Wednesday, August 17, 2011

LEAVING IT ALL BEHIND from my book "His Grace"

The streets were bare and dirty. The sun shone down like a hot brand. It looked more like a ghost town from some bad western. Wooden buildings lined the streets and were so close that there was no way out. A single set of railway tracks entered from one end of town and went off into the other. I heard a noise in the distance and something moving caught my eye. A streetcar or a train was approaching. As it drew closer I could see people inside and a driver at the window. It pulled up alongside me and the door popped open. Without thinking I just got on. The driver looked like death. I turned toward the rear. Only a handful of people were on board and I looked for a seat. I felt uneasy like I was sure I had just done something wrong. I looked back at the others behind me. They looked like zombies. Their eyes were sunken and dark. There was no joy in them. Their pale faces looked lifeless. My heart pounded as I looked out the window at the street below thinking I might jump out the window. Before I realized it, I had run to the front. I looked out the front window and saw the tracks ended just ahead and they went straight down into a void. “Let me off!” I cried to the driver. He hit the brakes without hesitation and opened the door. From behind me I heard someone say. “I didn’t know you could get off ”.
I found myself running through the dusty street looking for a way out but I couldn’t find any. Each building blocked my way as I ran from side to side. I decided to go through a building and ran and opened an unfriendly looking door.
The room was dark and it took time for my eyes to adjust to the sudden darkness. There was no rear door out and I decided to go back out the way I came. I turned, and I noticed that the door that I came in through no longer existed. It had somehow disappeared. I frantically scanned the room with my eyes hoping I had somehow made a mistake. I began to weep. Across the room in a darkened corner sat someone I knew. He was very casually dressed and seemed content with sitting there. I ran over and said to him, “How do you get out”? “You can’t”, he replied. I began to sob. He said, “It’s not that bad. We could fix it up a little.” He took out some roll of gold foil and got up on some old rickety chair. He motioned for me to help him so I got up on another chair. I just kept weeping. He seemed happy enough that he was here but I was definitely not. I stood on the chair and grabbed the foil to spread across the window. I looked out the window into the street and noticed it was not the same street I came in on. There were wonderfully dressed people everywhere. Beautiful white dresses adorned every woman. Men wore expensive well fitting suits. It looked more like an antique wedding party. Everyone was smiling and happy. No one was sad.
The streets seemed bright as the sun and it was difficult to make out the imagery. It reminded me of the vision I had when I was young. I noticed he was putting the foil the wrong way. The shiny nice side was out to the crowd instead of inside. I spoke to him “You have the wrong side out”. “No”, was his only reply.
My heart felt like it was breaking. I dropped the foil and fell to the floor and started sobbing. I was in outer darkness! I had missed the throne room. I had been disobedient. I was going to have to spend all of eternity in outer darkness. I looked out the window and saw into their faces. Their happiness was what I always desired and hoped for but now I would only ever see it from a distance, out of the Lord’s favor. My heart ached for what I saw but could not touch it.
I gathered my thoughts and slowly got up. My friend stood perplexed looking at me. What’s the big deal was written on his face. He was a nominal Christian. He had some kind of life changing experience at some point in his life and then just went back into the system without ever really changing. He was basically, most people I know.
I decided to march around this room for the rest of eternity worshipping God. Not for any reason of favor but just for my own sanity’s sake. When I sang, the most horrible worship I had ever heard came from my sorry lips. I was shocked. None- the-less I kept singing anyway.
Even old worship tunes from years gone by fell from my mouth. I kept marching around, ignoring my friend sitting in his old chair. Round and round I went singing, if that what you call it. The presence of the Lord was non-existent in this place.
As I turned again toward the window I noticed a faint outline of a door in the darkness. I thought how I could have missed this before. My heart leaped. I reached for the handle groping in the dark. I grabbed something that felt like cold steel. I pulled hard and the door began to pull open to the heavenly courtyard. The brightness of the light pierced my eyes and I squinted hard. Suddenly I was in slow motion and I began to sing a new song. It was as beautiful as any opera singer would sing. I began to leap like a gazelle bounding over to the slow moving happy people. The song I was singing was one I had never heard before. It was the ‘Song of Solomon’.
‘Have you seen my lover? I called, Have you seen my lover?
I went into the city streets; calling to everyone I could meet. Have you seen my lover? I called, Have you seen my lover?
I went into the city square, calling to all the people there. Have you seen my lover? I asked, have you seen my lover?
Tears of joy fell from my face. I had made it! I made it into the kingdom. I felt such love in that place, indescribable love.

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