By JD Rockel
Chapter Twenty One
Jerry was discharged on Tuesday and returned to school on Wednesday. With only one day before Christmas break, there were countless questions from his classmates and friends. Jerry relived the experience like it was a TV crime show. He did not, however, share any of his visions of angels.
On Thursday, Ella arrived at Jerry’s house at about mid-morning. When Jerry opened the door, he saw Ella grinning sheepishly. In her hands, she held a box wrapped in festive paper and topped with a huge red bow.
Jerry was elated. His happiness made his eyes glisten with tears. “It is so wonderful to see you here face to face. Please, come in out of the cold.”
Ella came inside and handed Jerry the gift. “I owed you a peace offering, but this is more meaningful as a gift of thankfulness.”
Jerry took the present and set it on a table near the door. He reached out to take Ella’s hand. She gladly responded and Jerry led her into the hallway. Closing the door behind her, Jerry helped Ella remove her coat. It was only a couple steps to the hallway coat closet, so Jerry hung her coat up there.
When Jerry returned to her, she took hold of both his hands. “I know I’ve said it a hundred times already, Jerry, but I am so grateful God brought you back to me. I mean to us.”
“And I am so very grateful God is mending our relationship. Come sit down with me on the sofa. John and my dad are somewhere in the house. They’ve been keeping to themselves this morning.”
The living room was just to the left of the entryway. Jerry and Ella walked hand in hand to the sofa and sat down.
A Christmas tree was sitting in front of the living room’s bay window, beautifully decorated with ornaments, ribbons, and lights. “The Christmas tree is beautiful, Jerry. Who put it up?”
“We all did. It’s been a tradition since Mom died. We put it up to honor and remember her. It is so much more meaningful now that I have real hope of seeing her again in heaven.”
Jerry put his arm around Ella and she reached out to hug Jerry as tightly as she could. Both their shoulders became damp from their tears of joy.
A gentle kiss and they settled back into the cushions, Ella resting her head on Jerry’s shoulder. “I think I was too hard on you, Jerry. I was hurt so much and yet, I believe you were trying to comfort me in your own way. I just wasn’t ready for that. I should have talked to you sooner.”
“I was clearly at fault, Ella. You were right about me not discussing what I wanted to do with you and waiting for your permission. You were right to run away.”
Ella turned and looked into Jerry’s eyes. “It’s all in the past now. I forgive you. Do you forgive me?”
“Of course, my love. This is a new start for us, and I’m not just talking about our relationship. I’m a new creature in Christ now, not that I know what that means yet. I heard your prayers when I was over there. Were you serious about giving your life to Jesus too?”
“I certainly was.”
“Then we are beginning new lives as followers of Him. That is the most important change of all.”
Ella hugged Jerry again and through her tears said, “That’s for sure.”
When her composure was restored, Ella asked, “Please tell me more about your experience with the angels. I won’t tell anyone; I just want to hear.”
“It was the most unusual experience I could imagine. I had heard about experiences like this, but only for people near death. Was I ever in danger of dying, Ella?”
“I don’t think so, Jerr. From the first, when nurse Judy examined you, your heart was beating. I know the paramedics reported a rather low blood pressure, but still, nothing dangerous.”
“Then I will praise God for blessing me with an experience I may never relive until heaven. It started during the attack. When the knife slashed me, I felt hands on my arm. I can’t say for sure because it happened so fast, but I think I saw a white being between me and the attacker just for an instant.”
“That’s right, I never told you. He was a senior named Andy. He wanted me to be his girlfriend over winter break. No telling what he would have done to me had I given in.”
“Well, the hands I felt on my arm pushed me away. That’s why I lost my balance and fell backward. I felt another set of hands grab my shoulders. I think they moved to my head before I hit the floor. From then on, I was in another world. There were angels with me and there was an intense light in the distance. I was able to talk with God. The angels kept reassuring me that I would be fine and rejoin my family and friends.
“It was a wonderful experience, but I knew I was in a different world. Maybe a different dimension. There was no ground. I wasn’t walking. I wasn’t allowed to see you guys around my bed, but I did hear you. You never stopped reassuring me, Ella. In the other world, I only saw the angels and the great light off in the distance. Maybe that was God’s throne. I don’t think there were more than a half dozen angels with me.
“But then at the end of the experience, while I was talking to God, another figure appeared and talked to me. He was different. More like a person than an angel. And frankly, except for their glowing whiteness, the angels looked like people too. No wings. The ones in the Bible with wings must be special angels. Anyway, I am convinced the man was Jesus.
“The last thing I remember before waking up was talking to God about how hard it was for me to understand why Jesus let Himself be tortured and then die on the cross. When I questioned His death, Jesus said, ‘I did it because I love you, Jerry’. He called me by name! Then he said, ‘Come. Follow me.’ Immediately after that, I woke up.”
“I don’t have any words to say, Jerr. That must have been a wonderful, confusing, and probably scary experience.”
“Confusing, yes. Scary, no. I felt at peace. There was nothing there to harm me.”
“So, obviously this affected your view of Jesus and the message of Christianity.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind. Jesus is the Savior of the world and my personal Savior. I can’t turn back, Ella. God has blessed me with evidence that is too personal to share. I can’t prove anything of what I saw and heard.”
“But, I do have proof.” Ella pulled her phone out of her pocket and scrolled to the photo Emily took.
“Emily saw two angels protect you and took this picture when you landed on the floor.”
Jerry took the phone and looked at the picture with the blurry white spot near his head.
“Wow! You said Emily saw the angels with her eyes?”
“I told you what she saw just before you came back, or should I say woke up.”
Jerry laughed. “You can say came back when we’re alone, but to everyone else, I think we should say woke up.”
Ella laughed with him. “Here’s Emily’s story as best as I can tell you. Emily has a gift. She calls it a spiritual gift from God. Normally it manifests as an ability to see someone’s emotions by seeing a colored halo around their face. On that last Thursday of doom in the cave, she was concerned about me in Algebra class because I had changed from a yellow to an orange.”
“Thursday of doom? I hope we can lose that term.”
“Sorry, Jerr,” giggled Ella. “It just popped out.”
“So, what do yellow and orange mean?”
“Yellow means I’m in a good mood. She was spot on when she saw yellow around me. She called it sunshine yellow. It made me feel so happy and good.”
“And the orange, Ella?”
“That one was harder. She said it always had to do with some sort of concern. Either something had happened that affected the person negatively, or as in my case it was something yet to happen. The next day she could tell something went very wrong. She said I was violet, meaning I was emotionally bruised. After that, I went dark on her.”
“Again, wow! You owe her a peace offering too. Speaking of which, I should see what you brought for me.”
Jerry stood up and went to the table where the present sat. He picked up the beautifully wrapped gift and brought it back to the sofa. Putting it up by his ear, he gave it a little shake.
Jerry grinned and his eyes scrunched just a bit. “I don’t hear any rattle or ringing. It must not be a Christmas bell as on Polar Express.”
“Ooh, we should watch that during our break,” Ella burst out. “That movie is awesome. Well, don’t just sit there grinning and shaking the package, open it.”
Jerry took the big red bow off the top and put it onto Ella’s head. Ella’s shoulders came up and her head ducked, all while she giggled with delight.
The wrapping paper came off next. Jerry didn’t pretend to take it off carefully for reuse, he just tore into it, throwing the shards of paper all over the place. What was left was a plain brown box.
Jerry broke through the tape and looked inside. He discovered two things there. The most obvious was a Bible. Jerry’s face lit up as he paged through it. “It will take some time to figure out where everything is in here,” he said.
Still left in the box was a metal key chain. Jerry took it out and saw there were words embossed on it saying, “With God, all things are possible.”
Jerry laughed. “This key chain is an understatement, Ella. It’s hard to believe my own story.”
“It seemed to be most appropriate. I’m so grateful for what God has done for both of us.”
“Me too, Ella. It seems like a dream.” Jerry put the Bible and key chain in his lap and leaned over to hug Ella.
After the set of wonderful hugs and kisses were exchanged, Ella became serious and asked a pressing question. “Would it be OK if we share your heavenly adventure with John and Rosa? Maybe your dad should hear the story too.”
“John and Rosa, sure. I don’t think my dad is ready to hear the ravings of someone who came back from the dead. But someday. I will ask God to tell me when the time is right.”
“Sounds like a wise decision. I doubt my mom and dad would be ready to believe your story. But John and Rosa should hear the whole story so they can rejoice with us. And I will pray that your dad can believe the story in due time. I want to thank God right now for His amazing love.”
Ella reached out and took hold of Jerry’s hands. “Father in heaven, you have blessed us by revealing your heaven to us. We won’t try to understand the details of what Jerry experienced. We simply want to thank you for showing him your Son in person. How can we ever thank you for such a miracle except to commit our lives to serve Jesus? Please be clear as you reveal your will to us, and we will do our best to obey You with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, we accept your gift of salvation without reservation and give you all the honor and glory for what you have done. Amen”
“Amen,” Jerry echoed. Jerry stood up, helping Ella up from the sofa. He gave her a hug and a kiss. The kiss meant so much more now. There was a much deeper connection that existed now, and Jerry thought that was great.
After a few moments, Jerry slowly pulled away. “Perhaps we should just sit and watch a movie in the family room. I’m sure we have a DVD of Polar Express. If not, it will be available all over the streaming channels.”
“And I expect you have popcorn I can make in the microwave,” Ella offered. “Let’s have a wonderful Christmas eve together as a brand-new couple.”
“This is for real?” John said in disbelief. Jerry and Ella were sitting across from John and Rosa in a booth at their favorite let’s-talk-this-over burger and ice cream spot. Except for a few leftover fries and dirty wrappers, they had finished their burgers while they talked.
“I guess it depends on what reality is,” Jerry replied. “I mean, how do you describe reality when you are in the angelic realm?”
Ella added, “When the Apostle John saw his vision of heaven, was it a dream? Or was he there in his spirit?”
“I don’t know, Jerry,” John said. Turning to his right, “What about you, Rosa?”
“Well, there are several times when people in the Bible describe heavenly visions. Isaiah, Paul, and the apostle John. Keep talking, I want to look something up in my Bible.” Rosa pulled up a Bible app on her phone.
“The only tangible evidence we have is this picture.” Ella scrolled to the picture of Jerry on the floor with the white blur at his head. Jerry munched on one of the remaining fries. “Before you say anything, this means nothing without the witness of Jerry and Emily.”
“Emily?” Rosa asked, looking up from her phone. “Emily from your Algebra class? What did she see?”
“First of all,” Ella continued, “Emily took this picture. The instant she took it, she was looking past the camera at Jerry hitting the floor. She claims she saw a white being protecting Jerry’s head. She also saw a white being push Jerry’s arm away from the knife.”
“Not far enough, apparently,” John said under his breath.
Ella looked belligerently at John and said, “To be fair John, God may have wanted to prove His intervention by having the knife cut exactly halfway through the artery. And for all we know, the second angel may have put Jerry into the coma.”
“Or even escorted me to his realm. I don’t remember the details of how I got there.”
“To be clear, Ella,” Rosa continued, “Emily saw the angels with her eyes?”
“It’s a long story I won’t tell now, but Emily has a spiritual gift from God that lets her see a person’s emotions, and, apparently, angels. At least when God allows. She claims this was her only experience seeing angels.”
“OK, I can accept that. So, here’s what I was looking for,” Rosa added. “Second Corinthians, chapter twelve. Paul is describing some of his visions and says, ‘whether in the body or out of the body I do not know’. So, we can’t say whether Jerry’s spirit left his body temporarily or not.”
John looked back at Jerry. “So, Emily saw the angels, you felt the angels touch you, we have a ghost hunters quality picture, and you heard Jesus himself talk to you. Then, immediately after that, Ella whispered to you about the angels, and you woke up. I know dreams can happen in an instant and seem to take hours. So, your whole experience may have taken place in the instant before you woke up.”
“What does it matter, John?” Rosa sounded convinced and concerned at the same time. “I believe Jerry’s experience. I believe Emily’s experience. Since God exists outside of our bubble of time, a long conversation with angels and Jesus may have transpired in an earthly instant of time. I am most excited about the result of all this: Jerry and Ella are now followers of Jesus. I can’t be more overjoyed for both of you.”
“I feel this is the start of a whole new life,” Jerry commented as he finished the last of the french fries.
“Me too,” Ella added. “It’s like our lives, individually and together, have just begun.”
“Well, you only met three months ago,” Rosa added. “But I think I understand what you are feeling.”
Jerry and Ella giggled at Rosa’s observation.
“I agree,” John said putting his arm around Rosa. “I felt my life start anew when I met Rosa.”
Jerry put on a serious face. “Even after these few days, spending time with angels has given me an eternal appetite. The burger and fries were great but I’m ready for some ice cream.”
“Amen to that!” everyone agreed.