TITLE: Divine Possibilities (Chapters Zero - Two)
By Patti Brown
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Summary: Catherine wakes from another alcoholic blackout and finds herself in a battle not only for her life and reputation, but also for her very soul.
In the midst of a spiritual battle, Catherine is being confronted with choices – choices that will determine her ultimate destiny. Through the influence of the angel Sarephah, Catherine begins to open herself to the possibilities that God will forgive, redeem, and change her. Sarephah will do everything in her power to reveal God’s eternal plan for Catherine’s life. However, she begins to wrestles with her own questions about evil and freewill when she must allow Catherine complete freedom to choose or reject God. At the same time, the demon Pexov manipulates, intimidates, and badgers Catherine to keep her trapped in the cycle of addiction and self-loathing. But time is running out, because the relentless struggle between the good Catherine wants and the evil she still desires is tearing her apart.
What will Catherine choose? The possibilities will be either deadly or divine.
Catherine struggles to wake. Her head is pounding. Her mouth feels like sandpaper, and her breathing is labored. The room is dark except for a small beam of sunlight streaming in from the rip in the window blinds. The bedroom floor is covered with dirty clothes. Drawers are open with their contents spilling out, and the stench of discarded food and alcohol permeates everything.
Unknown to Catherine, two pair of eyes are watching her: the demon, Pexov, crouches by her feet while the angel, Sarephah, hovers near her head. Anxious for victory, Pexov rises to his full height and glares at the mortal he’s been assigned to conquer. Catherine stirs slightly. With one hand grasping her sword, Sarephah moves forward to protect the human assigned to her care.
These bitter rivals are in a battle for Catherine’s heart, mind, and soul. They follow her every move and perceive her every thought. They have no real power in and of themselves. No. In many ways, Catherine controls her own destiny. Their only source of power comes directly from her when she yields to their influence.
Catherine has no idea that the battle for her soul is nearing completion. The fight between these two opposing spiritual beings is intensifying because Sarephah is running out of options and Pexov is running out of patience. Neither wants to lose this battle; neither wants to go before the throne of their Master to explain what happened to Catherine. Whatever it takes, one will win and the other will lose. And the prize is Catherine. But one will win only when Catherine chooses.
Surrendering to God or following a destructive path is not an easy choice, but fortunately for Catherine, choice is still a possibility. What Catherine doesn’t yet realize is that with eve-ry choice she makes Pexov or Sarephah will gain the upper hand, and eventually, she’ll either be enslaved by the evil that seeks to destroy her or freed by the good that wants to save her.
What will Catherine choose?
Half asleep and still half drunk, Catherine squints to see her alarm clock. 6:02. Pondering the time, she tries to concentrate but her mind is fuzzy. She hesitates and wonders, is it morning or evening? What day is it?
After a few moments, she musters some energy. “Ok, Cath-erine, get a grip.”
She runs her fingers through her stringy, matted dark hair. Nausea sweeps over her so violently that she leans forward and lays her head in her hands. After a minute, the feeling passes and she sits up again. She waits for the next wave, but is spared another attack.
Something catches her eye.
A bottle of whiskey sits upright on the table with enough left for only a few gulps. She knew it had been full the night before. She hadn’t planned on drinking the entire bottle yesterday, only enough to “feel good.”
She picks up the bottle and studies its contents. “Almost empty. What happened?”
Pexov smiles. He knows what happened. Catherine suc-cumbed to his influence once again.
The image of the almost empty bottle stuns her. She stares at it in disbelief and mutters to herself. “I could have sworn I only had a few sips. This can’t be.” Her head is spinning and she desperately wants something to make her feel better. She slowly climbs out of bed.
The light on her message machine is blinking. Two messages. She groans, “Great, now what?” She turns away from the blinking light and all the responsibility that will come if she checks those messages.
Ambling down the hallway toward the kitchen, Pip, her six month old cat, meows for breakfast. “Hold on, Pip. Mommy’s not feeling so well.” She stops near the entrance of the kitchen and stands there not knowing exactly what she wants. She stares aimlessly. No coherent thoughts come to her. She simply doesn’t know what to do next.
Pexov speaks into the air and sends an onslaught of negative thoughts to Catherine. Here you go again messing everything up. You are a waste of a human being. Nobody drinks like you. Might as well have another drink because life isn’t getting any better.
Catherine covers her ears with her hands trying to physically stop the thoughts that assault her.
Sarephah watches intently. Her influence has been weakened since Catherine’s decision to drink last night. Sarephah knows it will take time for Catherine to be able to hear the soothing words of the Divine Three, whom mortals call God. The only option now is to focus on Pexov.
“Pexov, get away from her!”
Pexov slowly turns his head to acknowledge his archenemy. “Hello, Sarephah. Can’t you see that I’m just trying to help? You know as well as I that she’s trapped in her own perverted, alcoholic delusion and can’t possibly make a good decision.”
Sarephah glides past Pexov to move closer to Catherine. “You know nothing about helping anyone, let alone helping Catherine. You are not welcome here.”
Pexov eyes blazed red. “YOU have no say on whether I am welcome here or not. Only Catherine can send me away, and she has no idea that I or you exist. Her ignorance is my greatest gain and your greatest loss.”
“Pexov, you are a liar to the very core. I do have some say in the matter. And I wouldn’t count on Catherine’s ignorance for much longer. The Divine Three are never willing to lose one of their own.”
Pexov, who was crouching in the corner, springs up and growls, “Catherine is NOT one of His. Never has been and never will be. The Ruler of the Kingdom of the Air won’t allow that. Not now. Not ever.”
Towering over Pexov, Sarephah declares, “Satan has no hold on this precious child.”
Pexov laughs, “HA! How can you say that? Look at her and her miserable life. The Divine Three have obviously deserted this one.” Satisfied for the moment, Pexov crouches back into the corner to wait for the next opportunity to torment Catherine.
Catherine suddenly feels extremely weak and tired, but Pip needs to be fed. She searches the drawers for some cat food. Pip meows like he hasn’t eaten in days when, in fact, he is fairly well kept in spite of Catherine’s inability to take care of her-self.
“Okay Pip. Give me a minute. I can’t find your food.”
Pip meows with more intensity.
“Didn’t I just feed you? Oh, my head hurts.”
Shaking now, and with Pip weaving in and out of her legs in affection, Catherine opens one more cabinet and finds the only thing that will keep Pip quiet and happy: whitefish and tuna supreme.
“Finally. Okay, here you go, Pip.”
A delighted Pip meows before hungrily attacking his food.
The thoughts that bombarded Catherine earlier linger and linger like festering sores. I am no good, Catherine thinks. I should just have another drink and forget everything. Who cares, anyway? Watching Pip eat, Catherine decides to finish off last night’s bottle, find some more, and go back to bed.
Catherine shuffles down the hallway toward her bedroom.
Sarephah smiles. “Good. I have a little more time.”
Pexov smiles. “Good. She’s running out of options and time.”
Sarephah stands over eight feet tall, with kind eyes, a large sword, and a demeanor that demands attention. Catherine never sees her and never will. The Divine Three don’t work that way, at least not with everyone. They like their ministering angels to work silently and creatively, especially with humans.
Sarephah knows she needs just a little more time to work with Catherine. After last night, the options left for Catherine are dwindling. Her job is in jeopardy. The bills aren’t being paid. Her friends are disgusted with her. Her family is distant. Catherine is utterly alone and with little hope of anything better.
Sarephah thinks maybe, just maybe, in light of this dire set of circumstances, the Divine Three will take control of this situation and force Catherine to make the right choice, which is to accept their help and follow them.
Thinking out loud, Sarephah says, “I must go before the Divine Three and plead for Catherine’s life. Pexov will pursue her relentlessly, and Catherine is in no shape to resist him and the hatred that he spews.” Sighing, Sarephah mutters, “I fear this battle may be costly.”
Pexov shivers with excitement and anticipation. As he watches Catherine sleep fitfully, he snarls to himself, “Catherine is so pitifully weak. No one cares about her, which makes my job much easier. Hmm, yes, I must make sure she knows this.”
Moving closer to her bed, Pexov senses that the end is near. “Yes, she is close to fully succumbing to the power of her own choices. I have been successful. Her will and her thoughts are almost mine.” This thought gives him some comfort and slightly eases his persistently agitated mind.
Catherine stirs, but never fully wakes. The alcohol, still raging through her body, seems to have taken on a life of its own. Catherine will not wake for many more hours.
Pexov returns to the corner, crouches low, and with his cold blue eyes still fixed on the unconscious Catherine, rests quietly, for he knows it is only a matter of time before Catherine’s thoughts and ultimately her actions are under his complete control. “My master will be thrilled with my superior abilities, absolute brilliance, and magnificent creativity in destroying this forgotten and worthless mortal. And, my reward will be sweetened since I will have also defeated Sarephah, the powerful and beloved servant of the Divine Three.”
Later that day, Catherine stirs again. Her breathing is labored, her skin clammy, and her whole body trembles uncontrollably. Alcohol poisoning is a silent killer with little regard for its victim. The choice to drink last night and again this morning has many consequences for Catherine. As the alcohol rages through her body, it begins to send messages to her vital organs that render her weak, confused, and literally fighting for her life. In fact, she will struggle to wake or even take the smallest breath.
Opening her eyes slightly, Catherine tries to draw in a deep breath, but feels a vise grip around her chest. Alarmed, she sits up a little straighter and again tries to fill her lungs, but she can barely breathe. Concerned by her inability to catch her breath, she rises fully upright in bed and begins to panic. Completely awake now, she frantically takes small, short breaths. She feels light headed. Realizing she’s on the verge of passing out again because she can’t quite catch her breath, Catherine concentrates on breathing. “Breathe” she whispers to herself again and again as if in this meditative state and with the rhythmic cadence of her voice she can control the amount of air that enters her lungs. Several agonizing minutes later, the panic subsides slightly, but her breathing is still difficult and worrisome.
Suddenly, Pip jumps on the bed, startling Catherine. “Pip!” Catherine, seething in anger, yells, “What are you doing? Get off the bed. NOW!”
She pushes Pip away. Turning and hissing at his obviously deranged owner, Pip jumps off the bed and scurries out of the room. Catherine is stunned by Pip’s response.
“Hey, Pip” she yells, slightly out of breath. “I’m sorry honey.” No response. “Well, who cares anyway. I feel like crap.”
Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, Catherine musters all the strength she has and stands up cautiously. She sways side to side and immediately sits back down. “What is wrong with me? I never feel this bad after some drinks. What did I do last night?”
Looking at the now empty bottle, she’s jolted back to reality. “I guess I just drank on an empty stomach or something. Yeah, that’s it…I should have eaten before I drank.” Convinced of this lie, she slowly stands back up. This time she keeps her balance and moves hesitantly toward the blinking light on the message machine she avoided earlier.
Standing next to the night stand, she wrestles with her thoughts. I guess I better check these. How did I get home last night? Where are my clothes? And what are these hideous clothes I have on now? What did I do? Did I go to work?
Pondering this last thought, Catherine has a few vague memories of yesterday morning. Yes, I did go to work. Oh, that can’t be good. Why don’t I remember anything?
Catherine has experienced blackouts before. These are times when actions are taken but never experienced, when emotions are displayed but never felt, and when thoughts are conceived but never born. In the past, she viewed them as amusing incidents in which events happily disappeared from consciousness without the entanglement of responsibility. She never cared what she did or who she hurt. After all, Catherine reasoned, if she couldn’t remember anything, then maybe it never really happened. Oh, yes, she knows about these long stretches of time lost to her memory for all eternity. But her blackouts are increasing, especially lately. They feel different to her now.
She realizes, with some angst, that her actions in a blackout exist as actual events in the reality of others, even though she cannot recall them. What she so easily laughed off before be-cause she simply didn’t care has begun to haunt her. In fact, she will soon be forced to confront the reality of her actions, even though her own memory of them has been erased. For the first time ever, she will have to account for what she has done and said during these blank spots of existence. She will have to reckon with those whom she’s hurt.
Unknown to Catherine, the worst part is that each blackout removes all resistance to the influences that seek to destroy her. Pexov gains strength by these unnatural occurrences, while Sarephah losses strength. Yes, blackouts are the playground for evil: an evil that she can’t fight because she doesn’t know it exists.
Catherine pushes the listen button on the message machine. Beep. “Hi Cath. This is mom. Where are you? I just got a call from Mrs. Taylor. She said you missed Tommy’s music lesson tonight, and your dad says you missed another dinner with him. Are you okay? You seemed down the last time I saw you. Do you think you need to see a counselor or something?”
Catherine rolls her eyes. Why does she always think I need to see a counselor? With sarcasm dripping from every word, she says to herself, “Yeah I need a counselor all right. Maybe I can get some good meds to get rid of this headache while I’m at it.”
Her mom continues, “Okay, well, honey, call me. Your dad and I are worried. Bye.” Click. Beep.
Putting her hands to her head, Catherine rocks back and forth. “Yeah, I bet dad is worried. He’s worried about what board meeting he needs to attend. Note to self, call mom…tomorrow.”
She hits the listen button again. Beep. “Hello Catherine, this is Vickie. We need you to come in and talk about what happened yesterday at work. I have scheduled a meeting for Thursday at 10:00 am. Since today is Tuesday, we thought that would give you time to…umm…to…well…to get yourself together. Until then you are officially suspended and not permit-ted to come onto the property without expressed permission from myself or Mr. Nielin. All right, well…umm… yeah…umm… we hope you’re you doing okay? I’ll see you Thursday, bye.” Click. Beep.
Catherine’s stomach drops. I knew that wouldn’t be good. I am definitely not drinking again. I can’t image what I did. Suspended!? Looking down at her baggy pants and oversized shirt, she realizes she’s wearing the uniform of the kitchen staff from the hotel. How did I get these?
Pexov, roused by the news Catherine has just received, flies into action. With targeted precision, he speaks into the air. Immediately Catherine shivers and wraps her arms around herself. She sits down on the side of the bed.
Slowly several thoughts occur to her. I couldn’t have done anything that bad. Come on…they must be overreacting. I just had a few drinks, after all. I don’t have a problem. My mom has the problem. Yeah, she’s the alcoholic. Not me. She’s the one who almost died from cirrhosis of the liver. I am nothing like her.
She pauses for a moment. More thoughts come, but this time they are coming from Catherine alone. Pexov has done his job.
I’m going to lay low for a couple days and deal with work Thursday. In the meantime, I deserve to relax. In fact, I deserve a little drink to celebrate my two days off. I’ll feel better with a couple drinks. Yeah, I’ll deal with work later.
Catherine pushes herself up off the bed, steadies herself, and begins to walk toward the kitchen, and oblivion.
Standing in the bedroom with Catherine, all Sarephah can do is watch her go. The powerful angel has been there all morning silently interceding for her, but Pexov has the upper hand right now. Sarephah can wait no longer. She moves swiftly through the barriers of earth’s atmosphere and glides into the spiritual realm of the heavenlies. In an instant, she’s in the world she loves best – the Kingdom of the Divine Three.
All beings, angels and demons, acknowledge and refer to the God of all creation as the Divine Three, because they are experienced as three in the unity of one essence. Although they are perceived in various ways, Sarephah understands them best as three - Author, Word, and Text - writing one story.
The Author is the creator and sustainer of all that was, is, and will be. The Word, who always is, was made flesh and dwelt among mortals and died for their cause, and the Text moves within and above guiding each mortal’s existence. Together they each make one everlasting story of creation and humanity. They are never separated and never combined; always and forever one as three.
The Divine Three rule together as One from the area of the heavenlies known as Nede. Sarephah goes straight to Nede and the great throne room. Nede is unlike any other place in the heavenlies. Demons are permitted to roam freely in all areas of the heavenlies except Nede. To Sarephah’s knowledge, no demon, including the chief demon Satan, has ever crossed the highly guarded borders that lead to this special place since the great rebellion. All day, every day, guardian angels line the entire perimeter with the intent to keep out those beings that choose to completely reject the Divine Three. By everlasting decree, only those who choose to belong to the Divine Three are permitted to enter.
As Sarephah is on an urgent mission, she moves without haste into the presence of the Divine Three. There is no waiting because time ceases to exist here. The Divine Three sit ready to accept any and all who come for courage, guidance, and strength without the restrictions of earth’s time constraints.
“Greetings, Sarephah! We are pleased to see you. Sit with us and tell us why you have come.”
Sarephah, feeling the overwhelming love and power of the Divine Three, relaxes visibly at their words. She happily moves closer to receive their embrace before she sits down across from the throne.
Speaking quickly and barely taking a breath, Sarephah begins, “I have come on behalf of Catherine. She desperately needs your help. Well, more than just your help; she needs you to take control of this situation. She is in real trouble, both physically and spiritually. Oh, and let me tell you about Pexov. He is…” The aura of the Three moves over Sarephah and she stops in mid-sentence.
The Divine Three, radiating warmth and love, calmly say to Sarephah, “Sarephah, you do not have to plead for Catherine’s life. We have neither deserted nor forgotten her. We are pursuing her with a powerful and relentless love. And, yes, we know that Pexov, Satan’s agent of death and destruction, is currently wielding much power over our dear precious child.” Sarephah smiles and relaxes at this declaration.
Bolstered by these words of encouragement regarding Catherine, she confidently asks, “Oh, good. Then you will take charge now that you see how bad things are and force her to accept your love? Because you know that she will turn to Satan and be destroyed if you don’t step in and make her accept you.”
The Divine Three are silent for what seems like an eternity, and then finally speak. “We cannot force Catherine to accept our love, Sarephah. In fact, at this point we do not know what she will decide to do. Her future is made up of divine possibilities but not forced actualities. We must allow her the freedom to determine her own destiny. We will pursue her and encourage her to come, accept our love, and follow us. But what we can never do is command her to come, accept our love, and fol-low us.”
Sarephah is stunned. “You mean you don’t have control over her? Does that mean you are not all-powerful?”
Patiently, the Divine Three ask, “Why do you speak of power in terms of control?” They continue, “Our power is made perfect in the weakness of humans. For Catherine, our power will be displayed in her choice to accept her own weakness and then our love. Our power is our love. Our power in the life of Catherine is our love for her. Our power is patient, not wanting any to perish. Therefore, we must wait for Catherine to choose us.”
Confused by this response, Sarephah begins to feel frustrated at the Divine Three’s answers. She asks with exasperation, “Don’t you want to save her? Don’t you want to spare her the miserable existence she is living?”
The Three respond with equal passion, “Salvation has already been accomplished through the Word. Our choice has always been to save all of our creation. Our love is powerful. Our love saves. Our love does not, will not, and cannot force or control. Love requires freedom, and freedom requires risk. Catherine must decide to accept our gift of salvation by her own freewill.”
There is another long silence. Sarephah contemplates the Three’s words. Finally, with tears in her eyes, Sarephah cries, “But she doesn’t seem to have the capacity to do anything beneficial for her life, let alone make the one crucial decision that will determine her destiny. It doesn’t seem right.”
Immediately Sarephah is surrounded by the incomprehensible love of the Three as their aura of them washes over her. She feels strengthened, encouraged, and oh, yes the love is exhilarating.
The Three finally speak, “Sarephah, we know your heart and we know Catherine’s heart. We are NOT giving up on her. Even as we speak, prayers are coming up for her. Remember that love must be given freely, both our love for Catherine and her love for us. This freedom we allow humans is risky, for we know that they may and do chose to reject our love.”
“Satan and his demons have used this freedom against us from the beginning. In fact, many things entice humans away from us when their freedom to choose us is constrained by their own sin, their love for the things of the world, the social con-text in which they exist, and evil.”
“We are in a battle against every evil that stands against the good, just, holy, and pure plan for humanity. Evil, that which actively seeks destruction of the good and that which continually rejects our love, is real because freedom to choose is real. Yes, this battle for the souls of our creation is very real for us precisely because the freedom we allow our creation makes it real.”
“It is important for you to realize that we actively pursue each and every one of our precious children. At the same time, we must wait on each and every decision because the freedom we give them to choose their own way makes the personal outcome of each battle unknown to us in actuality. We know only the divine possibilities. We have accounted for each choice that was, is, and will be made, but we can only respond to the actual choice, not the possible one. We know the plan we have for Catherine, but we know this plan only in its potentiality.”
Revived by this increasing knowledge of the Three’s purpose and plan, Sarephah inquires, “So you can’t just fix Catherine because of your everlasting decree of freewill for all be-ings, natural and spiritual?”
The Divine Three respond, “Correct, we can only show her, with your help, the reality of her choices, our perfect love, and our divine plan for her. But, again, the plan will remain a set of possibilities until she chooses and makes them actualities.”
The Divine Three’s aura begins to pulsate with brilliant colors and Sarephah is comforted.
“Enough for now, Sarephah, Catherine needs us and you are one of our agents of love. Remember that our love is powerful but cannot be controlling. Stay vigilant and ready to act as we pursue her so you can help her see the truth in every situation she encounters.”
“We fear that Catherine is near her end. Her choices are becoming limited in light of the person she has become. Ironically, she has become this person because of her choices. However, there are those who are praying for her and her mind is still open to the possibilities of love and goodness.”
“Be quick in your return. Catherine is going to be confronted with more choices – choices that will determine her ultimate destiny.”
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