Moonlight illuminates tousled, sweaty hair and the lump on the bed in an eerie blue light. The lump flips. He is dreaming and by the crinkles in his brow, it is not a pleasant dream.
“Paul Bent.” He hears his name called and approaches the overwhelming light of the throne and falls on his face.
“You may stand.” Paul rises. “Ahh…now, let’s see here. How well did you do?”
Paul trembles at God’s unfamiliar voice. “Honest in business, but he lied to his wife…of course that was the norm for that society. I will excuse that.”
God flips another page in his book and skims down it. He looks at Paul. “‘You gave to charities at Christmas I see, but you kept most of your stuff for yourself. Your neighbour across the street sure did better. He was also a better father. You went to church and called yourself a Christian. Oh, and you did make some remarkable improvements later in life.”
God licks his finger and turns another page looking down his nose, as he remarks, “I’m sorry, but even if I am lenient, I sure do not see that you are worthy of heaven.” He closes the book and gestures to the shining beings on either side of him. “Take this man to his new home.”
He dusts of his hands. “I never knew you.”
Paul desperately finds a voice, as two angels seize him. “But-but-but-what about grace?”
He is shaking with fear.
“Honey, honey, wake up.”
Paul opens his eyes and sees his wife’s worried face. He groans and covers his eyes. “I’m sorry” he says, and he reminds her of the lies and tells her of the dream.
“Oh, Paul,” she turns to look at him. “You know I’ve forgiven you.” She looks away, and he sees a glimmer in her eye as she continues, “It wasn’t easy, but by the grace of God I have. I know that with His strength you will never do it again.”
“What could this dream mean? Is God really like that?” Paul’s anxious face looks at her.
“I don’t think so,” she replies quietly, but the next day they ask an elder from their church.
“Hmm…” the elder rocks himself in a forwards motion, his eyes tucked into folds of concentration. “Who is God? It’s the question for today. Do you believe God is just?”
“I always thought so,” Paul replies, obviously shaken.
“Do you believe God forgives the repentant?”
“Well, we thought so,” his wife answers.
The elder lowers his head. The room freezes and time seems to stretch agonizingly long, defying the creeping hand of the grandfather clock in the corner.
Then, the elder raises his head. “Sometimes, we people like to compare ourselves to others, just so we can feel good about our accomplishments. Maybe God wanted us to remember that if He would compare us, we wouldn’t stand a chance.”
Trembling, the elder raises his fist defiantly. “Praise God! Since I repented, He sees me through the eyes of grace.”