling light bulbs hanging from long wires connected to the high ceiling. The soldiers moved with knowledge and efficiency. She covered her mouth to mute her scream. Women strapped to neo-electric chairs lined the angular, dense walls to the right of the machine. Black disks attached to their breasts sucked down milk, and the white fluid mixed with a concoction of chemicals pumped through hoses into the machine. Buttons on the machine glowed as a pressed uniform soldier took out a vile of tainted white liquid and pressed it into a weapon she had never seen before.

The woman’s legs were immobile for a moment as her mind computed but could not calculate what she beheld.

“It’s chemical warfare,” a voice said behind her. She turned. It was the man with the key.

“It’s their final attempt to kill the demons, but you can’t kill what’s not living.”

“Why breast milk?” she asked abhorred.

“It makes the demons vanish. They think if they mix deathly chemicals with it, the mixture will kill them.”

“Will it work?” she asked, hopefully.

Again, he shook his head. “You can’t fight powers of darkness with flesh and blood. It will destroy the world.”

“And us?”

He looked back toward the gate he had opened. “The world is already being destroyed.”

He gazed at her for several seconds. “The Way was given to you many times, and you dismissed it. You didn’t ask for the Way because you didn’t see your need.”

“I see my need now!”

“Your need for a Savior or your need for a way out?”

“Either will work!” she exclaimed.

“That’s not how this works. You must want the Savior as your Way out.”

“Fine, what do I need to do?”

“You accept the fact that you are a sinner, repent and ask for the salvation gifted to you by God’s Son, Jesus.”

She felt uncomfortable with his words. She lived a good life. She didn’t hurt people. She had no regrets and nothing to be sorry for. Suddenly, she saw the way out. The civilians and the few soldiers were climbing up steep ladders into holes that led up. She could see light streaming from the openings. That’s the secret they knew. That was the way out. The government must have saved an oasis knowing this was going to happen, and only a few knew about it. Now she knew. She didn’t need to talk to this key-keeper anymore. She saw the way out.

She didn’t bother talking to the man. She ran to the closest ladder that lined the walls opposite of the chemical-milk machine. She grabbed hold of the first rung of the ladder. She could feel the light and warmth on her face already. She would make it. Just a college student, and she found the way out. The government had kept the escape quiet. Probably for the prestigious people of the world. Still it didn’t make sense that so many famous and rich people died. Wouldn’t they have known? She grabbed rung after rung until she was at the entrance to the circular hole in the ceiling. She could see the oasis. Her eyes beheld beauty. Flower-lined meadows. Light radiating everywhere but not from a sun that she could see. People laughing. Kids playing. Joy. Love. Peace. She could sense it all. She just needed to get in.

But then she noticed the way was blocked. Iron rods halted her entrance.

“Why are you blocked?” she demanded of the round exit from the ruin below. “I saw dozens of people enter through. Why are you stopping me from entering?” She looked to her left. “Fine, I will go to another one.” She quickly made her way down the long ladder and ran to the one next to it. She climbed up every rail and again she saw the light and the warmth. Sensed the joy, love and peace. Again, the way was blocked.

“What is going on with you? I just saw people go through into the oasis.”

The sounds from the chemical machine blared. They were done mixing their milk and chemical concoction. The uniforms were lining up to wield their chemical weapon on the enemy outside. They were about to open the gates and let the monsters in. She needed to hurry up. She slid down this ladder and went to the next one. Out of breath, she crawled up. Again, the way was blocked.

“Why can I get through you?” she screamed at the opening. Suddenly, a sign appeared above the entrance. It had all the world’s religions written on it. As she read each one, a punch of fear hit her gut. Then the key-keeper on the other side of the entrance looked at her. He had sadness on his face though the atmosphere around him was saturated with joy. He shook his head. “Those religions won’t help you.”

“No religion can help me! I just need a way out!”

“I offered you the Way, and you discarded it,” he said.

“No, you didn’t. You tried to hide these ladders and openings to this oasis from me.”

He shook his head again. “I offered you the true Way, and you didn’t take it. You never accepted Him.”

“What is this Way? Some Jesus? Some Cross?”

The gate below was open now, and gunfire echoed through the underground lab. She held onto the ladder and looked behind her. The soldiers were shooting monsters. They would disappear, but the soldier shooting instantly screamed out in pain and fell in convulsions. They were dying. The soldiers. The deadly chemicals saturated the air, and she began to cough. “Let me in!”

He shook his head one final time. “The entrance is closing now. I will leave you with these final words. ‘Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.’ I tried to help you find the Way, but you wouldn’t accept Him. I am sorry. I did all I could do, but the free will choice was yours.”

Then the lights of the entrance went black. The sense of joy, love and peace vanished, leaving her in terror. She looked behind her and coughed again, but this time blood wetted her mouth. The chemicals acted quickly. The soldiers were all dead. The demons gone, but they fulfilled their purpose. They killed the humans by tricking them into killing each other. She looked back at the blocked entrance. The Way out was not a hole in the ceiling. It was God in the flesh, and she would not accept Him.

Five Literary Devices

Allegory: A literary work that represents something else.

Short Story: This short story is a science fiction allegorical work representing our ability to accept or reject the Gospel. The hole in the ceiling leading to the Oasis (Heaven) is a symbol of Jesus being the only Way out. The girl represents our individual free will choice to accept Jesus or not. The monsters represent Satan and his demons and their absolute evil desire to keep us from reaching Heaven. The key-keeper represents Christians who know the Way out and offer this free gift to others. The world ending represents the eventual death of this world, and the Oasis is the birth of a New Earth (Revelation 21).

Bible: Jesus used many allegorical parables. One is “The Parable of the Weeds” to describe the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:24-30). A man planted good seeds in his field, but the enemy planted weeds while everyone slept. The servants asked if they should pull up the weeds, but the man told them not to because they would accidentally pull up the wheat too. The wheat and weeds would grow together until the harvest and then the harvesters would separate them. In this allegory, the one who sowed the seeds is Jesus. The good seeds are the people who accepted Jesus as their Savior. The bad seeds are the people who have not. The harvest is the end of this age, and the harvesters are angels.

Apostrophe: A form of personification where the character speaks to an inanimate object.

Short Story: “Why are you blocked?’ she demanded of the round exit from the ruin below. ‘I saw dozens of people enter through. Why are you stopping me from entering?’ She looked to her left. ‘Fine, I will go to another one.’”

Bible: “Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel” (Isaiah 44:23 NLT).

Flashback: Engages interest in the narrative by detailing background information of a character.

Short Story: “She would have laughed at the cliché of words in earlier days as an English major earning her Master of Arts Degree. Her greatest fear only a week ago was getting a low grade for a course or not having enough money for rent. How easy those days now felt since the monsters revealed themselves.”

Bible: “After Joshua sent the people away, each of the tribes left to take possession of the land allotted to them. And the Israelites served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him—those who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel” (Judges 2:6-7 NLT). Joshua has already died (Judges 1:1), but the writer is reminding the readers of all the great things God accomplished for the people to gain their land through Joshua’s leadership. They didn’t fully obey God after Joshua’s death by not casting out the locals of the lands, so God warned them that those who they did not drive out would be thorns in their side (Judges 2:3). But for now, it was time to move on and possess the land that Joshua, in obedience to God, led them to.

Idiom: An expression that is attached to a specific language and culture.

Short Story: “His appearance didn’t simply send shivers down her spine. Her entire body wanted to freeze with fear.”

Bible: “And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads’” (Acts 26:14 NKJV). Kicking against the goads is translated in the NLT to “It is useless for you to fight against my will.”

Metonymy: A type of metaphor where the thing, person or idea is not identified by its own name but by another name closely related.

Short Story: “I tried to help you find the Way, but you wouldn’t accept Him. I am sorry. I did all I could do, but the free will choice was yours.”

Bible: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).