Caleb was given specific directions. He was told to follow the signs. To follow the road to Abba’s house. There, he would always be provided for. There, he would never want.
He was told he shouldn’t make the journey alone. Everyone else was too afraid. Too afraid of what lurked in the woods. Of leaving behind the only place they ever knew. So, he traveled alone, from the village of orphans he’d grown up in.
He followed all the signs, followed Michael’s directions perfectly. Until he reached a fork where there was no sign – at least none that he could see.
It was dark, the faint glow of the stars unable to peak through the forest’s canopy. Up to this point, every sign – with the exception of the first few – had pointed down a road that was clearly far less traveled, with the difference becoming less discernible with each fork. Here, both roads looked equally traveled – as if only a single set of feet had traveled each one several times over. Caleb could discern no other difference.
Caleb wasn’t sure how, but he knew he was close. He’d reach Abba’s house soon. So, he kept going, even if he couldn’t see where. He trusted that Abba would guide him.
Soon, he was set upon by one of the Fallen; its red, glowing eyes jumping out from behind a thick tree. Its bladed tail sliced through Caleb’s back, and he cried out as he fell to the ground. It threw a bag over his head and bound his hands and legs before carrying him off the path. He didn’t know how far.
“Abba, save me,” Caleb whimpered.
He was alone now – his kidnapper, Nivael, having just slipped into the next room.
Caleb could hear him talking to someone, although he didn’t know who. The Satan – who works to lead Abba’s children astray? Another of the Fallen, like Nivael? Another orphan, like Caleb?
He didn’t know and at this point it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he continued to call out Abba’s name. That’s what Michael told him. “Call on Abba’s name, and He will send help.”
So, he repeated again, “Abba, I’m sorry. I took a wrong turn. Please, save me. I know You’re far away, but, please, hear my cry. Save me, Abba.”
Caleb heard a chuckle from the door. Nivael.
“You really think He cares about you? You think that with all the children He’s adopted – millions upon millions – he really cares about you?”
Nivael chuckled before calling into the other room. “Hey, this kid thinks he matters!”
He turned back to Caleb.
“You’re just some random kid who forgot the directions laid out for you. I did better than you did. At least when I went the wrong way, it was my choice.”
Caleb stopped his pleading for just a moment. He looked at Nivael as tears streamed down his face. “You think you’re better than me, just because you chose this? Because you chose to reject Abba’s love?”
Nivael let out a scornful laugh, his eyes darting to the side before focusing back on Caleb. “I didn’t reject Abba’s love. I accepted freedom. I listened to the words of the Satan, and, you know what, he made a lot more sense than Abba. To be able to wander through the woods as I please. To not be locked up inside Abba’s house, only to leave so that I can go ‘guide’ and ‘protect’ other orphans. No. I don’t want that.”
Caleb squinted at Nivael and sniffled. “Are you left wanting?”
Caleb shook his head. “Abba, save me,” he whispered again.
“What was that?”
“Abba, save me,” Caleb repeated, louder this time. He began repeating it over and over again, slowly increasing in volume.
Nivael shook his head.
Eventually, Caleb’s words turned into screaming.
His screams repeated for many hours, until his throat became scratchy and his voice weak. But, no matter how much it hurt him, he had to keep crying out. He needed help. He needed Abba.
Just as he could scream no longer, the door leading outside swung open. The room flooded with light as a new figure entered. A servant of Abba, given the power of shining light, even in the darkest of places. The figure pointed at Nivael, who froze in place. “You shall not have this one.”
Caleb tried to call his name, but he could only manage to mouth it. “Zedekiah.”
Nivael broke from his trance and sneered at Zedekiah. “You think you can save him? You think you can defy the will of the Satan? He was the highest of Abba’s servants! You are feeble and weak compared to him!”
Nivael lunged at Zedekiah. His mane looked like a blaze of fire as he reached out his claws at the figure of light.
Zedekiah reached out His hand.
Nivael flew across the room. His bones shattered as he slammed into the wall and slumped to the floor.
Caleb could hear someone stumbling in the next room. A door swung open and he heard heavy footfalls running from the building. The sound slowly faded.
Zedekiah approached Nivael’s corpse. He strained to draw breath. “Yes. I can save him. And I do defy the Satan. I regret that you chose this name for yourself. I give you one last chance. Choose Abba.”
With all the strength he could muster, Nivael spat in Zedekiah’s face.
Zedekiah placed His hand on Nivael’s forehead, and he drew his last breath. “Goodbye, child.”
As Zedekiah turned to face him, Caleb shuffled around on the floor.
“Abba sent me,” Zedekiah said, bending down to untie Caleb’s bindings. “He was eagerly awaiting your cries for help, and He heard them. It is by your faith – your unwillingness to give up – that you are saved. Abba’s house cannot be reached without that”
Caleb sat up as he rubbed his wrists with his hands.
Zedekiah smiled at him – at least, Caleb thought He did. It was difficult to see His face. “You shall have the name that should have been Nivael’s.”
Zedekiah placed His hand on Caleb’s forehead.
Caleb felt a burning sensation. But it was comforting.
When Zedekiah moved His hand, Caleb’s new name was written there. He didn’t need to see it to know what it was. He knew it in his heart.
“What does it mean?”
Zedekiah stood up, taking Caleb into his arms before walking out the door. “God heals.”