ANDREW TELLS A STORY
By Kathryn D. Green
Ryan Whittaker reclined in his armchair and sighed. A now-empty coffee cup rested in his lap as he leaned forward to rub his left hand against his jeans. In the chair next to him, his fiancée, Kristen Crossman, sipped her tea. A crossword puzzle book lay spread open on her lap. To their right, the French doors stood wide open. Little beacons of light from the surrounding buildings dotted the otherwise dark Roman landscape outside his apartment. Ryan's ever-present cell phone rested on the round mahogany coffee table that stood in front of the couch across the room.
The mattress sagged and creaked underneath, when he leaned back in his chair. As he scanned the living room of his Rome apartment, Ryan shook his head. The last few weeks had been most eventful! First, the Rapture had occurred, taking every Christian, and every baby and small child, including his little niece, Jessica Daly. Then angels had worked in his life and the lives of his sister and brother-in-law, Richard and Christina Daly. On the day of the Rapture, Ryan had accepted a job as pilot for Antonio Puccini (who, he had since learned, was the Antichrist), and had moved to Italy. A fateful covenant had been signed just three days before, officially starting the dreaded seven-year Tribulation. To top it all off, Kristen had accepted his proposal for marriage. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Kristen pick up a pen and print some letters into one of the puzzles.
We may not live to see Jesus’ appearing, seven years from now, he thought. But we’re in this for the long haul, and we’ve committed ourselves to seeing it through. Live or die, I am the Lord’s. So is Kristen. And-- He smiled at the thought. --so are Richard and Christina. Will miracles never cease!
He smiled wryly. Richard, a one-time hardcore atheist, now a devout believer! If it hadn’t been for the angels, he knew, Richard would never have accepted the Lord. Why Richard and not Puccini? He shook his head and sighed.
Kristen glanced at him, concern in her eyes. “Is something wrong?”
Ryan's coffee cup clinked when he set it on the end table's smooth surface. He straightened his back and, after a long moment, sighed. “I’ve been wondering,” he said, “why my brother-in-law, Richard, could finally be persuaded to come to Christ, and Antonio Puccini could not. You know about Richard, Kristen, and how hostile toward God he used to be.” Kristen nodded. “Yet, God used angels to reach his stubborn heart. And he was stubborn! Quite stubborn. So much so, he gave my poor sister a terrible time about her new faith before the Lord finally got through to him.”
Kristen nodded. “Yes. I know.” She laid her pen on her lap and took a sip of her steaming hot tea. “And if the Lord could get through to Richard, why on earth can’t He get through to our boss? Surely, God can get through to anyone!”
“I can answer that question.”
Ryan whirled sideways and froze, as an angel appeared in front of the living room door. The angel had sandy-brown hair and expressive eyes, and wore a beige suit. Unearthly light shone on him as he gazed down at the two humans.
“Andrew!” Ryan blurted. He leaped to his feet. “It’s--uh, it’s good to see you again.”
The angel smiled. “Thank you. It‘s good to see you, too.” With a smile, he nodded toward Kristen as he spoke.
Sitting stock-still in her armchair, Kristen gaped at the angel as light poured from his whole being. “Who--what are you?” she stammered, clutching the pen with her right fist and digging the fingernails of her left hand into the upholstered arm of the chair.
“I‘m an angel." Andrew folded his arms across his chest as he spoke. "An angel of death.”
Kristen gulped. “Angel of death??”
“Yes, Kristen.” Andrew chuckled. “Don‘t be afraid; I‘m not here to take you or Ryan home tonight. God has a role for you to play in these perilous times, and He wants you to be ready for them.”
Ryan nodded. “That’s--very reassuring. I don’t think I’m ready to die just yet.” He dug the toe of his soft terry-cloth slipper into the thick carpet at his feet.
“Well, I’m not ready to take you Home yet, either, so we’re even.” Chuckling, Andrew turned to Kristen. “God sent me to work with his brother-in-law, Richard, to minister to his heart. At the same time that He sent Monica to minister to Ryan, here, and Gloria to minister to Christina.”
“I--I see,” Kristen said faintly.
Ryan smiled his thanks. “I remember your visit, the day I visited Richard and Christina. You and Christina made some kind of a mushroom casserole for dinner, and it tasted delicious. I also remember seeing you from a distance, the day the treaty was signed. You were standing with Monica and with the two other angels.” Andrew nodded. “So, tell me. How’s Monica?”
“Monica’s fine.” Andrew smiled. “She’s on an assignment elsewhere right now, but she told me to give you and Kristen her good wishes. She’s been praying for you quite regularly, and so have Tess and Gloria and I.”
“Thank you.“ Grasping the crossword puzzle book alongside the pen, Kristen rose to her feet. “Uh, forgive us--we seem to be forgetting our manners. Won’t you sit down?” She gestured toward the remaining armchair. “Would you like some coffee?”
“No thank you.” Smiling his thanks for her hospitality, Andrew lowered himself onto the third armchair and leaned back, relaxing. Ryan and Kristen sat down, as well.
Ryan suppressed a smile of amusement as Andrew folded his hands in his lap. Too bad he didn't bring Monica with him--she would have eagerly accepted the offer of coffee, he thought, glancing down at his gleaming china coffee cup. Without a word, he picked it up and cradled it in his lap. His fingers rested lightly on its smooth, hot sides.
Andrew exchanged an amused glance with him, as if reading Ryan's heart. Kristen rested her right elbow on the table that stood next to her armchair, glancing from one to the other with a puzzled expression. "I was just thinking about Monica," Ryan explained to her. "She would have drunk several cups before ending her visit, if she had come with Andrew."
"Yes." Andrew chuckled. "Knowing Monica, I'm sure you're right. But, as Tess would have told her, this is not a coffee assignment." Ryan and Kristen laughed. Ryan then took a sip of his steaming coffee.
Andrew's expression turned serious. He leaned forward. “God has sent me to you, because He sees your confusion over Puccini’s hardness of heart. There’s a great difference between Richard Daly and Antonio Puccini." Andrew paused, as he looked from Ryan to Kristen, then back to Ryan. "Richard, for all his avowed atheism and bitterness toward God, could be reached under the right influences. Puccini can’t. God gave him up to his own evil long ago, after repeated efforts to reach him.”
Kristen frowned. “But why?” She and Ryan exchanged puzzled glances. “Why could Richard be reached, and not Puccini?” She twisted her watch around her wrist as she spoke, and glanced down at the puzzle book and pen in her lap.
A sad expression etched Andrew’s face. “Some people cannot be,” he explained. “Such people are so far gone, not even angels sent by God can get through to them. I learned that lesson shortly after the American Civil War, and was forced to remember it when God sent me to minister to Puccini.”
Ryan gaped. “God sent you to Puccini?” Andrew nodded. “When?”
“Some time back.” Andrew cleared his throat. “Ten years ago, to be exact. God has sent me to tell you about it, so you’ll understand better what you’re dealing with in Puccini.”
“Thank the Lord.” Kristen smiled wanly, then furrowed her eyebrows. “And God sent you to someone after the Civil War? Who?”
“John Wilkes Booth.” Andrew shook his head, as sadness crept into his eyes.
“The man who killed Lincoln?” Ryan bit his lip. His coffee cup clinked as he set it on the coffee table.
“The same.” Andrew nodded. “I wasn’t an angel of death back then--not yet. I was still a caseworker. I had been sent on thousands of assignments, to minister God’s love to people. And until then, I had never failed. But Sam, my supervisor, warned me at the very outset of my assignment, that I might fail with this one. And I did.”
“That must have been very painful,” Kristen said softly.
“It certainly was.” Andrew bit his lower lip, as sadness crept into his expressive eyes. “In the beginning of my assignment, Sam told me, ‘If this man refuses to listen, that’s his choice. But the problem is, his choice will change the world.’” He paused. “And when it was over, Sam told me something I’ve never forgotten. ‘A heart can change in an instant, and each heart must be given that chance. But some hearts--well, sometimes, a heart is already dead long before the man dies.’”
Andrew swallowed. “Those were his exact words. And he was right--Booth‘s choice did change the world. A great president died, with all the repercussions you know from your knowledge of history.”
For a long moment, Andrew leaned back silently in the armchair. Ryan and Kristen sat silently themselves, thinking about what Andrew had told them, and exchanging occasional glances. Kristen closed her crossword puzzle book and laid it on the coffee table in front of her, then laid her pen on top of it. The stately grandfather clock behind the couch ticked softly as Andrew's hosts waited.
Ryan suppressed the impulse to urge Andrew to go on. He’ll continue when he’s ready, Ryan told himself. If he’s free to tell us the story, that is, and he told us that God has sent him to do so. I must be patient. He took another sip of coffee.
At last, Andrew looked straight at Ryan, then at Kristen. “I had to remember that lesson, when God sent me to Antonio Puccini. That was in the beginning of his political career, after he’d worked as a businessman for a while. He was already heavily into the occult and Satanism, and that made my job hard from the outset.” He paused. "This was long before God created Gloria, and several years before I met Monica. I had known Tess for some time."
Ryan nodded. “And you‘re here to tell us about it?”
“Yes, that’s what I’m here for.” Andrew leaned forward, clasping his hands in his lap. “It happened like this...”
A tall, black-haired man sat in the elegant bedroom of his two-story Roman mansion, gazing down at a Ouija board. “I must know what I am to do next,” he muttered. “If I am to break into the Italian government, I need guidance from my master!” He clenched his right fist as he spoke, and pressed his lips into a thin line. He pressed his foot tightly against the Oriental carpet that spanned the room. It was 1992, and the man had developed inordinate political ambitions.
Behind him, moonlight poured through an open window, forming a soft rectangle of light on the carpeted floor. Puccini had turned off all lights in the room except a small nightlight on a nightstand beside his bed. The nightlight and the reflected beams of moonlight formed the only light Antonio had to see by.
Unknown to him, an angel leaned against the wall, shaking his head. Silently, he prayed, God, show me what to do. Tell me. Give me your guidance in dealing with this man. Am I supposed to take him Home?
Another angel with chocolate-brown skin appeared next to him, wearing a light-brown suit. “Sam,” Andrew greeted the Special Forces angel who had seniority over even Tess; Sam acknowledged the greeting with a nod. “Have you seen Tess lately?” Sam nodded. "How is she?" Andrew thrust his hands into his pockets as he spoke.
“Tess is fine. She's on an assignment in the United States. Incidentally, you'll be joining her before long--yes, her assignment's going to die, and you'll be needed to supervise the transition." Andrew nodded acquiescence. "But right now, you've got work to do here. God has sent me to supervise your new assignment.” Sam nodded toward the man. “And your assignment, Andrew, is this man. His name is Antonio Puccini, and he's a successful businessman and aspiring politician.” He folded his arms across his chest and glanced at Puccini, then turned his gaze back toward Andrew.
Andrew frowned. "I'm an angel of death, Sam. I haven't been a caseworker since Lincoln died."
"True." Sam nodded. "But the Father who called you to be an angel of death can also call you back to temporary casework. This is a one-time assignment, Andrew, and the Father wants you to do it."
Nodding acquiescence a second time, Andrew gazed at Antonio for a long moment, then nodded a third time. “All right.” Folding his own arms across his chest, Andrew shook his head. “This assignment--my first such since God changed my work--won’t be easy, I fear. This man is--well, he's--” His voice trailed off.
Sam bit his lower lip. “Yes. I know.” He paused, as deep sorrow welled up in his eyes. He shook his head at Puccini. “Andrew, do you remember John Wilkes Booth?”
Andrew stared at him. “Yes, I do. Are you saying--”
“That you might fail again? Yes.” Sam dropped his arms to his sides and glanced toward Puccini. “God will not fail to get His message across to this man, Andrew, but there’s a very real possibility he will reject it. If he does--” He paused again. “Well, let me put it this way. This man has received repeated chances from the Father to accept His love and His mercy. And this, despite decades of occultism and Satan worship, from the time he was a child." Andrew gaped at Puccini, then at Sam, who paused before continuing.
"Puccini first got drawn into the occult when he visited a gypsy fortune teller. He was just eight years old, then, and his parents, though Catholics, were, at heart, practicing atheists. Well, Andrew, occultism and drug abuse have ensnared him ever since. Then, when he was 20 years old, he began to worship Satan. That was when the devil first began to communicate with him. God has sent messengers to him repeatedly through the years--both humans and angels--and he has turned a deaf ear to all their entreaties."
Sam shook his head. "This is Antonio Puccini’s last chance to accept God's salvation, Andrew. If he turns it down, there will be no more chances for him, ever. God will give him up to his own evil and hardness of heart, and he will be irrevocably lost from that time forth.”
The angel of death winced. “Why?” Andrew cocked his head, puzzled. “Will he die?” He glanced at Puccini. “Will I have to take him Home? Is that why the Father has called me to this assignment?”
Sam sighed. “I wish it were that simple, Andrew. But it’s not. No, neither you nor any other angel of death will be taking him Home any time soon. But he will be dead, in a very real sense. And...” Sam shook his head. Andrew removed a gleaming pocket watch from his inside jacket pocket; as he glanced down at it, he bit his lower lip. Its sides felt smooth and cold to his fingers. Since Andrew, being an angel, had excellent night vision, he had no difficulty reading his watch in the dark.
Inserting the watch back into his jacket, he looked up at Sam. Sighing, Andrew shook his head. “Yes. I think I understand.” He sighed again. "If I fail, he will be spiritually dead, and he will go to Hell in due time."
Sam nodded. "Yes."
Both angels watched as Puccini leaned toward the Ouija board, eyes intent. A smirk slowly spread across the man's face as he gazed down at the letters arranged on the board. Andrew shook his head. He could only pray that he was not too late!...
Ryan winced. "I believe I already know how that turned out," he said softly, rubbing his right hand on the side of his jeans. Kristen shook her head, clasping her hands in her lap.
Andrew nodded agreement. "Yes, you do. As an angel of the Most High God, though, it was my duty to tell him that God loves him, and to give him a chance to accept God's mercy. So I did." He rested his hands on the arms of his armchair and leaned back. Beside him, the table lamp shed its soft glow over the living room. The overhead light had been switched off earlier.
"When did you do it?" Kristen asked. "Right then?" She patted her hair as she spoke.
"No." Andrew shook his head. The mattress creaked and sagged underneath him as he leaned forward once more. "My orders from the Father were to wait, until He told me otherwise. And the next day, He did. He ordered me to go to a certain public facility, where Puccini was scheduled to make a campaign speech..."
The day after Sam and Andrew's meeting, Puccini entered the government building; removing his hat, he greeted two officials. For the last several weeks, he had been campaigning for a spot in the lower house of the Italian parliament. Though Puccini dared not tell anyone as yet, Andrew knew that his ambition was to ultimately become the president of Italy.
Unknown to Puccini, his black leather wallet slipped out of his pants pocket, landing on the gleaming marble floor of the hallway. Andrew suddenly appeared out of nowhere and picked up the wallet. "My opening," he muttered, lifting his eyes in prayer. As Puccini disappeared around the corner, Andrew took a shortcut to head him off. His own shoes thudded on the floor as he took rapid strides to do so.
Five minutes later, Andrew literally bumped into Puccini as the man rounded another corner. “Umph! Excuse me,” Puccini said, stopping short to glance at the angel in surprise when Andrew paused before him. “May I help you?” He spoke in Italian.
“Actually, signor, I believe I can help you.” Andrew held out Puccini's wallet. “This fell out of your pocket down the hall.” He spoke in flawless Italian.
“Oh! Thank you.” Chuckling, Puccini slipped it into his pants pocket. “I should be more careful with my things, yes? After all, somebody might steal them.” Patting the right side of his pants, he smiled wryly, as Andrew chuckled in return. “What is your name, signor? I don’t believe I have seen you here before.”
“Andrew.” The angel extended his hand; Puccini shook it.
"You are not Italian," Puccini said. "Are you a tourist?"
Andrew shook his head. “I’m just traveling through. You are--?”
“Puccini.” The aspiring politician nodded. “Antonio Puccini. Long-time businessman, and soon to be member of the government.” He glanced down at his diamond-studded wristwatch. "I have a speech to make in an hour, so I must be going. It was good to meet you, Andrew, and thank you again."
Andrew nodded. “I see, and you're welcome. Well, Signor Puccini, I wish you success in your venture.”
Puccini nodded, then strode down the hallway. The thuds of his shoes faded as he disappeared around another corner. Andrew shook his head, as concern surged in his heart. “Please, God,” he whispered, “give me success with this man. Give him the true success only You can give. I want this man to know You and love You. I want him to be restored by Your loving kindness.”
Sighing, he leaned against the wall to await the Father’s silent instructions. A moment later, he nodded toward the ceiling and strode out the door and down the street, till he hailed an approaching cab. An hour later, he sat in the auditorium of a public building, surrounded by a huge crowd listening to Puccini as he made a political speech.
Approaching the lectern, Puccini smiled as he adjusted the microphone till it faced him. Andrew noticed that the smile on Puccini's lips did not extend to his eyes. "Ladies and gentlemen," he announced, in Italian, "I am not a politician--at least, not a professionally trained one. I am just a humble businessman who has, until now, been content with making money. In recent days, however, I have seen the help our nation needs."
Andrew glanced at the people sitting on either side of him. All, he could see, were riveted. Clearly, Antonio Puccini had charisma and knew how to win over people.
"We have one of the richest cultures in the world," Puccini went on. "We have beautiful buildings, magnificent churches, some of the best works of art in all of history. Not to mention some beautiful natural scenery and photogenic cities, such as our beautiful Venice and Rome!"
The members of the audience applauded. Even Andrew clapped, softly, so as to not appear impolite. A chill ran down his spine, however, as the aspiring politician continued his speech.
"Our beautiful country makes much money from tourism. We also make much money in our northern provinces, from our service industries and from our manufacturing industries. However, the people in our southern provinces continue to suffer, and that must stop. If I am elected to the Chamber of Deputies to represent my province, I will see what I can do about getting laws passed that will encourage industry and tourism in those regions."
More applause, louder, this time. Andrew swallowed hard. Even though everything Puccini had just said sounded innocuous enough, and noble, there was still an uneasy feeling that lay deep in the angel's gut.
When the speech ended, forty minutes later, Andrew ran into Sam in the hall. Crowds of people passed the two angels, who now appeared invisible and inaudible to human eyes and ears. "What did you make of Puccini's speech, Andrew?" Sam asked him, resting his arm against the wall above his head.
Folding his own arms across his chest, Andrew bit his lip. He glanced at the crystal chandelier that hung from the ceiling above his head; its reflected light on the walls formed shadows of people and statues. "I just don't know, Sam," he admitted. "Everything he said sounded good--there was nothing in his words to indicate an intent of evil. And yet, all the time I listened to him, I felt a chill in my spine, an uneasiness in my stomach."
Sam nodded. "And well you might. He's receiving his guidance and help from the demonic realm. He's just about reached the end of the Father's patience with him, so now is the time to approach him. Tomorrow morning, go to his office and speak with him."
Andrew nodded acquiescence. Before he had a chance to turn, Sam spoke once more. "One more thing," he said. "God told me to warn you, Andrew--" He paused. "Puccini's already getting wind of your identity, from his 'advisors.' They've warned him that you're an angel. So when you approach him, be careful to lean on the Father's guidance--you'll need it for this assignment."
"I will, Sam," Andrew promised. His shoes thudded as he strode down the hall till he reached the entrance. If he was going to be adequately prepared for his encounter with Puccini the next day, he needed to spend some time in prayer now.
The next morning, Andrew approached Puccini's private office in the complex of office rooms he rented for his business. The time, Andrew knew, had come to confront Puccini and try to win him to the Lord. He had prayed all night, asking God for His guidance as to how to best handle the matter, and he felt he was ready.
The angel of death's shoes thudded once more, as he approached Puccini's office. When Andrew reached that door, he heard Puccini's voice on the other side, and stopped there to listen. Perhaps if he knew what Puccini was saying, he would have a better feel for the place to start. A moment later, bile rose in his throat, and his stomach churned. Puccini was praying to Satan!
Squeezing his eyes shut, Andrew silently prayed to the Father, then awaited His instructions. Instantly, they came. Andrew nodded toward the ceiling, then knocked on the carved mahogany door.
“Come in,” the man announced, in Italian. Grasping the knob, Andrew pushed the door open.
Puccini rose to his feet behind his massive mahogany desk. “Andrew, come in.” A smile spread across his face, yet, Andrew noticed, no smile reached his eyes. “Good to see you again. What can I do for you? Have a seat.” He gestured toward a chair facing his desk.
Andrew perched on the chair, as Puccini lowered himself onto his own chair, facing his guest. When Andrew glanced down at the desk, his face's reflection appeared on the desk's smooth, polished surface. Behind Antonio, soft beams of sunlight came through the drapes and formed a rectangle of reflected light on the Oriental carpet spanning the floor. He leaned back as the angel raised his head and cleared his throat.
“Signor Puccini, you told me, yesterday, that you’re getting ready to run for office. I saw you in action, when you made your campaign speech.” Antonio nodded. “Tell me, do I sense an ambition to become the next president?”
Puccini chuckled. “You are a perceptive man, Andrew. Yes, eventually, but first, I must join the parliament itself.”
“True.” Andrew clasped his hands in his lap. “It’s a big responsibility, running the government, as I’m sure you know. It takes much wisdom.” He paused. The moment had come; he could only press on and trust God with the results. “Wisdom only a loving God can give.”
A flash of anger swept across Puccini’s face, to be replaced by a mask of cheeriness. He stiffened his back as he leaned forward. “God, I could care less about. I do not need His brand of wisdom, Andrew.”
Andrew shook his head. “Not true, Antonio. Everybody needs God's wisdom. We all do, humans and angels alike.” Andrew leaned forward, resting his fingertips lightly on the smooth, polished arms of his carved mahogany armchair and shifting position on its hard, unyielding seat. “The wisest man knows and admits his need for such wisdom, Signor Puccini--as King Solomon himself knew. Because our own wisdom can only stretch so far. Give yourself over to the Lord, Antonio, and He will never fail to supply you with His wisdom. You’ll be able to do so much more for the Italian people, if you receive from Him, I promise you.”
Puccini frowned. “Who are you, Andrew? Who are you, really?” His eyes narrowed into slits as he spoke.
As Andrew rose to his feet, a flood of Heavenly light shone down on him. Puccini's eyes widened; he leaned back and gaped up at the angel, clenching his fists and pressing them against his desk. “I am an angel, sent by God,” Andrew told him. “God loves you, Antonio, and He wants you to know His love. To receive His life. To know His peace and to live by His wisdom.”
"So, what my master said about you was true," Puccini muttered, staring down at his desk. Unclenching his fists, he pressed his fingers against the desk's surface for a long moment, as Andrew silently prayed. At last, raising his head to meet Andrew's gaze, Puccini pressed his lips together into a tight line. He leaned forward, with the evident intention of emphasizing his point.
“Well, I have news for you, Andrew,” he said softly, yet with a hint of rage in his voice. “I have no use for God and no need for him. Never have, and never will! Another has offered me his resources and his aid--he will give me all the wisdom I need for this venture, as he has done so far. I hate God, and I want nothing to do with Him! So leave me alone, you hear?”
Andrew shook his head. "You speak of hating God, Antonio, yet you fail to realize that the devil hates you." He sighed. "He has planned your destruction from the time you were a little boy, and has been using his guidance toward that goal. If he helps you succeed as a politician, it is only to destroy you in the end, and to possibly use you to destroy others. God wants only your good, not your harm. His guidance will aimed toward your welfare. In this life and in the life to come."
"That is enough!" Antonio leaped to his feet, fury etching his face. "I mean it, Andrew! Get out of here and stay away from me!" He sat down, trembling, glaring fiercely at the angel.
As Andrew opened his mouth to argue, he received silent orders to say no more. Reluctantly, the angel nodded, sadness welling up in his heart. “You have made your choice, Antonio, but the consequences will be severe,” he said, softly. “And, I fear, eternal.”
“For you, maybe.” Antonio grinned. “Not for me.” He nodded toward the door. “Now, if you will excuse me, I have work to do.”
Nodding in reluctant acquiescence, Andrew turned and left the room, closing the door behind him. For a long moment, he leaned against the door, listening to Antonio pray to the devil again. Deep pain for the man lay in his gut. For a long moment, he gazed down at the polished marble floor gleaming at his feet.
When he finally turned to go, Sam appeared in front of him. This time, he had donned a light-brown suit and a dark-brown felt hat. “You tried, Andrew,” he said. “You gave him God’s message, and he rejected it.”
Andrew shook his head, as he slumped against the wall. “Is there no hope for him?”
Sam shook his head. “As of now, none. His choice is irrevocable.” He looked straight at Andrew. “Remember what I told you, long ago--angels do fail, and people fail, but God never fails. God has not failed to deliver His message to Puccini, and you have not failed to act as His messenger in giving Puccini that message. You have done your job well, Andrew, and now you will join Tess and return to your designated work.”
“Thank you.” Andrew sighed, as he accepted the truth of what Sam had just told him. For a moment, he remembered an injured, dying John Wilkes Booth, who had perished as Andrew knelt over him, pleading with the assassin to receive God’s mercy. Booth had died, physically, and gone to Hell to suffer eternally. Puccini, while still alive physically, was spiritually dead. He was one of those tragic people whom God had given up to his own evil desires, because God knew that he would never change his mind. When his time came, Puccini, like Booth, would suffer in Hell.
"One other thing." Sam inserted his fingers into his pants pockets. "You remember what I told you, back then, about Booth's choice?"
Andrew nodded. "That his choice would change the world?"
"Yes." Sam nodded. "Well, Puccini's choice to reject the Lord will do the same thing. How, I don't know yet, and probably won't till the time comes. I only know that it will, in due time."
Andrew shook his head as the implications of what Sam had just told him sank in. Sam put his arm around Andrew’s shoulders, and the two disappeared as they walked down the hall of the office complex...
Ryan and Kristen sat stock-still, clasping their hands together in their laps, thinking about the story Andrew had just told them. “How awful,” Kristen said softly. "Well, we know, now, how his choice changed the world, don't we? He's the Antichrist, and Elijah Dayan's the False Prophet." She slowly unclenched her right hand as she spoke.
Ryan nodded agreement, then winced. “And to think that God might have given up on Richard, in the same way! I’m so grateful He did not, and that Richard finally came to know Him.” He reached for his coffee cup and took a sip of his now-cold coffee. The cup's smooth sides felt cool to his fingers now.
Andrew smiled. “Believe me, I share your joy for Richard, and so does the Father Himself. Some people, even though they are hostile, can be reached if God applies the right pressure to them. The Apostle Paul is a perfect example. He was so hostile to the Christian faith that he persecuted and murdered Christians; yet God reached him and transformed him into the vibrant, committed missionary we all know. An apostle who pioneered the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles, and who wrote half of the New Testament. And Richard, praise God, was another.” Beaming, Ryan nodded agreement.
The angel paused, the mattress underneath him softly creaking as he leaning back. “And yet, there are others whom God gives up, because He knows that they will never accept His love and His mercy. King Saul was such a man, and Adolf Hitler was another. God gave them both up to their own evil, and it consumed them. And now, it’s going to consume Puccini, to the point where he is indwelt by Satan himself and demands to be worshipped as God.”
Ryan winced. He exchanged glances with Kristen. “What should we do? I suppose praying for him is useless.”
“Yes, it is,” Andrew agreed. He brushed his sandy-brown hair out of his eyes. “But you can pray that God will give the new believers His strength to endure the trials of the Tribulation, and to die with grace if it comes to that. God loves you, Ryan and Kristen, and He is most pleased that you have received His love by accepting His Son. He will give you all the strength you need to get through the next seven years.”
As he rose to his feet, Ryan and Kristen did the same. "Andrew, tell me," Kristen said softly. "What will Puccini's ultimate fate be?" She twisted her watch around her wrist as she spoke.
Andrew bit his lower lip. For a long moment, he gazed down at his shoes flattening thick tufts of the carpeted floor. He then looked straight at Kristen, then Ryan. "When Jesus returns to begin His Kingdom here on earth, He will throw Puccini and Dayan into the Lake of Fire." He paused. "While they're still alive. Satan, on the other hand, will be bound and cast into a bottomless pit until the Millennium is over--then, after he has raised up a rebellion at that point, he will join the Antichrist and the False Prophet in that fiery lake." He leaned against the wall as he spoke, folding his arms across his chest.
Ryan and Kristen looked at each other and winced. "Won't they burn to death?" Ryan asked. "Puccini and Dayan, I mean?"
Andrew shook his head, as a hint of a smile crept across his lips. "No, Ryan, but they'll probably wish they could. God will change their bodies instantly into immortal ones, as He sends them to their fate." He paused. "They won't even get a further audience at the Great White Throne, following the Millennium, with the other unregenerated sinners. They will be tormented alive in the burning sulfur for all eternity--as will everyone who later joins them."
"The Great White Throne?" Kristen cocked her head, puzzled. "Excuse me, but I don't know what that is."
Andrew straightened his back and dropped his hands against his sides. "The Great White Throne is an event, when God will show every sinner who died without receiving God's mercy why they've been condemned. Among other things, He will show them that their names are not in the Lamb's Book of Life." Sadness entered the angel of death's eyes, as he quoted, "'And whosoever was not written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.'" He added, "Revelation Chapter 20, verse 15." He smiled reassuringly at the two. "Your names are written in that book, so you have nothing to fear. You will not stand at the Great White Throne judgment, and neither will Richard and Christina--your sins have been forgiven."
"I see." Ryan exchanged glances with Kristen, then extended his hand. “Thank you for coming here and telling us all this.” Ryan shook Andrew’s hand. “And I thank God for sending you.”
“You’re welcome.” Andrew smiled. "I will see you again." He paused. "You have the Father's permission to tell Richard and Christina what I have told you about Puccini, but don't tell anybody else unless the Father tells you to. Those are His orders."
"We won't," Kristen promised, and Ryan nodded. Andrew vanished as they smiled at him.
Kristen and Ryan looked at each other for a long moment. Suddenly, Ryan's cell phone beeped, and he picked it up. "Speak of the devil," he muttered, as he pressed the speaker button; Kristen smiled at his unintentional pun. "Hello, Antonio," he said, holding the phone to his ear.
"Hello, Ryan. I am going to need you first thing in the morning. We are going to Israel for a conference with Elijah Dayan."
Ryan grimaced as he glanced at Kristen. "Tomorrow? Yes, sir. What time do you wish to take off?"
"Eight o clock, sharp. You will be there?"
Ryan nodded. "Yes, sir. I'll be there."
"Good." A click and a dial tone replaced Puccini's now-familiar accented voice.
Shaking his head, Ryan switched the phone off and laid it on the coffee table. "Well, duty calls," he said; Kristen nodded agreement. Ryan inserted his fingers into his jeans pockets as he paused to think. “You know, Kristen, we still need to plan our wedding and set a date.” Ryan leaned against the TV set as he spoke, leaning on his left elbow. “What with all that's approaching, given this Tribulation, I have a feeling we don’t have long.”
“So do I.” Kristen glanced at her watch. “But right now, I need to get ready for bed. I have to get up early tomorrow, and since you have to fly in the morning, so do you. I’ll see you in the morning, Ryan, before you take off.”
Ryan kissed her. “Yes. Good night, Kristen.”
“Good night.” Smiling at him, Kristen strode out the front door. Ryan switched off the table lamp and went to bed.
© 2002, by Kathy Green
Read the 3rd story in the "Angels at the End of Time" series, "In Need of a Home."
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Note: If you want to learn more about the end times and what lies ahead for the Body of Christ and for the world, click on this link, "Christian Web Sites." On it, you will find an extensive list of links to Christian Web sites, many of which refer to end-times prophecy.
If you'd like to read my testimony, click on this link. K.G.