TITLE: The Family Dwelling
By Michelle Knoll
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He placed a little more cement around the brick's edges, smoothing it into place. "There!" he said with satisfaction, as he inspected his workmanship one more time. "That should take care of that!"
His friend and coworker, Adah, came walking up behind him. "Amal, what are you doing? Do you still work on this wall?"
"Oh, my brother Adah, Achan -- that trouble maker -- is still attacking this dwelling place. How I wish he would stop! This wall isn't going to last with all of the thrusts he makes against it! Look there," he continued, pointing to a crack now forming. "That's going to be a big problem, if something doesn't cause his dirty work to cease."
Adah walked closer to the wall and studied the crack with a serious eye. "Hmmm. Yes, dear one. This has been developing for some time." He turned and looked at his weary friend, whose eyes told the story of a brave warrior committed to his task. Always ready to defend the humans he had been called into service over, he took his assignment seriously. Adah knew that this group of humans, this family, wouldn't have survived this long, if it hadn't been for this compassionate heart that stood by them with fierce determination.
"Yes, and if the humans don't watch their mouths and hearts, then this one will be hard to repair." Amal turned to wipe the cement off his fingers and put his tools away. He cared for the humans in a deep way, but he knew that the success of their family depended as much on their own commitment to survival as it depended on his. Turning back to look at the wall, he ran his hand along the crack, and sighed heavily.
"So what will you do, great one, if the humans choose unwisely? You will not be able to fix the problems as quickly as they will form, correct? Do you suspect that this family is doomed to failure? Will this dwelling fall into ruin?" Adah searched the face of the warrior he knew so well, dreading the answer he thought he would hear.
"Well, Ariel has told me that there is one member of this family, a young one, who prays fervently. Her heart is turned toward the Lord, and she has great faith. Even though she is not as learned as the rest, she believes that the Lord can and will turn this family around." Chuckling softly, he looked at his friend sadly. "She's probably the only reason I still have a job."
Adah placed his hand on the shoulder of his dear friend. "Then I am thankful for this little one and her prayers," he said, smiling at Amal, who nodded in agreement.
"So am I."
The familiar sound of their commanding officer's voice startled the soldiers, and they both gasped. They hadn't realized he had walked up behind them. Turning quickly to face the stalwart commander, they bowed in honor and respect. Attempting to dissolve the tension of the moment, Amal spoke first.
"Forgive me, sir, I did not mean to-"
"It's alright, Amal. I know you meant no harm. Rise, dear ones," Ariel spoke with authority. He looked at each of them, and smiled. He knew well the abilities of these two, and how they worked diligently at the tasks that were assigned to them. Full of wisdom and experiences beyond their rank, he respected their thoughts and knew that whatever they spoke came from hearts full of love and compassion for the humans they attended in their service to the King. And now, each looked expectantly at the one who held their attention.
"I have been sent with a message for you, Amal," Ariel began, though he quickly changed his tone as he watched Amal's countenance fall. "Wait, soldier, it's not what you think!" he added reassuringly.
"Sir, I wasn't trying to complain concerning the humans and their plight...” Amal began, looking back at the wall, and the crack that was slowly getting deeper.
"As well I know! So don't think I've come to reprimand you!" Ariel replied intensely. With a softer tone, he continued. "On the contrary, the news I bring should encourage you."
"Then speak, my commander, for this one could surely use some encouragement," Adah said in defense of his friend. Ariel looked at Adah and nodded in agreement. Amal was weary with the battle; it was clearly evident he was getting discouraged.
"Well!" Ariel began with excitement. "I have been sent by the Captain of the Host Himself! And He has sent me to tell you, Amal, that help is on the way." The smile on Ariel's face literally lit up the area where they stood.
"Sir?" Amal could not believe his ears. He had fought this battle for so long by himself, repairing the wall as quickly as he could, giving the wall all of his attention, his thoughts, his diligence, and his life.
"Yes, Amal. Little Elizabeth, the daughter of this family you watch over, has made a way for you to have some help. Because of her faith-filled prayers over her family's home, a doorway has been opened for another to come in and assist you in protecting this wall." Ariel watched as relief washed over the warrior's entire being, and tears welled up in his eyes as Amal reacted to the commander's words.
"Oh, praise His Name! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!" Amal rejoiced as he fell to his knees, burying his face in his hands. Adah's heart went out to his friend as he heard the wise one's sobs coming from behind the work-worn hands. Feeling joy over the news, Adah gently patted Amal on the back, and looked at Ariel for what he should do next.
Ariel walked up beside the pair and spoke softly. "Stay with him, Adah, until he has regained his composure. And thank you for being here with him. I know I can always count on you to be a faithful friend."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir," Adah replied, feeling slightly flustered at the complement so readily given. He never felt deserving of such, even though he knew the commander always spoke only those things given to him by the Captain of the Host.
Ariel looked down at Amal, who was still recovering from the wonderful surprise. "Her name is Anath Azarel, for she is the answer to Elizabeth's prayers, and she is the evidence that God has helped you in your hour of need. And," he added with a chuckle, "she is quite adept at fixing walls, Amal. She will serve you well." Ariel looked at Adah and smiled. He was glad he was able to deliver such wonderful news to his age-old friend. Patting Adah on the shoulder, Ariel turned to walk away.
Watching Ariel as he departed, Adah nudged his friend on the shoulder impatiently. Sensing that his friend wanted his attention, Amal rose from the ground, still wiping his eyes. Adah looked at Amal, his eyes aflame with the excitement he felt.
"Can you believe it, Amal? Can you believe it? The human girl’s prayers, they have brought you the help you've needed! Can you believe it? Now you will be able to defend this family's home, and Achan won't have a prayer!" Adah could hardly contain himself. Amal smiled at the exuberance of his friend, who was almost jumping up and down. Weakly nodding in agreement, Amal was so overtaken with emotion that he couldn't speak just yet.
Suddenly, the familiar voice of their commander was heard in the distance, and both turned in the direction of the one they knew so well.
"Oh, and Adah?"
"Yes... sir?" Adah curiously asked, not knowing what Ariel would have forgotten to mention.
"Prepare yourself, soldier. For if all goes according to plan, this wall will be in need of adornment soon, as the Father floods this home with His Love. For the prayers of a righteous one avail much, even when that righteous one is the youngest of all that dwell there."
Adah turned to face his fellow warrior, his mouth open wide in honest surprise. Amal, who was now chuckling at the joyous glow on his friend's face, clapped in celebration at the magnificent turn of events. His chuckle turned to outright laughter, as Adah exploded with excitement at the commander's words.
"Yes!" he shouted, and danced for all the world to see. Once again, the prayers of God's saints were going to prevail, and another dwelling, another home, was going to survive the ravages of war.
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