Friday, March 3, 2017

Making My Bed In Hell

"She's made her bed, now I guess she's got to lie in it." I've heard this quite a lot. It's a phrase that has haunted me day after day. I've made my bed, now I've got to lie in it. I've lied, I've deceived, I've chosen bad things, I've chased darkness. I've made my bed in hell. Now hell is where I've got to lie. I sort of embraced this thought with an acceptance of justice, and I consequently found myself plagued with despair. How is it that I can survive lying in hell? I could have made better choices, I could have ascended to the heavens! But no, I made my bed in hell, and hell is where I've got to lie.

Those were some of my thoughts. I sort of calmly and despairingly accepted my fate, yet as always there is a "but God" moment. But God, being rich in mercy, sent this verse to me.

"If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there." Ps 139:8

Yes, there are consequences for the Christian's sins. You do have to lie in the bed you make, but even so, God is there with you, and though you sleep in hell you can still say this: "When I awake, I am still with You." And it is true. God is there.

"Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You."
Ps 139:7-12

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Conclusions 9 - The End

I'm so excited to post the last part of my story! If you've read up until now..... Thank you SO SO much! I hope you've enjoyed it even a little... :D


“Oh John! I’m so happy I’m afraid I shall burst!”
“I don’t think your dress would allow it; Tell me dear, how did you get into that thing?”
“Must you insult me on my wedding day?”
“You should have wondered if you had invited the right man if I did not.”
Eva was flushed, excited and beaming, yet something in her heart was unsettled. She looked at her cousin, something of her old feeling welling up inside of her. She would never stop loving her cousin, but she realized that it was hopeless for her to dream of it. She was willing to settle. This was strange for the girl, she had always strived for exactly what she wanted, but at least she knew that no one else would ever win his heart either. She may as well be as happy as she could be despite unfulfilled wishes. So Eva pushed away any feelings of discontentment and flung herself fully into the excitement and joys of that special day.
  And John watched, he watched as she was given away. And she was gone. He anticipated this feeling. She no longer needed him. He was strangely free now. The last bonds that had connected him to this world were snapped with those simply words ‘I do.’ When it was over he wandered towards the door, unwilling to allow himself to mix too long in the aftermath. He rustled the speech in his pocket and then felt in his other. Could he wake up? Why should he?

“Where are you going, John?” Isaac asked, eyeing his cousin curiously.
“Out for a breath of fresh air. One lady’s perfume may be divine, but in a room full of divine perfumes you begin to think you shall see the Divine. Too many people anyways, you know how I hate crowds. Care to join me for a smoke?”
“I can’t possibly, I’ll be missed in a second.”
“And I shall be missed for a second. But no matter, life goes on.”
“What are you talking about.”
“Nonsense. That’s what everyone is always telling me.”
“Are they accusing you, or you them?”
“Ah, so you’ve caught on, have you?”
“To converse with you requires a quick wit. If you have no wit then you shall be shredded for sure!”
John laughed, pulling out a cigarette and offered one to Isaac.
“No, no. I’d better be getting back. Don’t be late for the speeches, I do believe you are going to be the grand display of that exhibit.”
“I’m afraid not. I have business elsewhere.”
“You? You never have business! Where are you going?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps a great distance, perhaps nowhere at all. Come! Don’t look so confused. It’s the blasted perfume getting to me! Go back in, I shall have a grand speech, my best yet. I promised it to Eva.”
“Oh dear! Maybe I should have let you leave without a word. Shall I have to prepare for a riot?”
“That would be interesting! But no, I have my speech all written down here in my pocket. It’s filled with all sorts of wondrous lies and despicable truths, though it’s hard to discern between them. Now go! I think I see your mother at the door, quick! Intercept her before she forces me to join you in that place of death!”
Isaac laughed, “Very well, I shall tell her I don’t know where you’ve gone to.”
“And that shall be quite true.”
John slowly walked down the quiet, dark road, his eyes keen and his ears attentive. He didn’t know what he was looking for, he never had. there were lights burning in some of the houses. The people inside were happily ignorant of the truth of matters; Those people toiled for their food, laboring for their happiness, they had no time to think of awful truths. John had only ever had time for just that. Slowly the young man made his way to the bridge, he was quite alone.
“God. I suppose that is how I ought to address you. I don’t believe you are real, but if you are I think that being honest with you would be the best way to go. I’ve heard Henry call you ‘Father’, but I could never call you that. You have never been a father to me, and now is not the time for lies. God. I am fascinated with you, the idea that people believe in this abstract thing which cannot exist. Yet I CANNOT disprove you. I am very curious, whether or not you exist is surely the most important thing in life. If you exist it changes everything. Yet how could anyone prove your existence? It really isn’t fair God! You ought to have given your people a way to prove you. I suppose that in itself is proof against you. I shall soon find out I suppose. You see, I am tired God, I have said all that I have ever needed to say. I have figured out the world and put everything in its place in my mind. I have nothing left to live for. Ideas are worthless and people are mortal. Really I can’t think of any reason to delay the inevitable. I’m not afraid of death, I never have been. It cannot be worse than life. In life you are always striving, in death there is nothing left to strive for. Unless of course we come back again as something else. But maybe I would have luck enough to be an animal without thought or care but for food, or perhaps a great oak tree that couldn’t strive even if it wished. No, I think that dying could only hold some sort of release for me. Even if you are real and you choose for whatever godly reason to cast me into hell...even then I shall be no worse off, at least, that is, if Henry’s right and you do predestine men for the abyss. But there I lie! I said I was not afraid, but now I feel a cold sort of fear creeping into my bones, a resolute fear, perhaps more of an anticipation. What shall happen to me? No one shall know! But I am ready to find out for myself. Goodbye God. I don’t suppose I shall be seeing you either way, which I don’t regret. I could never have loved you, no one so unjust. No, there is no justice. Not in humans, not in gods. Madness, everything.”
John leaned over the edge of the bridge, looking at the dark waters below, then he took out his speech, read it, tore it, and threw the torn up pieces away.
“I promised you my best speech, Eva...but now I find I have occasion to give it and you are not here. I have never broken a promise to you, and I never shall, so Eva, I am giving you this speech, not to your ears, but to your heart:  I love you.”
John smiled to himself, the stars were lovely. How beautiful Eva must look right now, so happy, so full of life. If only he was still so deceived. If only he was capable of joy. No, he wasn’t even capable of life, only death.
John took from his coat his revolver. How strange it seemed, putting to an end all the mysteries he had always wondered about.  He looked up to see a happy couple walking by, enjoying the same stars that he knew to be so cold and distant, yet lovely. What is love? Did he really love Eva? Or maybe that was a lie. What were lies? If there was no truth then there could be no lies. What was reality?
“Something I am afraid of.” John whispered, loading the revolver and calmly pointing it at his head. Why did he feel nothing? If he only felt something he would stop.
“Madness of madness;” The young man murmured, “All is madness.”


Friday, December 16, 2016

Conclusions 8


“One of the most terrifying things is losing the fear of something you should be afraid of. But you can't really be terrified because you are not afraid.”  John spoke for the first time that evening. The whole room looked at the man, surprised, for most of them had forgotten he was present.
“Whatever do you mean, dear cousin?” Eva inquired, looking curiously from her place beside Richie to the gloomy window where John stood watching the snow falling in the darkness.
“Oh, nevermind me, my dear.” John muttered absentmindedly.
Everyone in the room resumed talking, after all, with the wedding so near there was a lot to discuss. Eva, however, watched her cousin for a little longer. She had never noticed how alone the young man was. He would tease or express a cynical view but he never truly entered into fellowship with his fellow human beings. Something was always on John’s mind, a nagging pain, an unsolved problem. He was like a ghost from another realm, here for a little while but not one of them. His eyes seemed to probe the darkness outside looking for something. Perhaps a reason, maybe a feeling. Maybe what he was looking for was life. For all the years he had been alive he did not know what it was to live. Everyone in the room was distant to him, their thought processes alien to him, their joys wild and fantastic.  John smiled as he looked around at all these foolish happy people, and he knew. He had lost his fear and in its place certainty settled. He looked around at all the happy faces and his eyes locked with Eva’s. Her face seemed concerned. He couldn’t let that happen. John then did something he had not done in a long while, he mustered up a grin. Not a half smile like he normally gave, but a bright grin. And then he laughed, raising his glass.
“To the happy couple!”
Eva beamed at John, now that he was happy she could be too. The girl giggled and raised her glass as well.
So he would be happy, why should he not for their sake? For a little longer. So John joined the conversation with enthusiasm that pleased and horrified everyone involved. And so John remained up until the joyful time of the wedding. Everyone was there, the whole lot of now very close friends. For their adventures had brought each soul involved into a new sense of brotherly and sisterly love and there was hardly a day when one from the group wasn’t meeting with another from that same happy group. Each had determined to help along Henry through all the scandal involved in his stepping down, Rosalind with her deep troubles, and the new couple in their happy preparations. So the wedding party met with great joy on that sweet winter night.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Conclusions 7


John lay quietly. He still felt extremely weak.  Every time the man closed his eyes he seemed to see the figure of Hall. John shuddered. By now the impressions and convictions of his nightmares were tolerably extinguished. There could be no God, surely not! Any question there was, any slight doubt of his philosophy he brushed aside. His intelligence would not allow for it. All his life he had been observing things, finding out the secrets of humanity and being appropriately appalled by it all. To forsake his intellect for belief was just too much for John. No, this was not who he was or who he would ever be. John smiled to himself, shaking his head. What a business this had all been! Revenge, illness, murder!  No wonder his brain had been muddled and his thoughts scrambled!
  Matthew walked in on John’s thoughts. “Hello, how are you doing? Better I hope. The doctor said you are recovering?”
“Yes, I am doing very well now. Though the doctor has commanded rest. To think! Commanding me to rest. As if I have ever done anything else.”
Matthew smiled, taking a seat, “It was merciful of you to forgive Henry...and all you did for Rosalind.”
“Ah well, I see what you’re getting at. I’m not such a devil as I thought? There is some good in me? Please get those notions right out of your head! And do hand me my cigarette case.”
“The doctor said you are not to smoke until you are more recovered.”
“Hang the doctor and give me my cigarette case!” John reached out a persistent hand.
Matthew sighed and delivered up the case which John took eagerly, lighting up a cigarette and then offering Matthew one.
“John, Henry told me you asked for prayer. What of that? Has your brush with death changed your mind about religion?”
John gave a faint smile, it looked almost embarrassed. “I was still in a feverish state, and honestly I believe I was teasing the murderous preacher. No, my dear fellow, I am not striving towards a halo. Nothing is this wide earth could change who I am. That I am certain of. Why, if people could go about changing who they were then there would be no sort of stability. Some are born good, some are born bad, and some are born too intelligent or lazy to be good or bad.” And it indeed appeared that John was resolute in his lazy intelligence for the fear had worn of and the fever left him alone.  Matthew shook his head, a sad look in his eye.
“John, I pity you.”
John gave a little scornful laugh, “Oh don’t do that! I can’t stand pity.”
“And why is that?” Matthew leaned back, cigarette in his mouth, waiting to hear what he knew would be an intriguing answer.
“It’s not strange to hate pity. People never do like real pity. They like the pity they can bring about on themselves, the pity chose by overreacting or amplifying their problems. But real pity, when it is given, causes such shame that one can hardly stand it. For pity is simply the emotion set in the innocent heart that replaces condemnation. Yes, it is pure for the one giving it, but for the recipient it holds every feeling that condemnation possesses.”
 At this moment Eva burst in. She was still enamored, they could see, with her young hero.
“John! Oh John! Are you well? Are you recovering? Richie says with your permission the wedding shall be soon, as soon as you are well. Is that alright? We can wait if you advise it.”
John smiled wryly at his cousin, “Get married at once I say, before any of your old ideas return.”

Eva blushed, knowing what John was insinuating. “Don’t worry yourself, those old ideas are gone forever. Don’t look at me so pitifully, I still care for you!” Eva leaned over and gave her cousin a kiss on the cheek. John looked into her eyes. He could say it now, he could tell her now, it was safe. But there sat Matthew. How could John confess that he knew what love was in the presence of that crusading man. He held his tongue and patted his cousin’s cheek making some wicked comment that left Eva blushing harder and Matthew rolling his eyes.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Conclusions 6


“Oh John!” Eva was absolutely radiant. “You are awake! You are alright! Oh John!” Eva squeezed the bewildered and fatigued young man.
“Miss please!” The doctor gave the young girl a concerned look, “He is still very weak.”
John smiled, clearing his mind from the nightmares he had been fighting. He cleared them very thoroughly away, purposefully, determinedly.
“It’s alright doctor,” he said weakly, “I am well enough to hear my cousin’s chatter, though if she starts chiding me do step in.”
Eva paid no attention to either of the men and went on in her excited voice, “John! Richie saved you! He saved your life! He was ever so brave! He held him down and kept him from bashing you dead. And he’s so modest about it. He really is a good man.” Eva’s face was perfectly glowing, obviously a new sort of love had been awakened in her for her betrothed. John noted this glow before he registered the fact that someone had attempted to murder him. “What?” He asked confused after all of what Eva had said sunk in.
“Oh, the preacher, Henry, he tried to murder you because of the whole opium incident. You really were awful John!” Eva added in with a reproving frown. “But Matthew told us all the whole story, about you and the doctor, Hall and Rosalind. While, I suppose I shall forgive you. I know Henry has! He was crying like a newborn babe! He said he’s found his father. I think he is quite mad.” Eva stopped for a quick intake of breath. “But you were ever so sick! I don’t know how you came to be so sick! Neglect, the doctor thinks. I know you do neglect yourself so often, you are just too lazy! But nevermind. I said nevermind, doctor, I will stop chiding him. Anyway, Matthew hasn’t turned Henry in to the police, he wanted to talk to you first. I mean, the whole affair is so mixed up with Rosalind that he isn’t sure what exactly to say and what not to. But John...I’m so happy! Richie is so good to me! He was just coming in to discuss more of our wedding plans with you and to thank you when he saw the heavy old clock! Oh I almost lost you! But Richie! Oh he was so wonderful!”
John smiled at this flood of words. Eva was happy. She was to be married and Richie seemed to be good to her. He could care less about Henry. He knew of the preacher’s temperament and he knew also of conversions. When one is so strongly converted there is a change. He could not deny the change, though he fancied he knew very well how to explain it away.
“Bring Henry to me, my dear Eva. You go out and kiss your Richie. Tell him thank you for me.”  Eva leaned over and pecked John’s cheek and then ran out of the room to send in Henry and to kiss her sweetheart a very passionate ‘thank you.’
“John,” Henry began at once when he entered the room, “I am so very sorry! I know that doesn’t cover over such a murderous act. I am ready to face prison for it. I’m ready to face any judgement my Father should bestow on me…”
“Harry!” John broke in with a an exasperated smile, “I have harmed you much more than you have harmed me. I see that now. I am sorry. Please do not go to the police. It would cause more harm than good.”
“I will do whatever you say!” Henry said earnestly.
“Then please, say a prayer for my soul.” John paused and then laughed and brushed away the request he had made with a motion of his hand, “Don’t listen to me, I’m still quite ill. Just go now! I think I should like to be alone.”

Henry nodded and walked out the door a very free man. Though he knew he must face hardships in the future. Confessions, ruined reputation…. But for all that he was free.  

Conclusions 5


The whole story was pouring out of Henry’s mouth. Eva shuddered at the new information, Matthew nodded at what he already knew of. Richie stayed silent, arm around Eva’s waist.
“Oh God!” Henry broke off as he was finishing his account, “I suppose I am hell-bound. But why should I feel guilty? They are all hypocrites! All of them do filthy deeds! Why am I any different! Why I am better, I am less of a hypocrite than Christian men!”
  Matthew shook his head sadly, “Yes. I agree with you. We are often hypocrites. We are in fact some of the worst men to have lived. Often we sin more than the unbelieving, and oftener still we do not meet up to the standards we set. But all of that doesn’t matter. That is the whole point, Henry. We are sinful failures, but we are forgiven. We many times deserve more punishment than the rest of the earth, but we will not receive it.  That’s what you’re not understanding. You don’t know anything of grace.”
“I don’t know how you're being forgiven is possible, fair, or right.” Henry sneered.
           Matthew looked the young man right in the eye, “Jesus.”
          “I know what Christians believe, it is foolishness.”
“You seem intelligent, not easily fooled, how can you hold to the Christian views?”
           “They are all I have to hold on to.”
Henry sighed, exasperated. “Well, someday you’ll come to your senses and you will learn to let go of this fairytale Jesus.”
          Matthew gave a weak smile, “Perhaps, but I know that He shall never let go of me.”
Matthew paused for a moment, and then looked Henry in the eye, deeply, searchingly, knowingly. He looked into the young man’s cold heart, seeing himself, or rather, what his life would most certainly be like without his dear precious Savior.  “Let me pray with you.” Matthew and Eva bowed their heads, Richie kept an eye on the murderous man while the man himself stared obstinately ahead.

“Father…”  Henry heard no more of that prayer. God was not a being intent on torturing him, He was not a God of indifferent love, giver of spoiling ease, God was a Father. Immediately the parable of the prodigal son came into the preacher’s mind. He had given many a sermon on it, secretly loathing the passage and envying the warm welcome he was sure that he would never receive from anyone, least of all God. All at once he saw himself in the pig’s presence eating their food, consuming their muck. Could he, after all this, return to Father God?  Father God. Just God. Holy God. Good God. Loving Father. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” “Neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” No! No! Surely that couldn’t be true!  He had never believed in such love! How could he? Justice could not love so! But Justice did.  This thought struck Henry with a pang. For the first time grace was in his mind’s vocabulary. For the first time he had need of this word for his own personal use. Whatever may come he had a Father. Henry wept silently, his frenzied mind soothed and calmed, and much to the surprise of the whole room looking on, he sunk to the floor and drifted off to sleep.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Conclusions 4


His hands grasped the clock, he looked down at John’s pale face twisted in anguish. Could he do it? Could he bash this man’s brain in? The clock was ticking noisily in his hands. With each tick a new throbbing emotion filled Henry with doubt, then certainty, hate, then fear. Tick. Would he always feel as though this were the right thing? Tick. What if one day he regret this? Tick. But he had to in order to escape. Tick. But I hate him. Tick. If I am to be free from God I must! Tick.  No one will understand.

There he stood for those few seconds, a cold like never before working its way through his skin. Yes, he would do it. The clock rose higher as he prepared to bring it down on this hateful creature. But what was this? Arms? Strong arms grabbing his own.
“What are you doing? Sir!”
Henry fell in a trembling heap at the intruder’s feet. Richie himself was trembling as well.
“But I had to!” Henry screamed. “God! Why are you so hateful! Oh God!” Two souls in that room both torn in anguish were crying out the same thing in the same way. John, still in his fevered dream cried out his “Oh God!” oblivious of his murderous friend’s mirrored cry and mirrored struggling.
“Why does God delight in torturing me? Why can’t I tear myself free from him?”
Richie was very pale, he held tightly to the raving man in front of him, half convinced he was dealing with a mad man.  Oh God!  Richie silently prayed, Deliver these two men!
“God why?” Henry’s fingernails tore into his chest as he clawed at himself, frenzied and mad. “Why God?”
  Tick. The clock lay on the floor away from harming anyone. Henry listened to it, trying to reclaim the feelings of a minute ago. Tick. You know you cannot win.  Tick. You know this game you are playing with God will only end in destruction. Tick. Why is it you chose to hate him? Tick. It was YOUR sin. Tick. Your sin. Tick.  Your sin. Henry was calm. He was so still that Richie thought that he had fainted.
“I have sinned.” Henry murmured at last.
“I can see that perfectly well! Are you going to tell me why you were about to smash John’s head in, Mr….?”
“My name is Henry, I am a preacher. I smoke opium in excess, and I planned to murder this man while he slept.”  

The doctor, Matthew, and Eva rushed in.
“Oh my dear cousin!” Eva cried running to the bed where John lay.
“What was happening when we came in just now?” Matthew inquired, for he and the doctor had caught what Henry had just said.
Henry clenched his jaw, blinking hard. “This man here just saved John’s life. I was going to murder him but this young man stopped me.”

The whole room gaped at Henry, but the doctor soon recovered, “Well, I don’t know much about murder, but I must attend to this sick man. Leave us. Do what you must with the murderer, I need to ease this fever.”