It was not as she had imagined it.
Lights were brighter, sounds were clearer, scents were stronger, and even the air tasted sweet.
One moment ago terror had swept through Anne’s heart as her vehicle swerved from oncoming traffic. What had happened? It was all so fast. She knew she was drowsy after a late night in the office but had decided to return home anyway.
Yet this was not the home she knew.
What time was it? Anne glanced at her watch. It was gone. Before she could catch her thoughts a voice came from behind and broke her thoughts.
“We have been awaiting your arrival Anne,” said a man. He must be Jesus. But before she could think any further the voice spoke again as if conscious of her thoughts, “I am just like you. A servant.”
By now Anne had turned to see a tall man standing behind her, he seemed vaguely familiar yet couldn't be placed. “Oh,” Anne caught her breath, “I didn't know you were there; I thought I was alone.” Strangely her nerves were gone. They had disappeared the moment she left her body. Now peace mixed with curiosity filled her.
The man gave a hearty laugh and spoke again, “I have been with you a long while. I watched over you while you lived on earth and reported back to Heaven. I am a messenger.”
Before Anne could reply she began to wonder exactly what he had been reporting. She had been far from ‘holy’ in her own eyes and though she had a faith she was struggling to see what good she had done with it.
Anne was an accountant and had always worked hard to succeed at her job. Sometimes too hard. Her devotion to work had resulted in many late nights, few close friends, and most of all a pull against her faith. She was a follower of Christ and always wanted to serve God to greater extent yet work always seemed in the way.
Memories came rushing back and doubt lingered. Had she been good enough? Had she produced enough fruit in her life? Her dreams were so far from fulfillment.
“I don’t know if I’m ready,” The words came out stronger than she had intended, “I had so much I was going to do, I didn't even get started.”
The man seemed moved by her words and compassion showed in his eyes. “What is done is done. We can’t change that,” a smile broke through, “but you have plenty of time ahead of you to work on many of those dreams. Who said it's over? It’s just beginning.”
“But I wanted to accomplish so much and…”
The messenger spoke again undaunted by the protest, “accomplish” he laughed. “Humans are so concerned with accomplishments. Don’t you see, Anne, God is more concerned with who we are than what accomplishments we have?”
That is what troubles me, she thought. As long as she could remember she had tried so hard to be a better person. Striving for excellence. Evidence of that showed in her work, what about her faith?
Again he read her thoughts. “You are welcomed by God not because you became a good person Anne, but because you turned from your own ways and trusted Him. He made you good because you trusted Him to. That’s faith.”
Anne drew back in surprise. Really? All her life she had never understood faith and its simple message. Now she was standing at the end of her time and understanding came. A bittersweet taste in her mouth.
Her thoughts turned to her life on earth. Memories flooded her. How she would love to do it all again. There was so much she would do differently. She had always wanted to serve God more but obstacles imposed. So much time spent trying to earn excellence and inwardly striving for approval.
A faint sound grew louder as she saw the messenger turn his attention toward a great city in the distance. Loud bells rang and singing came sweetly on the air.
“No time to delay,” the messenger said with fixed gaze, “that’s your welcome party!”
The bells grew louder. Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong, Ding-Dong. As they did Anne’s anxiety began to fade and joy swept through her. At last she understood the Good News.
This time round she would make the most of it.
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