The Man and the Angel
This little story was sparked from listening to a song I mentioned yesterday -- Angel's Wish by Steven Curtis Chapman.
He sat on a park bench, alone in the deep green stillness. Leaves rustled around him, and he felt a slight, comforting breeze.
Heaven. He knew without a doubt that that was where he was. He had never felt such peace. He had never experienced such an absence of worry -- of stress. His mind and his body were filled with shalom. Love, unlike anything he had ever imagined, ever even dreamed of, surrounded him, filled him, covered him with warmth and belonging. He couldn't describe it, was only beginning to understand it, but he knew without a doubt that it was heaven.
He sat on the bench, unwilling to move or to even think about leaving this spot. He sat and knew the freedom of timelessness.
Finally, and yet just at the right time, a man walked up to him, and sat on the bench with him. The man wore faded jeans and a flannel shirt, worn to soft comfort. He looked at his visitor, and realized that this was no man. "Who are you?" he asked.
"I'm an angel," he said.
"Angels look like you?" the man asked, surprised.
"Today, for you, for now, this is what I look like.
Even though he knew the answer, the man asked anyway, "This is heaven?" He waved his hand around the park.
"For you, for now, this is what heaven looks like."
They sat together for a while, the man a little intimidated to be conversing with an angel. The angel, on the other hand, seemed excited. Overcoming his hesitancy, the man said, "Would you tell me what it's like to be a witness of God's majesty?"
The angel laughed. It was a wonderful sound, full of humor and joy. The man could have listened to the music of it all day -- who needed harps and lyres when laughter was so beautiful? Finally, the angel said, "I'll tell you anything you want to know, but that question is just a little broad."
Encouraged, the man began to ask his questions. What was it like to see God create the world? Did He have fun designing all the animals? Are we really made in God's image? Does that mean we look like him? How hard was it for Him to send the flood? Did He mean it when He sent the rainbow? Why David? What was it like in heaven when Jesus was born? When he died? When he ascended? Does God ever want to throw up his hands in disgust and walk away?
The angel and the man talked for hours -- at least, it would have been hours if there had been a way to measure timelessness. Neither of them tired of the discussions. The man learned of his God in a way he had never even imagined would be possible.
The conversation finally wound down as the man began to become overwhelmed with all of the images and information that the angel thrust upon him. "Don't worry," the angel said, "There's time to talk about it later."
They both leaned back against the bench, enjoying the silence. Not long after the stopped talking, however, the man realized that the angel seemed to be waiting for something. "What is it?" said the man.
The angel grinned and said, "I want to ask you some questions."
"Me?" The man was incredulous. "What could I possibly know that you would want to ask me about?"
Grinning, the angel leaned forward on the bench, his whole body tense with anticipation, as if waiting for a revelation. "Tell me, won't you, what it's like to be a Child of God?"
Shocked, the man said, "What? Well, what do you want to know?"
So the angel began his questions. What's it like to be loved so much that the God of the universe will sacrifice his own son to rescue you? Can you explain how it feels to know that God's spirit is a part of your existence, helping you and guiding you through every step of life? God would get so angry and hurt sometimes, when man would reject him yet again, but He never seemed to want to walk away. What's it like to be loved like that? He hears your prayers and suffers when you hurt. I've seen Him cry over the loss of a someone you love, even though that someone was now sitting next to me in heaven. His tears were only because you were so sad. What's it like to be loved like that? Can you tell me what grace feels like?"
The man sat shocked into silence for a moment, and then started to explain it, as the angel watched him with rapt attention, never loosing interest when the man stumbled through his thoughts. Finally, worn from the emotion of the discussion, the man stopped. He said, "Surely you've heard all this before. Why are you so interested in what I have to say?"
The angel smiled and said, "Oh, yes, I ask every child who I can about it. I never tire of hearing the answer. I want to hear the story over and over."
Shaking his head in disbelief, the man leaned back again, enjoying the view and the peace. He looked at his new friend, and said, "What's next?"
The angel reached over and squeezed the man's shoulder. The look on his face held many secrets and was colored with anticipation and excitement. "Don't worry," he said, "You're in heaven now. God's just getting started."