When Pastor Mike’s prayer was over he again took Elijah by the shoulder led him over to the man and his daughter. “Do you have a few minutes to speak in my office,” he asked the man. The man nodded and rose. He looked worn and tired, but stood firm with the sick girl in his arms. Pastor Mike turned to the front row and motioned to Gram and Dad that they would only be a few minutes.
When they got to the office, Pastor Mike ushered the man and his daughter inside and asked Elijah to take a seat on the bench in the hall. There was a circular stained glass window with a picture of the Savior kneeling in prayer and a pillar of light shining down from Heaven on his face. Elijah wondered if He was having a vision. The sunshine poured through the image and replicated it on the wooden hallway floor. Elijah stared at the window for a moment and then squeezed his eyes shut. The picture stayed burned into his retinas a few seconds. As he watched the image fade he breathed a sigh of relief now that he was alone.
“I wonder what Pastor Mike is saying to the poor guy,” Elijah thought to himself. “How can anyone possibly comfort someone in that situation? I suppose, though, if anyone can it would have to be Pastor Mike. He was a big help to us when mom died. He stopped by and talked to Dad a bunch of times after it happened. Maybe I should have tried to heal her? I suppose it couldn’t have hurt anything.”
Elijah heard the office door handle rattle. He could hear the man thanking Pastor Mike as he stepped into the hall still cradling his daughter. The girl’s face was too pale and thin to guess how old she was; she had no hair that Elijah could see beneath the wrapping on her head and her eyes were sunken and slightly open. They sat down on the bench beside him.
The father tenderly kissed the little girls forehead and, without taking his eyes from her, the man spoke. “I’m sorry I put you on the spot like that, Elijah. Her time is growing short and I am desperate. I am a believer. Nothing can change that. I’m sure God has a reason for my daughter’s illness. But that doesn’t make it any easier seeing her like this.”
“I could try,” Elijah spoke as his eyes filled with tears.
“If now was the time I’m sure God would have shown you the way. Perhaps you will be able to help us someday. When you are ready please don’t forget us. We live three doors down from the school.” And with those words the man rose and left.
Elijah felt a part of himself follow after them. As the door leading back into the chapel closed behind them Pastor Mike sat down on the bench. Still watching the door, he spoke, “Don’t feel too down Elijah, Mister Carter is a strong man,” he said, still watching the door, as though following an invisible trail they had left behind. “Her name is Faith. The Carters knew she would have medical problems before she was born. She would be their only child, so they named her Faith to help them remember that, no matter what, she was a gift from God.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” the pastor quoted looking back to the door where mister Carter and his daughter had just passed through.
Pastor Mike turned to face Elijah as he continued, “Faith is a powerful thing. It allows men to walk on water, heal the sick, and raise the dead. Part of you has transcended faith. You have seen a messenger from God. You know that is true. But you still need to rely on the Lord; your faith still needs time to grow.
“Well, I imagine your grandmother and father are wondering where you are. I appreciate your speaking today. I hope you come back next week. Together we could sure bring a lot of souls to Christ,” Pastor Mike smiled and stood.
The words “bring a lot of souls to Christ” burned within Elijah’s heart. That is what Elijah wanted more than anything, to fulfill the calling that God gave him and tell others what the angel had shown him. Still, Elijah was not sure how to answer. He knew that there were other churches out there that he should visit.
“Pastor Mike, you have always been good to me and my family. I will return from time to time, but I feel I need to spread out to other places and see as many people as possible first,” Elijah said hoping that this man he respected so much would understand.
Although there was only the slightest hint of it, Elijah could see Pastor Mike was disappointed. There was a short pause before Pastor Mike spoke, “I hope you will return to us soon, but if you feel the Lord needs you elsewhere, then I wish you God’s speed.”
Elijah and Pastor Mike stepped back into the chapel. Everyone had gone except for Gram, Dad, Becca, and Pastor Mike’s wife and kids; there were also a few men cleaning the chapel and putting away chairs. The two families looked at them unsure of what had transpired in the pastor’s office, but Pastor Mike’s reassuring smile put them at ease.
“Thank you for waiting,” Pastor Mike said putting a hand on Dad’s shoulder.
“Everything all right?” Dad asked studying Elijah’s face.
“Yes, everything is fine!”
As Pastor Mike continued to speak, his son, Jonathan moved beside Elijah. “So, haven’t seen you in Science class. When’re they letting you come back to school?”
“Looks like I’ll be there tomorrow,” Elijah replied.
“That’s cool,” said Jonathan enthusiastically, “A bunch of students get together before school for a morning prayer, if you’d like to come?”
“Sure! Dad said he’d drive us to school tomorrow before he leaves to go back to work, so we’ll be there a little early anyway. Besides, I’ll need every ounce of Spirit I can get to make it through tomorrow,” replied Elijah.
“Great! We meet at 7:45 in the music room,” Jonathan said hearing his father saying goodbye to the rest of Elijah’s family.
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