Welcome all of you to Jane Started It!, home of the Crown Hill Writers’ Guild. We’re glad to have our regular visitors, as well as those of you who have come touring from Meredith Esparza’s AUSTENESQUE EXTRAVAGANZA. Today, I have asked two very special guests to join us for an interview. Be sure to read all the way to the end, because we’re giving away books, too!
I nervously entered the room and stood before the desk, facing the door, every sense on high alert. I hoped that my guests would come, though they had never responded to the invitation I had written and left by my computer a few weeks previously.
The twenty-third Psalm ran through my mind, as it usually did when I needed to calm myself, and I closed my eyes and bowed my head. I had slept very little the night before, wondering what I would say if they did appear.
Selecting my clothing had taken nearly an hour, though I really care little for fashion. I had finally settled on plain, black dress pants with a matching jacket, a modest top, and black pumps. Now I wondered uncomfortably if I should have worn a dress.
I heard a deep voice in my mind. Did you wish to speak with us?
I made a conscious effort to regulate my breathing. Yes. Thank you for coming. Are you Michael? Is Gabriel with you?
I am Michael, he answered.
Though Michael’s voice was not unkind, there was no mistaking the kindness in the voice which followed his.
Robin, I am Gabriel. Be at peace. What do you wish to know?
I swallowed audibly and directed my question into the air. “Would you mind if we spoke aloud? I am not used to having a mental conversation.”
The moment of silence seemed to stretch as I awaited the answer.
You are already afraid. In the past, humans have fainted at the sight of us. Are you sure you would not rather continue to converse without seeing us? We can be heard yet not seen, answered Gabriel.
I realized that they had read my mind. I had asked only to conduct the interview aloud, not for the angels to assume form. Yet, they knew what I really wanted. I desired to both see and hear them. I wanted to be comfortable as a human, and I had not considered that my comfort might come at the expense of theirs. I am selfish. I apologize.
I looked up and saw two faintly glowing forms before me, and I reflexively fell to my knees, putting my face to the floor.
Michael’s sandal appeared by my face, and it was huge. I felt like a child in comparison.
“You must not do that!” Michael commanded in a voice which shook the windows.
Gabriel reached down, took my hand, and drew me to my feet. He looked at Michael with a small frown, and then he gazed at me with a look of perfect peace. “Michael means to say that you should not worship us. We are servants of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.”
“Revelation 19:10,” I replied, trying not to betray my awe. I knew that my attempt would be fruitless, for I could not hide my thoughts from them.
As I looked at them, I saw that I had never done any of “my” angels justice, for they were far beyond what words could describe. They were more beautiful and ethereal than I could have imagined. The word “massive” was puny compared to the real beings, and the intelligence and wisdom displayed on their faces struck me speechless. What could I say to such beings?
“May I sit down?” The question popped out of my mouth, and I felt ridiculous.
“Of course you may,” answered Gabriel, smiling beautifully. “This is your house.”
I sat, but they remained standing. I felt smaller, more insignificant, than I ever had before.
“Will you please sit, too?” I asked, trying to look at Gabriel rather than Michael. It was a lost cause. There was no way to ignore the presence of the Captain of the Host.
“I am not accustomed to sitting, and I would prefer to stand,” stated Michael.
Gabriel’s eyes twinkled. “I will sit with you, Robin.” He turned his attention to his brother. “Michael, the couch is sufficiently large for you. She will strain her neck if she has to keep looking up at you.”
Michael sighed, and they seated themselves, their white robes pooling around their feet.
“You have questions for us,” stated Michael, obviously eager to finish the interview.
“Are you unhappy with me, Michael?” I asked timidly.
Since I had finished writing The Guardian Trilogy, it had occurred to me that everyone in the books was fictitious, except Michael, Gabriel, and God. Though I was at peace that God would not object to my portrayal of Him, and I thought that Gabriel would be forgiving, I had worried that perhaps Michael would not be so sanguine. He might not appreciate the liberties I had taken in writing him.
Gabriel laughed, and Michael scowled at him.
“He is chagrined that you somehow portrayed him so accurately. He does not like to think of himself as forbidding, but of course, he is.” Gabriel glanced at Michael. “You can smile if you try, Michael. It may be rare, but I have seen it.”
“Fine,” he said, attempting a more pleasant expression. If a serious Michael was breathtaking, a smiling Michael was enough to make me lose my train of thought completely.
He must have heard the confusion in my mind, because he looked away briefly. Glancing back at me, he raised an eyebrow. “Your questions?”
“Uh, yes,” I replied, taking a piece of paper from the top of my desk to refresh my memory. “Jen Red wants to know why God made humanity with a free will, even though in His omniscience He knew that we would sin.”
Michael instantly replied, “‘Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.’”
I could feel the surprise register on my face, and I quickly tried to control my features, looking to Gabriel for an explanation.
“Michael has quoted Romans 9:20-23, verses concerning God’s inclusion of Gentiles in His kingdom. The principle is the same, however. God does what He will, and He chose to make humans with free will to show His love and mercy in order to bring glory to Himself. He wants humans to love Him and choose to do right freely; not to be made to obey Him as if they were puppets,” answered Gabriel earnestly.
I read my next question. “Jan Ashe asks what pleases God the most and whether or not He laughs in heaven.”
Gabriel spoke. “People who please God the most keep growing in their knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. They try to live their lives in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. God strengthens them in His glorious might, so that they can attain steadfastness and patience with joy, giving thanks to God for His deliverance from the domain of darkness.”
Michael added, “Gabriel is paraphrasing Colossians 1:10-13. Psalm 2:4 and 59:8 record God’s laughter, but do not think that he laughs at you in derision. In those two cases, He was laughing at the feebleness of humans who think they can overpower Him – much as your government might laugh if a pack of twenty Boy Scouts threatened to overpower the military of your country. You are made in God’s image. According to Job 8:21, ‘He will fill your mouth with laughter.’ If humans, who were created in God’s image, laugh with joy, so does He. The passage in Job explains that the laughter is the result of realizing that ‘the tent of the wicked will be no more.’ Job rejoices in the idea that God, and good, will triumph. Humans sin, and of course, that is not like God, but you are like Him in other ways.”
I nodded in understanding. “Jan also has many questions about heaven. Will we work there? Will we have relationships? Are there animals in heaven? Is there variety in heaven? Will we continue to learn and experience new things there?”
Gabriel’s laughter was musical. “Jan is quite curious.”
Michael smiled. “The answer is ‘yes.’”
I raised my eyebrows in puzzlement. “What answer is ‘yes’?”
“The answer to your questions about heaven,” Michael replied, chuckling.
“All of them?” I queried.
“Yes, all of them,” he said.
“Can you elaborate?” I asked, looking directly at Michael.
“I could, but I will not,” he answered, resuming his serious mien. “All of the information you need right now about heaven is in the Bible. Jehovah has already told you everything He wants you to know at this time.”
Gabriel leaned forward. “Robin, is there anything you would like to ask us?”
I hesitated before I asked, “Did I get any of it right? Was I right about angels? Has God ever made an angel like Darcy or a human like Elizabeth?”
Gabriel reached out and gently placed his hand on my arm. “You had many ideas that were correct and some that were not, but do not trouble yourself. The story you told was planted in your heart for a reason, and everything will be revealed in its proper time.”
They disappeared before my eyes, and I knew that the interview was at an end. I touched the place on my arm where Gabriel’s hand had rested, and it seemed warm, but I wondered if I had dreamed the past few minutes.
I then noticed that the copy of Legacy which I kept on the table by my chair was opened to the end of the book. As I looked more closely, I saw that a bold, masculine script flowed along the bottom of the page.
Whatever details you may have been mistaken about are unimportant, because the main thing you wrote is true: in the end, God will always win.
Thank you, I thought.
You are welcome, answered a deep voice.
~~~ GIVEWAYS ~~~
Robin Helm is offering a paperback (winner’s choice) from her Guardian series (USA) and one e-book (International).
Laura Hile is offering a print copy (also winner’s choice) from the Mercy’s Embrace series (USA only).
To enter, simply post a comment below, and indicate whether you are USA or International. Entry deadline is October 3, 2012. We will announce the winners on October 4th.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
The Crown Hill Writers
Susan Kaye, Frederick Wentworth, Captain novels
Pamela Aidan, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, Young Master Darcy
Robin Helm, The Guardian trilogy
Laura Hile, Mercy’s Embrace novels
Gayle Mills, featured at Beyond Austen, the awesome free fiction site
Barbara Cornthwaite, George Knightley, Esquire novels