In this new age of the Internet and Social Media, we now have access to just about everything, including friends and loved ones we’ve not seen in many years. While I’m glad to see the many classmates and friends who have gone on to have loving families, great careers and active, happy lives, I’ve also seen a flip side that saddens me greatly. I’ve seen too many Christian friends that once loved Jesus with such a passion and zeal, they sought to follow Him with their lives. Unfortunately, over time, events occurred in their lives that caused them to lose their faith and let their hearts grow cold towards the One who loves them more than anyone else in this world. Many of these friends, I was very well acquainted with, and we shared deep hurts that happened to us growing up and a bond of coming from families of non-believers. As time went on, difficult challenges in life occurred and they simply gave up. I don’t condemn them, because I know how hard this life can be, and there is an enemy after their soul whose only purpose is to steal, kill and destroy them.

I have had my own struggles with disappointment, self-rejection, depression and wanting to leave this world behind, and yet I’ve somehow managed to always hang on. As I thought about why, I remembered an experience I had very early in my Christian walk and I believe it’s because of a dream I had in response to an angry prayer as a teenager. While growing up I was painfully shy and never felt like I fit in. I had an older sister with a very strong personality whose mission it seemed, was to make sure I never experienced any self-worth. My parents raised us the best they knew to do, but once my younger sister came along, their hands were full and they also had unresolved issues of their own. This, along with being a straight-A student, made me an easy target at school as an adolescent and I was teased quite a bit. In high school I got involved in music and theater, and seemed to find where I belonged. I was in a Speech club where I went on weekend competitions to perform in the category of drama, and won several awards. I made lots of great friends during those years.

When I became a sophomore, I met a boy during a play rehearsal who was very interested in me. He soon became one of my closest friends and we began to date. It wasn’t long after that I was head over heels in love. It was a very happy time, until without word or warning, he moved onto someone new. I was devastated and became very angry at God. I had accepted Him as my Lord and Savior the year before, but really didn’t know anything more except that I was saved and would go in the Rapture. The evening I found out about the other girl, I laid on my bed crying and getting angrier at God by the minute. I then knelt by my bed and told God that I was through with Him, that I knew that He didn’t want me to be happy, and that as far as I was concerned, He didn’t exist. I then laid down and fell asleep.

I soon began having this really vivid dream. In it, I found myself sitting at the this big, thick wooden table. It seemed as if I was in an old, medieval setting. I stood up and pushed the heavy chair in and stepped into a room that was to the left of the table. Inside was a big Victorian bed complete with a canopy. I climbed up on the bed and laid down. Suddenly I sank through the bed and continued to sink down further and further into this dark tunnel. I will never forget that sensation of sinking down. It’s an odd, helpless feeling, that I don’t ever want to experience again. Once I reached what looked like the top of a cave, I could sense others with me, but was unable to communicate with anyone. I could also hear a deep voice talking, but couldn’t understand what was being said. Suddenly the thought popped into my mind “I’m in Hell!” Shocked and frightened, I pleaded with God to forgive me and I woke up with a start. I couldn’t move at first, but as soon as my muscles allowed me, I sat up in bed and repented and asked Him to forgive me for rejecting Him. Since I’d never even given any consideration to Hell before, that was my wake up call that God is very, very real.

When I told a friend from church, a few years later, her words struck me when she said “That was really nice of God, to allow you that dream.” I had never looked at it that way. I had looked at it as God’s way of saying “Don’t mess with me or this is where I’ll put you.” But her words made me look at it in a completely different light, as a gift from a loving father who revealed that if I willfully rejected Him, and chose to live my life independently from Him I would have to face the consequences of my decisions to an spend an eternity apart from Him and His goodness – in a place prepared to punish Satan and his demons.

In my anger, I had believed the lies of the enemy. He had used these circumstances involving the young man to get me to blame God and accuse God of having ill-will towards me. Since that time, I’ve come to understand just HOW MUCH, God loves me. NO ONE can ever say that God doesn’t love them or could ever forgive them of all the evil they may have committed, because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came down from Heaven, as a baby, to live on this earth among us, His beloved creation, and to take our punishment upon Himself. I believe the worst part about the cross wasn’t the physical pain or the humilation of being mocked by men. The worst was that moment when ALL the horrible, evil, disgusting and ugliest sins ever committed by everyone of us were placed on Him, and He took on ALL of the shame, guilt, condemnation, pride, greed and lust upon Himself. Because of the Holiness of the Father, He turned His face away and Jesus experienced the absense of God in that moment. For you. For me. And since God is good, Jesus rose from the grave and is back in Heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us and leaving us with the Holy Spirit to empower us and help us until He returns.

Now we have the freedom to choose to invite Jesus into our hearts and have a personal relationship with Him and to one day enter Heaven’s gates, or to live independently and face our own consequences forever without Him or anything good, in that other place. Which will you choose?

Choose love today! “For whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” ~ Romans 10:13
Be blessed, everyone!

Scriptural References: Matthew 25:41, John 3:16, Romans 8:31, Isaiah 53:4-5, John 1:14 and 29, Matthew 27:46, Galations 3:13, 2nd Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 2:7, Romans 8:34