The angel looked at God’s creation milling aimlessly around. The mall, this conglomeration of stores selling various and sundry items, seemed to beckon humans from their reality into some type of anesthetic that numbed their daily distress. But sadly, very few sought the True Cure.
The angel had never spoken the name given to him, because no one had inquired. That was the rule; he couldn’t speak unless spoken to. He had never looked into a mirror but he already knew his appearance. The Master had shown into him as He was breathing it into creation. He was a man, with dark skin, fiftyish. His clothes were worn and a bit haggard. He was not well kempt. He was scattered with tattoos and piercings. The look of him spoke of loss and subtle desperation. But if anyone would actually look in his eyes they would see that all was not lost. He had hope, waiting to be ignited by someone-anyone who would speak to him. He had a blessing, ready to give, but no one to give it to. And these people so desperately needed to be blessed. But they didn’t seek it.
Malachi, the name he would excitedly utter if he ever gained the opportunity, eagerly seized his daily post, the bench outside the main entrance of the mall. He prayed and he waited; waited and prayed. The first soul approached in a slouching gait; his eyes cast to the sidewalk. The soul was painfully conscious of the rage within him; Malachi could actually see Rage clawing at his insides desperate to get out. The more Malachi looked at the soul, the more he sensed a deep rooted rejection. The Master had laid the soul’s name on his heart. Ezra. Ezra’s eyes darted from one end of the bustling parking lot to the other. Malachi sensed he was looking for someone either expected or unexpected, but he was definitely searching. Ezra’s eyes finally rested on Malachi’s face. For a moment, Ezra’s expression changed from defeat to hopeful expectation. He saw something in the old man’s eyes, Malachi knew it. The messenger prayed that the young soul would speak. Just then Deceit approached. The spirit was attached to a sinister being whose eyes reflected a numbness caused by abuse. He approached Ezra. Malachi could see the exchange of money and a package, and then Deceit sauntered away, clinging to its host like an overgrown leach. Ezra sat beside Malachi, staring at the unopened bundle. Malachi could see the shaking hands and the clinching fists. Sweat beaded on Ezra’s forehead and dripped onto the creases of his fingers. The stench that accosted Malachi’s senses reeked of decayed potential. Malachi could feel the pull of The Spirit on his heart. He prayed for Ezra and visibly wept as the young man succumbed to the desire of the flesh. Malachi stared at Apathy, as it wrapped Ezra in a suffocating bear hug, strangling the motivation out of him. Ezra rose and walked away, unaware of the blessing left behind.
Time passed. Malachi continued to watch and wait. He didn’t know who he was waiting for; he didn’t even fully understand his purpose. But Malachi was not one to question, only do what he was told. A young man, around 35, approached talking on a cell phone. Jordan. There was talk of the program, advertising, food and beverage arrangement, a speaker, numbers the sanctuary would hold, etc. Malachi could see that Jordan belonged to The Master. Surely he would speak, or at least make eye contact. Then, Malachi noticed Distraction covering his eyes and actually moving his arms and legs frantically, with no direction or intent. Malachi was shocked at the business that plagued Jordan and then realized that his growth had been stunted by a desire to do rather than sit at The Master’s feet and be still. Jordan finished his phone call and sat beside Malachi, still silent, but obviously distressed. He placed the phone on the bench beside him, and placed his head in his hands. Malachi prayed as The Holy Spirit moved the man’s heart and Distraction’s fingers began to spread, letting the light in. Then, Jordan shook his head as if he felt the loosening of the vice and was trying to break free. He picked up his phone and dialed a number. Malachi waited.
“Honey, yeah. Um….I’m going to be late tonight. Yeah, I know. Something came up at church. I have a meeting, and then I need to help arrange the dinner…”
Malachi watched as tears pooled in the young man’s eyes.
“Tell her I’ll make it next time. I promise.”
Jordan closed the phone and ran his fingers through his short, cropped hair and briefly glanced at the old man sitting beside him. He reached into his suit pocket and pulled out a booklet, and then ran inside the doors of the mall. Malachi picked up the paper that had meant to give him hope. It was a tract, talking of the love of Jesus. Malachi shook his head in wonder at a people that possessed the power of The Holy Spirit, yet continued to rely on their insufficiencies only to have missed God’s blessing.
Malachi dozed, going before The Master in meditation. More time passed. The sound of tears brought his attention back to the surroundings. A woman, around 50 years of age, paced in front of him, in obvious distress. She had a tissue and was twisting it, as if trying to squeeze some semblance of joy from the thin slip of cotton. Malachi looked at the presence of Depression. This woman, Leah, was covered in darkness. She couldn’t see the light of day because her soul had been eclipsed by a physical imbalance in her human form. Malachi could discern she was a mother, maybe a grandmother, from the unique love that cloaked her soul. She was alone, at a point in her life where she questioned her worth. She had lost the love of her life, not to death, but to sin. She was searching, but she didn’t know for what. Oh, if she would only speak to him. But the presence of Depression had turned her focus only on self. She could see nothing else besides despair. Leah stared ahead, seeing nothing, feeling so lost. Malachi watched as she rose from the bench; she didn’t even look at his face as she got up and disappeared behind the revolving doors.
Malachi wept for God’s creation, absorbing the blindness most of them possessed. He didn’t understand why The Savior continued to wait for them. Christ knocked, wanting to come into their hearts and fill the emptiness, if they would only answer. Malachi was aroused from his prayer by a soft voice, accompanied by a tug at his tattered and worn coat.
“Scuse me. Scuse me, Mister?”
Malachi opened his eyes, and for a moment, thought he was back in heaven. An angelic child stood before him. She was around 4 years of age; her face framed by a head full of dark curls. Gracie. Malachi smiled as he observed the complete innocence that was reflected in her large, brown eyes.
“What’s your name?”
Malachi couldn’t help it; the tears began to flow. He had waited and prayed, and his prayer was answered.
He whispered. “Malachi.”
Gracie looked down at the sidewalk and then lifted her heart shaped face to his, expectantly. Her voice became a whisper. “You know Jesus, don’t you?”
Malachi could only nod his head. “Yes, I do.”
Gracie smiled, showing a mouth full of baby teeth. “I know Jesus, too.”
“Yes. I pray to Jesus every night. I pray for my mama and daddy and grammy and papa and my uncle…..did you know Jesus hears my prayers, Mister?”
“Yes, Gracie. Jesus does hear your prayers. And He’ll answer them.” And just then a veil had been lifted from Malachi’s eyes and he saw. He saw Gracie knelt beside her bed every night, accompanied by a woman. They prayed for Ezra, her uncle… Jordan, her daddy… and Leah, her grandmother. Gracie prayed for them to know God’s peace. Malachi then realized his purpose and the blessing he was supposed to give.
“Gracie, where’s your mama?”
Gracie’s expression changed from confident leisure to one of slight aggravation.
Malachi couldn’t help but be amused. Then, as if on cue, an older version of Gracie ran frantically through the door of the department store. “Gracie!” The woman rushed towards Gracie and gathered the little girl in her arms. “Don’t ever do that to Mama; I was so scared.”
Gracie patted her mother on the back. “It’s ok, mommy; you were lost. I got you now.”
Gracie’s mother, Eve, looked over at Malachi with a thankful expression. “Thank you for talking to her and keeping her safe.”
Gracie pointed excitedly. “Mommy! Mommy! He knows Jesus. Malachi talks to Jesus.”
Eve’s eyes got wide and she eyed Malachi with increased curiosity.
“Yes, I do.” Malachi reached out and lightly touched Eve’s arm. Eve didn’t flinch, but bent down to his level. Her voice was kind, meant to soothe.
“Is there something we can do for you, Malachi?”
Malachi was warmed by the gentleness of her touch. “Yes, Eve. You can believe. Jesus hears your prayers too.”
Eve straightened at the sound of her name, but Malachi noticed the tears gathering in her eyes. He continued. “Eve, go home and read Philippians 4:6-7. The Savior meant that verse for you.” Eve nodded her ahead, suddenly aware of the presence before her. She picked up Gracie and began to walk away. Then, suddenly, she turned back. “Malachi?”
“God bless you.”
Malachi closed his eyes and wondered at God’s way of showing him the blessing of His creation.
Eve buckled Gracie into the car seat and started the little girl’s DVD. Gracie settled in with her juice and snack. Eve slid into the passenger seat of the Honda Odyssey and laid her head back on the headrest. What had just happened? Did she actually have an encounter with an angel? She had prayed that morning that God would hear her desperate plea for help with her family; she felt as if she were in a lifeboat watching them all drown in an ocean of sorrow. Her heart was heavy, and she knew it was affecting Gracie. True, she was a happy little girl with a sweet spirit, but she was more perceptive than most children and she could see her troubled mother hold onto the mustard seed of faith she so desperately needed. And then today; today God had sent her a messenger to assure her that He most definitely heard her prayers.