“Michael, there you are,” 14-year-old Joan Orleans called to the youngest archangel in Heaven, as he descended on Jacob’s Ladder into a poppy field in Medieval France. Lavender, sunflowers, and lily of the valley grew in the field as well.
As Joan looked into Michael’s eyes, the glistening golden ladder disappeared, but Joan knew it was real because she had travelled many times with Michael to Heaven.
“You're the wonder of the ages,” Michael gushed at Joan, kissing her on the cheek, and handing her a sunflower. “All the rules fail by you. No one of Earth compares to you. You walk with beauty and holy fire. Your heart is true. The whole world a liar.”
“I’ll race you to the river,” Joan teased, running ahead of him, and jumping into the deep water.
“I’ve always wanted to baptize you,” Michael laughed jokingly, as he dunked Joan into the bubbling waves. “I’ve been praying about this for a long time!”
“Love you,” Joan ascended above the water, giggling at Michael, forgetting that he was not human but angelic. She loved God so much that she fell in love with an angel, overlooking proper gentlemen and suitors who came calling.
“I told you that I would visit you every day,” Michael reminded her. “I’ve kept my promise, but since I’m turning 17, I’ll be expected to start training with the other archangels.”
“Does this mean that we won’t be able to see each other as much?” Joan asked, with a sad tone in her voice, splashing him with water.
“My parents are guardian angels, but my calling is an archangel,” Michael explained. “The training is more rigorous. Lucifer is my mentor. I'm the youngest angel ever chosen to become an archangel.”
Different types of angels—guardian angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtues, dominions, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim—each went through different kinds of education in Heaven. Seraphim, the fiery angels closest to the throne of God, were the six-winged beings that burned with holiness. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.
Usually, guardian angels and archangels were the beings who interacted with humans the most. The other angels were dispatched for specific assignments, like protecting certain nations or groups. Sometimes, the angels would appear as rays of light.
“The training is really difficult,” Michael continued, floating in the river. “I must pass a final test or return home to my parents, never to reach my calling.”
“Why are you so worried?” Joan insisted. “You received direct knowledge and orders from God, but you still lack faith and confidence that you’ll pass the test.”
“You’ve never even seen God face-to-face, and you have full confidence that I’ll succeed,” Michael admitted, reaching for her hand.
“Of course, I do,” Joan replied, squeezing his hand. “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”
As the months went by, Michael trained with senior archangel Lucifer in Heaven.
“When will Michael be finished with his training?” Joan asked God, laying in the poppy fields, waiting for Jacob’s Ladder to descend. “I miss him. Why did you have to take him from me?”
When Joan least expected it, Michael sneaked back to Earth to show Joan what Lucifer had taught him. Everyone else in her village was baking bread or cleaning house, but Joan was learning self-defense and angelic military tactics from Michael.
Worried Joan would get upset, Michael hid the bruises and scars on his wings.
“Look what I learned today!” Michael announced one afternoon, wielding a deadly sword. As he swung the weapon, several sunflower heads landed on the green grass.
“Now you try,” he insisted, standing behind her, and wrapping his arms around her, as he taught her to handle the sword. “I will bring you your own sword as soon as I can.”
“I would like that, Michael,” Joan agreed. “If you will fight in battle, then so will I. My faith must be put into action.”
“On Earth, it’s usually the men who lead armies,” Michael warned. “I’m not sure what your father will say about the idea of you fighting in battle.”
“My father will forgive me. If Lucifer has taught you, he has learned from God for ages,” Joan reasoned. “So, I can learn from Lucifer, too. Aren’t you in awe of him?”
“How about you come with me to my next practice session?” Michael requested. “That way you can see for yourself what Lucifer teaches me. You can sit on the rafters attached to Jacob’s Ladder and watch from afar.”
Michael considered that showing Joan his training sessions would be the only way that she could understand how things must change between them.
“I would like that very much,” Joan agreed. “I won’t tell a soul what I learn.”
Upon ascending Jacob’s Ladder for Michael’s lesson, Joan had to adjust her vision. Heaven was much brighter than Earth, and it always took Joan time to acclimate to a place where the sun never set. She sensed God’s presence much stronger in Heaven and for that she was grateful.
“Now wait here,” Michael insisted to Joan, positioning her on the rafters of Jacob’s Ladder. He also handed her a sword from his arsenal. “This sword is for you, but Lucifer can’t know that you’re here, or I could get in trouble.”
“Don’t worry,” Joan replied, kissing him, and admiring her weapon. “I’m not going anywhere. I could stay here forever.”
Joan watched for hours as Lucifer trained Michael for the high art of war.
“This is intense,” she moaned. “I will also need a shield. Oh, I can hardly watch. God, please don’t let Michael get hurt.”
“Harder! Fight harder!” Lucifer screamed at Michael, knocking him on his back.
Michael gasped for air. “That’s all I can take for now,” he begged.
“So, you’re a coward, are you?” Lucifer chided. “Where is God when you need him? Fine. We quit for now. Go home to your guardian angel parents.”
From a distance, Joan watched Lucifer gather his swords and retreat for the moment.
As Lucifer vanished into the midst, Michael made his way to Joan.
“Don’t you think that Lucifer was a little condescending?” Joan whispered to Michael, as he landed on the rafters of Jacob’s Ladder with her after his lesson. Michael's wings were bruised and bloodied, and Joan was concerned that he would have scars. “Lucifer is nothing like I expected. He’s critical of you, even when you exceed his expectations.”
“Nothing I ever do is good enough,” Michael stated, hanging his head. “I thought he was just being extra hard on me, so I could get better. Honestly, I want to quit. It’s only exciting when I show you what I learned.”
“I’m so proud of you,” Joan resolved. “I don’t know what is wrong with Lucifer. I think that he’s deceptive, but I’m not sure why. You can’t just give up. Just sneak me into your classes, and I’ll help you figure out what’s going on.”
“It’s almost like Lucifer is masquerading as an angel of light, when he is an angel of darkness,” Michael imagined. “I have no way to explain it to God, and Lucifer is the one with the status.”
The following week, Joan sat in the rafters, holding a bouquet of lavender.
“Why God can’t I see you face-to-face?” Joan asked. “Instead, I have to watch this sword fight like an outsider.”
“The basic military strategies are extermination, exhaustion, annihilation, intimidation, and subversion,” Lucifer lectured Michael while he practiced archery. “You must hit the bull’s eye every time.”
“You always want to get your enemy by surprise. Ambush him, if possible,” Michael agreed. “Get him off balance and confuse his concentration. If he’s in shock, he won’t be able to retaliate to your deception. Make sure to disrupt his lines of communication and supply.”
“You’ve been reading my textbook,” Lucifer noted.
“I’ve been studying it for hours,” Michael explained. “Learn every weakness of your enemy and gird yourself with truth and the strength of God.”
“Why don’t you betray God with your angelic powers?” Lucifer taunted, swinging his sharpest sword at Michael’s head. Michael ducked before the sword hit him.
Lucifer’s words echoed throughout the Heavens, giving Joan chills.
“I would never do such a thing,” Michael yelled. “Why do you tempt me?”
“I’ve been tempted forever to do such a thing,” Lucifer replied. “I’m more intelligent than God, and I should be in control of my own destiny. Don’t you want to be in control of your own life? I could run Heaven, and you could serve me, not God. I’m the one who trains the archangels anyhow.”
“You can’t be serious,” Michael shook his head, hoping Lucifer was joking.
“Enough for today,” Lucifer mumbled. “I was just testing you.”
Michael gathered his swords and shields to leave in a very awkward moment.
“I’m not sure if he was testing you,” Joan insisted minutes later, choosing her favorite shield to keep from Michael’s collection. “I think that he was serious.”
“Well, what am I supposed to do?” Michael sighed. “My mentor wants to overthrow Heaven. The man who has taught me everything wants to disobey the Almighty.”
“Then, you take everything he has taught you, and you defeat him,” Joan decided. “That’s what you do. He taught me, too, but he doesn’t know it right now. Two are stronger than one, and now I have my own sword and shield.”
“We will never bow to him,” Michael avenged.
“Report Lucifer directly to the Ministry of Archangels and request that he be removed as a senior archangel until he repents,” Joan told Michael. “You can’t take any chances.”
“No one should ever challenge God, as though they could outdo him,” Michael swore.
A few days later, at a conference held by the Ministry of Archangels, which was run by the seven senior archangels—Gabriel, Lucifer, Raphael, Jophiel, Uriel, Chamuel, and Zadkiel—Joan hid in the side seats, dressed in men’s clothes. Michael sat in the front of the golden room, which looked much like a prestigious courtroom.
Scriptures about the justice of God were engraved in jasper across the walls.
“Thank you for meeting with me today to discuss my concerns,” Michael announced, standing to his feet in front of the Ministry.
“I’m worried that Michael is going to be intimidated by Lucifer,” Joan prayed. “I have to do something.”
As Michael continued his speech, Joan burst into a spontaneous monologue.
“Sorry to interrupt, but I must voice my opinion,” Joan began.
“Well, I was going to explain that . . .” Michael stammered. “Of course, go right ahead.”
“I am 14-year-old Joan Orleans of the village Domrémy in France," Joan continued. "I am visiting Heaven at Michael's request. I am in love with the archangel Michael. He loves God, and he is a valiant hero of Heaven. He has kept his faith and not denied the name of Christ.
On the other hand, as I sat in the rafters of Jacob's Ladder, I overheard Lucifer taunt Michael to renounce his allegiance to the Most-High God. Committing idolatry, Lucifer wants to put himself in charge of Heaven and overthrow the righteous throne of Christ. I am a witness to these evil plots, and I insist on behalf of all humankind that you expel Lucifer from Heaven and put my beloved Michael in charge of the training of the archangels. Unlike Lucifer, Michael's heart is after God's own heart."
“Is this true, Lucifer?” Gabriel inquired.
“You must tell the truth, Lucifer,” Raphael demanded.
“I have had my doubts about you,” Jophiel sighed.
“Who would ever be so arrogant to think that he could succeed against Yahweh?” Uriel asked. “I cannot imagine why you would dare to challenge all the forces of Heaven?”
“I am better than God,” Lucifer threatened, standing up and shaking his fists. “How dare you challenge me after everything I have done for God? How can he tell me what to do? He was so cowardly that he only sent his son in his place to Earth and would not even visit the planet firsthand.”
With Lucifer’s admission, Joan sank to her seat in tears of relief.
Righteous anger rose in Michael like never before.
“You are an imposter and a deceiver,” Michael scolded Lucifer. “I can’t believe I ever learned a thing from you.”
“God created you, Lucifer, and not the other way around,” Chamuel explained to him. “When God sent his son to Earth, he did send himself for all humankind, and you know it. This is blasphemy! Heresy!”
“Get out of this courtroom and the realms of Heaven. This is treason!” Zadkiel declared. “You are now stricken of all your rights as an archangel of God forever. You will wander outside the presence of God for eternity.”
“As far as I see it, Michael is now in charge of training the upcoming archangels,” Gabriel declared. “He should take Lucifer’s place in the Ministry of Archangels as captain. All who are in favor of these declarations say, ‘Yea.’”
A resounding “yea” rang through the conference room, including the voice of Joan.
Not a single “nay” could be heard throughout the solar system.
“Joan, please rise to your feet again,” Gabriel asked. “Since you are human, we are hesitant to put you in charge of anything, but we acknowledge your bravery and faithfulness.”
“I will defend God’s throne when Michael is on the battlefield,” Joan announced. “Like the seraphim, I am also a burning one.”
“As you wish,” Gabriel declared. “We will not keep you from your desire.”
“You are one who carries the glory of God,” Raphael clarified. “Go in peace.”
Days after the conference, during one of her visits to Heaven, Joan discovered that Lucifer had recruited a third of the angels in Heaven against God.
“What do you mean that a third of the angels have taken Lucifer’s side?” Michael asked her. “How can that be?”
“I’ve been talking to everyone,” Joan declared. “Another third of the angels have stayed faithful to God, but the remaining third have gone ‘neutral’ in battle and have begun masquerading as humans on Earth. That’s even worse than siding with Lucifer. The ‘neutral’ angels need to take a side or die. Be hot or be cold, but do not be lukewarm.”
“We will try to win the ‘neutral’ angels back to God,” Michael insisted. “At the beginning, they loved their Creator. He will have mercy on them.”
After Joan descended back to Earth, she went from person to person that she knew was not a human and pleaded with them to return to their first love in Christ.
“I know that you love him, too,” Joan cried to the aloof angels. “Why would you separate yourself from the only force that could ever save you?”
With her pleas, many of the angels made their wings known and ascended back up Jacob’s Ladder in repentance into God’s service.
However, many of the angels insisted on siding with Lucifer, while many of the “neutral” angels thought they would never be discovered on Earth, to their own demise.
“Now we need a strategy,” Joan planned with Michael, trying to prepare for battle. “Can you remember everything that Lucifer taught you? What would he do in this instance? Can we anticipate his next move?”
“He would be deceptive,” Michael insisted. “He would say one thing and do another.”
“Then, we will use his own tactics against him,” Joan clarified.
“He could kill you, Joan,” Michael whispered. “Please, let me handle this with the other angels.”
“You will need to bait him,” Joan said with singlemindedness. “Bait him and switch. I will tell the other angels.”
“I will tell Lucifer that I have decided to serve him instead of God,” Michael decided, “and when I have his trust, then I will kill him.”
“So be it,” Joan blessed. “Amen.”
In the coming days, when Lucifer waged an all-out war against Heaven with his dark angels, Michael secured territory around the headquarters of the Ministry of Archangels and the throne of God, as much as he possibly could. The other archangels and their teams took posts to defend the various corners of Heaven. The angels who dedicated their lives to serving God positioned themselves for battle as angels of light.
“I not only fight to protect Heaven, but I also fight to protect Joan Orleans and the people of Earth,” Michael declared. “We will expel Lucifer and his fallen angels out of Heaven, and they will not return. Their new home is Hell.”
As Lucifer advanced against God’s throne, Joan stood guard outside the throne room door with twelve angels of light, where inside, the six-winged, scorching seraphim flew around the throne, praising God.
“I don’t know if Michael and his angels are going to be enough to defeat Lucifer,” Joan reasoned to the angels with her, pacing outside the throne room with her sword and shield. She wore full armor, ready for battle at any moment. “I need to find Michael.”
In order to have a complete view of the war, Joan climbed to the highest step on Jacob’s Ladder, looking for Michael.
“God, I’m seated with you in the heavenly places,” Joan prayed, looking across the atmosphere. “Please show me what to do.”
As Joan’s vision became clearer, she saw dead angels of light, slaughtered across what was supposed to be immortality. Lucifer had wiped out more than half of Michael’s angels.
“This will be a face-off on the edge of Heaven between Michael and Lucifer,” she heard the voice of God in her ear. “You must assist Michael now.”
She gasped, realizing what she had heard God tell her, descending the staircase, ready for the largest fight of her life.
Approaching the edge of Heaven, Joan heard Michael scream for mercy.
“Mercy!” he pleaded. “I will join you. You are greater than God. You always have been. I surrender.”
“You’ve finally come to your senses,” Lucifer applauded. “You must bring all your angels with you.”
“I’m sure they will come willingly after seeing your power,” Michael lied.
“You used every battle tactic I taught you against me,” Lucifer praised Michael. “We will make a great team against God. No one will be able to defeat us. You fought twice as hard as I ever expected.”
As Lucifer walked closer to Michael, Joan knew what was about to happen. Michael would either kill Lucifer, or he would die trying, and she would die trying to help Michael.
“Swear to me your allegiance,” Lucifer said, slicing his hand with his sword, and then, slicing Michael’s. “We will have a blood pact.”
“Oh, don’t do it,” Joan begged aloud. “Bait and switch now!”
Out of the corner of his eye, Michael noticed Joan and dove for Lucifer’s throat, knocking him to the ground.
“Put away your emotions and think the situation through,” Lucifer lied to Michael. “Join in the rebellion against God.”
In a moment of exhaustion, Michael was overcome by Lucifer’s manipulation, and Lucifer broke away.
“Remember the love of God,” Joan screams, reverberating her defiance through the heavens. “Feel the evil! Lucifer is a liar.”
Before Michael could gather his thoughts, Lucifer slashed Michael with his sword.
“For all of Heaven and Earth, I am sending Lucifer to the pit of Hell,” Joan decried, filled with supernatural strength and love for God and Michael.
Joined by a sudden group of burning seraphim, Joan grabbed Lucifer and hurled him out of Heaven. Michael cried in relief at Lucifer’s defeat.
“It’s finally over,” Michael rejoiced.
“This is not the last that you will hear of me,” Lucifer threatened, as his voice echoed. “Heaven is my footstool.”
Then, one at a time, Joan and Michael with the fiery seraphim cast all the dark angels into the abyss, never to return.
“Lucifer’s pride has gone before his fall, and Lucifer with it,” Joan celebrated, kissing Michael in victory.
“We will rule God’s angels together,” Michael triumphed. “This is only the beginning. I’m going to send word to the other archangels that Lucifer is gone. Return with the seraphim to the throne room until I come for you.”
“Yes, my love,” Joan agreed, reaching for his hand.
As the blazing seraphim journeyed back to the throne room, Joan slipped through the door of the outer sanctuary. Standing before the throne, she was knocked to her feet and blinded at the same time, almost falling into the sea of crystal glass that surrounded the royal chair.
She heard choral music and trumpets playing at a loud volume.
“Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this,” God spoke to Joan in a resounding voice. He firmly sat on his lofty throne, like jasper and a sardius stone in appearance. The train of his robe filled the room. A rainbow circled the throne like an emerald.
Twenty-four elders robed in white with crowns of gold sat on their thrones surrounding God. From God’s throne room proceeded lightning and thunder.
The seven senior archangels—Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Jophiel, Uriel, Chamuel, and Zadkiel—gathered one at a time before the throne and bowed, holding lamps of fire that burned before God’s holiness.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come,” the flaming seraphim chanted over the over. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
“We finally meet face-to-face,” Joan cried to God, joining in the mantra of the seraphim. She felt overcome with a great sense of love and compassion unlike any other that she had ever known. She also trembled with reverence. "The whole Earth is full of your glory."
“With Michael’s help, you have saved Heaven from Lucifer,” God acknowledged Joan’s sacrifice. As he spoke, the room shook and filled with smoke. “Great is your reward. Now, I need for you to save France, and it will be more difficult than you can imagine, but you are my burning one, and I will have victory.”
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord,” Joan vowed. “May it be done unto me according to your word. Here am I. Send me!”
Copyright 2023 Jennifer Waters