Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: RELATIVES (02/15/18)
- TITLE: ITS A FAMILY THING
By Robin West
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Malach sat on a smooth boulder overlooking the devastation below. He and his companion on a nearby stone had witnessed the brimstone storm through the night. Now, at daybreak, a massive basin of smoke from the former cities of Sodom and Gomorrah emitted fumes of sulfur and burnt flesh.
Malach turned to Ramiel, who sat unconsciously stroking his beard. “One thing I don’t understand…”
“Only one?” asked Ramiel.
“… One thing for now, what did Abram ever see in Lot?”
“He’s Abram’s nephew.”
“But he’s nothing like Abram.”
“He isn’t like the Sodomites either. He offered us shelter for the night, insisted on it, knowing the black hearts of the townspeople.”
“Didn’t you hear him offer to send his daughters out there?”
“That was troubling.” Ramiel said, “Lot seemed to know we were angels, like Abram did yesterday. I’m sure Abram’s always hospitable, but I doubt he roasts a calf for every stranger passing through.”
“That was the best meal I ever ate on Terra Firma.” Malach looked over his shoulder, saw a familiar figure coming from the Oaks of Mamre, and nudged his friend. “Here comes Abram now. Should we leave?”
“We aren’t visible to him like we were yesterday. He can’t hear us either.”
“Oh yeah,” Malach shook his head. “I keep forgetting.”
They watched as Abram hiked up beside them at the edge of the bluff. He would have seen and smelled smoke all morning, but that couldn’t prepare him for the magnitude of destruction and the loss of life it represented.
When the Hebrew saw the Salt Sea Valley, the angels heard his sharp intake of breath followed by a long, anguished howl. His body shook out moans as tears and snot dribbled into his beard. First Ramiel, then Malach arose from their seats, stood on each side of Abram and laid hands on his shoulders. Both knew Abram thought he was alone, but they were also aware their touch imparted comfort.
“Does he know his nephew is safe?” Malach asked.
Ramiel nodded. “The Father assured him of Lot’s safety, even though Sodom didn’t hold as many as ten righteous men. The entire society forsook The Father and His creation to obey their narcissistic imaginations. ”
For a time, the three stood over the smoke filled basin while the shock drained from Abram and a dull sadness remained. The angels stepped back and waited with God’s friend awhile longer, until Abram straightened his spine, raised his eyes, and returned to The Oaks of Mamre.
“I think our assignment is complete,” said Ramiel.
Malach looked down at the smoke and shook his head. “Not even ten. You must admit, Abram had a lot of chutzpah negotiating with God yesterday. He started at fifty and talked Him down to ten.”
“A negotiating gift Abram will pass on to many generations,” said Ramiel, a gleam in his eye.
“All that effort for a wayward nephew, I still don’t get it.”
“When squabbles between their shepherds forced them to part ways, Abram allowed Lot to choose the best grazing land, sending Abram into unknown territory. Abram didn’t grumble because he valued family over prosperity.”
Malach shrugged, still not convinced.
“You know, yesterday wasn’t the first time he interceded for his nephew. Abram didn’t have to fight that war at the Salt Sea, remember when those northern kings allied to invade the kings in the valley?”
“Yes,” Malach said.
“When he heard his brother’s son was captured, Abram formed his own army, defeated the invaders—against all odds—and rescued Lot, saving Sodom and Gomorrah in the process.”
“Those cities didn’t deserve the rescue,” said Malach.
“Agree, but for the sake of one beloved nephew, all were saved. It’s about family, my friend Malach. Relatives have invisible bonds that non-related people lack. Abram fought for Lot, his brother’s son. He wasn’t willing to let him go.”
For the first time that day, the smoke cleared enough for the sun to break through. Simultaneously, Malach caught a glimpse of Ramiel’s point. “Abram loves Lot because he’s family. He won’t let go of family. I think I see why God chose Abram to bless.”
Ramiel motioned for Malach to continue. “Finish your thought.”
“Abram, like The Father, is not willing that any should perish.”
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