Chapter 3 - The Greatest Artifacts
The morning had started like any other.
She woke and showered, she prayed for clarity of mind and strength of body, and then she thought of her fiancé – her soon to be husband. This brought to mind how much she truly loved him and how much she really yearned to be his wife. She glowed inside just thinking about him and hoped she’d get a chance to see him before her shift began.
This then brought to mind the wedding and her father. It wasn’t that her father disapproved of her future mate, no, not at all, but more at how soon she was making the choice. He preferred for her to live a little, experience the joys of being an angel, a messenger angel at that, before settling down. At the earthly age of twenty-three, she felt she and her fiancé had ‘lived a little’ and had enough ‘experience’ to know they were genuinely in love and wanted to be married. Her father had always worried about her, especially after what had happened to her mother, and she knew deep inside he just wanted what was best, but ultimately, she’d leave the worrying to him – she knew he was good at it.
After eating breakfast on her kitchen-island and cleaning up the marble countertop from last night’s dinner, she went to her bedroom and dressed into her angelic clothes including a full-length robe and brown-leather sandals. Once she finished brushing the teeth that gave her such a beautiful smile, she pulled back her long, blonde hair into a ponytail giving way to an attractive, blue-eyed face with high cheekbones and a clear, almost milky-white complexion. Strangely enough she did not think she was attractive, although her father had always told her she was, it wasn’t until her fiancé has said so that she began to believe, just a little. She still viewed herself as that awkward, little girl growing up, so prone to clumsiness at times, and not the confident and graceful woman she truly had become.
As a new messenger angel (she’d only been working as one for six-earthly-months) she was assigned a mentor, Mary the Rejoicer (and a good one she was), to perform the assignments in tandem for one-earthly-year. This was the training time given to all messengers before they were allowed to carry out a mission on their own. If after one-earthly-year she scored high enough in her review, she’d then be allowed to go out on her own. Otherwise, training continued at three-month increments until she passed a review or it was obvious she was better suited for desk duty.
Today was her day to meet at Mary’s house and then head to Messenger Headquarters. As she was about to leave, the phone rang. Giddy as a schoolgirl she raced to it knowing it had to be her fiancé.
“No, Lily,” replied the cheerful voice, “it’s just me, Mary.”
“Oh, sorry,” said Lily, slightly embarrassed, “I just thought, you know, it was him.”
“It’s okay sweetie,” Mary continued cheerfully, “I know how much you love him. I think everybody does. Now, the reason I called. Your father is looking for you.”
“What about? Why didn’t he call here?”
“You know your dad, the model of efficiency. He figured you were already here and tried to catch you before we went to work.”
“So, what did he want?”
Mary hesitated, it was noticeable, “Ah, your father say’s you have a meeting with—Him.”
“A meeting with dad? And it can’t wait ‘til later?”
“No honey, not your father, but with Him, the Almighty.”
Lily replied with stunned silence. She had never been called into His presence; this would be the first time.
“Lily? Are you there?” Mary asked with concern.
“I—I’m here Mary,” stammered Lily. “Do you know why?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t.”
“Okay…,” said Lily, still in shock, “what do I do?”
“Sweetie, you go to Him, and go now.”
After leaving Par Amor and entering Heaven through its magnificent ‘pearly gates’ (yes, they are pearly white), Lily nervously trudged past blissful souls to the Throne Room. A room where only a select, few angels – and otherwise – had ever been inside. There were stories from her father of the experience, how being in the Throne Room, in His presence, was truly a joyous and most uplifting occasion.
Even knowing all this, Lily felt like she was going to lose her breakfast.
Granted access by guardian angels to His mansion (actually, more a large home than a palace) she noticed it glowed from all-around with beaming, white light. Once inside, two other guardians escorted her across a perfectly smooth, glass-like floor, past ornately decorated walls, through a blinding light leading to a curved and ridiculously wide staircase, and finally, up to a gigantic set of shimmering, wooden double-doors. But before opening the doors, one of the guardians gave a stern order.
“Take off your sandals, you are about to enter holy ground.”
“Yes, of course,” she replied timidly, taking off her shoes.
As she stood there barefoot waiting for the heavy-looking doors to open, the guardians noticed how scared she looked.
“Messenger,” said one of the guardians, “there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“Don’t worry,” said the other, smirking, “He won’t bite.”
Without any warning the doors opened into the room, releasing an even brighter and even more blinding light. Shading her eyes, Lily entered the room thinking she might faint at the next step. Clearing the entryway the double-doors closed by themselves, and as she neared the beautiful, white light, the feeling of terror that had gripped her was replaced with a calming peace and a sense of joyous love. The feeling of love was so great, it felt as though it filled her and lifted her off the ground. It was the way Lily felt about her fiancé, only a thousand times greater. Walking (or was she floating?) somewhere between the entrance and the great, loving light – He spoke to her.
But He did not speak to Lily. It was more so that He filled her mind with sights, sounds, and emotions. A feeling of understanding, of complete and utter knowledge of everything washed over her. Blinded by beautiful, warm light, granted an almost divine awareness, and engulfed in a sense of love she had never before felt, He told her why she was called to Him.
There was a duty, or rather a mission.
“Why me my Lord?” Lily asked, knowing the answer.
He explained: She was smart, He knew so from the missions she had performed with Mary, aiding her to completion; she was young, not the youngest of messengers, but for her age Lily was well-respected among her older peers; she was – unknown – nameless and unheard of to Lucifer; and most of all, she had the born talent to accomplish what He wanted her to do.
Although the last statement peaked her interest, she was more surprised at how wistful the Almighty seemed when He spoke about the Deceiver. Even with an understanding almost equal to His, she found it beyond belief He could or would forgive Satan. Yet the feeling He had done so, very long ago, was palpable, and in the deepest recesses of her brain Lily thought she heard Him correct her with a single word – Lucifer. As she was about to beg forgiveness, He focused her mind on the mission.
With no build-up and no dramatics: He simply told her about the Greatest Artifacts. How her earthly cousins have held onto them long enough and how He wanted them returned to their proper place in space and time. He then showed her the artifacts, only two – a lance and a robe.
Lily saw them appear before her, floating within reach, she grabbed at each with an open and eager hand only to have them pass through the life-like images. She sighed and then looked at them closely. The lance was merely a spear: The shaft was two meters long and dark-brown, almost black in color, a long, tapered, spike-shaped head fixed at the top. The only distinguishing feature was a handle laced tightly around the pole, a half-meter from the spike’s tip. Turning her attention to the robe, it looked more to her like a tunic. Made of thick looking fabric, it was white and it was pristine and it appeared to have no seams. On a normal-sized man the robe’s arms touched the wrists and its opening reached the thighs.
She had so many questions, but He continued…
These artifacts were powerful. If she was ever in trouble and she possessed them both, by carrying the lance and wearing the robe she would be protected by divine powers, no harm would ever reach her. A single artifact, although important, was powerless.
“Where do I find these artifacts, my Lord?” Lily asked, realizing she had no insight to the question.
He soothed her and reminded her she was born to find the artifacts. When the time was right, she will know.
Lily thought hard, she had no idea how to start or where to go. Slowly, the divine awareness she had been granted melted from her senses.
“My Lord Almighty,” said Lily pleadingly, “grant me Your knowledge again.” She felt His warm and lovingly smile, then came his reply – gentle but absolute.
When the time was right, she will know.
Resigned to her fate, Lily asked, “My Lord, when do I begin?”
“But my Lord,” began Lily nervously, “I was to marry…soon. I am marrying Harke the Herald.
The Almighty, with divine love and knowledge, told her He knew. He also told her He approved and wanted them to be married. It was one of His gifts to angels and man alike, and those who truly fell in love and married, He blessed a hundred-fold. He loved them both and wanted them to be happy – but the mission would come first. And once she returned - there was yet one more task. Another mission. One that He would explain then and only then. Until that time, she was to tell no one of her missions – no one.
“Yes my Lord,” said Lily, the choking sound of heartbreak in her voice, “as You wish.”
He called her His child and told her to not worry or be saddened. He assured her she would marry Harke and even told her He would marry them. The mission was dangerous but He would be with her always – watching. Ultimately, she alone had to find the artifacts, she had to endure the experiences to come, and then she had to return them to where they rightfully belonged. So pray for guidance and remember everything she had been told. Now go forth and prepare knowing the Almighty will watch over you.
His words resonated and heartened Lily. Although still sad her wedding was now delayed, the Almighty strengthened her as resolve and confidence grew inside. Lily still had no idea how to start or where to go, but with prayer and preparation the mission did not seem impossible.
“My Lord,” said Lily decisively, “I am ready to go.”
The light she faced grew brighter (was He smiling?) as her hair tousled from a gust of wind and a guardian appeared beside each arm. They were wearing sunglasses but she recognized them as the same two that had brought her here. After nodding once toward the light, they looked at her. The one on Lily’s right presented her sandals, which she kindly took from him. This guardian then quickly removed his glasses and stared, mouth slightly gaped.
“Your hair, messenger—it’s—it’s white, completely white.”
The other guardian, fumbling with his sunglasses said, “You weren't just in the room, just meeting with Him, you were in His presence, truly in His presence.”
Lily pulled on the ponytail holder and glanced at her thick, long hair, sure enough, it was white. From what she saw, it was as white as a mountain top’s freshly fallen snow.
She had heard from her father how angels and men alike, who have looked upon His face, return with streaks or patches of white. But never had Lily heard of anyone return with a full head of white hair.
“Are you sure?” Lily asked, as she turned her head back and forth and tried to pull more of her mane into view.
“Yes,” said both guardians together. They watched her with awe.
“Well,” said Lily happily, “I think I’ll like it.”
The Almighty then interjected (was that a chuckle Lily heard?) for the guardians to escort her to her father. He will help her prepare for the mission.
“My father is to help me?” Lily said, as she wondered about his reaction to all this.
Yes, Gabriel the Announcer, your father. The Announcer knows nothing other than Lily being chosen for a mission. She will go to him, honor him, and follow his orders. Once the preparations were complete, she will perform her duty and then return.
“But my Lord,” said Lily slightly anxious, “my father will want to know what I’m doing. What do I say to him?”
Honor thy father.
“Okay…” said Lily slowly, not sure what the reply meant, “thank you my Lord.”
“A mission, huh?” said the guardian to her left, as they both replaced their sunglasses.
“Yeah,” said Lily, placing the sandals back on her feet, holding the shoulder of each guardian in turn to do so. “But as you can see, I can’t say anything. Sorry boys.”
Standing straight up on her own, Lily stared back at the light – it was so loving. She wanted to stay here forever, in His glory and warmth, but knew from the little of divine consciousness that stuck it was not what He wanted. He wanted her to be happy, to be married – to be with Harke. She wondered what Harke would say, how much this mission would frighten him, how hurt he would be. Lily imagined explaining the situation to him, how the Almighty had chosen her over so many others – a true blessing from Him. Though she tried to convince herself, Lily knew it would be no comfort to Harke.
Turning to the guardian on her right, she sighed quietly and said, “Come on, let’s go.”