TITLE: Death, Heaven and Hell
By Kathy Barnes
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Death comes for us all no matter what our state.
It comes for:
The rich and for the poor.
The old and for the young.
The strong and for the weak.
The wise and for the simple.
The celebrities and the nobodies.
The righteous and the unrighteous.
For those who are prepared and for those who are not expecting it.
Death comes to all men equally, and no one can escape its grasp.
In the twinkling of an eye, I find myself no longer journeying in this world. Rather, I am in a strange and heavenly place filled with awe and splendor. My body is no longer sick and dying, but healthy and strong.
There is no sun, yet it is brighter than the brightest day on Earth; the light reflects off of every nook and cranny. The clouds once above my head are now beneath my feet.
The air is overflowing with music, and the sounds bring joy to my heart. I hear harps, violins, cymbals, and a million voices more beautiful than you can imagine and in perfect harmony. The result is a symphony beyond words. There are a thousand never-ending songs of praise, yet united as one skillfully-woven tapestry.
The streets are made of gold with a thousand feet dancing joyfully upon them. The buildings are grand, each one a mansion lovely to behold. They shine and shimmer brighter than any sparking diamond radiating rainbows of light in every direction. Wonderful marble and flawless pearl towers are everywhere.
Gardens are filled with beauty with a riot of color exploding everywhere, yet somehow balanced and dancing in the light. The grass is as green as emeralds, a lush blanket begging one to lie down and rest. A gentle stream gurgles and laughs as it travels on its way. The exotic smells fills my being with a sense of pleasure. No perfume made by man was ever as sweet as this, a pure delight.
The birds sing their songs of love while butterflies dance carelessly across the sky. The lion and the lamb sleep peacefully together, curled up tightly beneath the shade of the mighty cedars.
Time itself seems to stand still and peace is everywhere. Each day of exploring will be as exciting as the first.
I can feel a love here that I have never experienced before. It is as if He knows everything I have ever done, yet somehow still accepts me. A love that started before I was born and traveled across time. It saw my faults and failures but remained faithful and true. It wooed me as a groom longing for His bride, willing even to lay down His life for me. Such comfort, peace, and joy that I could never before have thought possible. It is as if the arms of everyone that I had ever loved are holding me tight.
Again, in the twinkling of an eye, I stand before a great white throne. Angels stand guard around it crying "Holy, Holy, Holy." The power it holds is unimaginable. A light so pure and innocent shines forth, and I can not bear to look at it.
I see myself as I truly am: unclean, contaminated, tainted, and containing no good thing. I fall to my face and shake in fear and dread. I am now aware of who He is and who I am. I feel every ounce of strength leave my body. I stand in court before my Judge and Maker. An angel eases me to my knees, and I bow before the King and confess His name. He shows me everything that I have ever done wrong including the white lies and the not-so-white ones, the cross words I had spoken, the pain I had caused others, the things I had stolen, the things I had taken for granted, the lust that had filled my body, the evil thoughts that filled my mind, the times I denied Him and turned the other way. I watch in horror to know that each sin, and the reason behind it, had been seen and recorded.
The trial seems to go on forever and I sink lower with each and every charge. When, finally, the last charge is read, He asks me how I plead. There is nothing that I can say. The excuses I had believed at the time seem so lame - even to me: "I'll do it later. It cost too much. It is not hurting anyone. Everyone is doing it. My way is just as good as anyone else's. It's only a little sin. No one will ever know. I am just as good as they are. No loving God would send anyone to Hell." But I remain silent because I know they are lies. He and the elders declare me guilty of sin. He pronounces the only sentence He can. Death and Hell.
Then comes a cry from the angel Gabriel. "Wait! Look in the Book of Life and see if there is a pardon there for her." "Please. Let it be there," I beg.
He looks once. He looks twice. But my name is not to be found. Christ looks upon His hand and my name is not written there either.
The name I had so many times spoken in vain, I now wish that I could claim. I had never taken it into my heart. I beg for mercy, for I know it is my only hope. He says it is too late; the time has come and gone. He shows me all of the times He spoke, the times He called to me. The times I saw His Holy Word that I failed to believe. He shows all the people He has sent to tell me about Him. People I had turned away. He shows me all the ones who knew Him, but turned away and never spoke one word to me. Lastly, He shows me when I knew that He was true, but turned my back to Him. Then He says, "Away with you, for sin cannot abide with me."
In the twinkling of an eye I find myself being dragged down to a fiery lake by two giant angels and thrown into a black abyss created for Satan himself along with the minor demons of fear, pain, hate, wickedness, murder, rape, battery, bitterness, unforgiveness, envy, selfishness, bigotry, prejudice and pride.
Darkness is everywhere - like a night with no moon or stars. Discordant sounds accost my ears, a cacophony of men and demons crying out in pain, and torment. Weeping and the gnashing of teeth are heard from all directions. The stench of smoke fills my nostrils with a caustic foul sulfurous smell. The super-heated smoke burns my throat and lungs, searing and cooking my flesh from the inside. I choke and fight for a breath of good air, but there is none. Each and every breath is pure agony.
My parched, dry tongue and cracked lips beg for liquid. The lake consumes every drop of moisture, and my body calls out for just one drop to lessen the pain of the fire that burns within.
I hear myself screaming as the nerves in my body pulse with horrendous, excruciating pain. I watch as my flesh melts before my eyes. I am on fire, but will never be consumed. There is fighting and jostling from one being to the next. All are hoping to find a way to relieve the torture, if only for a moment.
Again, time is frozen. But this time I beg for it to end. This place was not made for me, but I chose to come. I look above and can see the dimly lit reality of what could have been. A great barrier that allows only entry prevents my attempt to cross the chasm that separates me from God.
"If I had only" and "The choice was yours" never stop repeating. A thousand regrets fill my mind. As I beg for nonexistence, memories torment my soul. I long now for the one thing that I can never have - just one moment to sit at the feet of Jesus Christ and rest in His love so sweet, so good and so kind.
Why didn't I listen? Why did I refuse His gift? If I could only turn back the hands of time, I would gladly pay any price for it. Oh, to never see His face again, to never look into that heart so filled with love, that is too much to bear. Forever separated from Him by this place with no hope of rescue. I go on in despair, each moment worse than the last, knowing that it will never end.
Look! There come the angels with another soul. No! Go back! You will not like it here. Run before it's too late! Don’t join us here!
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