This is a work of fiction. All names, locales, and incidents are either fictitious or used fictitiously and are products of the author’s imagination. Any




НазваниеThis is a work of fiction. All names, locales, and incidents are either fictitious or used fictitiously and are products of the author’s imagination. Any
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Journey from Heaven


by


Joe Derkacht


Smashwords Edition


*****


Journey from Heaven

© Copyright 2010 by Joe V. Derkacht

All rights reserved.


This is a work of fiction. All names, locales, and incidents are either fictitious or used fictitiously and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead, or to actual places and institutions and incidents, is purely coincidental.


Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV), the Authorized Version (KJV), or the author’s paraphrase.


Majesty is used by permission of its composer, Jack W. Hayford.


Cover art is by the author, Joe Derkacht.


Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please *purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


*Though this Smashwords Edition is being offered to readers for free, please return to Smashwords for additional downloads for sharing with others. The author can better gauge interest in Journey from Heaven that means.


*****


Acknowledgments


Thanks to Dr. Jack W. Hayford for his gracious permission to use the lyrics of his widely acclaimed Majestyin the novel, Journey from Heaven.


Thanks also to friend Louis Serafin, Deputy Sheriff (Ret.), of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, for his insights concerning police procedures in the State of Oregon. Journey From Heaven, however, is not meant to be a police procedural; all mistakes and license taken in that regard are the author’s.


*****


And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6,7 (NIV)


*****


Episode One


They were like a flight of beautifully orchestrated pyrotechnics, seemingly winking into existence as they emerged from the galactic corridor and exploded into the dark space between stars. Once coalesced, the wake of their glory shone greater than the tail of any bright comet. Together they streamed toward the star’s fourth terrestrial planet, a lovely emerald world plowing through the velvet of night.

Intent as I was in my preparations, except for a warning from Leanhar, noblest of those angels who have served me through the millennia, I might have missed their approach altogether. Steward John. ’s voice sounded in my mind, as only spirit can communicate with spirit. I looked up, my focus immediately on the dark heights far above Mt. Fe. My ears caught the telltale music I was accustomed to hearing at the opening of any of Heaven’s doors. Overhead, the sky had blossomed with new stars—one central light enfolding other lesser lights expressed in brilliant, complementary colors, each as transparent as any precious gemstone.

Like a cascading waterfall they dropped straight toward us, toward myself and Leanhar and my 1200 servants, who’d been laboring all day upon Fair Ranar’s loftiest peak.

In the twinkling of an eye, a bright star stood before us in all his effulgence, surrounded by a coterie of luminous angels. My servants, all 1200 centii and millii, edged nervously away, tension palpably evident in their shifting feet and twitching muscles. With a single tap of my ironwood staff on Mt. Fe’s granite surface, they went scurrying, and as they disappeared down the mountain like flower blossoms driven by the wind, the messenger’s heavenly aspect changed, the mantle of redeemed humanity falling into place. The star became a man.

Steward John,” he addressed me. Without formally introducing himself, he reached into his robes, pulled out a scroll and handed it over.

Proper introductions were normal protocol, especially when visiting a planetary steward. With the bright aura of the divine presence still upon him, though, and having had an inner warning of his visit earlier that day, I wasn’t much concerned about how things were normally done. I took the scroll and opened it.


OFFICIAL SUMMONS


ADDRESSEE


Steward John Raventhorst

Member, Whitestone Holders

Order of the Overcomers

Pergamum Branch


ADDRESS


Fair Ranar, Northern Outer Trench, Sombrero Galaxy


ORDERS


Report to Capital City, New Jerusalem


to appear before


HIS MAJESTY, YHWH


Though the thrill of being summoned home for an audience with God Himself was a rare one, I perhaps lingered over the words longer than the messenger expected. Strangely, no reason had been given for the summons. Turning the scroll over revealed a completely blank side, which was no help at all. I turned back to the message. The wording struck me as a bit odd. Was I supposed to attach significance to the use of Newin combination with Jerusalem? Whether in official or otherwise, it long ago fallen into general disuse. It wasn’t like any of us could ever forget the difference between the truly eternal city and her ancient forerunner. Additionally, I wondered why a member of the Holy Names Branch had been sent (Samuel Draper, as revealed to me by the Spirit), when nearly any angel would have served the purpose equally well, with messenger, after all, being the very definition of angel. For the Glorious Majesty to send a spiritual pillar, one who served directly in the holiest places of all the universe, fairly trumpeted the message’s importance. Would he still really be standing in front of me when I looked up from my reading?

He was. Considering those of the Holy Names Branch never left the holiest precincts, I did almost ask how the summons could be important enough for him to be sent, except I suddenly remembered a few rare instances of seeing others of his kind outside the capital. His explanation, I thought, would doubtlessly be that temple business extended the attendant manifest glory of our Heavenly Father.

Instead of mentioning any of those things, I asked, “Why here—to Fair Ranar—and to me—and why now?” Before he could answer, I thought to ask: “Does He want me to do something differently? He can’t be displeased with my work, can He?”

I believe He simply wants to prove His kindness to you again, Steward John,” he said, his voice ringing with the same sort of unutterable truth and warmth I’d often experienced in God’s presence, which was natural, coming from a member of the Holy Names Branch. “You know His loving kindness is from everlasting to everlasting.”

Such an answer told me that no matter how close he was to God’s throne, he didn’t know the reason for the summons, either—piquing my curiosity all the more. Astonishingly, though I hadn’t been expecting it, was I to be a focus of the King’s attention, I who’d labored far beyond the capital for what would’ve been considered unimaginable lifetimes to a mortal?

The thought literally dropped me to my knees. Praises bubbling forth from heart and mouth, I began to sing and was quickly joined by Leanhar and my visitor and his attendants in angelic chorus. Melodies infinitely sweeter and purer than any that ever rose from mere fleshly throats wafted over the mountain tops, until I heard and felt the surrounding rocky slopes resonating with joy. As Mt. Fe hummed along in accompaniment, the distant valleys boomed with answering bass notes, and the trees of the fields clapped their hands like the ancient psalmist had claimed. Nearly lost in the great symphony, Ranar’s native creatures brayed, honked, squealed, hooted, and whistled, their animated chorus riding atop our crescendos of praise like surfers on a wave.

For such moments, we all live. Ranar’s skies turned with our voices, the sun falling eventually into the west and the stars rising to the full, only to fade again under a new sun rising over the east. As one, we had offered our worship to God in perfect synchrony, and as one we eventually let our voices trail off into reverent silence. Looking at my visitor, I saw his brightness dimming, until he shone again like the brightness of a noonday sky with the reflection of God’s light.

Do I come with you now?” I asked, realizing I wished that I might. In my mind’s eye, I already saw the brilliantly hued walls of the great city and its gates of pearl.

What is your will, Steward John?” Samuel asked, as he reached into his robes and pulled out a stylus.

I signed the summons as an acknowledgment of receipt, writing St. John Raventhorst, Steward of Ranar. After the passage of the ages, the irony still remained: whether Steward, as I always will be of Ranar and its star system, or Saint, neither title had ever entered my mind in the old life as even the faintest of glimmers. I returned the summons and stylus, both of which disappeared inside his robes.

A moment later one of his attending angels stepped forward, bowed from the waist, and with a flourish extended one hand. A fruit from the tree of life sat in his open palm like a flashing gem. I reached out, not needing to ask if it was for me, and in a spirit of gratefulness began eating. Of the twelve kinds of fruit borne by the tree of life, this was my favorite. Among those of us who once claimed an American heritage, I’d often heard this particular fruit fondly referred to as a “Red Delicious,” a comparison any apple of the old universe would have blushed at; resembling a red Christmas tree ornament more than something strictly organic, it was considerably more delicious and infinitely more refreshing and life giving than a mere apple. It was also the very first type of fruit I saw upon my entry into the city. By it, before my heavenly education began, I first realized that even as a possessor of a redeemed and glorified body, I would never be independent of God’s provision; and which is why, as distant as the shores of Ranar are from Earth, angels routinely deliver a single monthly fruit from the tree of life into my hand.

If I may...?” Samuel asked.

Understanding he wished a tour of Ranar, I nodded happy assent. Swallowing the last morsel, I strode to the nearby spring-fed pool to wash my hands. My reflection in the water revealed a brightening countenance, a renewed flow of life and strength radiating throughout my body. In the company of someone of the Holy Names, I gave myself no further glance, though the truth was that my reflection has always astounded me as much as anything in this life; I who’d borne Adam’s marred image now bear the image purchased for me by Christ’s own marred face—the image of the Creator Himself, shining through my body, soul, and spirit!

So unexpected, so revelatory, had come that very first glimpse of myself, as I walked through the gates of Heaven, that it amazed me not to have imploded with such a demonstration of God’s love for His children. “Sown in dishonor, raised in glory,” and “mortality swallowed up by immortality,” the words written by the apostle, though absolutely true, were distant mutterings, compared to the reality.

Rising from beside the stream, I placed my ironwood staff into Leanhar’s hands and told him to feel free to remain with Samuel’s angelic attendants, who would welcome a time of fellowship with him. Gesturing for Samuel to follow me, we started down the slope, heading toward a prominence below where I’d been working for the last several days. The distant horizon came to life under the rays of the sun, with snowcapped mountains winking at us like rose-colored diamonds. The intervening valleys were clothed in the green beard of Ranar’s forests. Much closer, unfinished broad terraces climbed toward us in a series of ever rising waves. Here, on this very prominence, a throne of Mt. Fe’s native rock would one day look out, flanked by twin streams of silvery water spilling over the edge like tears pouring down stony cheeks. Our first drop would be a freefall of nearly 3,000 feet. Smiling in unison we stepped into thin air, a rush that never fails to thrill me.

Stooping like raptors, we landed feet first, touching down as gently as snowflakes. Samuel sprang eagerly forward, toward the next precipice, with me matching his every stride. At the edge we leapt into the air, this time soaring like eagles through wispy skeins of clouds, before embarking upon a long, downward spiral, allowing us to enjoy the full panorama of Ranar’s rivers, lakes, and valleys. Tens of miles later we landed at the foot of the mountain and its terraces, and began to walk side by side—as if in procession to the eternal city’s throne room. Hour upon hour, the sun shot broad shafts of emerald-tinged light through the forest corridors and gleamed from grassy carpeting as we continued into the west. The exhilaration I’d seen in Samuel was replaced by holy awe, as he gazed upon the majestic ranks of trees stretching before us, at their towering heights, their burgundy-colored bark and the massive branches of green.

You have made Fair Ranar one vast cathedral of worship to the King,” he said, pausing to breathe deeply of the forest and its woody fragrances.

I nodded, grateful he’d grasped my intent.

They remind me of California’s redwoods,” he commented.

They should,” I said. “All you see here came from the cones of a single redwood. Any differences between these and earth’s are due to the influences of the planet and her star upon their seeds.”

With the mountain falling behind us, we traveled on, running as the fabled Hermes once might have run, sometimes swinging far to the north, venturing into a wide swath of Ranar’s giant gingkoes, and then jogging far to the south, where mighty oaks reigned, before turning again to the west. Often, we chanced upon wild animals—some of them cousins, it seemed, to earth’s deer, antelope, horses, big cats, and even kangaroos—all of them fleet footed and in varieties as bewilderingly diverse as earth’s own. My centii and millii, which he had glimpsed upon his arrival, struck him as especially curious because of their long bodies and multiplicity of limbs and the unblinking eyes that stared from above each furry paw. Like the animals of the New Earth, Ranar’s creatures arrayed themselves in finer colors than any we had known on the fallen earth: the twelve-legged centii, the males greener than grass and the females rosier than rose, while millii males, with their twenty legs, are turquoise and silver, and the females ruby red with spots of topaz yellow. These same richly “clothed” centii and millii, I explained to him, were my chief helpers in shaping Ranar’s mountains to my liking; what joy they experienced, under my supervision, in shattering mountainsides with their great paws!

Eventually the trees we encountered grew older and taller, my labors upon Ranar having first begun here, and we again walked with deliberation, our feet silent upon millennia of shed needles gladly yielding up their nutrients to feed underground life and the trees from which they’d fallen. In the distance we saw rivers of muted colors rushing toward us, soon revealed as tall windblown grasses in soft shades of green, silver, red, and gold. Further on, the bark of many of the trees was clothed in cascading, flowery veils, their fragrances identifying them as roses long before they came into sight. Like those first redwood cones harvested from New California for Ranar’s sake, I’d also diligently searched throughout New Oregon for earth’s most beautiful climbing roses, finally introducing them a thousand years ago.

Reverence crowned Samuel Draper’s brow. He braced himself, looked searchingly into the canopy overhead, and smiled. A holy hush reigned over the world, one that was about to be sweetly broken. A faint chorus reached our ears.

The birds—” he said, staring up hundreds of feet into the highest branches for their perches and seeing their colors glitter like metallic confetti in rainbow hues.

Few of them speak like they do on earth,” I finished for him.

Yes,” he agreed. “Birdsong that is uncannily human. They’re whole orchestras of
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