“I’m sorry, we couldn’t save him – you have my deepest sympathy.” I hear the doctor tell my mother with compassion as she bends over me weeping her deepest tears. I can see her shoulders shaking with each uncontrollable sob.
“Mom, don’t cry, I’m right here – I’m right . . . . Wait a minute. If I’m here, who is in the bed? It . . . it looks like me . . . but I’m here . . . I’m right . . . .”
Feeling his body, his hand goes right through. “Oh no! Am I dead? If . . . if I’m dead, why am I here?” Jessie’s head spins with questions. He hears his mother trying to speak while gasping for air.
“Lord, I have prayed for so long that my son would not die without You. He has done many good things, even for the church, but I could never be sure. How can I be sure he is with You?”
“Mom -- Mom, of course I’ll go to heaven. Don’t you remember all the good things I’ve done? I . . . I . . . wait – that dark spot in the corner, it’s been there for a while now. It’s coming closer . . . oh, that creature . . . he’s ugly and he stinks. He’s reaching out for me.” Long, hairy, tentacles creep up his legs, others apprehend his arms – they begin to tug – they pull hard.
“Wait a minute! I can’t go to hell – Lord, remember me? Remember the Sunday school picnics I promoted? Why I even taught a Sunday school class. I did things for You. Surely that will get me into heaven!”
The harder the pull, the faster he goes -- down, down, down. A thick liquid black darkness engulfs him. There is no light anywhere – except for little fiery eyes that appear. They belong to big spiders. They mock. “Ha, we knew we would get you. You thought all your good deeds would get you into heaven, but the only way is by choosing Jesus. We kept you distracted with all your busyness, but you never took even a minute to make the only decision that would count for you. Now we have you forever” they chortle with devilish laughter.
“But, but I belong to the church – my mother belongs to the church. You can ask Pastor Brown. There’s been a horrible mistake!”
While the burning stench of smoke penetrates his nostrils he is thrown into a cell with bars. It is nasty. He senses another presence. He can barely make out the outline of another being. Whatever, whoever it is, it is big and hairy. Sharp claws reach out to him ripping off his flesh, but it reappears. He feels all of the horrendous pain, but the flesh returns -- only to be ripped off again. A loud cackle vibrates his mind.
The spiders continue to ridicule. We got you – we got you. Jesus is the only way to heaven, but we got you and we hate you.
“Wait a minute – wait! I didn’t do anything bad enough to go to hell. No, Lord, I can’t be here! Help me! Help me!”
“You fool – there is no help here, not from Jesus, not from God, not from anybody. Now you belong to us and we have many things planned for you” the voices hiss with glee.
“Why, Lord, why?”
He hears another voice – one with love and pain mingled. “I never knew you – depart from Me.” Matthew 7:23 comes thundering into his mind.
“Lord, you know me – I’m Hilda Braun’s son!”
“Yes, I know Hilda, but I do not know you – but because of her prayers, because I promised her . . . .”
Jessie feels another hand reach down for him and his descent is reversed. Up he goes back along the same path in which he had made his sudden plunge.
Faster than light, Jessie finds himself back in his body. His mother is still holding his hand, praying. He squeezes her hand. “Oh! Doctor! Doctor! Nurse, get the doctor! My son is not dead!”
“Now, now, Mrs. Braun – you know . . . .”
“Look for yourself!” Jessie’s eyes begin to open -- he speaks.
“Mom . . . I’ve seen hell. I almost waited too long – but because of your prayers . . . . Mom, will you lead me in a prayer to accept Jesus – it will only take a minute.”
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