Pain and pressure struck her shoulder, almost waking her. "Is it a heart attack?" she wondered, too exhausted to wake up. It felt like what she had heard described. "Please, God, let me die. Just take me home."
The pressure disappeared, and she seemed to rise from the bed. Heaven awaited, and she didn't even wonder who would take care of her mother now. She was going home.
It was all as she expected--almost. For when she arrived in Paradise, all its beauty seemed to miss her, as though she merely looked on. Why did she feel like an outsider? But then she saw Jesus--no one else had come to meet her, but he would welcome her home.
"Martha," he said, "this is Paradise. Do you like it?"
"I should. It's beautiful."
"It's like I don't belong! How can that be?"
"How can it not be? You cannot belong anywhere I haven't sent you."
"Didn't you--?" she began.
"No, dear heart, not here. I let you come here so you could know where your home was. Home is wherever my mission takes you. You have no mission here yet. I'll call you when it's time."
"But I can't go back! It was like Hell!"
"Loving obedience is Heaven; all else is Hell. You are busy with many things, but you have forgotten that. Paradise was lost through disobedience; it was regained through my obedience. Fulfill your mission in love, my daughter."
She struggled for an instant, but it was true: she didn't belong, couldn't belong--not yet. His gentle smile disappeared as the pain and pressure struck again, waking her.
"Martha! Please, I need you!" her mother called, practically screeching with her own pain.
Martha opened her eyes to see her great dog, Hunter, his forepaws on her shoulder; he was about to lick her face for good measure. She waved him off and rolled to the side of the bed, calling comfort to her mother.
That was when she noticed the change. She was where she belonged. She would choose to love, to see Jesus in that sickbed and serve him. As she rose from her bed, Martha became merry, eager to serve her Lord.
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