Storm: Radical. Reformer. Monk. Lover. The Surprising Story of Martin Luther.

Storm: Radical. Reformer. Monk. Lover. The Surprising Story of Martin Luther.

by Reg Grant

Paperback

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597528542
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 08/28/2006
Pages: 414
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Reg Grant is Professor of Pastoral Ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored and coauthored several books and articles and has written, produced, and acted for radio, television, theater, and film. Several of his films have won major festival awards and two have been honored with Emmy awards. He and his wife, Lauren, are the parents of three children.

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One

A road four miles north of Erfurt, Germany


A puff of wind kicked up the dust in the road. A killdeer cut across the late afternoon sky, an erratic check mark against blue-black clouds rolling in from the north. Lightning flashed briefly on the darkening horizon. A few seconds later thunder rumbled far across the summer fields.

    Absently, Martin regarded his surroundings. He walked slowly, talking to himself, his eyes fixed now on the wagon rut in front of him, now on the windblown grass, now on the sky. His mood was as gray, his thoughts as confused, as the tumbling clouds. At least he didn't have to think about the road he was traveling. It was familiar, deeply grooved. Easy to follow. He had been praying for God to show him such a path for his life for months. He was twenty-one going on fifty, worried that his future was becoming his past without a present.

    His parents were no help at all. Both of them, his father especially, insisted he finish his law degree in Erfurt. He could still hear his father's booming voice ringing off the rafters. "There's your path, Martin. There's your way," he had shouted. "God is guiding you, boy. But you're too dull to see it."

    Martin's conscience gnawed at him. How many nights had his father, Hans, come home from the copper mines, dirty and tired and swearing he wouldn't spend his old age managing some shaft, scraping a living out of the mines he owned and operated. A good son, a dutiful son, would save him from that. A lawyer could make enough to hire servants for his parents so his mother wouldn't have to haulwood for the fire. But Martin's studies had opened the Bible to him, and he was feeling the tug of something unfamiliar.

    The reedy grass rippled in waves across the flat countryside. Most of the color had drained from the summer fields. It was as if a child had casually dipped a brush in dirty water and smeared the canvas, blurring the colors, leaving a confusion of lines, a lack of definition, an unimaginative sameness in its wake.

    Then, suddenly, nothing. No wind. No sound. Martin stood still. Everything around him sharpened into hard-edged focus. The nearby trees, the unmoving grass, the gray clouds frozen on a cobalt blue background. He felt the hair rising on the back of his neck. He was aware of an odd metallic smell, a tingling in the air—then a violent burst of light and a crackling, sizzling sound and the boom of thunder. God's fire unleashed. He stood, staring, his eyes fixed above the road, gazing through what appeared to be a rip in an invisible curtain suspended between heaven and earth.

    Through the gash in the celestial fabric he saw—sensed—a pulsing, divine presence, cloaked in glorious, multicolored light. All his senses ignited instantly, surged to full capacity and fused into a single responsive chord. Martin heard the colors, tasted the light, experienced a throbbing singularity that made him feel as if he were being consumed and filled all at the same time.

    A movement caught his eye, and he dodged instinctively to his right, pulling away from the light. The rift began to close. Then more movement near the line of trees to his left—there, shadows hunching, lurching. His mind struggled to comprehend, to make sense of the darkling forms, bestial now, assuming greater definition each second ... the clouds rolled. Clouds—yes, only the clouds casting shadows on the ground.

    But there were too many—and too small for clouds and moving so fast, all toward him, so fast. Then he saw, in each shade, flashes of light, always in pairs as if they were eyes, glittering like silver-white points of fire wrapped in shadow. Demons. "Dark angels," his mother had called them. He recognized them from his nightmares, black obscenities loosed from the pit, skittering across the flat field toward him, hungry for his soul. He turned, stumbled.

    Another lightning flash blinded him. He smelled burning hair. He fell. Blackness engulfed him.

    He opened his eyes slowly. Something snuffled at his ear, then pulled away. He was off the road, lying in the ditch. He'd been there ... how long? He felt something warm trickling down his cheek. He stared at his right hand. Blue fire arced off his fingertips. He closed his eyes. No pain. He drifted.

    Rain, thunder, more lightning.

    A dream lake boiled in front of him, boiled from the center outward. He woke, rolled over, and pushed himself out of the puddle that had formed beneath him. He crawled onto the rain-soaked earth and collapsed, rolling faceup to heaven. Cold shafts of stinging rain pierced him. He covered his face with his hands.

    Flash!

    Martin curled into a ball and felt the hot earth beneath him. He opened his eyes. A few feet in front of him, water in the ditch sizzled on an outcropping of rock. The thing snuffled his ear again. It was crawling over him. He tried to roll away, tried to push the shadow creature off, but he couldn't move. Something tugged at him, pulling him away. Voices called to him, but he couldn't speak, couldn't answer.

    He looked again toward the light and saw ... Saint Anne! Patroness of miners, the one who helped in thunderstorms ...

    Flash! Flash!

    He screamed. "Help me, Saint Anne. I'll become a monk!"

    A rush of flame.

    Behind him.

    Over him.

    Wings of fire, hovering, arcing, blue.

    Martin looked up. The shadow beast opened its jaws wide to devour him, to drag him into the burning abyss.

    Martin screwed his eyes shut and screamed one last time.

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