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“What is she doing?” The Commander watched the little angel from his position above the earth.
“Our Sarah is directionally challenged.” The Lieutenant grimaced as he gazed at his graduate student.
“She’s flitting from cloud to cloud.” The Commander narrowed his eyes. “Is that a map in her hand?” His gaze
followed the diminutive resident of Heaven as she alternated between scanning the paper in her hand and
scrutinizing her surroundings.
“Yes, sir, but she can’t figure it out. She has no clue she’s holding the diagram upside down.” The Lieutenant shook his head. “She’s taken Map Reading 101 three times, and I’ve personally tutored her. She’s a bit dyslexic and gets her left and right confused, along with east, west, north and south. At least she knows up and down.”
He bit his lip as he saw the pint-sized trainee shoot up when she needed to go down. He held his breath when the little angel hesitated in mid-air with her wings unfurled. She then lowered her head and plunged several feet at high speed velocity before she righted herself.
The Lieutenant blew a loud whooshing breath. “Well, let me rephrase that. She recognizes up and down most of the time.” He shook his head and turned his attention to the Commander. “Sir, I’m not so sure this is the best angel for this assignment. Sarah’s fresh out of school. May I ask why you didn’t send Rachael?”
“Rachael has other lessons to learn. Sarah will do fine.” The Commander spoke with conviction.
“I wish I could believe it.”
The Commander smiled. “It’s a matter of faith.”
“I believe in her. She’ll mature from this mission and grow in self-confidence.”
The Superiors grew silent as they watched the little one. A gust of wind blew the map from her hand. She made a comical sight as she grabbed at the air for her set of directions. Losing her balance, she tumbled head over feet and plummeted to Earth in a spiral. She made a thud when her bottom hit solid ground. Rising, she inspected her wings and smiled. Nothing appeared broken.
The Commander furrowed his eyebrows and turned to his Lieutenant. “Give her time to do her job, but keep your eyes on her.”
* * *
Sarah looked around and wondered where she was. Having never been to the planet Earth before, she was excited to receive her first commission to help the humans. She had watched them from her perch in the upper abode, but this was her first experience as a servant to one.
The space she had plunged through had been cold, but the physical activity had kept her from noticing the elements. Now that she was on Earth, she found the air cooler than expected. She turned up her internal thermostat to adjust to Earth’s temperature—a procedure sometimes necessary in The Heavenlies. The Charge of the Celestial Climate kept it perfect for most inhabitants, but individuals could always adjust their personal heating and cooling system if needed.
The sun looked bright and glorious from this perspective, but snow was on its way. The Charge of the Terrestrial Climate had given a weather report before she left, and Sarah anticipated her first touch of the beautiful, white stuff. From her perch in the heavens, it resembled a cloud covering the ground instead of one hovering between earth and heaven.
Sarah needed to find Tom Shoemaker. His prayer was her reason for coming to Earth. But where was he? Her map had blown away and she had landed in a secluded spot with no recognizable landmarks. Rolling hills, trees, and brown grass filled the landscape—no buildings or streets. Often lost in the upper realm, what made her think the lower one would make a difference? How on earth was she to decide which way to go?
Giggling at that last thought—because she was “on earth”—she jammed an index finger into her mouth, wet it fully, and held it to the atmosphere. The airstream swirled around the moist digit, and she chose to follow the wind. It was as good a place to start as any. With the wind at her back, she plunged ahead on foot. She was accustomed to weightlessness and air. Solid earth was an interesting phenomenon, but it had its limitations.
Deciding the foot method of transportation was too slow, Sarah took to the air.
Soaring above the trees, she turned in a slow circle until she caught site of a steeple—a church! As if pulled by some celestial magnet, she found herself flying towards the place of worship without any conscious decision to do so. Missing her intended landing spot—the front stoop— she collided into the roof with a loud whack instead.
“Well, that was certainly graceful. So much for Charm and Dignity Class 101.” Muttering to herself, she slid to the edge, floated down, and peered through the window.
Tom knelt at the altar but peered about the church with a puzzled expression. He must have heard the thump when she hit the roof. Sarah reminded herself that she could sometimes be heard even if she wasn’t seen. She watched as the human bowed his head once more in prayer.
Tom was a good-looking man. His thick hair and mustache sported the same rich brown color. Broad shoulders complemented a strong body build and well-toned arm muscles. His large hands, folded in prayer, looked powerful.She knew from her few studies about him that he had played football in college. Even though he knelt, she could tell he was taller than she, but then, Sarah was short as angels go. She couldn’t see his eyes—they were closed, but her dossier said they were green. Probably the same color as his roomy sweater, worn over comfortable-looking tan slacks.
A little more information would have been nice, but she supposed the Superiors wanted to see how many details she could discover on her own.
Summoning her metamorphic ability, she passed through the wall of the church. She could transform into a human shape if necessary, but the Superiors had given strict instructions about that.
Settled comfortably on the back pew, Sarah studied her surroundings. The sanctuary, with its plain white walls, would hold perhaps one hundred people. Mahogany pews, cushioned in blue upholstery, went well with a darker blue carpet which enveloped the elevated altar. The runner traveled the center aisle, leaving dark, freshly
varnished, planked floors on each side. A lemony fragrance lingered in the air, lending a pleasant aroma in the small building. It was a simple sanctuary—no stained glass, no excessive ornamentation—but generations of worshipers had kept the country church in pristine condition.
Sarah focused her attention on Tom. He was talking to the Father and she didn’t want to interrupt him, as the
Father cherished these humans’ prayers. They drifted up as a sweet fragrance to Him.
Tom had asked for guidance in recent days, and wonder of wonders, the Father had sent her to help him, but he didn’t know his answer sat right behind him.
No doubt she was inadequate for this job, but the Superiors had entrusted her with it. Sarah slipped from the pew and glided to the front, where she knelt beside Tom and spoke to the Father. Afterward, she placed a hand on Tom’s shoulder.
He raised his head and smiled. He couldn’t feel her touch, but from his reaction, he had experienced a sense of divine intervention. Rising, he slowly walked the aisle to the back door. Sarah followed as he exited the church and walked across the church yard to the parsonage.
The church residence was a large, white, two-story house with a wraparound porch. From The Heavenlies, Sarah had watched Tom’s parents enjoy many hours sitting in the rocking chairs near the railing. Their shared secrets were noted in The Heavenlies. They were husband and wife, but they were also best friends.
Allison was loading the dishwasher when Tom came into the large, homey kitchen. Yellow daisies sprinkled up and down the wallpaper. White cabinetry with glass doors displayed blue dishes. Herbs grew in small pots on the white laminate counter top. Sarah stopped in the doorway to watch and listen.
“Mom, everything is going to get better. While I was praying, I suddenly felt surrounded by love and the assurance that God was going to answer.”
Allison smiled up at her son. “Are you staying here, then?”
Tom shrugged. “I don’t know. If God wants me to pastor this church, He’s got to do something more than He’s
done to give me a clue. The pastorate was Dad’s deal. It’s never been mine. My life is in Houston.”
When his mother’s eyes welled with tears, Tom kissed her cheek. “I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t intend any disrespect
for you and Dad. I just never expected to have this kind of lifestyle.” He gestured with his hand to include the
surroundings. “This setting worked well for the two of you, but Dad knew his calling was genuine and he never
questioned it. But me? Well, I’ve felt a pull toward the ministry from time to time, but I’ve had no Damascus Road
experience. I was shocked when the men of this church asked me to take Dad’s place.”
“You spoke so eloquently at his funeral. They were impressed.”
Tom nodded. “But that wasn’t a sermon. I spoke from the heart about a man I admired and loved. Dad made an
easy topic to talk about. My degree is in business, not theology. I work with profit and loss statements.”
“Mathew was a tax collector and Peter, James, and John owned a fishing business.” Alison grinned at her son.
He returned the smile. “Yes, but that was different.”
“How was it different?”
“Jesus called those guys to personally follow Him. Matthew probably hated his IRS occupation and was glad to
leave his job. Peter, James and John left their nets to explore a more noble vocation.” Tom scratched his head and
narrowed his eyes. “But, come to think of it, even after those three became preachers, they supported
themselves with fishing.”
“The members of this church would accept you as a bi-vocational pastor. This flock can support a full-time
minister, but many small congregations can’t. I know these people. They would allow you to continue your current
career and pastor here.”
“That’s a consideration, I guess. But churches prefer their ministers to have a wife and I don’t even have a
“God works all things out.” Allison folded her arms against her chest. “Son, I don’t know if God is calling you into
the ministry or not. The invitation to pastor this church has come like a bolt out of the blue to both of us. After
all, we just buried your father five days ago. This invitation may be the Lord’s doing and it may not. Listen to the
voice inside you and take your time. The elders understood their request would be a surprise, so they’ve
scheduled an itinerant preacher for a month. If you haven’t reached a decision by then, they can arrange another
temporary speaker. They are in no hurry for decisions.”
“Regardless of this offer, I’ll need to go back to Houston, and I want you to come with me.”
She shook her head. “We’ve lived in this house since you were about five years old. The elders gave me permission
to continue living in this parsonage until they call a minister, and until they find one, I’ll stay here and go to this
church like I’ve always done.” She reached up to pat his shoulder. “Houston isn’t for me. I’m fond of small towns
and I like central Texas. When I move, I’ll rent a house around Hillsdale. It’s between San Antonio and Houston
—equal distance between you and your sister. It’s also close enough for me to visit the friends I have in this
Tom sighed. “We all have a huge adjustment to make, especially you.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’ll manage. Grief is something we all must go through at some juncture. At least the
holidays are behind us. I’m thankful we had your dad through Christmas and New Year’s.” Her voice quavered and
she dabbed at her eyes.
“Yeah, I know. As Dad would say, ‘Death is part of life.’”
Allison smiled. “He would, wouldn’t he?”
Allison spoke brave words, but Sarah heard the tremor in her voice and wanted to bring her comfort. Would the
Superiors mind if she took Tom under one wing and his mother under the other?
Tom rubbed his cheek. “Managing is easier said than done.” He gave Allison a quick hug. “Let’s go to the Pie
Palace for dinner. I’m tired of these church casseroles.”
Allison laughed. “Okay. Give me time to freshen my makeup.”
Sarah moved from the doorway to let Allison pass. She could have allowed the woman to walk through her invisible
form, but it seemed more respectful to step out of the way.
Tom retired to the living room to sit on the tapestry-covered sofa. He stared at his dad’s burgundy leather chair.
Sarah hovered nearby and wondered how to help. With a sigh, she exited the house and pulled her orders from the
deep pocket of her white robe. She read them with a pucker between her brows.
Where to start? Oh, merciful heavens!
How could she get Tom married by Valentine’s Day? Why, the man didn’t even have a girlfriend!