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Mr. Goodman was admiring the trees on the private road leading to his estate when his daughter Jessica interrupted. “We invited a few people over and most of the family is waiting at the house. We hope you don’t mind. I know you’re probably tired, but everybody wanted to see you.”
“It’s ok love”, he said. “I am a little weary from being in the hospital, but I guess I can stand a little company…considering it could be the last time.” He let out a soft chuckle.
His son Sean turned to face him. “Why do you have to be so blunt all the time”? “You’re dying and you act like your going to a business meeting. I hate when you do that!”
Clarence reached out to grab his son’s hand but Sean pulled back. “I’m sorry Sean, he said. I’ll try to be more sensitive. I know this is a hard time for you and your sister. I’ll try and change. I promise.”
Jessica lifted her father’s arm and climbed into his bosom, tears rolling down both cheeks. “It’s to late to change now daddy.”
When the limousine arrived in front of Mr. Goodman’s twelve-bedroom mansion they were all sobbing in one another’s arms.
That night Clarence lay in his bed tossing and turning. He was remembering that night’s conversation with Simon, one of his closest friends.
“Clarence. Have you accepted Christ as your Savior? Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Give your heart to Him in faith, and He will save you.”
“All paths lead to God Simon”, Clarence said with a firm stare. You’re my friend and I respect and love you regardless of your religious preference, but I just can’t accept that there is only one way that is right. How can your way be right and everything else wrong?”
“It’s not my way Clarence it’s God’s way. The bible says there is only one way to the Father and that is through His Son. Why take an unnecessary risk? In all the days that I’ve known you, you have never taken unnecessary risks. Why now, when your soul is at stake. Will you take a chance at losing the only thing that matters most? Please reconsider before it’s too late.” Simon’s voice was cracking.
“I don’t mean to sound nonchalant,” Clarence said. “But I’ll think about it my old friend. I’ll think about it.”
Now laying imprisoned by his bed as the cancer took the last of his strength, he was thinking. Calculating. Weighing his options. Throughout his life he was a giving person. He gave millions to charities and other organizations. Even to those family members that spoke evil of him, and then called him when they were in need. He gave. He put tens of thousands into churches even though he believed the preachers were just after money. He went out of his way to provide jobs for those that needed employment. He gave to the homeless on the street. He gave blood. He gave.
Clarence forced his words, but they were thin and gravelly. “I gave of myself. Time and money! I gave. How can I not be at peace with God?” Before he could receive an answer he slipped into a deep sleep and was gone.
Now Clarence was standing before a great white throne among countless others. He’d been released from torments that seemed like a millennia. Angry and confused, he cursed as he waited. Suddenly someone appeared, and His brightness was blinding. Shielding his eyes, Clarence cursed again. “Who are you? I demand that you tell me why I am here. Now!”
Jesus’ face was full of compassion. A great peace radiated in His eyes and they glistened like flames. “You know exactly who I am and why you are here.”
“I’m sorry Jesus, but this has got to be some kind of mistake. I’m a good man. I shouldn’t be going through this. You must have the wrong person. There’s got to be a mix up somewhere. Please!”
Jesus was silent and still for a moment. He seemed sad as He looked into Clarence’s eyes. He extended His right hand in Clarence’s direction as if to say come, but Clarence couldn’t rise from his knees. An angel appeared carrying a large golden book. It was opened and Jesus scrolled through the pages swiftly. Again His eyes met Clarence’s as he closed the book.
“What is it! What’s wrong?” Clarence was beside himself in anxiety.
“Your name is not written”, Jesus said.
“That’s impossible! It must be there! This is a mistake! This is not happening!”
“It’s time”, Jesus said. A set of black books were brought and opened.
“Now what are you looking at”, Clarence said as he dropped his face into both palms of his hands?
“These are your works”, Jesus said.
Clarence raised his head in expectation. “Let me see what is written about me. Let me see”. He was beginning to smile.
Jesus approached with the books but as He drew closer a filthy odor grew stronger. He laid one of the books down close enough for Clarence to see the contents. Clarence began to gag as the pages were turned. His deeds, good and bad, were recorded. With the turn of each page though, the smell magnified. He couldn’t take any more. “What is this!” he shouted and jerked his head away.
“Your righteousness,” Jesus said.
Fear gripped his heart and he could no longer look into the eyes of Jesus. “What happens now?”
“You already know.” Jesus said.
“How can you do this to me? I don’t understand. I did so many good things in my life. You saw them yourself in the books! Don’t they count for something? I gave so much!” His pleading ended with deep sobs. “I thought you loved me Jesus. That’s what the bible says”.
Jesus had tears in his eyes when he turned to walk away. Without looking back he said, “Your name was not written. I never knew you.”
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