The following is not an excerpt from any of my books; rather, this is a short story I recently wrote.
MY NAME WAS NOT THERE
By Lyn Leahz ©2012
The day had been long, boring, and pointless as far as I was concerned. I woke up, got dressed, rushed around to get ready, went to work, came home and did absolutely nothing at all. I understand some days like this are nice, but too many of them aren’t.
I was raised a Christian from my youth, always listening as grandma and mom sat around and shared stories from their past, stories about God, Jesus, and the second coming. Mom and dad had sent me to an old-fashioned Baptist church where the Word of God was hammered into my mind. Every week we had a new scripture memory verse, and if you got it right, you were given some sort of prize; candy, stickers, a bookmark, you name it. Door to door evangelism was a big deal. Get out there and win the lost at any cost, as the banner behind the pulpit had read.
As I grew older, Jesus took the back seat. It was somewhere during my teen years that He got off at the nearest stop and left. I remember a lady telling me once, “Jesus didn’t get out and leave…you got off the bus and left Him!” Somehow, that never seemed true…or maybe it was; I can’t remember. I was too busy partying with my friends, worrying about what girls I could date, and impressing people. I don’t really know where Jesus was to be honest.
I glanced up at the clock; it was already midnight. I had to get up early and needed to get myself ready for bed, I could already feel the beginnings of a headache working its way throughout my brain.
The bed had never felt so nice, and nothing seemed wrong with me, really. I mean, how would I know the most bizarre, frightening thing was going to happen once my head hit the pillow? I couldn’t have. I mean, would you know? When you’ve felt fine all day long, and you lie down and think to yourself, “Oh the bed never felt so good!” And you close your eyes, would you ever think to yourself, “What if I die tonight? Where would I go? Will I get a second chance?”
I wasn’t thinking it, but it happened.
There was this feeling I can’t describe, I don’t know, like my ears were ringing and I felt nauseous. I saw this hideous looking being and he spoke, but his mouth didn’t move. I was horrified beyond horror, and I didn’t know what to do. I kept thinking, “This is just a dream. I’m going to be okay. I’m having a really bad, bad dream.” Except it didn’t feel like a dream, nor did it look like a dream. I was looking down at myself, but didn’t see the detestable demon anymore, and it was as if I was peering through a haze, a thin haze.
Suddenly, and I mean this all happened in a matter of seconds, I was in this place, a place that mere words cannot even begin to describe. The only thing I can say is that it was really big, and I landed on this floor, yet there was no floor there. It was like an endless sea of glass, and below it was nothing but stars and planets. I was enamored with this surge of electricity that was so powerful, it was as if everything was literally being sucked right out of me. I could hear singing in the distance, beautiful singing, like thousands of voices really far away and instruments I’ve never heard in my wildest dreams. There were noises, smells, and colors that were foreign. I wondered what kind of bizarre fantasy I was living in my sleep, and just wanted it to be over with.
That was when a loud voice shattered the silence. Every dead body on earth, and that has ever been on earth, could have essentially been raised from the dead by this loud, thunderous sound. I glanced up from where I was kneeling and saw light…lot’s and lot’s of light, and that’s where the voice came from. Before I had time to think about it further, a man stepped out from the light, and I recognized Him as Jesus, although He looked nothing like the Jesus we are taught on earth. He radiated love, but anger at the same time…righteous anger. I became aware that I was filthy, and I felt so small and unimportant; in fact, everything was unimportant all of a sudden. Nothing mattered. Why I was here didn’t matter. All of the money in my savings and checking account didn’t matter. Whether or not I had let the dog out to potty before I lay down didn’t matter. All was forgotten, and for this moment, I was smaller than an ant.
His voice was drenched in love, but judgment all at the same time. It is hard to explain because there is nothing like it, really. I felt guilty and ashamed, though I finally spoke; I did what they taught us to do in the Baptist church and quoted scripture. I know it was silly of me, but I did it anyway, I guess an act of hopelessness. I felt condemned, convicted of a crime, and sentenced all at the same time. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus!” I desperately cried out.
Jesus came over to me and knelt down, opening up His hands before me to reveal the wounds. “That’s right Steve. There isn’t any condemnation for those of us who are IN me.” He paused.
“Steve, look closer into my hands…very close. I want you to find your name. The Father has everyone’s name written on His palm, but I only have those who are in me written in mine. Now look and tell me what you see.”
It all made perfect sense now; the Lamb’s Book of Life! Jesus is the lamb, and the life He gave is in His blood…his death and resurrection! With all of my might, I studied real hard; though I could only make out a bunch of weird symbols and shapes that looked like foreign languages. But these symbols weren’t in the normal flesh of His hands, they were all part of His wounds. I mean, the strange markings were etched into the wounds in His hands, if that makes any sense. Confused, I glanced up, “I don’t understand.”
Jesus looked very sad, and a tear streamed down His cheek. “That’s right son. Those who are in me understand when they look into the book of life; they can clearly see their name. What you see is a bunch of foreign looking writing, and it makes no sense. That is because, Steven, you are not in me. Therefore, you are condemned!”
Suddenly, a heavy weight fell upon me; I mean, there wasn’t really a visible thing that came down on top of me, it was a feeling. I could hardly breathe, and I was frightened…mortified! What could I say? I was talking to Jesus Christ, and He knew everything. He had just told me that I was condemned, and as if lightning had struck beside me, I buried my face within His sandals.
“But Jesus, what about that time in church when I went up front and asked you into my…” Jesus held up His left hand as he stood to His feet, and I knew I was to silence myself.
“Son, I am going to show you different scenes from your life…right now, you’re going to watch with me the life of Stephen Meander. I want you to watch and listen, and know that I love you; but you are not mine. You took my gift foolishly, not really meaning it in your heart. It was no more to you than the wrapper of a candy bar after you’ve tasted the sweetness inside. When you’re finished, you toss it into the trash.”
“But Lord….” Instantly, as the guilt flooded my being, my voice came to a halt when 3-D images of people began filling the room; it was as if they were really there with us!
I saw myself. I was at the grocery store where there was an old lady behind me shoving her cart into my legs. I remembered that! I was mad and thought she was rude for being that impatient. Suddenly, I could hear the voices and the thoughts of everyone present. I could actually hear the thoughts of the old woman I ended up yelling at and cussing out.
“Oh dear, my heart is racing! Am I having a heart attack? I’ve got to get home quickly before something happens to me! Did I take my blood pressure meds this morning? Oh dear, I can’t remember! I feel as if I’m going to pass out! Help me God, I am afraid!”
I’d had no idea that this is what the woman was thinking, how could I have known? I couldn’t have.
“Hey lady, quit shoving your blasted cart into me! Don’t you know that’s rude?” I shouted, while shaking my head back and forth in disgust.
I was so ashamed in the presence of Jesus as we watched these transactions in my life. I glanced over at Him from time to time, but His face only radiated sadness.
The scene had changed, and the lady was sitting at a traffic light. Just as she accelerated to go through the intersection, her head slammed forward against the steering wheel. People were leaping from their cars, running to go see what had happened. Then a man shouted, “Someone! Call 911! This woman is dead! I think she’s had a heart attack!”
When it all stopped, Jesus was in front of me again staring down gravely, and I said the only thing I knew to say, “Oh, I had no idea….” A feeble attempt to explain.
Jesus answered, “Of course you didn’t know. But son, you didn’t do what you were supposed to do. You sinned on many levels here. You were rude and thoughtless to her. You cursed her. And, finally but most importantly, you didn’t tell her about me.”
Jesus paused as He paced a full circle around me, and I was much too guilt-ridden and filthy to look Him in the face.
“Steve, she went to hell. I had just sent someone to her a few weeks prior; she was thinking about it too. All you had to do was show her love, and say something about me. Like, “Jesus loves you!” Or, “Ma’am, do you know Jesus Christ? Because He loves you so much, and I feel an urgency in my spirit to tell you about Him.”
“But Lord, I didn’t feel anything except for anger and annoyance! There was no urgency in my….”
Jesus interrupted. “Of course you didn’t feel anything Stephen because you were angry, and you were not in me. Had you been in me, you wouldn’t have been angry, and you would have clearly heard the voice of the Holy Spirit urging you in your heart. The anger of man does not please the Father, Stephen. You know this; you learned it in church.”
There was absolutely nothing I could say or do; Jesus was right and I knew it.
Once again, the film began rolling. This time, I was talking to a girl, the girl I’d had a big crush on, Sam. She was upset about something, and all I cared about was getting her in bed. “My dad is so mean to me, Steve. He threatens me, and sometimes I think he’d really kill me.”
I was somewhat sympathetic, but I think at that moment I’d had my mind-set on ‘other’ things. “I’m sorry baby. It can’t be that bad. Just get away from him when he’s like that and it’ll all be okay.” I remembered how insecure Sam was; she was a people pleaser. It was easy to take advantage of her because she just wanted people to like and accept her.
I moved in for the kill and began showing her my concern by kissing her. Sam, of course, thought I was kissing her because I was trying to make her feel better, but I knew I was kissing her to make someone else feel better…myself!
One thing had led to another, and you know, yeah. Jesus didn’t make me watch any of that; I was relieved. I mean, who wants to watch that in front of God? Not me.
I remembered the phone call when Sam sheepishly explained that she had to move away, far away, and I never saw her again. I would miss her, but only physically. I’d always wondered what had happened to her. We were only teenagers.
Now the scene changed and I was seeing Sam at home with her dad. He looked really wicked, his face all red and his eyes bulging out. He was cursing at her, throwing things at her, and Sam was crying and running from him. She locked herself in her room, and I could see her kneeling by her bed, “Please God! Please help me! Save me from this, Lord! Just help me!” She looked absolutely mortified as tears poured from those pretty blue eyes.
Her dad kicked the door in, “If you go near that boy again I will put you six feet under! Do you hear me? You are nothin’ but a lousy tramp, just like your mama! I’ll beat that demon out of you, you whore!”
Now I was seeing a new scene in the virtual reality drama; Sam just a little bit older, maybe a year or two. She was screaming frantically, throwing chairs and anything else she could get her hands on at her dad. Without warning, he whipped out a handgun and shot her, blood flying everywhere, when it abruptly came to a stop.
I saw Jesus again. “Stephen, Sam went to hell, and she went to hell a miserable young adult. She cursed me because she believed I did not love her because of her father. I would have used her in a miraculous way to help girls like her. She kept serving the devil and I couldn’t help her; you were all given your own free will. She continued partying and having sex with different boys, and doing drugs. I spoke to her in so many ways, even moved people in her path, but that’s all I could really do. You had only been out of church for a few years at the point you knew Sam. Why did you not tell her about me instead of committing fornication with her?”
I was speechless. I knew the answer, and so did He, but He wanted me to admit it. “Because Lord, I was selfish!” I was sobbing so hard, I’d never cried like it before in my life. I felt like a mere puddle, or a layer of dust on someone’s old tattered shoes. I’d had no idea.
“Jesus, how could I have known? I was a boy, thinking about the birds and the bees like most boys do. Please Jesus…”
“Stephen, you knew better, in fact, you knew more than most. Why Stephen? Why did you not put to death the flesh so that you and others could indeed live? You called upon me in your youth, yet you walked away from me, only thinking of me from time to time, but quickly forgetting. Why Stephen? Did you not know how much I love you?” His stare cut through me. I’d never seen eyes like His…eyes that appeared to be reading your insides! There were no secrets, no deceptions, and no darkness. Everything was laid out in the light before the throne of God.
I couldn’t fathom a single excuse, and not a word could be uttered, other than, “Forgive me, Lord. I am guilty. I am so guilty and ashamed Jesus!” My voice sounded like a resounding old horn on a junkyard scrap car. It wasn’t good enough, and nothing I could say or do could make it any better. It was too late.
Jesus glanced away momentarily at someone, or something, and nodded gravely. “His time is over, go ahead and take him. He now realizes what he has done.”
A creature stepped forward, an ugly, vehement looking creature, and it snarled at me as if I was going to be his supper. He snorted with each thud of his big, cloven feet as he leaned over and clutched my shoulder in his fist. “Come on disgusting human! I’m taking you home…” He cackled wickedly. I looked over at Jesus but all I could see was his back. He wasn’t leaving me, He just stood still…perfectly still…I was leaving him. I cried out as loud as I could.
“No! Jesus! Please! In the name of Jesus, let go of me! Get behind me devil, in Jesus name!”
It was then that I awoke on the floor next to my bed. I was soaked in a cold sweat. I reached up to cradle a sharp pain when I discovered a lump on my head, apparently from where I’d fallen, thought there was nothing around me that I could have bumped my head on except for the thickly padded carpeted floor. My heart was racing a million miles a minute, and I had to lie there perfectly motionless before I could move. Slowly, I sat up, glancing around into the darkness of my room, unsure where I was, and foggy about what’d happened, whether or not it happened at all. I was sure it had happened–it had to have happened! It was too real!
I stood up, my gait unsteady, and headed for the kitchen to get a drink of water. I set the bottle down and stumbled out to the couch in the living room where I knelt down and bowed my head. “Father, in the name of Jesus, I repent for this life I have lived. I have not been living in you, or for you. I have been shown tonight your mercy, and I humble myself in your magnificent presence. I’m sorry Lord. Please forgive me. I’m sorry you had to go through all of this trouble to get my attention. I truly call upon you right here and right now as Lord and Savior of my life! Cleanse me Father from all of my sin and filthiness! In Jesus name!”
I wept, and I prayed on my knees for what must’ve been well over an hour before I went to bed. The next morning, I was determined to tell everyone I could about Christ, and to not allow myself to get so angry when people were rude to me or thoughtless. In fact, I was determined to spread the love of Jesus everywhere my feet took me.
You see, this life isn’t about me, and really, it’s not about you either; it’s about Jesus. God made us for His glory, not for our own, but for His. We can sit around and say that it’s not fair, or it’s not true all day long, but the only reason you live and move and breathe is because God made you; He allowed this being called ‘you’ to exist in the first place. If that weren’t enough, He sent Jesus, God in the flesh, to die for you so that His Holy Spirit could come and live inside of you, you know, to help you, and help others at the same time. He’s the light that makes the path not so dark. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without Him, or how I’d lived on my own without His direction as long as I did. All the Lord wanted from me is my love and my realization that I was nothing without Him. He wanted me to need Him, and in so doing, to spread the news.
He wanted me to take our relationship seriously, and to be a devoted, loyal child; not some rebellious child who forgets all about from where he came and who brought him here in the first place, but a child who honors his heavenly Father with love and respect. And to do that, well, it’s in the owner’s manual. God never sends a package without instructions. It’s about an entirely new lifestyle, one that’s different from the rest. Loving instead of hating. Faithing instead of complaining. Being humble instead of loud. Being agreeable instead of proud. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and I praise God each and every day for what He’s done for me!
The thing of it is, He wants to do it for you too, but we’re so stubborn, we sometimes have to be broken first to realize we just can’t do it ourselves anymore. Even the wealthiest most successful people have a void they can’t seem to fill, oftentimes accompanied by sadness. Everyone has hurts, bruises, scrapes, and scars. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find out the truth. Jesus is real, and if you never do another thing, search for Him and you’ll find Him. Just don’t be like me and wait until it’s too late. For some reason, He wanted to keep me around, and I never, ever take it for granted.
Don’t take your life for granted. Live in Him, and tell others. Because when you kneel before the throne of God, everything you did, and didn’t do, is going to all come out one way or another. And let me be direct, you may not see it now, but it’s real, and it’s sooner than you might think.