The Celestial Chronicles (6)
Stories imagining Christian service from Heaven’s point of view
Natan let the spectacular gems slip through his fingers. Diamonds of minute size but intricate detail ran like fine sand onto the pile in front of him; around him, heaps of every type and shade of coloured gems sparkled in the dazzling light of the Courts of Heaven. Sapphires, emeralds, rubies and many more (including gems not yet discovered on Earth) created heap upon heap, and mound upon mound of breath-taking treasure. In this Treasure House alone, there was more wealth than all the gold, silver and precious stones ever mined on Earth. And Natan knew that there were many more – perhaps countless – Treasure Houses in Heaven, each with angels like him working to distribute each priceless gem as it was earned by those on Earth.
Although his role might have been considered lowlier than those angels assigned to larger treasure like crown jewels, Natan enjoyed his work distributing these small but stunning gems for acts of Hidden Faithfulness. It wasn’t part of his duties to observe big public acts of Christian service – courageous witnessing, tireless Bible teaching, faithful gospel preaching, heroic martyrdom. These were rewarded by the heavenly administrators of other Treasure Houses.
Instead, Natan was assigned to a church in an unimportant community, watching for small acts of ongoing faithfulness: Christians who found time in the day to read their Bibles and pray (it was surprising how many didn’t); the woman who routinely shopped for the miserly, ungrateful old man; the girl who quietly tidied the church hall after every service; the young boy who, unnoticed even by his parents, put his pocket money in the offering box. The Master knew the hearts of all these – and Natan added precious gems to their heavenly accounts for each small, unseen service for God.
He became familiar with those who consistently accrued treasure for unseen faithfulness. There were two of them meeting together now. He’d already added treasure to their accounts for that day in the Realm of Time: each had spent time reading their Bibles and praying. He began to listen to their conversation…
Jennifer Prior returned with the coffees and sank into the armchair with a contented sigh. “I didn’t ask whether you wanted chocolate sprinkles today, so I got them anyway.” She smiled at Rachel who nodded in return.
“Good guess!” Rachel lifted her cappuccino from the tray and cradled it in her hands. “Mmmm. I think this might be my favourite moment of the week, Jenny.”
“On a Monday morning, no less!” Jenny couldn’t remember how long she and Rachel had been meeting like this, in the same coffee shop, often in the most comfy corner since Monday morning was usually so quiet. It was one of her favourite moments too – a wholesome, refreshing conversation with Rachel Best.
“You were at the gospel service yesterday?” Jenny crossed her legs and folded her back into the cushions.
“Mr Monotone was his usual.” Jenny chuckled. “Even listening online doesn’t improve his delivery, poor man. I mean, I know he preaches the gospel faithfully – all the right components are there – but it’s pretty tedious listening! Were any unbelievers in church?”
Rachel shook her head. Her eyes were drifting to the corners of the empty café; she had her thinking-look about her.
“Out with it!” said Jenny. “What are you thinking?”
Rachel leaned forward in her chair. “You know, there were only twelve people in the gospel service yesterday? Twelve!”
Jenny grimaced. “Don’t make me feel bad! I just find it so hard to work up any enthusiasm to attend! Why be there in person when there are rarely any unbelievers there, and I do listen online, like most of the others! Why do you think it’s important to be there in person?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to think through.” Rachel knew that Jenny attended the outreach activities the church ran, was the backbone of the church lunch club, was a faithful witness to her friends and neighbours, and much else besides. Jenny had plenty of evidence in her life of her zeal in the gospel. Why shouldn’t Jenny, why shouldn’t they all, stay at home and listen online rather than attend the least effective gospel outreach the church ran?
“Even supposing,” Rachel began slowly, “that the gospel service is a waste of time (which we don’t know of course!), I think that God really values faithfulness. Faithfulness in small things, like simply attending a service which feels pointless...”
Jenny shifted the cushion at her back. She grinned at her friend. “Let’s call it mundane faithfulness. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”
Rachel nodded. “Yes! Faithfulness in little things – done to please God – will reap reward! The Bible says a kind act like a cup of water offered to one of the Lord’s disciples will reap eternal reward, so wouldn’t supporting Mr Monotone – and others – who are seeking to serve God, also gain reward?”
“Heavenly treasure for attending boring services?”
“If it’s done for the Lord, to support His followers, maybe even diamonds!”
Diamonds indeed. Natan smiled. Rachel had no idea just how many had been added to her account for her attendance at that much-discussed service on Sunday.
He looked around at the incredible array of jewels by which he was surrounded. Did they have any idea how much treasure was theirs for the taking? Simply for small acts of faithfulness.