She had no idea where she was. A familiar face would have been a comfort. Looking around, she noticed that there was in a long line of people. They were all sizes, shapes and races but she did not know anyone. Up ahead, the line stretched beyond her ability to see the end. "Where am I?" she thought. "What is this?" No immediate answers popped into her mind. "How did I get here?"
She could not recall the last thing she had been doing before all this. It was as if she had always been here. "Strange", she muttered. Continuing to casually check her surroundings in case someone objected, she noticed that there seemed to be no walls or ceiling. No sky either. "How very odd. The whole thing is weird." It was not right to talk to the next person in line, of that she was sure. "But why not?" Another question but no answer.
Just to her right, there were incredibly long tables with huge books on them in a variety of vivid, almost blinding colors the like of which she had never seen before. Suddenly it dawned on her that she could HEAR the colors! Hardly able to digest that piece of new information, her mind could not comprehend what was happening. It just seemed to lock up for a while. Waves of dizziness hit her like the ocean when the surf was up. "Wait a second. What was I doing right before this?" Blank."This has GOT to be a nightmare. Why can't I remember?"
Occasionally, a being would come and take one of the books away from the table. "Wait a minute. A being?" She stared at another of the same kind. They lined up beside the people, each spaced a few yards from the closest comrade. A brilliantly golden illumination was surrounding them. "Too bright!" Still, it seemed pleasant to be around them. The funniest thing was that she did not feel threatened. "Aliens? They looked sort of human, but not. No sense to this place at all. Apparently, someone has finally taken over the world and we have been carried away to their planet." Somehow that didn't seem right. Checking out the strange individual, she observed what appeared to be weapons and armor. Everything about them glowed like pure shining gold. She knew without a doubt that they were warriors. "They guard to keep us from running away. But then, where would I run? Where AM I?"
Glancing down, she noticed a beam of light emanating from the floor. "At least I think it's a floor." Looking closer, she was amazed to see what appeared to be transparent gold under her feet. No longer concerned that someone cared about her gazing around, she stared in absolute shock at her feet and nearly fainted from the vertigo. Straight below her was another line going in the same direction. In fact, looking beyond that line, there appeared to be still others. Thousands upon thousands of people lined up going....where? Frustration began to seep into her already upset mind.
"Get ahold of yourself, Girl! There are explanations somewhere." Then a glimmer of a memory came to her. "I am Angela. Okay, that helps. I know who I am. Where was I before this?" Try as she might, that information would not come to her. Still blank. One thing she did know was that she had to wait. But why? Stretching out to see more of the line, she found that they were on what appeared to be, not a floor, but a road. Like robots, each individual moved forward as the those ahead stepped closer to.....what?
"They look pretty normal. Well most of them. Some are dressed like they were in bed when this, whatever THIS is, happened." It occurred to her to look at herself. "I was wearing these clothes today!" Another sliver of memory came. "I was heading out to work and then........Nuts! If only I could remember." Wild things began to bombard her mind. "The aliens came down and beamed us up! They took us away and we will never come back." Her mind screamed out "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!" The people directly ahead of her turned to see what happened. "Did I scream out loud? No, I was thinking that. How much more can I take?"
Her mind was now alive with vivid pictures of her past, most of it unpleasant. Her first boyfriend. "I thought he would marry me. How stupid could I be? Why would he marry someone that easy?" Shame ripped through her spirit. More memories. The child that she did not want. "Why? WHY am I being tormented by these things? I forgot about them years ago." Flooded now with both unhappy and happy times, she moved mechanically down the line as each one in front of her walked forward. She thought of the Grandmother, now dead, who begged her to go to church. Frantically, she sorted through the memories to find something good that she had done, however small. There it was! The boy next door was being abused by his father. She stopped the father from hitting him one day. THAT should count for something! But no, she knew inside herself that this was not enough. How she figured that out was still a mystery.
From a corner of her mind came the small voice of her Grandmother telling her to ask Jesus into her heart. Of course, she had refused because Gran was trying to get her to do something that was only for those nasty church people, not for her. "I remember now! I was seven. How could Gran want me to do something like that when the only women I knew pinched my cheeks and told me how big I was getting to be. Every single week I suffered that humiliation when I went to Gran's church. Those kids in Sunday school treated me like I came from another planet. They sure weren't friendly. I have no idea why they hated me except that I was different from them." Once she became an adult, Angela knew that she would never step inside a church again. Her second boyfriend had been cheated by one of those "oh so pious" church people, a so-called friend of Gran's. No way was SHE ever going to darken that doorstep or any other like it.
As the flood of memories continued to run like a movie on a big screen through her mind, the line continued forward. Paying absolutely no attention to her surroundings now, she thought about the number of lovers she had and how they all seemed to be losers. A moment in time froze in front of her. A neighbor man was stopping to talk to her. Very friendly, handsome, and a gentle soul but he was so sad every time he looked into her eyes. In a flash, she KNEW that was the man that was intended for her.
"How do I know that?" she whispered. "He's friendly but looks down his nose at me because he doesn't think I should be living with someone I am not married to. He's one of those Christians. No way do I want to be tied to him!" But those gentle eyes drew her and she knew that he didn't really look down at her. "I think he actually likes me!" Angela could not stop remembering him. She brightened up every time she saw him. Without thinking about it, she had worked out the time they would meet 'accidently' everyday. More shame. "Why didn't I just get closer to him?" But that did not seem to be right either. Nothing was the way it should be!
How long she had been walking she did not know. Pulling herself out of the memories for a moment, she looked forward and was shocked. A strong beam of Light came from what appeared to be a throne.
"It is absolutely beautiful. The gems alone would make somebody rich for a lifetime." Studying the throne for a while, Angela noticed jewels and gems lining the outside, gleaming and flashing as though they had a life of their own. Rich colors that she had never encountered before gently swirled around the base. It dawned on her that the incredible colors were a rainbow which surrounded the throne not just at the base but also up and over the top of it as well. From time to time, sounds of deafening thunder came from the area but she could not see any clouds or rain.
The line was drawing closer and closer to it now. Each person, after standing in front of the throne, was carried away by the beings. Most were screaming or begging, for what she did not know. "That can't be good," she thought. Thunder blasted from the throne again. "What WAS that?" The closer she got to the throne, the weaker she became. The being next to Angela gave her a piece of something and indicated that she needed to eat it. "I am not going to eat this! I have no idea what it is or where it came from." The being once again indicated, gently but quite firmly, that she was expected to consume the whatever it was. The taste was like nothing she had ever tried before. It was surprisingly good. Hey, she felt stronger now. "Wow! That must be some food they have here."
Becoming increasingly curious, she strained to see what was happening to those people. Each was standing in front of Someone sitting on the throne. "A King! That's what He reminds me of. Maybe I should get cleaned up." She tried to smooth out the wrinkles and creases in the skirt she had on but the being stopped her. "Now what?" As he shook his head she knew that nothing she did would mean anything to that Person seated in front of her.
Time seemed to drag on as each stepped up to the throne and was rejected. "Probably for some totally unreasonable thing, I am sure. This guy must be really hard to deal with."
More memories came into her mind. The longer she stood there, the more her life went rolling past. Guilt crept in. "I could have done better with that. Why didn't I? Stubborn, I guess." Pictures of her Mother and Father showed how little she paid attention to them. All she could think of with them was sadness. There were no other memories. More times with Gran. "I should have listened to her. What's wrong with me?? I have never cared about any of this before. Gran was a fool thinking that some God would save her. From what?"
She snickered about the memory of Gran talking about Jesus. "Made Gran think I was really going to pray that time. It was a joke of course." The only problem was the look of disappointment and failure on Gran's face. Gran cried when Angela announced she was only playing a trick on her. Now the picture flashing in her mind made Angela cry. Guilt and shame flooded into her spirit again.
Closer to the throne now, the Light was becoming so bright that she could not make out Who or what was sitting there. "Whatever it is, it's powerful." Of that, she was certain though she didn't know how she knew that. Just a couple of people left before she had to step up. It was an accounting of some kind.
The voice of the person standing up there would come to her. "But I was so good. I never did anything wrong to anyone!" It thundered. "How can you say that? I was thoughtful about everyone around me. I gave my time to charity, gave all kinds of money to all sorts of causes." Then his shoulders drooped. A warrior was assigned to take him away as he screamed that he didn't know what the Person meant. But Angela knew that he did, just as it was beginning to dawn on her what was going on. "GRAN! You told me about the judgement but I didn't listen." Sobbing now, she pictured Gran again talking about what happens when a person stands at the throne of Judgement as Jesus tells them to depart from Him because He never knew them. Gran had told her that those people ended up in something called a lake of fire that was prepared by God for the devil and the fallen angels. "Why didn't I think of this sooner? Why didn't I do something about this? WHY?"
The warrior pushed her forward and up the steps to the throne. The Person sitting there was illuminated, glowing a brilliant white unlike anything that she had ever seen on earth. What drew her attention was what looked like a scar on the palm of His hand near His wrist. No, not a scar. A HOLE! It was huge, about an inch across. He had them on both hands. "Wow, that must have hurt like fire!" His eyes had that same sad look that her neighbor always had. Funny she should think of him right now.
"Angela, we are going to examine your life. OPEN THE BOOKS!" He shouted. A brightly colored book was opened. It had her name on it. At that moment, more pictures of her life flashed in front of her, only this time with much more detail, almost like she was reliving it. All the things she did wrong, right, and the empty promises that she made to Gran about praying. The damning evidence continued to pile up. She tried to make excuses but The Person would not allow it. "Too late for that, Angela. OPEN THE BOOK OF LIFE!" He called out. Another of the warriors brought a huge glowing book from behind the throne. It was opened. Disappointed faces looked sadly but sympathetically at her as she screamed "I must be in there somewhere! I was not bad! I wasn't! I did not kill anyone. I didn't hurt anyone." But then she remembered how often she had hurt Gran's feelings or played jokes on her. Gran said they were cruel but Angela just thought she was saying that to make her feel guilty for having fun.
Looking up at the Person, she knew that He was Jesus, the Savior. The One she had been rejecting for all those years. His eyes filled with tears as He sobbed out "Depart from me. I died for you but you did not accept me. I never knew you." Turning His head away, He motioned to the warrior who came and pulled her away from the throne. She cried out to Jesus. "MERCY LORD! PLEASE! I will do better. Please give me another chance! I will change. I promise!"
Shadows of the past crept into to her mind as the warrior angel took her down a different road. This one had no gold. The descent was rapid, like being on top of a mountain and almost sliding downward. The momentum was picking up.
"I guess he's in a hurry to dump me and grab another one." she grumbled to herself. "That is not true." He said. Startled because he spoke to her, she gawked at him. "I didn't think you could talk to me." "We shouldn't but you need to know that I do not like my job. I have been assigned to carry you to the lake. It wasn't made for you but now you have to live there for eternity as God has commanded."
The closer they got to her destiny, the more curious she became. It was so strange that there was no fear. "What is it like?" she wanted to know. "I'm not certain although it is said that a human is cut off from God and must live in agony for all eternity. I have no idea what 'cut off from God' means though." The angel looked thoughtful. "I would never want to be away from the Father or Jesus. I could not imagine such a thing. Father says I must stop talking to you now."
"WHAT? You can hear Him? How?" Sadly he shook his head and she knew that there would be no more conversation. Inside, a panic attack was grabbing hold of her. Suddenly, fear invaded her whole spirit and soul. They had to be getting close. It was becoming darker and colder. All of those old feelings of inadequacy, lack of self esteem, and constant wrongness hit her like a ton of bricks. Depression. She used to be able to shake them off but now the feelings would not go away.
Wishing she could die, knowing she would not be allowed to, coldness ripped through her. Death was already in her yet she was still breathing. The lake of fire. It was hot and cold at the same time though she was not even there yet. Too hot. Too cold. Unpleasant was not the word. Painful, agonizing, horrifying, those were the words. The loneliness was beyond anything she had ever experienced in her life. Regret and remorse shot through her because she knew that this did not have to happen. The angel held her over the lake and dropped her. He started to cry.
The horror of the whole thing flashed before her eyes. Her past and future that she could now never forget. Lonely, depressed, destined to know that she could have been somewhere else if only....... She was dropping slowly into the lake, which was weird, and just at that moment she thought of Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole. "But this is reality!"
Discomfort changed into agony after agony. The emptiness of her spirit made her cry out because now she knew exactly what it meant to be cut off from God. The safety net was gone. She continued downward, almost endlessly, falling into the lake of fire. As terror gripped her again, a Hand came out and grabbed her, stopping her descent. He spoke softly and lovingly. "Angela, you have been granted an opportunity to change your life. Go and sin no more."
She woke up screaming and bathed in sweat. "It WAS just a dream." Then a gentle Voice came from somewhere in the darkness of the room. "Child, Go and sin no more."