layer of ice covered the street as Clara pulled away from
the curb. Ice crystals formed on the windshield as she
reached to adjust the defrost control and light a cigarette.
her way slowly toward Baywood Bridge, Clara realized how
tired she was. What was she thinking moving to the country?
She had seen the lovely little cottage set amidst majestic
trees and rolling hills on a lovely spring afternoon and it
was love at first sight. Beautiful trees surrounded the
property; flowers cascaded from pots and baskets on the
porch, a garden filled with unimaginable beauty. The winding
roads, the hour-long drive from the office to her little
sanctuary seemed a small price to pay for the peace and
tranquility that awaited her upon arrival. But now… spring
had given way to winter, leaving in its wake a barren
wasteland of fallen tree limbs, treacherously winding roads
and the once beautiful garden now lay wrapped in a thin
blanket of snow and ice.
ago memories of her grandmother and the snowy winter
evenings spent listening to stories from the “Good Book”
talking together, laughing at Grammy’s stories of old beaus
named Pete and Charlie and dear Brother Willard Tuttle made
Clara laugh even now. Just as Grammy had laughingly shared
childhood stories, so too Elizabeth Jackson taught her
granddaughter to believe in the inherent goodness of people.
Clara remembered Grammy’s words; “Just give people a change
honey, you will see how good and kind people really are.
Just give them a change and they will rise to their
potential, standing for what is right and good.” Grammy
often spoke about God. “God wants you to be happy Clara. God
loves you and wants you to work hard, keep your hopes high
and keep a good attitude.” Clara smiled as she pictured
Grammy sitting in her recliner, her face reflecting the glow
of the fireplace, an afghan over her lap, a cup of hot tea
by her side, and her Bible. “In life Clara, you need to
believe in yourself.”
sound of ice crackling under the weight of the tires grew
louder, the darkness more oppressive as snow began blowing
across the road. A rabbit darted from beneath the trees,
disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. The glare of
oncoming headlights went unnoticed as Clara remembered
Grammy. Too late the blast of a horn broke through the
woman’s screams exploded through the silence of the night.
The sound of twisting metal and shattering glass
reverberated through the night sky as the car careened over
the embankment, tumbling end over end, crashing through
trees and shrubs to arrive at its final destination.
found herself lying in a heap on the cold wet floor – her
journey ended, or had it just begun? Too terrified to move,
her eyes squeezes tightly shut, the sound of her own heart
pounding in her ears, Clara trembled in fear.
screams had stopped and Grammy’s voice was silent.
the distance, Clara heard the faint sound of a bell. The
sound grew stronger, more distinct as she forced herself to
sit up and open her eyes. A shadowy silhouette moved slowly,
deliberately in her direction. As the figure drew closer,
Clara saw the figure carried a candlelit lantern and a small
book, a bell hung from a sash tied around the waist of a
long flowing hooded robe. A smile crossed her face, all
apprehension left as she struggled to stand. She could feel
herself beginning to relax. Someone was coming to rescue
her; she was not alone.
ringing of the bell stopped. The candlelight illuminated the
darkness. Wiping her hands on her skirt Clara prepared to
welcome her saviour.
formed the words, “Thank You.” With a broad smile, Clara
adjusted her sweater, pushed her hair from her face and
raised her head to greet this most welcome of strangers.
Anxiously she looked into the face of her salvation.
smile vanished, the pounding of her heart in her ears
returned as the “thank you” shattered in mid air absorbed by
the cold, damp hardness of the floor. An all-consuming
blackness greeted Clara; her breathing became more labored
as she struggled to remain standing.
fell backward as the blackness of the eyes stared accusingly
into the depth of her soul; binding her to its gaze. Wanting
to turn, to run, to hide she had no choice but to
back into eyes filled with hopelessness, sadness and pain.
deep-set black eyes reflected her past; the glow from the
candlelight reflected her certain future.
voice broke the deathly silence – “Clara Jackson?”
heart broke as she stared into the suffering eyes of the
voice spoke - “What do you see?”
to speak, yet more terrified to remain silent Clara
struggled to stand. With renewed strength, with a boldness
and calm she did not feel Clara responded –
the face of God.” The voice replied -“I am not God !”
invisible river of pure evil flowed from the blackness of
the deep-set black eyes.
winced in pain, wrapping her arms around her head, shielding
her eyes – “Sir,
are not God, who are you?”
recoiled in disgust; horrifying reality seized every nerve
in her body. Piercing black eyes reflected the blackness of
her own soul; powerful eyes pulled her unwillingly into its
blackness – the blackness of Clara Jackson’s past.
voice spoke – “You stood in your own strength believing in
yourself, in your own ability – you had no need of God. You
did what was right in your own eyes without consideration of
Sovereign LORD – hoping your good deeds would outweigh the
bad and God would welcome you to an eternity with Him
because of your goodness. You did what seemed good to you –
you had no need of Him. Those who do not follow Sovereign
LORD do not belong to Him.
Yet hath not Sovereign LORD said of His creation –
All are like one who is unclean, all their righteous
deeds are as filthy rags, all wither like a leaf, and
their iniquities, their sins, like the wind, take them
had neither time for nor interest in the things of God but
felt well able to control your life, doing what pleased you,
fulfilling your dreams, your desires. You measured your
success and failure against others, never giving thought to
your eternal destiny. You thought yourself not as bad as
some – far better than most. You chose to please man –
rather than to be obedient to God.
Yet hath not Sovereign LORD said of His creation – All the
ways of man are clean in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs
disbelief quickly turned to raging anger. In haughty defense
of her past, fighting
future, Clara jumped to her feet and screamed – “No! You are
wrong. You are so
was – I am a very good person.” Words, phrases, incoherent
stumbling over each other: “You don’t know what you’re
talking about. I am a
at the hospital – every month, well, almost every month. I
go to church with my
every Christmas eve, I love the Christmas story – I give to
charity, I give to the
Way, I help the poor with my donation of used clothes, I do
not steal, I am very
this is not the way it was - uh is. Grammy told me - I did
everything she told me,
listened, I learned, I believed everything Grammy told me;
it is all in her Bible. I work
do good things. This is not right - this is not fair, I am a
call me a liar?
Yet hath not Sovereign LORD said of His creation – The heart
is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who
can know it. For - All have sinned and come short of the
glory of God.
loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them,
world is hatred toward G-D.
everyone who says LORD-LORD will enter into the kingdom of
those who do the will of Sovereign LORD in Heaven.
If any say, they have no sin, they deceive
themselves, and the truth is not to be
found in them.”
what seemed an eternity Clara stood in oppressive silence.
Then - in the distance, voices, voices imploring her to
Turning in the direction of the voices her feet propelled
her to follow. Moving slowly at first – then more quickly
she became acutely aware of the stygian darkness
accompanying her as she made her way. Without warning, to
the front, the sides, fire erupted from deep within the
cavernous darkness. Clara’s muscles began to quiver – her
throat, her eyes burned from the stench of sulfur. Throwing
her hands up wildly, tearing at her hair, gnawing her tongue
- Clara stood horrified as she watched the lost going into
hell. Men and women the old and the young walked, unaware,
into the lake of fire. Lost souls without hope. Taunting,
jeering, accusing forces of satanic evil watched as scores
of people, bound tightly, chained by the sins that had so
easily entangled them, fell headlong into the inferno.
Demonic host waited below beckoning all to come. Some, by an
unseen force, were being pushed, pulled, and hurled into the
flames. When the fire abated and the smoke settled, the
moans of the miserably lost could be heard.
the fire at intervals increased in intensity and thick smoke
filled the cavernous expanse of blackness, the shrieks, the
wails of agony thundered in Clara’s ears.
voice spoke – “Yet hath not Sovereign LORD said of His
appointed for man to die once and after this comes
Covering her ears, Clara willed her mind to block out the
final tormenting sounds of those bound for an eternity of
unimaginable horror, separated from goodness, without hope,
without love, without God.
not understand. What horribly wickedly things have these
done to deserve such punishment? If God loves everyone, why
have these been condemned to the fires of hell? How could
He allow this? How could a loving God do this?”
voice spoke – “The choice is not Sovereign LORD’, but man’s
to make –
Yet hath not Sovereign LORD said of His creation – If you
confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your
heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be
saved - for with the heart one believes to righteousness and
with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
everyone who says to Sovereign LORD – LORD, LORD, will enter
the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the
Father in heaven.
Sovereign LORD – the Holy One - demands His creation walk
holy, in purity before Him. Knowing this was not possible;
Sovereign LORD through Jesus the Christ came to stand for
His creation, in holiness and purity, satisfying the demands
of Sovereign LORD. Your acceptance – in your heart - of the
great price Jesus the Christ paid, your obedience to His
Word, to love, to serve Him, to learn His ways shows
Sovereign LORD a heart of gratitude, a heart of love, a
heart of repentance and change.
you have not done.
trust in their own strength, living as it please them,
without thought of Sovereign LORD – many see themselves as
honest, hardworking moral people, trusting in their own
goodness, without sin-without need of forgiveness or
Salvation. Many believe good works gain God’s favor. In
their head, they know about Jesus the Christ, yet their
hearts remain cold and disobedient.
you have done.
these lived but a brief time on earth, they had no interest
nor need to know or
ways of Sovereign LORD –why would they choose to spend
eternity with Him?
condemn the souls of men not Sovereign LORD. Your life was
never about you – it was always about Him -Your life was
never your own to manage.”
forced herself to look into the blackness of her past:
first time she saw her sin – her rejection of Jesus the
Christ – her own dependence on self. Clara remembered a John
Newton quote read many years ago – she had not understood it
at the time, but now…
conscience felt and owned its guilt, and plunged me in
I saw my
sins His blood had spilt
to nail Him there’ –
no hope; is there no second chance for me?” Screaming in
terror, begging for mercy, Clara, too late, cried out to
“Sovereign LORD, Jesus the Messiah, have mercy upon my
tormented soul this night - sinking into hell. O Sovereign
LORD have You no mercy for me?”
is appointed unto men once to die, but after this – the
judgment.” Hebrews 9:27
truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the
dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who
hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so
He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He
has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of
Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all
who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out –
those who have done what is good will rise to live, and
those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”
~ John 5:25-29
be judged for your good works, judged as the redeemed of the
LORD? Will you bow before the Holy God and be rewarded for
your faithful service done in His Name while on earth or
will you stand before Him condemned, too late crying for
mercy. There is judgment awaiting those who reject the Son
of God. There is punishment for those who choose to walk in
their own strength, relying on their own “good deeds”
instead of the Cross to save?
is written, ‘AS I LIVE SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW
TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO God,’ So then
each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”
heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have
set before you life and death, blessing and curse.
life in order that you may live…” Deuteronomy 30:19
awaits each of us. Which judgment awaits you?
choice is yours to make.