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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)

TITLE: One Degree of Separation
By Becca Gossman


I recently encountered a movie entitled, Six Degrees of Separation. The movie I found to be dull; however, the title of the movie intrigued me. What did the author mean by “six degrees of separation?” After much study and concentration, I found that, theoretically, all that is necessary is for me to meet six people in the day-to-day existence of my life, and one of those people will know someone I know.

Most people have come across this theory in conversation with someone in one way or another. We’ve heard, “It’s a small world, isn’t it?” and “Really, you know them?” many times, and then take it for granted that it is a small world.

I considered this concept and other degrees of separation which might occur. Most of them seemed silly, except one. One concept seemed to be true in 99.9% of every case I have come across throughout my life: there is only one degree of separation between heaven and hell. Let me explain.

Heaven as we know in the Bible is the place where God is reigning in Majesty and Glory on His throne. Hell is where the devil and all his cohorts are dwelling, continually causing suffering and grief where the fire never dies.
The heaven and hell I am talking about are those we find here on earth, on a day-to-day basis. We say we are “in heaven” when something wonderful happens to us, and when things are not going as we wished, we consider it one “hell of a day.”

I may be at work, concentrating on a sermon that God has laid on my heart, and I am filled with excitement. For one minute I am on “cloud nine.” Then, the telephone rings, my wife tells me the water heater has just burst all over the kitchen floor, and “company” is coming. Hell.

I have, in my lifetime, come across others who have felt this one degree of separation between heaven and hell.

Take, for example, Christopher Reeves. A young man who had wealth and fame (heaven) one minute, and in a moment of time: one degree of separation, he fell off of a horse and was paralyzed (hell).

Christie McCauley, an ordinary citizen on board the Challenger was in her element. The nation was excited, her family was jubilant; and then, one miscalculation: one degree of separation, and the entire crew was killed instantly.

I have also experienced this one degree of separation between heaven and hell. In August 1976 my first child made his appearance into the world. I was in “heaven” holding that tiny bundle in my arms. The years passed, and then, in one moment of time, that one degree of separation between heaven and hell crossed over the line, and all hell broke loose: my tiny bundle was killed instantly. The heaven we knew was gone forever. There was no turning back, no crossing over the line.

I was at work and called home, my pastor met me at the door. I don’t remember what he said, but I understood. Hell continued on, it was as ugly as the place where the fire never quenches. It burned inside of me.

I didn’t know what to do. My pastor encouraged me not to give up. I locked myself into the garage with my Bible and decided I was not going to come out until I had answers to my questions. The answers began to come slowly. But I searched, and began to see some light, heaven returned. Not in the same full measure as before, I don’t think it will ever be the same as it was before that day in August, but heaven came.

I found a joy in my heart that I thought I would never know again. God called me to do His work here on earth to help bring a little bit of heaven to those around me who are hurting, who are in hell.

That one degree of separation has come and gone throughout the years, never in the same degree. I have received phone calls in the middle of the night, and someone has looked over their shoulder, glanced at their watch, fallen from a horse, climbed into a space shuttle, and crossed over that one degree of separation, and then it is my turn to begin to fulfill the work that He has placed in me: bringing back a bit of heaven into their lives through His Son, Jesus Christ.

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Member Comments
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Wow! That was really inspiring and it so true, never saw it that way but it really speaks to me. Thank you and God Bless.
Joanne Sher 07/31/08
Very thought-provoking piece. Enjoyed this read, and it gave me much to ponder. Thanks!
Coleene VanTilburg 08/01/08
Your insight is amazing, but I understand. I too, have known the joy of having a beautiful precocious child, watch him grow up only to lose him at the age of 26 to a series of medical complications. Heaven and Hell. The promise of our Lord though is Eternity with Him in Heaven and as believers, whatever "trial" are our Hell here on this Earth, we continue to share the Hope of eternity as we learn of our purpose while here. Well done faithful servant and God Bless Coleene VanTilburg
Glynis Becker08/02/08
Wonderful and thought-provoking. Yours is a powerful testimony. Thank you so much for sharing it.
Helen Dowd08/02/08
Great message here. Yes, our concentration can alter in a matter of seconds, as you have pointed out in your story...God bless you as you bless other....Helen
Yolanda Murphy08/04/08
Wow...What a great story. It really caught my attention and captured my heart...Yolanda
Mary Alice Bowles08/04/08
So very true: Wonderful story: May God keep blessing you as you help others.