As the girl in the wheelchair approached the alter, she was visibly nervous. Everyone staring at her as she made her way up.
Her mother had made her come, and though she wanted to be healed, she had given up hope long ago.
The smiles coming from the preacher and his wife helped her stay the course, as they only showed true compassion.
Over the course of her life she had come to terms with the fact that she was never going to walk, so she wasn’t overly anticipating anything different from a standard prayer. No matter how much everyone in the room believed.
The preacher had become known over that last few months as a prominent religious healer. He didn’t hold any medical degrees or certifications, but his name began to spread quickly after a few healings.
His name probably would have grown faster if he hadn’t blocked the news outlets from witnessing the miracles and not allowing any person who entered to even bring electronic devices that could record what was happening.
Anybody could come to watch, space allowing, but they had to see with their own eyes.
As soon as each service was over, the preacher would disappear to the back office so he wouldn’t be overtaken with request for him to heal everyone else there. Instead, they would quickly rush out of the building to tell their friends, family, the news sitting outside, and everyone else that wanted to hear what they had witnessed.
The preacher had been invited onto shows to talk about his healing abilities, but he only explained it was God that was doing all the work. He was only a conduit.
While on the shows, they would beg him to give a demonstration, but he always refused. He would tell them that if they wanted to witness God’s miracles themselves, they would have to attend one the services.
Once the girl was at the alter, the preacher walked down the steps and asked her what her name was.
“Emily,” she answered shyly.
“Well, Emily,” the preacher started. “Do you believe in miracles?”
“Yes,” she answered sincerely.
“Do you believe you can be healed?” he asked.
Not wanting to lie and with a short hesitation, she replied with a simple “no”.
The preacher’s smile never wavered as he leaned forward and simply said, “You don’t have to.”
Emily looked up and smiled. She couldn’t explain why, but for the first time in her life she had hope.
He asked her to close her eyes, and then placed a hand over her forehead.
Almost no one else in the room closed their eyes as he started to pray. They all wanted to see what magic trick he was actually doing.
To their awe and surprise, no tricks were revealed.
Instead, Emily opened her eyes and calmly stood up for the first time in her life.
It was at that moment that she started crying tears of joy uncontrollably, along with everyone else in the room.
Since everyone was focused on the newly healed girl, no one noticed the preacher stumble a bit and quickly wipe a little blood that had escaped through his nose.
A few moments later, the girl regained her composer and walked to the preacher, embracing him in a deep hug.
He smiled, not wanting her to see the pain he was feeling from performing the miracle.
“Thank you!” she repeated over and over through tears.
Regaining some of his strength, he hugged her back.
“Don’t thank me, child,” he said. “Thank God.”
She squeezed him a little harder, causing him to wince a bit.
Their hug ended when Emily’s mother joined them at the alter, receiving a strong hug from her daughter, who could now walk.
Taking the opportunity, the preacher’s wife swiftly walked to him, helping him walk away to the back office.
By the time everyone had turned their attention back to the preacher, they only caught a glimpse of him disappearing through a door.
“Oh my god, Fredrick,” his wife Heather started, “This one took a toll on you.”
“I’ll be alright,” he said with a weak smile.
She turned to the angel who was standing in the corner.
“Isn’t there anything you can do, Michael?” she asked.
It wasn’t her first time asking him and she already knew the answer.
“You know I can’t,” he said, flatly. “He accepted this gift knowing what the cost was.”
She turned back to her husband.
They both knew the cost. Though they never fully appreciated what it would entail.
It wasn’t long ago that Fredrick was becoming frustrated with his ministry. He prayed for anyone who needed it, but never truly saw any actual results.
Over time, he had begun to lose faith in what difference he was actually making.
That’s when the angel Michael appeared to him. At first, Fredrick didn’t believe that Michael was an angel, but all doubt disappeared when he extended his wings for Fredrick to see.
Instantly afraid, Fredrick had thrown himself to the ground.
“Stand up,” Michael had said. “I have come to offer you a gift.”
“A gift?” Fredrick asked.
“Your faith is to rewarded with the gift of instant healing,” Michael said.
“What does that mean?” Fredrick asked.
“You will be able to use Gods power to heal the sick and afflicted,” Michael explained.
Fredrick wasn’t about to say no to an actual angel, and this is the renewal he needed. He never in his life thought that he would be in that position.
“Yes, please,” he said. “What do I have to do. I am God’s humble servant.”
“You have only to accept the gift,” Michael said. “But I must tell you the cost of your gift.”
“Cost?” Fredrick asked.
“For every person you heal, the lifeforce required will be taken from you.”
Fredrick didn’t fully understand what that meant, but he was unwavering in acceptance of the gift.
“How much lifeforce will be taken each time?” he asked. “How many can I save before it is all used up?”
“The amount of lifeforce will match the amount needed to heal another. It will vary from affliction to affliction.”
Michael watched patiently as Fredrick considered the price.
“I accept,” Fredrick said. “We’re all going to die at some point anyways. If I can ease the suffering of others at the cost of my own life, it’s a small price to pay.”
Michael showed no emotion the entire time, and still remained stoic when he said, “Very well. You have been imparted with the gift. Use it wisely to fulfill God’s plan.”
Instantly, Michael was gone, only to appear whenever Fredrick used the gift.
Michael watched on as Heather tended to Fredrick. Once she was done, she turned to face Michael again, but he was gone.
“You can’t keep doing this, Fredrick,” she said.
“You know it’s the price of the gift,” he said. “How can you ask me to stop healing others.”
He could see the conflicted feelings that she was having. He knew it must be hard for her to see her husband slowly giving his life for others. The selfish part of her wanted her husband to live as long as her, but she knew at the rate he was going, that was becoming less likely.
“I know,” she said after a few moments. “It’s just hard.”
He lifted her head by the chin and kissed her.
“How about I take a week off from healing and we take a trip somewhere,” he suggested.
She smiled. “Yes. That’s a great idea.”
She helped him up the stairs and into bed to rest.
The next day, they packed, and loaded up the car.
They decided to take a long trip to Yosemite National Park to do some hiking.
Fredrick sang to her as they drove. He looked over from time to time to look at his beautiful wife.
With the windows down and the light from the setting sun made her seem angelic to him.
“What?” she asked shyly, catching him looking at her.
“Nothing,” he said. “I just think you’re so beautiful and amazing.”
She leaned over and put her head on his shoulders.
As they drove, they both enjoyed the dimming light.
They pulled over into a campground to stay the night. It would take them another day to get to Yosemite.
Once they parked their car, they quickly set up camp, unloaded some firewood they had bought on the way, and started a fire.
It was already getting late, but being cuddled up by the fire under the clear sky was too picturesque for them to turn in. So they stayed up talking instead.
“So, when you’re not healing, you’re ‘Lifeforce’ doesn’t drain any more than the rest of us?” she asked.
Initially when he had told her about the visit from Michael and what he was told, she didn’t believe him. She thought maybe he was just playing with her. She knew he could be a prankster from time to time.
It wasn’t until he had performed his first miracle, and saw the physical toll it took on him that the reality of it all came crashing in.
He was praying for someone who was suffering with undiagnosed illness, but when Fredrick prayed over him, he was immediately healed.
That night she had taken care of him for the first time, and her fear only grew with each healing. At her request, he was more selective with who he would use his gift on, alternating between simple afflictions and more major ones.
She hoped that would balance out, giving him more time.
Now, as they cuddled up under the stars, she voiced her concerns once more.
“I don’t think so. I mean, I only feel like I’ve been hit by a truck when I perform a miracle,” he explained. “Other than that, I feel like I did before the gift was given to me.”
“I know I’m being selfish, but I’m scared. I’m scared at how long I will have with you if you keep going like this,” she said, tears filling her eyes.
He looked down. He knew that his gift was also taking a toll on her. He was also torn between doing God’s work and being there for his wife. He often wondered why God hadn’t chosen someone who wasn’t married, and he often wondered if people with families were asked to make the sacrifice also.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “I’ll go longer between healings. What I’m able to do is becoming so known now, I feel like we’re only going to be bombarded with people needing help. It might be good to do less, so we’re not overwhelmed. Maybe even adding a few more years together.”
She was still sad at the prospect of losing him sooner than she wanted, but she also appreciated his willingness to think of her too.
They ended the night with a kiss and went to bed.
The next day, they finished their drive to Yosemite and feeling exhilarated, they immediately started their hike.
It felt good to be outdoors. After his first miracle, Fredrick gained a new appreciation for all experiences, no matter how mundane.
They hiked hand in hand, enjoying the perfect weather and the perfect company.
When their legs started to feel the burn from hours of walking, they decided to start their trek back to the car.
Suddenly, they heard a scream and immediately took off in a sprint to where it came from. Their legs burned, but they didn’t care.
When they arrived at the sound of a mother’s sobbing, they were horrified.
On the ground lay a man, probably the father, torn to pieces and clearly dead. Next to him lay a young girl bleeding, but still breathing.
Fredrick and Heather rushed to their aid.
Still sobbing, the mother said, “They were attacked by a bear. I was a little way up and when I turned to see what was happening, I pulled out my gun, fired it, scarring the bear off.
“It happened so fast. The whole attack only took seconds.”
Fredrick looked at Heather, who immediately began pleading through her eyes for him not to do what he was thinking.
She felt ashamed for even thinking of stopping her husband from helping a young girl, but they both knew there would be a hefty cost for this miracle.
Reluctantly, she nodded, giving way to a gushing of tears.
Trying not to think of the consequences, Fredrick knelt by the young girl. He took a deep, resigning breath and prayed.
Almost immediately, the young girl took in a deep breath of air.
“Mom?” she asked weakly.
Her mother swept her up in her arms, not understanding what had just happened and not noticing Fredrick take two steps back and fall over.
Heather half caught him and helped him down.
She knew the price would be high but didn’t realize he would have to pay the ultimate price this time.
Heather cried over her husband’s lifeless body, wishing she could be with him.
“You can’t,” Michael said, kneeling down next to Fredrick. “Your time will come one day but not this day. Your husband’s sacrifice will be celebrated in heaven, where I will take him personally. Take comfort in that, child.”
He placed a calming hand on her shoulder, which brought instant peace to her.
The mother and daughter couldn’t see what was happening while all of the mother’s attention was solely on her daughter.
Michael scooped up Fredrick’s body, and giving Heather one last smile, flapped his wings and flew off.
Heather could only stare dumbfounded as they disappeared into the clouds. When she looked back down to the ground, Fredrick’s body remained, now only an empty shell.
Published on October 14, 2020 13:53
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