I could almost swear that there was a lingering smell of burnt hair in the room when I came in.
“Mr Si.” A big, burly man wearing a long, brown leather coat rose up from his seat.
“Elijah.” I nodded my head. “Shall we do this?”
Author’s Note: This story is entirely made up as a fable. Only the lessons behind it are meant to stand out.
I sat down the vacant lonely, decor-less wooden chair on the opposite end of the table.
He wasn’t exactly as I imagined him to be. He had this bushy, unkempt moustache and beard on his face. His hair didn’t fare any better.
The table was dark-brown mahogany wood. There’s a bottle at his end of the table which I didn’t recognize earlier. As he sat down, he took the bottle and slowly turned it open.
“Want some honey?” He offered.
I raised my right hand hand, “No, thank you.”
There isn’t really any utensils on the table so I don’t imagine he could eat the honey now.
I opened my notebook, took out my pen and looked at my short list of questions.
“So Elijah, how did it feel like to be one of the greatest prophets who lived?”
“During the old times?”
“Yes. During the old times.”
“You mean the time of King Ahab of Israel.”
To my utter surprise, he dipped his index and middle finger into the honey bottle and used it to eat the honey.
“What? You never used your hands to eat before?” Elijah has a very thick accent and a deep, booming voice.
I really need to get better at hiding my thoughts from showing as facial expressions.
“I have. Just… Not honey.”
“Haha! You’re a funny guy.”
What was funnier was some of the honey that was stuck in his beard. He proceeded to put another dip of honey in his mouth.
“So about the time of King Ahab…”
He cleared his throat.
“Well I remember that it really didn’t feel great. I certainly didn’t feel like a prophet. I was just a guy who was doing what God wanted me to do.”
He took some of the tissue paper from the table and proceeded to wipe his lips. Still unaware of the honey from his beard.
“And often times I really didn’t know what God wanted me to do. Being a prophet involved a lot of waiting on the Lord.”
“Waiting for what?”
“Well, for instructions, visions, words to say to people. Waiting for the Spirit of God.”
I nodded my head as I proceeded to jot that down.
“So I read that you went up to heaven in a whirlwind and chariots of fire.”
“Did it hurt?”
“The fire. Did it hurt?”
“Oh that. Not at all! It was the power of God that kept me from burning. No real surprise there. I’m sure you’ve heard of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego”
He reached out to the pitcher of water on the table. I noticed that the honey in his beard was no longer there.
“So did you get to heaven without dying?”
“What makes you think that?”
“Well, you went up through the whirlwind and the chariots of fire didn’t you? Doesn’t that mean that you went up to heaven alive?”
“Ha!” He let out a very short laugh while putting some water on his mug.
“Didn’t you know? All flesh bears the mark of Adam. It is of death.” (*See Romans 7:24)
He put the pitcher down gently.
“Even if my body was carried up, my flesh had to die for me to enter the Kingdom of God.”
He lifted his mug and took three huge gulps from his water.
“Besides, didn’t you hear? No one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (*See John 3:3)
“So you died somewhere along the way?”
“That’s something that God only knows. All I know is, I was there before the Lord.”
I proceeded to write these things down. Then I raised my pen for my next question.
“Did you really come back as John the Baptist?”
A slow smile crept on his face.
“What do you think?”
“Well, it says in Matthew seventeen, ten to thirteen….”
Before I can extrapolate further, he cut me midway.
“Then you have the answer to your question.”
I tapped my pen to the table, not really sure where I’m going with my next question.
“So did you know you were going to die a martyr’s death this time?”
He leaned back on his seat and crossed his arms.
“No. I did not.”
“Would you have come back if you did?”
Without a blink of an eye he blurt out his answer.
He then clasped his hands together and leaned forward.
“Sean, when you have come face to face with the glory of God, and He asks you to do something. You just want to do it. You realize that life is so very… tiny.”
He depicted this by pinching his fingers together in the air.
“Our lives are negligible. When you see the glory of God, you realize this. Your perspective of things, of the universe, of yourself – will never be the same.”
He paused for a bit as he leaned back on his chair.
“That’s what God’s glory will do to you. That’s what it did to me. And when I was given my mission, I knew there couldn’t be a better reason to go back than that.”
“And what was that mission?”
He put a finger down to the table as if to point something out.
“To prepare the world for the Kingdom of God. To be the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
I proceeded to write that down.
“But you know, I think that people have overlooked the other part of my mission.”
I wasn’t finished with my notes yet but I looked at him to show him that I was paying attention.
“And what is that part?”
“The part where I actually lived out what it means to be born again.”
Perplexed, I stopped writing altogether and gave him my full attention.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, when I returned to prepare the way for the Lord, I knew that it was going to be hard. I mean, being a prophet was hard but you were respected. Even feared.”
He sighed. A short but weighty sigh.
“But coming back as a nobody in a dark, confused time of Roman captivity, that was tough. I knew there was a very slim chance that I would be taken to heaven the same way I was before.”
A frown came upon his face.
“This time, I knew I was going to have to die.”
He took the lid of his bottle of honey and started to close the bottle.
“People today confess Jesus as their Lord and are baptized and are born again. The other part of my mission is to be an example of what it means to be a Christian.”
This time I took the pitcher of water and started to pour out a drink.
“The Christian life is harder. Much harder. In fact, it is impossible to live out without the Spirit of God in you. But it is also the most fulfilling life you will ever live. Because now, you herald the way for the kingdom of God.”
As I gobbled up the water from my mug, he stood up. Marking the end of our time together.
“So shout it out to everyone you meet as if you’ve seen the glory of God. ‘Prepare the way for the Lord!’”
I stood up, shook his hand and saw him out the door where his chariot was waiting for him, albeit no longer aflame.
As he boarded his ride, he turned to me and shouted,
“Think about it! At the end of days, does there exist an honor any greater than that?!”
And in the blink of an eye, he was gone.
I went back in to pack up my stuff and that’s when I realized he left his honey bottle on the table.
What an honor it was to be able to ask my thoughts to the man who died twice.