It sure is dark.
I sit groggily upright, supporting my upper body with one outstretched arm, the palm of my hand pressed against what feels like smooth, cold concrete. My other hand rubs an eye as I squint to adjust my sight. My efforts, however, are in vain: this darkness is eerily impenetrable. There mustn't be a single light source here……which does nothing to help explain just where the hell I am.
"Hello?" I call into the ebony void.
I listen to the acoustics of my voice. It sounds contained, as if I'm in a room, and at the same time……it seems to go on forever, like I'm in a canyon. Bizarre.
Another sound catches my attention. A familiar, electronic hum from behind me. I turn, startled, and face an ominously glowing monitor, its light illuminating little more than the desk it rests upon. I fumble blindly for the chair latent before it, and seat myself, squinting as I began to discern what was onscreen.
Well, I'll be damned! It's that old fiction website I used to visit as an adolescent! I take a hold of the mouse and muse fondly over my own writings for a short period of time. Now that's what I call a witty repartee! I feel profoundly nostalgic reading this…..it's comforting to know that my hard-lined stance against Christianity is just as prominent today as it was when I was a teenager, campaigning against whatever ridiculous notion they were trying to prove on this website.
And yet, I can't shake this weird sense of unease as I read. Thoughts begin to pass through my head. Thoughts along the lines of why the hell are pages exclusively surrounding what I wrote some twenty odd years ago being displayed to me on a remote computer terminal in a pitch black room? Is this some sort of government experiment?
I sit back after reading a flame I had once written and am startled to realise that I'm perspiring – though the room is a moderate, comfortable temperature. I twiddle my fingers against my thighs absent-mindedly, incapable of shaking this rising feeling of unexplained dread. What is going on here?!
More importantly, where did this open Bible come from? I cast a dubious glance at the pages, frowning to note they're empty bar two verses.
……for the wages of sin is death……
……nobody comes to the Father, except through me……
Huh. Profoundly pointless. That's Christianity in a nutshell. I close the book and fold my arms across my chest, leaning back in the chair and narrowing my eyes at the monitor pensively. All of a sudden, I'm scared witless to note that the screen's glow illuminates the face of a man standing behind it.
"Who are you?" I cry, staggering backwards, not pretending to mask my fear with a façade of contempt anymore.
The man stands there in contemplative silence. Though the blue light of the screen casts unsettling shadows across his face, I can still see the look of inquisitiveness in his deep, dark eyes. Not breaking the gaze, he slowly circles the desk, and rests against it.
"You know who I am," he says simply, his rich voice attempting to be monotone and unfeeling, but unable to hide his unhappiness.
Chillingly, this man is correct. I know exactly who he is. And from that, I can deduce where I am……
Oh no. Oh God, no.
The man nods, turning his eyes away and staring off into the void, sadly.
I try to say something as my frantic eyes dart between the Bible, the man and the screen. My mouth opens and closes several times in succession, before he meets my gaze again, and I am overwhelmed by a bitter, bitter hybrid of guilt and terror. I double over and vomit pungent bile onto the cold concrete, then fall to my knees and gasp for air as the thick, acrid juice dangles from my trembling lip.
But there's no time for this. Now that I'm aware of what's happened, I stumble to my feet and wipe my mouth, looking to the man pleadingly, accusingly.
"This is not fair!" I scream, not bothering to break the situation down piece-by-piece. "Not fair! Why wasn't I given forewarning? Why didn't you show yourself?"
The man doesn't even blink. He just looks at me with weary eyes, as if he'd heard that one on countless occasions. He gestures for me to look at the monitor once more, and I frenetically oblige, squinting through my tears to see what was there.
My legs buckled involuntarily as I scrolled down.
Dozens, maybe hundreds of posts by Christians, followers of this man beside me, demonstrating his love for me in plain freaking English! Demonstrating this simple dynamic that only now am I willing to accept!
A heaving sob wracks my chest. There is only one thing for me to do.
"Lord, I'm sorry!" I wail, falling at his feet and grasping his robes, "You are the Christ, and I'm sorry! I'm s-so sorry……"
I whimper and shriek like a child at his feet. Never before have I felt so afraid.
I feel beads of moisture fall through my hair. His tears are also flowing, however much restraint he is trying to exercise. But the truth of the matter remains. My fate is sealed. Sealed here in the darkness. I turn my tear streaked face towards him once more as his perfect face gazes down at me resignedly.
"I never knew you," he says simply.
Those words capitalize a thousand explanations in my reeling mind. He had, in effect, said, You rejected me, though I offered you life every day. A lifetime of supposed intellectual integrity means nothing compared to an alternative you once dismissed and held in unbelieving contempt.
I knew I had no-one to blame but myself. And I weep. Not choked sobs, but long, howling wails of despair as I felt his robes slip from between my fingers. I suspend my twisted face above the pool of sick and yell into it, distraught and destroyed.
"What kind of God would allow this to happen to His own creation?" I bellow as he grows further and further away, the salty tears flowing into my mouth.
"The kind that gives His creation the freedom of choice they both deserve and desire," he says distantly as he walks away.
I stand upright and go to follow him, but am powerless to do so. My eyes wander miserably to the Bible, opened again and exhibiting verses I'd read before, but literally chose not to understand. Verses explaining just how fair and reasonable the premise of following Christ is. I gasp in horror as I watch the monitor begin to dim.
"No!" I cry, hitting it. "No, don't die! No, please!"
Again, my efforts are in vain. The last thing I ever see is the written expression of my denial of everything that man stands for. I feel it disintegrate in my hands, and am left with nothing. Just the darkness.
I wander for a while, finally coming to wall composed of the same cold concrete the floor is made up of. I sit against it with my knees hugged to my chest, recounting the happy moments of my life, the moments of joy, of love. As if these delusions will tide me over until……until what? Until nothing! This is it. No end. Eternity. Forever.
I perk my ears and strain to hear through the darkness. It sounds like more weeping. Yes, I can the cries of others! The sounds escalate dramatically, and I hold my ears to drown it out, the resounding roar of hundreds of millions of damned souls, each of them writhing in their own everlasting regret, stuck with a worldly frame of mind in this accursed place. They all sound so close, and yet never have I felt so alone.
I rock back and forth, crying into my forearm despondently.
"I didn't ask for this……" I whisper.
No, a sinister voice tells me, You demanded it.
Guess what, peeps? I'm getting out of FF.Net. It angries up the blood, y'see, and presents a danger to what I believe by forcing me to retaliate out of fury instead of actual spiritual conviction. And that's just not on!
"So what are you trying to prove with this?" you may or may not ask. Well, a lot of people have been scoffing at the idea of 'coming to Christ out of fear of death,' as if the notion could possibly substitute for an actual relationship with the Lord.
Well, let me tell you this. Receiving Christ from a fear of hell is a heck of a lot better than not receiving him at all! At least, through that fear, you're accepting the truth of the matter, and from that acceptance, you're at every liberty to develop your relationship with Him, so that the fear is forgotten entirely, replaced by unprecedented appreciation for His sacrifice, and the awe-inspiringly simple, logical choice He's offered us. That's how it worked for me!
So repent! Discover for yourself what true freedom feels like, and don't disassociate yourself from the concept of hell just by saying it doesn't exist. Invite Christ into your heart and overcome even the possibility of a devastating afterlife in His name. Thank you for your time.
PS: Also, could people stop exercising the term 'fuckwit' so liberally, please? It's the very embodiment of Neanderthal argumentative intelligence summarised in one unnecessary expletive, and contrived by the resident troll. Thanks again, and God bless!