Tim Gallent met an angel one night and it was the last thing that he wanted. Tim awoke with a start in the night to find a smiling majestic figure standing in the center of his bedroom. His wings barely fit between the modest walls, the shining feathers of which lit up the dark room. The angel did not look at all like what he would have expected. Although his appearance bore some similarity to what men commonly think of when they envision an angel, there was so much more about him than Tim could ever find the words to describe. One of the most striking things about the messenger was that there was a jovial, perhaps even mischievous gleam in his eyes and a great hammer in his hand. Tim was not shocked, afraid, or even excited about his unexpected visitor, but simply aggravated, for he was not an easy man to surprise, or impress, but he was an easy man to annoy.
“I suppose you came to teach me about God?” was all that Mr. Gallent had to say.
The last thing Tim Gallent wanted was a sermon from some celestial being about how he should love God more. He had already tried loving God for years now, and he had grown tired of it. It was not that he had grown to hate God or anything of the kind, it was that he had grown jaded with carrying out His commands, namely loving people. He had done enough. He was a good enough man. He just wanted some time to live his own way for a while. He was exhausted with all of the disappointments and all of the hypocrites, and had come to the place where he could no longer distinguish between his frustration with man and frustration with God. What came next, however, actually did surprise him.
“No,” said the angel, “I came to teach you about man.”
“And how are you going to do that? You’re not even a man yourself.”
“No, but some of my closest friends are. I will grant you the opportunity to see three people alive on the Earth today. Anyone at all.”
At this Tim gave the angel a questioning look, and then answered: “Alright. I would like to meet the greatest man in the world.” It is important to understand that a large reason that Tim Gallent had grown weary in following the Father was because of the people that called themselves His followers. Tim so longed to see great works of faith– blind men seeing, deaf men hearing, dead men walking– but he saw no such things in the church. He studied many great men through their biographies, and could probably recite the names of all the saints from memory, and all his life he had wanted to meet just one truly great man. But each person he trusted eventually came to fail him. Slowly he had let disappointment settle in and had begun to believe that there simply were no great men anymore.
The angel nodded and swung his hammer, destroying the western wall of Tim’s bedroom. Tim fell out of his bed from the shock in a bundle of pillows, sheets, blankets, and limbs. When he looked up he saw that they were in an ugly auto mechanic’s shop just outside of Minneapolis. It was sunset now, and there was a man working underneath an old Dodge Charger. It looked like he was just finishing up. Somehow Tim knew that the man owned the place. After a few final touches, the man came out from under the car, covered in grease, and obviously tired from a long day of work. His face was dirty with black smears, and his hair obviously needed a wash. He was the last one left at the shop, for it was his practice to arrive earliest and leave the latest so his employees could have it easier.
Tim eyed the man, suspiciously. He tried to figure out what in the world could make him so great. It seemed that the man could not see him or the angel, but just went on packing things up to head home for the day. There did not seem to be anything unique about the scene other than it seemed that the man had some clear mental disabilities, probably a drastic case of autism or down syndrome. Tim felt uncomfortable because of this, and gave the angel a pleading glance, asking with his eyes that he could return to his bedroom. The angel did not acknowledge the look, but kept his eyes fixed on the mechanic.
“So you brought me here to see a retarded grease-monkey?” Tim Gallent asked, impatiently.
“You will never be able understand the challenges that this man has overcome. He faces more battles in an hour than you will face in all of your life. Greatness is not found in accomplishments, Mr. Gallent. Greatness is found in faithfulness.”
The mechanic’s shop faded and Tim found himself in his bedroom once again. He breathed a sigh of relief to see that his wall was not at all harmed. Now Tim was curious. Unfortunately, Tim did not at all understand what the angel was trying to tell him. He was altogether disappointed by the angel’s idea of greatness, but he decided he’d give it some more thought later, and was intrigued to see what the angel would say to his next two choices. “Alright. Show me the most beautiful woman in the world.”
The angel raised one eyebrow and said: “I hope you realize it is a bad idea to test an angel. But alright, I’ll play your game.” The angel once again smashed a wall with his hammer, this time the eastern wall, and Tim found himself in a hotel room in New Orleans. It was nighttime and there was a woman sleeping in the queen-sized bed over by the window. The angel nodded, and Tim walked over and slowly pulled the covers back to see the woman’s face.
To Tim’s aggravation he saw the sleeping face of his wife, Grace. She was in New Orleans visiting her parents because her dad was in hospice. Tim felt the first twinge of regret for not going with her. Tim gazed at her face, trying to figure out what the angel meant. He knew she wasn’t the most gorgeous woman out there, physically speaking. She was decently attractive, but she was no super-model. The angel obviously was referring to her heart. Tim did know that Grace had a loving heart, but she definitely had her flaws as well. He knew she was no where near the nicest woman on the planet, at least before she had her coffee in the morning.
“Okay. Why is she the most beautiful woman in the world?”
“She’s the most beautiful woman in the world to you because she’s your wife.”
As the hotel room began to fade, Tim found an odd feeling swelling within him, no much more than a feeling, something more permanent and more difficult to describe. He was beginning to understand that through his spiritual fatigue, he had lost the joy he once had in his time spent with Grace. A new resolve began to settle inside of him, perhaps the first step to viewing his wife in the way the angel showed him to.
Again Tim found himself in his bedroom, with his eastern wall fully in tact and the angel with his hammer, ready to take out another wall. Tim had no idea what to expect in answer to his last choice, and he was honestly afraid to ask. He almost chose something else, but knew he would never forgive himself if he did not find this one thing out. “Okay. Can you show me the most evil man in the world?”
The angel then looked grieved, but not as grieved as Tim Gallent was the next moment. Tim did not notice when it happened exactly, or how it happened, but the angel’s hammer had become a mirror. The mirror dealt him a blow worse than any hammer could have. Tim Gallent saw himself in the mirror. Not just his face, but himself. He saw the man he once was, the man he was now, and the man he would one day be. The angel did not do this to tell him that he was worse than any other man, but simply to show him that the evil within a man is always more monstrous than the evil around him.
The angel looked into his eyes and said: “Your actions echo throughout your soul, defining what sort of person you will become. You may not see how each one changes you, just as an old man may not feel each hair turning white, or feel the impact of each passing day, but just knows that he is old. But one crashes upon another like the waves of the sea, slowly, steadily, defining your character. Crashing, crashing, with nothing to intervene– except for the grace of God.”
Tim Gallent felt the weight of every word the angel spoke and was growing ready to despair over the evil inside of him. He felt the weight of each choice that he had made up to that point. He began to understand that he was not and never would be good enough. He had just come to the verge of self-hatred from seeing no good in himself, when the angel said that beautiful phrase: “except for the grace of God.” It was then that Tim Gallent knew that every man is worth loving because God is love.