Honolulu, Hawaii – Miramar, California
Malachi’s two days in Honolulu passed like a whirlwind. He had spent his time on the submarine ride from Vladivostok to Hawaii in relative isolation. He’d had so little time to process what happened to him on the summit of Yammantau, so the silence in the embrace of the sea gave him the space to explore the depths of his own soul, that inner universe, and to find the semblance of language with which he might pour forth to God. He felt the pressing weight of the coming judgment, still vexed by the notion that he would not only see, but also participate in the great and terrible Day of the LORD. There was only disorientation and reeling in the heart of the sea, and he found no comfort during his westward passage. He was, as the poet Tennyson wrote, ‘an infant crying in the night, an infant crying for the light with no language but a cry.’
Perplexing questions continued to swirl in his mind while preparations were made for his flight to California. Admiral Jordan had arranged, as planned, for a C-40 flight to depart from the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam airstrip. The C-40c was a Boeing 737 retooled for military passenger transport by the Air Force; it had passenger seating typical of 737’s, as well as an executive suite that was reserved for military higher-ups and VIPs. A few Naval and Air Force personnel were on board in the passenger section, but Malachi was given the executive suite to himself. Jordan was supposed to accompany him to MCAS Miramar in San Diego, but he had pressing matters in the Pacific Theatre to tend to before Fulcrum kicked into high gear. Typically, he would have been embarrassed to be seated in the military version of first class while airmen and sailors were relegated to the back of the plane, but that night, the privacy was greatly appreciated.
The flight left just after midnight Hawaii time, and would travel the roughly 2600 miles to San Diego. They would be landing just after 8 AM in the morning. Under less vexing circumstances, Malachi would have been barely able to contain himself during his trip home. He hadn’t been in the San Diego area in over five years and had often ached for it during his duties at Haji Omaran. Instead, he sat in seclusion in the executive suite and closed the perforated door that led to the passenger section, welcoming again the solitude that he had on the submarine excursion to Hawaii.
Malachi’s battle with the weight of his future continued. He was haunted by the specter being a conduit of coming wrath. This was a bitter pill to swallow. How could he bear under the weight of such an awful call? The comfort he had initially taken in finally having realized who he was made to be had given way to a sense of doom. He desired mercy for humanity, not wrath and he grappled to see how God’s love and his anger could be reconciled in light of the coming cataclysms.
As the hours stretched on, Malachi finally succumbed to sleep. He hadn’t found much rest since he had arrived in Oahu, and the fatigue had finally caught up with him. As he slept he fell into another dream. In his dream God began to speak to him as he slept.
“Rise Malachi,” the Voice resounded.
Malachi, still dreaming rose up from his seat in the executive suite of the C-40. But the cabin was measurably longer, and the door that led to the cockpit blazed with resplendent glory; glory that seemed to Malachi to flow from the presence of God himself. He answered, “What is it that you want from me Lord?”
“Step halfway to the door.”
Malachi began pacing to the door. As he did, the interior of the plane dissipated and Malachi was standing on a path that stretched through the vast reaches of space and time. He could see a myriad of stars, galaxies, quasars, and clusters of galaxies, even to the edges of the expanding universe itself. As he strode toward the blazing light where the door to the cockpit had once been, he could see the host of redeemed humanity walking the path beside him. Their glory was breathtaking, had he not known that these were humans he would have been sorely tempted to fall down and worship them. They moved ever closer across the billions of years of cosmic existence, stepping ever deeper into the dazzling presence of God. As they moved toward him they took on still more glory, power, and wisdom. He had made it halfway to the light shining before him and looked forward to receive more instruction.
“Step halfway again,” the voice resounded within him.
He made his way again toward the door. As he looked out into the vast universe that unfolded before his eyes he could see a great change come over it. The cosmos, which had seemed so empty when men first looked out upon it was now teeming with life. Planets gave off the green and blue signatures of living worlds and the universe was thick with it. As he looked around him he could see the same saints who were traversing the path into the glory of God stepping across space and time to serve as priests and kings as the Kingdom of God extended throughout the universe. They traversed further and further through the unending ages as creatures partaking of the Divine Nature, participating in the Trinitarian life of their Creator and his everlasting work of creation. As they progressed further into the time beyond time new conscious beings were being brought into the benevolent presence of God, and the story of redemption that had begun with humanity in Christ the God-man, was being sung in the endless vault of creation itself.
“Step halfway again,” the voice reverberated.
“Yes Lord,” said Malachi, “But why are you showing me this?”
“Do you feel the glory of my presence?”
“More than I ever have God,” replied Malachi as he stepped halfway again toward the glory that lay before him.
“Have you arrived into the fullness of my glory yet?”
“I have not,” said Malachi, beginning to grasp what he was being shown.
As he stepped forward, this universe gave way to even more. Innumerable singularities were exploding into new universes, as the expanding company of the redeemed looked on over the billions upon trillions of years of their development and growth, eagerly awaiting the development of new conscious life. Malachi trembled at what he saw, as humanity as they progressed even further into the glory of God. He saw the infinite capacity for growth that finite beings possessed. Being a creature made in God’s likeness was not an impediment to glory, rather an invitation into the eternal growth toward it, transforming from glory to glory as the long epochs of eternity unfolded before them. Men and women, and new beings made in God’s likeness grew with creation, becoming wise and powerful and beautiful in ways that baffled the highest human imagining. Because they were righteous, the power they gained in the presence of God was incorruptible, as their praises echoed down the endless corridors of eternity to the Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world.
Malachi asked, “But Lord, what of the fire?”
He heard the reply, “In the age to come my eternal fire will purge my beloved creation of every evil that has assailed it and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. When all has been made pure then, as the burning bush of old, all will be aflame but nothing shall be consumed and my glory will fill everything forever and always.”
Malachi awoke as the dream dissipated, full of wonder that could not be expressed in the cumbersome artifice of human speech. Behind the thin veil of the coming fire there was a vast and unfathomable glory that awaited all humanity where in the long ages of eternity God would show his goodness to all, nothing, not the fires of hell itself were strong enough to withstand the love of God in Christ, and not one of God’s creatures could ever fall forever out of his merciful hands. The anger of God was against everything that kept his creation and humanity from being anything less than what they were made to be. This was the fire, this was the wrath – behind the fire that has burned since the fall and in the fire that was to come was only love, perfect love for a creation wounded by evil. The fire must fall for the wound to be cauterized.
He felt like his mind had been stretched beyond its capacity as he caught only the smallest of glimpses into glory. To grow ever more toward the glory of God, always growing toward an unending end, penetrating evermore into the Triune mystery of God, sharing in the same life, with all of God’s people, that God has in himself beggared Malachi’s ability to understand. God had made men for more than they ever dared to become on their own, and his voice has been calling out throughout history to draw them to himself. What great glory for those who had the faith to follow and what great folly and sorrow for those who would for a time refuse. Because, the same God who created all things out of the gift of his love will draw all things back to his love. The love of God will vanquish all evil that holds sway over creation, all bonds will be broken in the end and the love of the creature for the Creator will be perfected in perfect freedom as all participate in the Divine life in the ages beyond the ages. It was the vision of God; even if Malachi’s mind could scarcely grasp him, even if his earthly eyes could barely begin perceiving him, that would sustain him on the dangerous and painful path that he was called to on this side of glory.
The plane eventually touched down at MCAS Miramar. Malachi was home at last, and as much comfort as he took in being back in Southern California, he almost felt disappointment that his dream had ended, because he did not want to leave it. There was a home for him, a wonderful and exciting home that he longed for. Whatever this world was, it was a temporary place and he was merely passing through. As important as his calling on this side of glory might be, he knew that even this was a small thing compared to the glory that awaited him. He knew he would have to do and say things that would be incredibly difficult for him, and even more perplexing to the world. Still, he trusted that God would strengthen him to the task to which he had been called.
As he descended the stairway attached to the C-40’s fuselage, he stepped into the bright California spring morning. A cool breeze was blowing in from the ocean and a cloudless blue sky radiated above him. Against all odds, he had made it safely home, and he would face even more desperate odds in the coming months. He made his way over to the hangar where Alderman Campbell was waiting for him. He had never formally met Campbell, but was taken aback by that commanding hulk of a man. As they introduced themselves and made their way to Campbell’s Jeep, Malachi knew that there was much work to be done. Even if Fulcrum had been compromised, and even though the Tripartite Peace forged by it would be inevitably short, it was a necessary step into the final act of the present age.
Before he could pursue his ultimate calling, he had to tend to the task at hand, securing peace. He thought to himself as he rode up Interstate 15 toward the Temecula Valley, that even a passing peace was something that he was willing to fight for. He trusted that God had indeed called him to something else beyond the peace and that his life would be in constant danger until Fulcrum succeeded, as well as after, so staying alive was God’s problem, not his.