It was only a dream.
Yet, for an eternal moment I felt as if I were the only person in the universe, floating through a vast darkness — no light, anywhere.
Then, off in the distance, I saw a blinding white light such as I’d never seen before.
As I approached the light, I became increasingly aware of all the sinful actions of my life.
But it was more than that. I also became extremely aware of my attitudes, past thoughts and prejudices — so much so that I wanted to leave my body. I wanted to jump out of this dirty sinful self and into the bright Holy Light …
But I could not.
Instead, I entered the brilliant unknown realm just as I was …
I was greeted by someone that I perceived to be an angel. Unlike the angels I’d always imagined, this being had no wings, no harp, no baby face. He did not sit on a cloud of white.
However, he was extremely beautiful.
“Welcome,” said the angel.
I could not tear my eyes away from the beautiful light that radiated from his face.
“Hello,” I muttered, “where am I?”
He smiled and said “Surely you received and accepted our invitation, or you would not be here. You must know where you are.”
“No, no ..” I said, “please tell me.”
“This is the Kingdom of God. All is beauty, all is holy, all is love. Everything — including YOU (my dirty little man) is here because God wills it to be so.”
“But I’m not worthy,” I sighed.
“Yes. You are right, you’re not,” he replied.
For the first time since my arrival, I was able to peel my eyes away from his radiant face and scan the holy land. I cannot describe for you this place … its beauty … the light.
Then suddenly, my eyes glimpsed someone I knew — a sinner from earth! I said to the angel “Surely you must be mistaken. I am not in heaven — for look there, that man is a sinner! I knew him. I doubt he believed in Jesus Christ … and, as far as I know, he never went to church a day in his life! What is he doing here?”
“He was invited,” said the guide. “He came.”
For a brief horrifying moment, I saw my own reflection in his beautiful face.
As we traveled along, I saw others that I knew — both sinners and saints. I was very confused — and yet, at the same time, quite overwhelmed. I asked my guide many questions. But his answers all had something to do with “they were invited,” “accepted our invitation,” or, “because God wills it to be so.”
Suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks. There stood Jack Tyndall. I despised him! Oh, how I hated him!
I turned to the light-filled being and said, “I can’t believe he is here! I cannot stand him!”
“But, remember,” said the angel, “remember … once, twice — you prayed for him.”
[He’s right. Although it almost killed me, I did make it a habit to pray for my enemies.]
“Is that why he’s here?!” I whined.
“No — that’s how you got in,” he said.
My head began to swim with confusion. Sure, I’d prayed for my enemies — but, I surely hadn’t prayed that I’d spend eternity with them!
Then, almost like a staged parade, one by one, enemies and scoundrels alike all passed before me. I started yelling at my angelic guide.
“But she’s an adulteress! Everyone knew she slept around all over town. She had no morals.”
“God invited her,” he said. “Everything changed when she accepted our invitation.”
“Him! I can’t believe this, surely I’m in the wrong place. I mean, that guy cared for nothing but money! He had no faith!”
“In you maybe,” replied the angel, “but, in his time he donated much money to the Church and to charitable causes allowing many to live a better life to the glory of God. You may not have recognized it on earth but, here, we look into one’s heart — and his is as big as the moon and filled with the love of God.”
By now, I’d started to cry. I saw nothing before me but people I’d hated. Where were the folks that I loved. Where was my wife? My mother? My father? Grandmother? Where were all of my friends who’d died?
Almost on the brink of hysteria, I turned to the glowing creature and pleaded “But, where are my loved ones?”
“Why should they be here?” he asked.
“For me!” I shouted. “Because I love them! They are my family! No, maybe they weren’t all perfect — but they were good folks. Please, oh please, tell me where are my loved ones?”
He, too, shed a tear. The light subsided a bit, and he showed me his hands, his feet and side. In an instant, I recognized Him.
In that same moment, I became white as snow — no longer feeling dirty and unworthy.
He said to me, “I, too, know love. And it is my love that has brought you, and these people, to this Kingdom. Many whom you love are here also, but you should know that they are no more loved than these whom you hate. For they are all My family. I am the Judge. My Father has given me the reign of His Kingdom. And as you know, I opened my heart for the love of the world — that those who love Me might inherit eternal life.”
He then vanished from my sight …
… and all those who were before me changed.
I saw clearly, for the first time, that these were not my enemies. They were … my family.
All things became clear … “God so loved the world …”
“Jesus died for your sins.”
“God’s will …”
“God’s invitation …”
I became overwhelmed with joy! There was shouting, dancing, music and, spread before me — the family, and all the hosts of heaven — was a great feast surrounding the throne of Light!
But, someone was missing. Where was the guide who’d brought me to the banquet? — who’d opened my eyes?
Where was the Christ — Who’d taught me so much? Where was He who loved me? Where was He that had died that I might live? He was with me just a moment ago …
Turning to my neighbor, I asked “Where is He? The Bridegroom?”
He nodded in the direction of the gate through which I had entered — and there stood the Lord Jesus, sadly waiting by the entrance to the Kingdom.
“What’s wrong? Why does he stand there so sullen?”
“He’s waiting for Judas” — came the reply.
“He’s waiting for Judas.”
God’s wait by the gate may just as well be for me, for you, or anyone who is unrepentant. For God’s Love is immeasurable, as is His forgiveness. Yet unless we turn unto Him, believe and repent, we may miss out on the Great Reward that He has prepared for us. Both Peter and Judas were called to follow Christ. The difference between these two disciples is repentance. It is only through repentance that we are granted, through the Holy Spirit, the freedom to enter into the Joy of the Father’s Kingdom, through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
For as St. Paul’s letter to Timothy tells us “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all ….”
** Literary devices used are for the benefit of the reader and not intended to support the doctrine of apocatastisis (the doctrine that ALL shall be saved).