I remember for the longest time I was sitting on the highest step. Days, months, years… or it could have been minutes. The time was off, lost somehow. It didn't matter to me. I was content to wait for him. Who I wasn't sure. I knew I was dead… or I thought I was. So maybe the 'him' was Jesus.
But I was waiting. I had been waiting patiently for a long time (or no time at all) so I knew my surroundings fairly well. The expanse in front of me seemed very large. I had never moved from the top step but who ever came from beyond the white expanse—where the edges blurred on three sides—it took a while for them to get close enough for me to see their faces. The last side of the seemingly infinite place was the stairs. I was on the top one, but it wasn't too far from the bottom. There were only seven steps. Again they seemed to stretch infinitely in both directions but at the same time I could see both ends. I could see both ends well enough to know that I was off center slightly to the right.
Not by favoritism on my part, I just was. I don't remember coming to be in this place or walking up the steps to sit on the top one off to the right. I didn't even know what was behind me. Only that I was waiting for him.
There were people here: down below in the expanse. No one else sat on the stairs. They all seemed… unhappy. Their voices jumbled and disoriented to me. I looked out at them; both men and women, young and old, and simply watched. Some yelled, some argued, some gossiped, some cried. It was all a low buzz in my ear. The words made no sense even though I knew I spoke at least one of the many languages that I was hearing. But I was unbothered. I was content to wait for him.
Time passed the noise rose and fell like always, people came and then again no time passed at all. The something happened. But it wasn't what I was waiting for. Someone, one of the people in the expanse, spoke to me. Then as if everyone was waiting for this, they all turned and pointed, talking to each other, gesturing, yelling, crying and looking—at me.
How odd. I had been here years (months, minutes, days) and no one had noticed me before. No one had talked to me and I had not talked to them.
I found myself at a loss of what to do. I still could not understand any of them. When I did not move, or speak or give any inclination that I was paying attention to them at all they grew more agitated than before. What was I to do? There was a new emotion taking over my contentment. Guilt. I felt guilty that they were upset because of me. But what was I to do? I sat there and contemplated for a moment.
The answer came to me: and him. So I did. After years (days, seconds, weeks) I spoke for the first time out loud.
"What would you have me do, Lord?"
And, as if he had been waiting for me just as patiently all this time, He answered.
"They want what you have. Why not give it to them?"
"Well I don't see why not. But how does one go by giving contentment and peace away?"
And I was. I had nothing else in this large and somewhat strange expanse. But I was content and at peace. More than willing to help the ones before me I listened to Him.
"You must sing, dear one. Your faith draws you close to me but your worry for others keeps you from my Kingdom. You think you are at peace, yet you dwell between life and death worrying for those around you both here and on earth."
Yes I was. He was right. Until now I did not realize it but now I could feel it. It was almost like a weight. It settled on my shoulders, in my stomach, and seemed to press my hands into my lap more heavily then where they rested so limply before during my long (yet short) wait for Him.
For the first time I looked away from the expanse to looked down in shame. My shoulders slumped and my clasping hands trembled. I squeezed my eyes shut only to have them fly open when I felt a wet drop on my hand. A tear. My head still bowed in shame I spoke again.
"What would you have me do, Lord?"
"You already know what you must do. Why ask?"
"I'm scared. I don't want to go."
More tears. I knew that if I sang I would have to leave this place. This place where I was so content, happy and at peace. He sat beside me on the top step. It felt wrong; He should not lower Himself for me. I was not worthy. He seemed to sense my thoughts because he grabbed my hand and held it in his own.
"My child, do not be afraid, I am here. I will always be here beside you. You need not sit at the foot of my throne for me to watch over and protect you. Sing a prayer for me and I will hear it."
I took a deep breath and sang the words that had been on my mind when I had became here:
"When peace like a river
Attendeth my way.
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
What ever my lot
Thou has taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul."
The low buzz of noise had gotten quieter, but I felt reluctant to go on. A soft pressure at my left hand told me He was still there. With a breath I sang more.
"Though Satan should buffet,
Though trials should come
Let the blest assurance control
That Christ has regarded
My helpless estate
And has shed His own blood for my soul!"
Breathe I told myself as he gently tugged my hand. He wanted me to stand next to him. I did. H spoke to me:
"Louder, dear one."
"My sin, oh the bliss, of this glorious light
My sin, not in part, but the whole.
Is nailed to the cross,
And I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord
Oh my soul!
We walked down the steps and in to the silence that the expanse was now. I had—no He had captured everyone's attention. They all looked at us with growing contentment and peace. I smiled and continued.
"And Lord, haste the day,
When my faith shall be sight.
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound
And the Lord shall descend
Even so it is well with my soul."
I was finished. That was my prayer. But He was not done. As he walked through the people and guided me to the center He sang.
"It is well,"
I sang after Him:
"It is well,"
"With my soul,"
"With my soul,"
"It is well, it is well with my soul!"
It was done. I could tell it was the end. We were standing at the center of the large yet small space and I knew it was time for me to go. I had been waiting for Him for a long time. I was no longer worried. I was wholly and completely content. It was time to go home.
Simple, but a tear slid down my cheek. I did not want to leave.
"No, dear one. This is not goodbye. You cannot say goodbye to someone who never leaves. I am with you always and will always be there."
I sighed in relief. He hugged me and all at once I felt happy, peaceful, content and safe. When he let go the feeling remained. With a smile I stepped back and… fell.
Darkness greeted me. Everything was muffled and my instinct was to panic. I was lost and scared. Then I remembered my prayer and his promise:
"It is well with my soul."
I opened my eyes to a new day, content to wait for him. May it be days, months or years I would wait. Living my life to bring him glory. He gave me this life and I was happy with it.
The sun peaked in the windows and I smiled. I would wait… and so would He.
April 14th 2013