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One of the fruits of the renewal has been a burst of artistic creativity in His children... of using different art mediums creatively to glorfiy the Lord. With some, it is poetry, with others paintings, with others song.
I have been a writer for many years, but have not done fiction for a very long time. I believe that one of the things the Lord has been doing in me through the renewal is to rebirth that creative writing in me.
Thus, here is a short fictional story I'd like to share with you...
The jury filed back into their seats.
The judge asked, "Mr Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict?"
"We have, your honor." He handed an envelop to the balif, who in turn handed it to the judge.
"Would the defendent please rise for the reading of the verdict."
I sat there in disbelief. This could not really be happening. The person next to me nudged me in the ribs with his elbow. I glaced over the see my attorney motioning me to stand. Shakily, I rose to my feet.
"Mr Grewe, the jury finds you guilty. I have to admit, I am a bit surpirsed, as there was so little evidence against you. Sentencing will be tomorrow at 10:00 AM. This court stands ajourned."
My mouth was hanging open. I snapped it closed. An officer held up the handcuffs and I put my wrists up for him. Snap, snap and I could feel the weight of the chains hanging down from them. A few seconds later, the cuffs were also secured on my ankles, making it difficult to stand or walk. Then the officer roughly escorted me from the court room to my cell.
He certainly was not gentle when he removed the chains, and the skin my my wrists was rubbed raw. This almost seemed to delight the officer. I did not say anything... I figured that if I said anything, it would prod him to treat me even worse. I refrained from rubbing my sore wristes until he closed the door and left me alone in my tiny cell. Then I sat down on the bed. "Dear God," I asked, "Can this really be happening to me?"
Silence was my only answer.
I sat there in a bit of a disoriented daze. Then I finally feel into a fitful sleep. But even in my sleep, my mind seemed to race with some of the events that led up to this moment. The came up in the form of a series of dreams.
In the first dream, I was just coming home from work, tired and ready to plop down in my easy chair and bury myself in the sports section of my newspaper. My wife meet me at the door, worry etched across her face.
"Harry, I would like you to come to a prayer meeting with me tonight," she began. "It's really important..."
"Not tonight, dear." I cut her off. Prayer meetings were so boring. I put in a hard day at the office, and I deserved to have the evening to relax.
"But they legalized euthanasia today. This is terrible. We need to pray."
"Go ahead dear, if you want to. I've had a tough day and the office and I need to rest." I really could not see what she was so upset about. I guess that technically euthanasia is murder, but it only effects people with painful and fatal diseases... certainly nothing that would ever effect us. If I had only known back then, I would have gone to that prayer meeting with Hazel. But who could have ever guessed...
I tossed and turned in my fitful sleep. The scene changed. It was maybe a year later. We were in our kingsized bed, but Hazel could not sleep. She tossed and turned until I finally asked her what was the matter. "Harry, I'm really worried. The new law gives the right for the court to order involuntary euthanasia for anyone with physical disabilities or a recurring history of mental illness. In short, they can sentence a person to death just because they are physically or emotionaly handicapped. That is the same as murder. It is scarey!"
"You're right," I replied sleepily. "But what can we do about it?"
"For one thing, we can pray. We can confess our nation's sin and beg God for His mercy in this situation! We pray pray that this new law be overturned."
I glanced at my wristwatch. It was 3:30 AM. I sighed, as quietly as possible. I was weighing in my mind whether I'd be able to get to sleep faster by talking her out of praying or by humoring her and praying with her for a few minutes. Yeah, this was a tough break for those with disabilities, but it did not really effect me. I had to be at work in the morning, and it was 3:30 AM!
I finally decided it would quicker to pray with her... actually I let her do all of the praying, just occasionally grunting an "Amen" or a "yes, Lord." I figured she'd be done in about 5 or 10 minutes. To my surprise, she was still praying up a storm when I drifted off to sleep one and a half hours later.
I groaned and rolled over. Another memory forced it's way into my dream.
It was on Prime Time TV! I could not believe it! A volunary euthanasia was being telecast live. It was being covered by all the major network stations: ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and even FOX. I sat glued to the television screen. A frail and sickly woman was escorted to a cushioned chair in front of a computer terminal. Physicians in clean, sharply pressed white uniforms assisted her. They asked her if she was confortable? "Yes." They said "good" and gently began fixing a neck collar around her neck, with tubes coming out of it and attaching to the computer.
Hazel came into the room. She seemed agitated. "I can't believe you're watching this!"
"The whole world is watching this." I replied. "Come and sit down next to me."
"No way! I will not be a party to this!"
"No one is asking you to partisipate in it... just to watch it on TV. You want to be informed, don't you?"
Her face got red. I have almost never seen Hazel mad. "Oh!!!!" She studdered, at a loss for words and finally ran from the room.
I transfered my glance to the TV screen. I had missed something crutial, but was determined to follow this as best as I could. The TV was now displaying a CRT display from the euthanasia computer. The prompt said, "Do you desire to terminate you life? (This question will be repeated three times and after the 3rd acknowledgement, a lethal injection will be administered.) Enter 'Y' for 'Yes' or 'N' for 'No'." The woman had already entered 'Y' twice and the 3rd prompt was just being printed to the screen. The news coverage changed to a split screen. On the left side, we saw a closeup of the woman's face, and on the right side, the CRT display with the 3rd and final prompt.
The woman pressed her lips together and looked a bit distressed. Did she actually realize what she was about to do? Death was so final. Maybe they'd find a cure for cancer before it took her life. Would she really go through with it? The side with the closeup of her face panned back to show to her hands on the keyboard. She held her finger shakily over the "Y" key and hesitated. Then she moved it to the "N" key, still hesitating. I held my breath. I wanted to shout "Push the N, push the N!" She got a determined look on her face, swung her finger rapidly to "Y" and pushed the key down.
Immediately, three needles came out of that collar and pressed into veins in her neck. She stiffened for a minute, an agonized expression on her face. Then her eyes rolled up into the sockets until only white showed. Her facial features relaxed and she slid limply from the chair.
"Did you see how peaceful she looked right after taking the injection?" One announcer asked the other. "It was just as though she went to sleep."
"Oh come on!" I muttered to myself. I had see the look of agony on her face. Who were they trying to kid?! She died a quick but excrutiating death. It was horrible. "I'll never volunteer for euthanasia," I vowed to myself. "No matter now sick I get, I'll never do it!"
The dream scene changed again. It was a sunday morning and I'd been up late the night before working on a big emergency crunch at my job.
"Honny," my wife nudged me, "it's almost time to leave for church. You better get up now, or we'll be late."
"Ughhh..." I said drowisily. "I was up really late last night. Go on ahead without me. I need to catch up on my sleep. I'm sure God won't mind..."
"How are you so sure?" She asked. "Have you asked Him? Have you been talking to Him much? I never see you reading the Bible and we hardly ever pray together anymore. Are you slipping away from God? Is He still important in your life?"
That question echoed through my mind. At first I had been so on-fire for the Lord. But the truth of the matter is that day-in, day-out life goes on and this starts taking precidence over things like bible study and worship. We do, after all, live in the real world, not in the heavenlies. Sure, I believe in Jesus and I am sure that He won't kick me out of His heaven. But really, just how much did He expect to be involved in my day-to-day life? After all, I try to obey the 10 commandments and live morally and all that. I give money to my church and go most Sundays. How much more could He reasonably expect from me? I had a vague sense that I was missing something, but I forced that thought out of my mind and tried to get back to sleep in my nice comfortable bed.
I sat up in a cold sweat. I was not in my nice comfortable bed any more, I was on a hard cot in a prison cell. Maybe if I'd taken God more seriously when I had the chance, I'd be surrounded by His peace now, instead of fighting with nightmares. I tried to pray a little, but it was as if I was talking to stone walls or deaf ears. Eventually I fell back into a troubled sleep.
In this dream, I came home from work hungry and ready for dinner. I noticed the diningroom table was not set, and asked Hazel about it.
Her face was drawn and white. "You didn't eat lunch at work today, did you?"
"Of course I did." What kind of question was that?
"Honey, how could you forget!"
"Yes. Today is a day that the whole church is praying and fasting for God's mercy. They are about to pass a law that would make it possible to declare anyone who is a commited christian as legally insane. We're petitioning God to keep that law from passing."
Oh yeah, the church was praying/fasting about that. It was such an obscure bill, submitted by the left wing radicals. It did not have any chance of passing and being made a law. It was idiotic. I could not see how anyone with a sound mind could possibly get worked up over this crazy law, it would never in a million years be passed. It was certainly nothing to miss dinner over.
I sighed and grabbed the car keys. It was clear that I'd get no dinner here tonight. The better part of valor dictated that I quietly and unattrusively go to a local diner without making a scene at home.
"Where are you going?"
"You're going out to eat, aren't you?" She was almost crying.
"Of course not, honey. I just forgot something important at work. I'm going back to take care of it." I lied.
She did not seem to believe me. "This is so important, Harry. Can't you fast and pray with me this one evening about it?"
"Maybe another time, dear. I have to go back to work now." I got out of the house as fast as I could. This was getting extreme... too extreme. Fasting and praying over a silly obscure proposed law that would never pass. I stopped by Donald's Diner and then went on to the office. Let Hazel fast and pray if she wanted, but I was too smart to waste time/energy on that. (If only I knew then what I know now. I would have done things so differently.)
The dream scene changed again.
It was 6:00 AM saturday morning, and someone was pounding on our front door. I grumbled as I pulled on some pants. Who would have the gall to come to my house at this hour on a Saturday morning? I rubbed my eyes, which were rebelling and refusing to focus. Then I reached for the front door knob. Hazel appeared behind me in her robe, just as I began to open the door. Somehow she managed to look beautiful, even in a bathrobe and with her hair in a mild state of disarray. I thought briefly to myself that I was a lucky man to have her for my wife.
To my surprise, two armed police men were standing at the door.
"'Morning officers," I managed to mutter. "What is going on?"
"Are you Harry Grewe?" The taller officer demanded?
"Yes, I am."
He grabbed me roughly, forcing me face down on the livingroom carpet and cuffing my hands behind me. "We have a warrent for your arrest."
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the other officer wrestling my wife to the ground and I could hear her screams. He was being unnecessarily rough with her.
"Officer, there must be some mistake," I began. Apparently, he was not in a mood to discuss this. He grabbed my hair, forcing my head off the ground. Then he slammed my face violently to the floor. There was a searing pain and my nose began to bleed. Then I lost consciousness.
I moaned in my sleep. I really didn't want to wake up though, as real life was even worse than these memory nightmares.
The next dream scene was my wife's sentencing. They had her trial before mine. I missed her trial, being a prisoner myself. But, for some unknown reason, they allowed me be present at her sentencing.
"Hazel Ellen Grewe," the judge said, "the jury found you guitly of being a Christian. The evidence against you is overwhelming and I am faced with no choice but to declare you legally and criminally insane. However, the court is not without mercy. We give you the chance to renounce this Christ of yours and enter a rehabilitation program. Chances are that you will be able to complete the program within two years and be released back to a normal and productive life."
"I will not renounce my God." Hazel said.
"Do you know what the penality is for being criminally insane?" The judge asked.
Hazen drew herself to her full five feet five inches. She was shaking mildly, but there was a peace and confidence in her eyes that I'd never seen before. She looked taller. In fact, she looked like a giant. There was a beauty on her... a glory on her. It was hard to believe this was my Hazel I was looking at. It was also hard to believe the events that were transpiring around her. She was about to be sentenced to a terrible death and she was being given a second chance and she was not interested in it. How could this be?
"Hazel," my voice was hoarse. "Don't throw your life away."
The judge hammered his gavel, demanding silence.
Hazel turned and looked at me. "Harry, I love you. I am not throwing my life away. Jesus said that whoever loses their life for His sake gains eternal life. Be strong, Harry. Don't renouce Him either, and we will see each other shortly in Heaven."
I tried to stand up and was restrained. I tried to say something, and was struck forcefully across the face before I could get any words out.
The judge hammered his gaval again. "One more outburst, Mr Grewe, and I'll have you removed from this court room." Then he turned his attention to Hazel.
"Hazel Ellen Grewe, you leave me with no alternative but to sentence you to involuntary euthanasia. Sentence is to be carried out immediately."
"No!" I screamed, forcing myself to my feet. One of the officers hit me over the heard with something very hard. I felt myself falling to the ground. I struggled to keep from loosing consciousness, but was loosing that battle.
The last thing I heard, before losing consciousness, was Hazel's voice. "I am not afraid to die. I know I will see my Lord Jesus Christ, and He will give me eternal life..."
Even in my dreams, the tears began to flow. Hazel was, of course, dead by the time I regained consciousness in my cell. A terrible depression and fear settled over me. My trial had been the next day, and I was barely aware of what was happening to me. How could this really be happening?
Suddenly, my cell was flooded with a bright light. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. Was this real, or was it another dream?
"Harry Grewe," a musical and lovely voice asked, "Are you going to renounce Me to save your life?"
I stared into the light and saw a man's form. He was lovely beyond description, eyes filled with compassion, and yet He seemed sad and a little stern. I realized I was looking at Jesus.
I did not answer. I did not know what to say.
"Are you going to renounce Me to save your life?" He repeated.
I hung my head in shame. I was not sure what I would do. I knew it would be no good to lie to Him. Yet, I had lived for myself, not for Him. He must be pretty fed up with me. I felt frightened and awed by Him all at the same time.
"Know this," He continued. "That he who renounces Me before men; him I will also renounce before My Father in Heaven. But he who lays down his life for My sake will gain eternal life."
There was a silence He allowed these words to sink in. "You are soon to be faced with a decision... you must either renounce Me to gain your life or you must lay down your life for My name's sake. It would be easier for you if You had learned to make Me your Lord while you walked as a free man. Then My peace and confidence and strength would be all over you now. You have done poorly and lived for yourself rather than for Me. But you still have time to right this... to make Me your Lord. If you desire to do that, you must realize that I will require you to lay down your life for Me. But I will give you eternal life if you do this. And I will comfort you now and give you the strength you need to go through this. Are you willing?"
"Lord, I am scared."
"Yes, I know. But are you willing to make Me your Lord and Master now? Are you willing to lay down your life for My name's sake?"
"I am willing, but I don't have the strenght to go through this. Will You help me?"
"I will help you. I will pour My strength and My Holy Spirit on you. I will be with you and will never leave you nor forsake you."
I could feel His strength pouring into me. "I will not forsake you, Lord. I'm sorry I lived for myself instead of for You. I guess I blew it, but now I choose to make You my Lord and I will lay down my life for You."
I could see Him smile. He walked right up to me and put His hand gently on my forehead. "I give you a gift right now... My peace I give to you and My peace I leave with you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." A peace seemed to swell up in me, and the next thing I knew I was drifting off to a dreamless sleep. Just before I was asleep, a verse floated through my memory. It was Psalm 4:8, which said, "He gives His beloved sleep."
Someone had their hand on my shoulder and was shaking me roughly. "Wake up. It is time to go to court for your sentencing. If you know what is good for you, you'll renounce that God of yours if the judge gives you a chance to do so. Otherwise, you'll be dead in less than 10 minutes..."
Oddly, the sense of peace remained on me the entire trip to the courtroom. The officer did his best to harrass me, but somehow he just did not bother me. Eventually the judge took his seat and commanded me to rise for sentencing.
"Harry Grewe," he said. "The case against you is pretty weak. Even though you've been found guilty by a jury of your peers, I will dismiss the changes and release you if you will publicly renounce the christian faith."
I looked at the judge but did not reply. Somehow the peace began to peal off of me. Here was a chance to save my life... to walk out of the courtroom a free man. Yet, I knew that if I did that, Jesus would one day renounce me before His Father. Yet, I did not want to die. I remembered the vow I'd made to myself, back in the days when euthanasia was voluntary, to never allow myself to die that way. I remembered the look of agony in the woman's face just before the ejection terminated her life and I shuttered. Yet, I did not want to renounce Jesus. I felt frigthened and torn. I simply could not answer the judge one way or the other.
"God, help me!" I prayed silently.
"This is what I am going to do for you, Mr Grewe. I preceive that deep down you are a reasonable man. Therefore, I am going to give you an opportunity, up to the very last instant of your life, to renounce this craziness and be restored to society. I sentence you to voluntary euthanasia, which can be escaped simply by renouncing Christ. Sentence is to be carried out immediately. I hope you come to your senses before it is too late." He pounded his gavel on his podium.
Could this really be happening to me? It never occurred to me that it could cost me my life to be a Christian. Yet, I remembered the peace and strength that poured into me when He touched my forehead last night. How could I possibly renounce Him?
They escorted (dragged) me into the next room, which had a chair infront of a keyboard. It was not a padded comfortable chair, like the one I'd seen on TV. Instead it was a hard metal chair, with restraining straps attached. The sat me down, and strapped me into the chair. Only my right hand was free, from the elbow down, so that I could enter data into the keyboard. Then they placed the lethal injection collar around my neck.
My heart was beating very fast and I could hardly breathe. Was this really happening to me? I fixed my eyes on the CRT. A message printed out. It said,
Are you willing to renounce Christ and live?
This question will be repeated three times. If the sequence is not terminated by a 'No' entry, you life will be terminated by legal injection after the reply to the 3rd prompt.
Enter 'Y' for yes or 'N' for no>
I sat there and started at this in disbelief. I could feel the heaviness of the collar around my neck and could immagine the needles coming out of it and injecting me with fatal poison. My stomach cherned. Yet how could I deny Christ? Then I came up with a strategy. I simply would not answer. I would not say 'N' and deny Christ. But I would not say 'Y' either, which I knew would end my life.
A new line appeared on the CRT screen:
60 second timeout. 'N' assumed.
Are you willing to renounce Christ and live?
This is the 2nd of 3 prompts. A lethal injection will be administered if this series is NOT terminated by a 'Yes'.
Enter 'N' for 'No' or 'Y' for 'Yes'>
My eyes widened. At first I could not believe it. It became clear to me that I had a clearcut choice -- I must either renounce Christ and live or I would be killed. There was no getting out of this decision.
"Lord," I prayed silently. "Please help me. I am going to choose to lay down my life for You instead of renouncing You. But I need You to help me. Give me courage and give me the strength to go through with this."
Just then, a new line appeared on the CRT screen:
60 second timeout. 'N' assumed.
Are you willing to renounce Christ and live?
This is the final of 3 prompts. A lethal injection will be administered if this series is NOT immediately terminated by a 'Yes'.
Enter 'N' for 'No' or 'Y' for 'Yes'>
Suddenly, I could feel the Lord's strength and courage pouring into me. I was flooded by His peace. I could sense His presense in the room with me. I could see, in my mind's eye, a smile on His beautiful and glorious face. Why had I been afraid? There was no fear left, only a confidence in His goodness and in His glory and in His Lordship.
"I will never renounce my Lord Jesus Christ," I said aloud. Then I moved my finger to the 'N' key and pressed it firmly.
The sense of His peace and His presense were with me, more strongly than before. I knew the needles were injecting the poision into my neck, but I could not feel them. There was no pain. If anything, I felt more alive and more at peace than ever before.
I began to hear a multitude of heavenly voices singing "Holy, Holy, Holy. Holy is the Lord God almighty." Soon the song began to resenate in my spirit. Then it burst forth and I found myself singing along.
Somehow the straps that bound me to the metal chair dissolved. Jesus was standing infront of me... even more glorious than when I saw Him the night before. This time there was no fear -- only this incredible joy. He reached out His hand and offered it to me. He smiled as I took it, and said "How precious in My sight is the death of my Saints."
My whole being began to tingle with delight as our hands touched. He gestured for me to stand up, so I did. Then He began to lead me out of the room into this beautiful light. As we approached the light, I could see my lovely wife, Hazel, waiting for me. Her arms were outstretched as if she were waiting to give me a hug and there was a big smile on her face.
Then I glaced from her to the One I loved even more than my wife. He was smiling at me. "Well done, My good and faithful servant", He said. "Your time of testing is past. Enter into My delight."
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