Soft strains of organ music filtered through the air, blending with the sounds of sniffles, muffled sobs, soft whispered greetings and people shifting uncomfortably on the padded pews. The face of a man appeared from the multitude of floral arrangements at the front of the sanctuary as he stood and made his way to the podium.
“Please stand,” he said in a tear-choked voice, “as the family comes in.” The people rose and waited as the family made their way to the pews in the front of the sanctuary. The rustling of clothes and paper filled the sanctuary as everyone settled back into the pews.
The man at the front of the room stepped back from the podium as strains of music filtered softly through the room, this time accompanied by voices, “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses…”
I watched as the service progressed. Several people expounded the virtues of the man they were here to remember, the good he had done, the ones that had been helped by his ministry, and the many ways he had worked for the Lord. I saw the tears on the faces of those I loved and cherished… and I turned to the angel beside me. “Why do I have to see this?” I asked.
“Come with me,” he said. The scene before me changed, and I saw myself standing before a congregation of people preaching. I listened and grimaced, embarrassed to hear myself speak. “I sounded like such an imbecile,” I commented to the angel. A somber expression crossed his face as he replied, “That isn’t the worst of it. You were teaching something you knew wasn’t right.” My chest constricted until I could barely breathe and my stomach rolled as I realized what he said was true. “But it was what was expected of me,” I protested. “I just did what headquarters told me to do. How could I go against the direction of the board?” His eyes looked sad as he replied, “How could you disobey your Lord?”
Scene after scene passed before me and a growing sense of dread filled my being. “Did you not consider that your Lord sees the thoughts and intents of the heart?” my guide questioned. “Did you think you could so compromise your conscience and everything would be okay?” I shuddered at the fierceness in his tone and bowed my head in despair. He led me to the foot of the great white throne and left me standing there alone and trembling before my Lord.
“Lord, Lord,” I gasped, “Don’t the many good things I did in your name count for anything? I want to spend eternity with you.” Fear clogged my throat and tears burned in my eyes as I stood, trembling, waiting for his reply.
Sadness tinged the words that filled my ears, “I never knew you.” Despair washed over me as I heard the words of judgment ring out, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” I turned into the blackness of an eternity away from God, the regret of a million false intentions dragging me down to the pits of hell.
** The intentions behind the work matter as much as the work does. Who gets the glory from what you do? Keep your focus on God and having a solid relationship with him.
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