• Eunice Wilkie

The Celestial Chronicles (11)

Stories imagining Christian service from Heaven’s point of view

Laid Low


Marie hadn’t put a foot wrong. Through the long waking hours at the hospital, through the haze of drug-induced brain-fog and dull pain, she re-visited the hours that led to the accident; once again, she wondered why. Why had God allowed her to be at the junction at the precise moment the other driver failed to brake? Why had He allowed the full force of the collision to hit her where it would do maximum damage, leading to months of rehabilitation? Why had He even spared her to live an impaired life? Mere seconds or centimetres (both of which were completely under God’s control!) and she wouldn’t still be in hospital, two months later, feeling useless and frustrated. She had done everything right that day: read her Bible, prayed over her daily schedule, been precisely on time, was even on the way to help someone in need (who was greatly inconvenienced by her accident!). She was serving God exactly the way she felt He would want, and still this had happened.

She tried to pray. And read her Bible. Since the Bible promised that all things worked together for good to those who belonged to God, she tried to claim the promise and imagine that there was some greater good to her being in hospital. She told the doctors and nurses that she was a Christian; she tried to witness to the patients who came and went – with no positive effect at all. Like that conversation with the young woman, Jo, who was in the ward for a couple of days because they couldn’t find a bed elsewhere in the hospital. Jo had purple hair, numerous tattoos, countless piercings, and did not want a friend. From what Marie gathered, she had tried to harm herself in some way and blamed everyone around her for the mess she was in. Marie tried to be kind, but it was like squeezing blood from a stone.

When she timidly told Jo that God loved her, Jo retorted angrily, “What’s He ever done for me?”

Marie quoted John chapter 3 verse 16 and tried to explain the amazing gift that God gave when He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, into the world to save all who would believe. Jo complained to Lucy, a young nurse, that Marie had tried to ‘convert’ her. Marie was asked to keep her religious views to herself. “She’ll be gone soon,” Lucy added in a comforting undertone to Marie. “I would forget about trying to help her; there are some who just won’t change.”

Marie tried to explain that God could change anyone, but Lucy was unimpressed. She didn’t think that God even existed, let alone that He was capable of interference in human lives.

Marie didn’t forget Lucy and couldn’t forget Jo. Useless as she felt, and even as powerless as prayer felt, she prayed for them and the others she had met. It was about the only thing she could do.

***

In the Courts of Heaven, Sefer was the chief angelic Keeper of the Book of Life. It was a wonderful job. He didn’t have to keep the tally of rewards and watch the Redeemed lose what they should have gained; he didn’t oversee the future roles of the Redeemed in the world to come and learn about those who missed out on incredible opportunities in eternity; he didn’t observe their lack of faith in prayer; he wasn’t focussed on their often-inadequate service for the Master. In fact, he didn’t need to focus on the activity of the Redeemed of Earth after their salvation at all – instead, it was his joy to record their names in the Book of Life once they had trusted Christ for salvation and know that nothing in Heaven or Earth would ever erase that eternal record. He, and his scribes and administrators, led the angelic rejoicing in Heaven as the indelible record was made; a new name in the Book, another outcome of the wonderful work of the Cross, was always a high point in Heaven.

But it was often of interest to Sefer to note those who received eternal reward in connection with a new name in the Book of Life. Sometimes there were many links to others along the road to salvation. Look at this new entry: the heavenly name of Jo Tripp glowed in golden script from the Book. The road to her salvation was long and contained many twists and turns. Chief among the names highlighted for eternal reward in connection with Jo Tripp’s salvation was Marie Laidlow. Jo Tripp had never forgotten the Bible verse Marie had quoted when they were both in hospital. It set her on the path to seek until she found salvation.

***

Marie limped for the rest of her life and endured persistent pain. While she learned to trust that God knew best, she never understood why God had allowed her to be in the car accident, or what good had come from it. One day she will be surprised to receive the magnificent crown of rejoicing she was allocated when Jo was saved as well as the other jewels she accumulated for faithfulness, courage, and patience while she was convalescing after the accident. They far exceed any suffering.

Jo often wished she could discover Marie’s identity and thank her for setting her on the path to eternal salvation. She never tracked her down, but she did find a nurse who had worked on the rehab ward at that time. Through Jo’s witness, and the remembrance of things Marie had said, Lucy became a Christian.

While she still doesn’t know it, the ripple effects of Marie’s time in hospital keep moving outward; the eternal rewards are still accumulating.


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