Imagine if angelic beings went to school to learn to become guardian angels. They would probably have a lot of questions about the strange things that humans do on earth. They would need to study humans closely and learn the best ways to lead them into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. In this Angel Academy short story, the angels learn about the first commandment and the many idols humans worship other than God.
We learned about the first commandment in one of our earliest lessons at Angel Academy. I arrived in class with the other angels-in-training. Our classroom was made to look a lot like a regular human classroom. It is supposed to help us get used to what things are like on earth with your customary student desks and chairs in rows facing the teacher in the front of the room.
I sat down at my desk and reached for my feather pen. A feather pen is exactly like it sounds: it is a feather that can be dipped in ink to write like a pen. We’re angels. It’s the perfect writing utensil for us.
Anyway, for this particular lesson, my feather pen was gone. I looked inside my desk and on the floor around where I sit. Some of the other angels in the class started to notice that their feather pens were missing, too.
That’s when our teacher, the Archangel Barachiel arrived. “Hail class, are you ready for today’s lesson?”
“Sir,” I said. “I think we’re all missing our feather pens.”
“Ah, yes, thank you Gananael. You have introduced our lesson,” our teacher said with a smile. He walked over to his desk with his great wings flowing behind him. His desk looked like a lot of human teachers’ desks in schools on Earth. The drawers were filled with all kinds of things.
“I have a lot other options for you to use as pens,” he said pulling out a few items from the drawer.
“Would anyone like to use a ping pong ball as a writing utensil?” he asked. No one answered.
“Okay, how about this AA battery? Would you like to write with this?” Still, no one answered.
“What about this rock or this carrot?” the class looked at one another confused. You see, by this point we knew a lot about what humans used in school to write. We knew none of these items could be used instead of pens–at least not well.
“I know,” said the teacher. “You must have been waiting for me to offer you this golf club?” He pulled out an iron golf club and offered it to the class. No one took it.
“Sir,” I said. “We can’t write with any of those things.”
My classmates agreed. Another angel in the class joined in. “Sir, could we just use a regular pencil like the humans do in school?”
Barachiel frowned. “Yes, I suppose you could try to substitute a feather pen with a lead pencil, but it will never be as good. The writing will never be as crisp and beautiful.”
Our teacher let the silence sit for a moment then he went on. “Class, the lesson today is about the first commandment given to Moses on Mount Sinai. It reads ‘I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.'”
We looked at each other not sure if he expected us to try to write this down or not.
“If writing with a feather pen is like the worship of the Lord, then anything else is just a strange substitute,” our teacher went on. “The worship of the one, true God is like writing with the feather pen. Putting strange gods before the Lord is like trying to write with anything else.”
“Wait, do you mean to say that the humans worship something other than God?” asked another angel in the class.
“I’m afraid so,” said Barachiel. “Sometimes this is because humans have never known God. They all seek God, even if they do not realize it, but when they do not meet the one true God, they look for him in other sources. The challenge you will have as guardian angels, is helping to guide them directly to the Lord and not to other substitutes.”
“How do we do that?” I asked, still a little anxious that I couldn’t write down what our teacher was saying.
“The challenging thing about this commandment is that many times the humans do not realize they are breaking it. They put their faith and trust in earthy idols instead of the Lord.”
“Like what kinds of idols?” asked an angel student near the back.
“Some of the most common earthly idols are money, material possessions, technology, entertainment, governments, schools, political leaders, famous people, but there are so many things that people make into idols.”
“I’m not sure I understand,” I said. “What makes things things and people idols?”
“They become idols when a human relies on them alone to find happiness, freedom, joy, grace, and all the good things that God has to offer to them.”
“It’s hard for me to imagine why anyone would rely on anything other than God to provide for them,” I said aloud.
“For us it is difficult to understand. We are so closely linked to the Lord and constantly with him as angels. The humans can’t see this as easily. Therefore, they turn to things that are more easily seen and heard on earth.”
“Class, if you would please, pluck a feather from your wings to use as a pen,” said our archangel teacher.
I can’t believe none of us thought to do this up until this point. We were searching for our pens when we had a full supply of feathers right behind us. Barachiel seemed to sense this realization as well.
“It’s okay, class. The angels in Angel Academy rarely think to pluck out their own feathers to use as pens in this lesson. With the humans it is much the same. They often do not realize how close God is to them so they look to anything else to help them. Unlike you, though, they often try to write with odd objects like ping pong balls or AA batteries. They often turn to substitutes for God that will only lead to sadness.”
“Maybe if we turn their attention toward the Lord as much as possible, they won’t want to make gods of anything else,” said another student.
“There is so much beauty in the songs and prayers in church,” said Zamir, the most musical among our class.
“And we should help them pay attention to and remember the many stories in the Bible about men and women who placed their trust in the Lord,” said another angel.
“These are all good solutions,” said Barachiel. “I believed you have all done well today and I look forward to learning of the many ways you turn your human towards the Lord during their lifetime.”
Barachiel turned towards me. “Ganan, is there anything else you would like to add?”
I stared down at my feather pen. “No, not right now. I’m just really excited to meet my human and share with him how great it is to be in the presence of the Lord.”
Barachiel smiled and our lessons continued.
For more short stories like this one, sign up for the Formative Fiction Friday newsletter.