A flash of light and fire whooshed along the disused section of the mine. Oliver was checking for gas leaks in the underground passageways when his safety lamp accidentally scraped along a protruding rock causing sparks to fly up and ignite methane gas. The explosion's blast flung him some twenty yards along the walkway.
He lay there in complete darkness - his helmet and lamp had been ripped from his head. He could hear an eerie silence but could feel no pain; just a numbness over his whole body.
He managed to lift a hand to feel his face. He was checking to see if his eyes were intact. 'Lord, let my eyes be okay - please! Oh, my eyes - dear Lord am I blind?' Suddenly, pain shot through his body; it was like having all his skin roughly scraped off - excruciating pain.
Then there was a strong rumbling directly above him - the roof gave way, collapsing and falling in on him. The final darkness - he never saw.
On Oliver's arrival in glory, two Old Testament patriarchs were assigned to him, to familiarize him with the place and to show him all its sights.
“We hear you were killed in a mining accident - not a nice place to die, down in a pit and all alone, hey?”
“The worst thing was the darkness - I think the blast had blinded me. I must have experienced the darkest darkness that could ever be suffered. I've been here now for what seems like three days and it's been continual glorious light.”
“There's no night here Oliver, just never ending days. But, young man, I can assure you that you've not experienced the darkest dark. That accolade is mine.
'Your darkness only lasted twelve minutes and then you were here. I was in complete darkness for three whole days at the bottom of the sea and in the belly of a whale. That was real dark!
'Yes, and wading around in seaweed and salt-water, and the occasional crab nip were not very nice at all. And the great fish's digestive system was worse than being in any ship's engine room.
'It was wonderful when I was spewed up onto dry land, even though it was night - after what I'd suffered even night seemed light. Yes, Oliver, I think my darkness was darker than your dark.”
“Huh, twelve minutes - three days! Rubbish bits of darkness! How about being in the dark for as long as it takes hair to grow long from a shaven head - that's how long I had to suffer darkness with my eyes gouged out.
'And, what with the constant slaving at that dratted mill, and not ever being able to cool off - that was utter torment. It would have been wonderful to have cooled off in water, even if it was in the belly of a whale.
'The worst thing was not being able to look upon my lovely Delilah, in the full blaze of a sunny day, when we would frolic together through the spring meadow flowers. Her face haunted me; even in my darkest days I could picture her beautiful face in my imagination.
'So you see, mine was the darkest darkness of us all.”
Oliver said, “I only meant it was extremely dark - an exact opposite to the intense light here in this place. I'd always thought our Lord Jesus, who was the 'Light of the World', had suffered the deepest darkness of all on the Cross. How dark my sin would have made him feel, but the sin of the whole world could only be borne by him. His light, though, will finally extinguish all darkness.”
He looked across at his two mentors - expecting them to try and better this – but looking uncomfortably sheepish, they made no reply.
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