Anthony jolted awake in a darkened room. Disoriented, it took him a moment to realize he was lying in a shallow pool of water that carried yellow-tipped black ripples away from his body as he sat up. The dampness had the smell of a port or harbor, reminding him of the sea, or possibly a cave by the sea. But the scent was deeper, on the cusp of foul.
He blinked to adjust his eyes to the gloom. The room appeared to be lit but by a single candle on a wooden table – its light reflecting lazily on the wrinkles of the water. The table seemed centered in the room.
“Hello!” he called out. His voice came back in fading echoes. Standing, he looked around. The ceiling, lost in the overhead gloom, appeared vaulted supported by arching white, glistening pillars. The walls, gray in the flickering flame of the candle seemed to have a wet, pinkish tone to them. The distant sound of dripping water and a hoarse wheezing of air broke the silence, adding to the vast hollowness surrounding him.
“Hello!” He called again.
“Anthony,” a voice answered somewhere distant. It was followed by the sound of sloshing water.
The voice sounded familiar, friendly. “Jonah?” He said, wading forward.
“Yes, my friend. It is I, Jonah. A bearded man came into the aurora of the candle’s light and lifted his hands in a shrug. “Forgive my office, but when I’ve counseling to do I find it helps remind me of my past.” He nodded, smiling. “It’s been what, six months since you left heaven for your assignment? Here, let’s sit.” And, in a twinkling, two chairs appeared on either side of the table.
Anthony sat. “Counseling?”
Jonah cleared his throat and sat as well. “Uhm, yes it’s comes to my attention you’re having trouble on earth. The Forrester family – right?”
“As their neighbor;” he hung his head, mumbling into his chest, “and I did pray.”
“Speak up! What did you pray?”
“That God take me off my assignment.”
“I…I think I’m falling in love with Mr. Forrester’s wife; and she with me. I don’t think her husband deserves her.” He looked up through the candle light separating them. “I’m unfit for the task God’s given me.”
“I see. You feel like you’ve failed.” Anthony nodded and Jonah continued. “Before you left, do you remember God telling you He’d never give you more than He knew you could handle?”
“Yes, in the garden. But don’t you see, that man, Mr. Forrester is unworthy of a good marriage with his wife.”
“Tut, tut, that is not for us to decide, Anthony. That is God’s providence alone. You remind me of myself wondering 3000 years ago why God should grant repentance to the Ninevites. I wanted instead that He bring judgment upon the people I hated.”
Anthony looked around. “And this is why you brought me here.”
“Discussing pride, running away and jealously in this setting would be enough; but there is another thing, more dire.” He locked eyes with Anthony. “And that is your feelings of love for Mrs. Forrester. Angels dare not go there, Anthony.”
“Dare not or can not?”
“Can of course. You’ve free will as all fallen angels can testify.”
“But love is God’s greatest commandment.”
“Yes, but not if it also causes one to hate.” He leaned forward. “All things must come in order. First is to obey God’s will.” He leaned back. “A lesson I learned here as well - not to focus on my needs but instead on the needs of others. God’s will for you was to help the Foresters; and His will for them was to have a good marriage.”
“But I feel so strongly that Mrs. Forrester loves me…”
“There’s something you need to learn about the human heart, Anthony. It is imperfect and not pure like yours; it's full of deceits. It can and has stolen destinies leaving nothing but despair where hope rightfully belongs. Angels, such as yourself, are called to help prevent this.”
Jonah raised his hand. “The Forrester’s are expecting; did you know that?” Anthony looked at him, shaking his head. “God has heard your prayer and asks you to go back.”
“But what if I fail?”
“Friend, I’m in heaven for but one reason: God is merciful to all that obeys Him.”
Anthony awakened back on earth, Jonah’s last words cauterizing his heart: “He chose you for this, no one else – go and trust Him.”
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