The night was dark, save for one lone security light, high above the pungent mountain of discarded trash. Massive black silhouettes with threatening clawed arms, stood eerily in the distance, their booming voices silenced during the black of night. Tomorrow, with the light of day, these mechanical monsters would once again roar to life, but tonight they stood silent vigil. The only witnesses to all this night held.
The stage was set. The black veil of night-hung heavy like a mantle of death, stars hid from view, the very breeze fell still as if holding its breath. Death crouched, watching, waiting, the never ceasing wail of despair, echoed within his ravaged mind. Tonight, the wail would finally be silenced. Tonight, Michael would find peace among masses of garbage.
Michael groped his way, stumbling and falling, across mounds of trash bags, finally collapsing on what felt to be an old mattress: shoulders hunched, legs crossed, unleashed tears coursing down his face. Unwanted visions flooded his mind: his precious daughter, his wife, their love, his failures, their trust, his betrayal, and too many fights. They deserved better than the failure he had become.
“ I’m so sorry, I just can’t do it anymore.” Michael cried, as he shoved his hand into his jacket pocket, and grabbed the rubber hose, and syringe of death. “Don’t think about it just do it,” he growled. His hands were so cold. And why wouldn’t they stop shaking? Again his daughter’s face came into his mind. Her precious smile, her sweet voice singing, “Jesus loves me.”
He had once believed those words; a lifetime ago. But Jesus couldn’t love him, not the way he was now. Yet, in one last desperate moment, the moment between life and death’s cold embrace, Michael did wonder - could it be true?
“I don’t know if you’re there Jesus, and I don’t know if you even care. But if ya’ do, please forgive me for what I have to do. And help my family to forgive me.” Michael prayed, before lining the needle up with his vein, something he could, and was, doing with eyes closed.
“Michael,” the voice was soft, yet rumbled like thunder, casting despair and death further into the shadows, with hideous shrieks.
“What the..” Michael’s eyes flew open; the still full syringe fell from his hand. “It can’t be. No..no, who are you?” Michael stammered, fighting for breath.
“You know who I am Michael. Even now, in your hour of pain, you cried out to me.”
Michael gasped, hot tears spilled down his cheeks, “It can’t be. Lord no, don’t look at me.” He cried covering his face with his hands, “ I’m nothing but garbage Lord. I don’t deserve your love.”
“I died for you Michael. I took all your sins, all your garbage, into me, on the cross. Michael, my blood has made you clean. You are my beloved.” His voice held no anger, or contempt, merely love.
For the first time Michael dared to look into the face before him, “Oh Lord,” Michael sobbed, as he looked through a haze of tears, into the eyes of love. This couldn’t be real. He had to be dead. Yet he knew he wasn’t. “Wha..what’d you want from me Jesus?”
The Savior knelt and opened his arms, inviting Michael to crawl into their fold, “I want you to live Michael.”
Michael’s exhausted body collapsed into the arms of Christ, tears once again poured from his soul. Tears of shame, regret and humiliation; slowly became tears of a life being healed, a soul saved, and a spirit set on fire. With the last tear spent, Michael sat up straight. His eyes looked down to a pile of burnt ashes lying beside him, he caught the Savior’s eyes with a silent question.
“The ashes are your old clothes Michael. They were the clothes of a dead man. You now wear new clothes, of life and salvation. The old Michael has passed away, you are a new creation, and you are deeply loved.”
Michael jumped to his feet, just as a new dawn broke over the horizon in all its glory. Spreading his arms wide, he spun in circles, the joy of the newborn coursing through his veins. “Thank you so much Lord,” Michael shouted as he spun full circle. But the mattress was empty, save for him.
“I love you Lord.” Michael shouted into the heavens, before turning his face toward home, singing “Jesus loves me.”
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