The train car shook as if someone were trying to turn it over. Etta reached up and grabbed the pole to steady her self on the seat. An eclectic sea of faces filled the car. One passenger, a woman, with disheveled hair and wearing a faded moth-eaten brown coat, nodded “hello”. Etta frowned. She looked up and down the aisle for an empty seat somewhere else in the car, but could see none. Trying to put some distance between herself and the young woman, she edged closer to the pole. “Where are we headed?” she asked openly.
“To the last station on the line, of course,” replied a bearded young man, wearing a tan suede jacket and blue jeans. He couldn’t have been more than sixteen.
“I think I may be on the wrong train. Are they arranged by social standing?” She asked, agitated.
He laughed. “Everyone rides together here. You only need your parchment.” He held up a scroll-like piece of paper neatly tied with a gold string. For the first time, she noticed that everyone on the train was carrying one. She felt around the seat, but found no document. No matter. She was sure that she wouldn’t need it anyway.
A stream of light entered the train as they pulled into the station. Men in blue uniforms directed passengers through two sets of double doors at the end of the platform. A soothing voice wafted through the loud speakers. “This is Jacob’s Ladder station. Welcome to New Jerusalem. Please go through the double doors and check in.”
The doors opened into a terminal as large as Grand Central Station. Rows of passengers stretched from several ticket windows. The terminal itself was divided by an enormous glass partition, whose continuity was broken by a massive stone archway at one end. Through the glass Etta saw what could only be described as a golden ladder stretching up through the ceiling on the far side. People moved along it like an escalator. People in white robes descended the ladder and ascended again with passengers who had been cleared to go through the archway.
When Etta reached the counter, she gave her name to a white haired receptionist. “My name is Etta Johnson White.”
The woman smiled. “May I see your parchment?”
“I don’t have one. I figured I didn’t really need it.”
The receptionist turned and made a phone call. An officer appeared beside her. She pointed towards Etta. “She does not have a passport.”
He escorted Etta back to the train platform. “Why am I back here?” she asked.
“It seems you were on the wrong train. This is not your final destination.”
Etta boarded another train. Across from her, a woman wearing a blue suit wiped tears from her cheeks. “Why are you crying, dear?” Etta asked.
“I thought I could get a passport at the station, but it was too late.”
Etta patted her shoulder. ”We can find one somewhere and come back.”
The women stared at her with red rimmed eyes. “No. We can’t come back. God has turned us away- forever.”
Etta sat up on the couch with a start. Beads of sweat dotted her forehead. Her daughter, who was sitting in the armchair, walked over to her. “It’s okay, mom. We were talking about the sermon this morning and you just dozed off. Pastor Brooks talked about Jesus being our passport to eternal life in heaven.”
Etta asked her daughter to take her to the church. When they arrived, she recounted her dream to Pastor Brooks.
“What do you make of it? The woman on the train said that I had missed my chance forever.”
Pastor Brooks thought for a minute before answering. “God is trying to tell you something, Mrs. White. Are you listening?”
She reached out to her daughter who was sitting in the chair next to hers.
“I want to be just like my daughter. Pastor Brooks, I’m ready to give my life to the Lord. What do I need to do?”
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13(KJV)