A few weeks ago God gave me a devotion for one of our prayer meetings which He later had me develop into the sermon I presented this Sunday morning to our people at Cornerstone.
Here is part 1 which begins with the opening Scripture reference and a piece of flash fiction.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, I Peter 3:15
Tom sat on the white marble bench rocking himself gently back and forth. He clutched his hands tight under his armpits and mumbled incoherently to himself. He thought he should stand and offer his seat to the elderly lady behind him, but he was concerned if he did he might start pacing again and bring down the ire of the guards arrayed in shining white stationed all over the halls. None of them bore weapons but they were so big Tom thought weapons would hardly be required to bring down the sad gathering of prisoners standing in line for the judge.
So, Tom sat and rocked wondering how he had gotten here. He looked at the old lady and wondered what she had done to earn her place in line, then he gazed at the teenager standing behind her. He thought once again about giving up his seat, but cast the thought quickly away. He had stood long enough in the line to get to the judge. It had taken hours to get to the door of the courtroom and this one seat of cold white marble, that matched the stark surroundings of the judgment hall. Besides she didn’t speak English. Tom knew this because he had tried to engage her in conversation in the first hours of standing in the long line of people called into the forced march toward the judgment hall.
Tom was still dismayed at the turns his life had taken. In December of 2016 life had been normal. Well, as normal as those days could have been. He remembered the election. He remembered voting. He remembered the riots afterwards. He remembered the earthquake. He remembered the moments of pain as he lay pinned under the rubble of his Boston brownstone. Then he remembered waking up and being strangely pain free. He remembered being brought up out from the rubble by a burly men dressed in white. His rescuer had plucked Tom from where he lay as if Tom were but a feather.
The first question Tom asked as he was carried from his tomb was, “how long was I trapped?”
“A thousand and seven years.” Was the sad reply.
Tom chuckled, “Thanks bud…. No really.”
The man would say no more. Tom had learned more, though. As he was placed in the line of what seemed to be millions of souls and forced to march slowly, inexorably up a hill that receded high into the clouds, Tom understood he was nowhere in Massachusetts. The air felt like the sweetest spring. The trees leading up the hill were in blossom and the song of birds filled the air along with something else, something deeper, richer. A sound like he had never heard came from every rock and tree and even from the guards. It was as if their lives themselves sang and rejoiced in this place. Light streamed from everything while all around the line of marchers the air swelled with exuberance and joy. Yet all the marchers were cast down. None lifted their heads and not one sound came from their lives or their mouths. Tom and his million-billion companions were like a blight of darkness on the surface of this world of light.
At length Tom asked the question to no one in particular, “Why are we all so sad?”
The man in front of him answered, “Because we are sinners and we have come to the time of our judgment.”
Tom almost laughed out loud at that. He was no sinner. He didn’t even believe in sin. He didn’t really believe in God. Well, he believed in the Universe, that power existed in higher forms, but God like: Jesus or Allah or Odin or ultimate power …well gods like that… no, he didn’t believe in them. He also didn’t believe men were really evil but that everyone was basically good. At least he was basically good. After all he was a productive member of society. He did what he thought was right. He tried. He voted. He gave some money to good causes. He didn’t discriminate. He was nice to everyone, mostly. What was there to judge?
Those thoughts had been hours or days before the white marble bench. During his time in line Tom had thought long and hard about his life. He realized it really was the year 3023. He realized the world he had fallen asleep in was not the world he had awoken in. He realized there was a God, and that His real sin had been in never acknowledging that fact. He realized that he had missed something in his life. He had missed God. Somewhere along the line he had failed to seek God out. More than that, he couldn’t remember ever hearing about God or that what he was living through now was a part of God’s plan. He realized, though, that all this was true. All of this was real; And as he realized these things Tom slipped deeper and deeper into a depression from which he knew he would never recover, because as he sat on the white marble bench awaiting his turn before the judge he realized it was too late to change anything.