Benjamin hovered near The Books. His wings tingled with curiosity. All his eternal life, he had longed to turn their pages; what a fascinating life Man lived! Of course, The Book of Life was off-limits. Only God Himself was allowed to know its contents, until the end of time.
But next to,The Book of Life, was, The Book of HIStory. Gabriel kept meticulous notes in the great silver book. He wrote the terrifying stories of martyrs and the funny stories of precious children. He jotted down the greatest leaps of faith and numerous days of tears. Unlike Benjamin and his fellow angels, Man lived in a widely varied, unsafe world.
Today Benjamin was in between charges. Carl, the man he had guarded for 83 years had come home yesterday and God had yet to give Benjamin his next assignment. So, with enthusiasm casting prisms from his feathers, he landed gently in front of The Books and opened HIStory.
Benjamin turned to the year 1983, the year Carl had turned 55. Then, he paged forward to observe what had been happening in China. He began to read.
“Nineteen-eighty-three,” Gabriel’s clean script began the record, “members of houses churches in China, those who fully belong to Jesus Christ, are being severely persecuted. They are considered illegal. Servants of Christ who continue to worship Him have been arrested, fined and tortured. It is the worst that I have ever seen it. Pastor Xue Kang gave his life in the name of Jesus two days ago.”
Benjamin felt a semblance of fear shred through him, like the ache of frostbite thawing. He had never felt pain, but this must be what it felt like. (When Carl had been camping one winter, Benjamin had watched his toes turn blue. It looked awful!) His heart went out to that brave pastor. He must make it a point to find him. He longed to commend this man of God.
Benjamin was careful to only scan the next few stories. Earth experienced long days of dismal rain. He read of a terrible car wreck in 1991, that took the life of a mother and her son. He read of wars and family feuds and fractured marriages. He had never known fear, praise God, but the vicarious experience of hurt through these godly humans affected his spirit.
Suddenly, he sensed a presence behind him. “Ben, what are you reading? Did you find the stories of Corrie Ten Boom, Gladys Aylward or C.S. Lewis? HIStory is a fascinating read, isn’t it?” Gabriel stepped up beside Ben and placed his hand on the other angel’s shoulder. “Ben, what’s wrong?”
“Gabriel, sir. I don’t know what to make of it! How does man do it? Why must they experience hell on earth? If I could know fear, I believe this would be it. I would be scared for them. How does love exist in the midst of such evil?”
“Dear Ben, hush. Man chose the world they live in. Do not forget Eden. Do not forget the insurrection in Heaven and Satan’s deception and the curse God placed upon the earth. Above all, do not forget God’s holiness.”
Benjamin, shut his mouth and lowered his eyes in deference to Gabriel’s wisdom. “Yes, Sir. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!”
“Indeed, Ben. But let me share with you Man’s greatest treasure. They are blessed to know a pleasure beyond anything you or I will ever know. Man is created in the image of Yahweh. Remember? In their suffering, they participate with Christ, and know Him on a different level of intimacy than you and I. They know the power of God living in them.
“And,” Gabriel’s eyes filled with Heaven’s only tears - those of joy. “Man, Man can call God, ‘Father.’”
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