The Eternal Game
By David Seiter (USA)
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Ah, it has happened. I have died in my sleep. I see the snow piling up, but I am no longer cold. I stand now in another dimension. My tortured body is whole again, my dim eyes are clear, and my ears seem more attuned, as if they had been muffled; not only in old age, but throughout my life. I look down on my now dead and useless body lying there under the old tree. That body served me well, but I'm not going to miss it.
Suddenly I feel myself being sucked away from my dead body. I reach out to touch that old man one last time, to say goodbye, but too soon I have been pulled away, the world of my birth quickly receding. Excitement courses through my veins. I feel myself accelerating, not up, not down, not sideways, just away. Even though darkness surrounds me, I can still see relatively well.
I feel warmth on my face and the feeling that I am moving quite rapidly. For the moment, I can see nothing but the form of my new body and an inky blackness beyond. It is getting hotter. Is this friction from the air I move through? I move my arms around, but feel no buffeting air around them. I suck in my breath and feel nothing. There is no air, yet I do not feel like I am suffocating either. It must be that my new body does not need air! I test the theory by shouting a long “Hellooooooo”. I hear my voice but no air is used in making the sound, and none is necessary to carry it. I can hold the note as long as I wish.
My body seems to have a heightened ability to feel stimuli. Rather than just a general sense of heat, I can feel each square inch of my body as it is getting warmer. I see color in the inky blackness ahead of me. It is bluish red and appears to be directly in front of me. Closer and closer I draw to the color. Everything is somehow an inky black, yet visible. It is hard to explain the sensation of being in utter darkness, yet seeing a kind of light at the same time. The light, I’m sure, would not be noticeable to my old eyes, for it’s not really a light, but rather the presence of something with color in the blackness. Excitement courses through my veins.
The warmth soon becomes painfully hot. I look down and watch in horror as the hair is burned off my arms. My mouth is like cotton, full of hot dry emptiness. I scream out, and a tear escapes my eye, only to be boiled off my face.
I burst through the empty space, and suddenly my destination opens up before me as the feeling of movement is now more of a fall into the colored darkness. Looming beneath me, I see a massive moving lake, ebbing and flowing as far as I can see in every direction. It is the source of the heat that I feel. I look down at my arms again and the skin is beginning to change colors. It is turning black. As I draw closer, it appears that what I'm seeing is actually flames! Can flames even exist without oxygen? I look at my arms again; the burning has destroyed my skin, which now has changed from black to a grayish white color like you would see in a barbecue pit after a fire. I can still move and my body appears to be mechanically undamaged despite the fact that the fire has burned it beyond recognition. What is happening? The excitement I felt before has been replaced with horror.
I hear sounds coming from below. At first it is like a distant humming, but soon evolves into screams from a multitude of voices! Rather than a chorus of noise like I would have heard on earth, I can understand every word of every voice below me. Cries for God, sobs, and curses dominate what I hear. An instant from impact, my own wretched voice joins the unholy symphony, “Noooooooo”.
Then I plunge into the fiery sea, screaming uncontrollably as it licks at my leathery charred skin, entering my ears, nose, and mouth like a flood of lava. How is it that I am still alive? All the moisture in my body has boiled away. I move my eyes and they feel like dry charred rubber balls moving in rough leather sockets; yet they continue to function as if immune to the fire. My burning ears, still functioning despite the liquid fire that has entered them, continue to be assaulted by the wailing of those around me. Despite my pain, I try to focus through the inky darkness. Not far away, I see what appears to be a hideous creature. It is a charred white in color. Rising and falling in the flames, it screams like a banshee. I wonder if that thing was ever human. Is that what I look like?
Suddenly it hits me. Hell.
It must be a mistake, I lived a good life; God would never put someone like me into hell! Doesn’t he know that I went to church my whole life and gave freely of my money in offerings? I scream, “God, it's me, John Smith! God, it's me, John Smith!” Over and over I shriek out my name to God. He must hear me!
Could this be the final destination of every soul that has ever had the misfortune to live? I mean, if a man such as I could go to hell, then who could possibly avoid such an end? I see several of the tortured creatures around me, but there is no way to communicate with any of them, as they are just too tortured to think about anything but their own pitiful condition. How long have they been here, a year, a million years? I bump against something, a rough, dry scraping of tortured bodies. I look at the creature, but see no humanity. Who was that on earth? Could it have been someone famous, or perhaps an old friend?
I must get back to earth to warn my daughters of this place. I search for a way of escape, but see nothing but fiery lava in every direction. But what would I say? I don’t even know why I am here, or what I could have done to avoid it. I hate the day I was born, and my mother for having me. Why, God, did you not warn me? I begin to curse. Hatred for God, who must be responsible, wells up in me like a serpent. I must stand before him, and tell him that he is wrong, that I was a good man, that I don't deserve to be in this place! No matter how powerful a God of the universe is, I would face him, and make him prove to me that I deserve this.
My teeth grind together uncontrollably as I fight for my sanity. I bite my tongue as hard as I can, to see if I can bleed, but taste nothing. The flames that suffuse my being swallow up the pain of the bite. How can I live without blood? There is no way my heart is still beating, no way that blood is still circulating.
Yet, I exist.
Time has no meaning here. One day, one year, one hundred years, it is all the same. My body seems to be dead, yet alive, existing without the need for air, food, or anything else. I had hoped for a while that I would starve to death, but now, despite constant hunger and thirst, I'm sure that won’t happen. Will God ever realize that I'm here? Does he care? I hate God and curse him constantly. Then, at other times, I cry out for mercy. It does not matter. I know that he does not listen. The evil here is all encompassing and all enveloping, blotting everything else. I know that I teeter on the edge of insanity and wonder if it is worth the fight.
In one of those moments of lucid thought that come and go, I try to remember life on earth. What was it like to enjoy a sunset with my children, to kiss my wife? The memories have dimmed to the extent that they are no longer pleasant. I cry, but no tears come.
Sleep, I wish I could go to sleep, if only for a minute.
Something is happening, I seem to be rising up out of the flames! As I move away from the blaze, my body begins to cool. Oh sweet relief, finally the punishment is over! I continue to accelerate, moving away from hell and notice that my skin is cooling, returning to the healthy state that I can only dimly remember from so long ago. My hair appears to be growing back. Could it be true? Has God discovered his mistake? Behind me now, the colors of hell that had been my home for so long grow dim as I continue to ascend.
Quivering and shaking from the ordeal, I slowly return to a normal state. My mind, having been on the very edge of insanity for so long, seems supernaturally restored. Gradually, I see a bright light coming into view. I quickly approach the light. You can't imagine what it's like to be in pitch darkness for years, and then see light, bright as the sun, in front of you. I cover my eyes.
Soon, I feel myself set down on a cool surface. A fresh breeze seems to travel through the place, quite a contrast to the stench in hell. For the first time since moments after my death, I am not in agony. After what seems like minutes, but was probably only seconds, I slowly open my eyes and allow them to adjust to the light. At first, I can only look down at the ground, but after another few moments I force my eyes to travel painfully off the floor just enough to see what appears to be a huge white throne. This, I recognize, is the source of the light.
I tremble as I raise my eyes to see the One that sits on the throne, for I know whom it is.
It is God himself.
Flashes of lightning and peeling thunder issue from around the throne. I look in awe as I view God himself, sitting amidst a golden-red fire. The fire is not like the punishing flames of hell, but rather of purity. A river flows, unaffected by the flames, from the throne. Looking above the throne, I see a beautiful rainbow, and creatures flying back and forth. I hear them cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come!”
Around me, I notice that the creatures from hell have joined me, and have now taken on the form of humans. I glance through the crowd, searching for a familiar face, but see none. There is an enormous sea of humanity around me, waiting to see what will happen. After so many years of continual screaming, I now hear nothing more than an occasional eerie sob. I wonder if my wife and children are somewhere in the crowd?
I sense that the evil presence that had been my companion for so long in hell is gone, replaced with something different, something holy. The One on the throne exudes a feeling of effortless power, of complete control, of perfection, of holiness. I was always taught that God was love, and I thought that if I ever was in his presence, that I would feel nothing but love. But I feel no love, no mercy, only power and perfection.
My eyes, still adjusting to the light, pick up another form. Standing at the right hand of God, He seems much like God himself, yet distinct in nature, and shines with a glorious light that penetrates even my tortured soul. He looks like shining gold; perfect except that His hands and His feet have holes in them. This must be Jesus, God’s son. Despite years of attending church, I had never really thought much about Jesus or his crucifixion. Somehow, I'm able to look into his eyes, the eyes that I had been told were filled with love and compassion. Like God, however, I don't feel those emotions; I only feel emptiness inside myself.
Then Jesus spoke. The sound was like a thousand voices all speaking together, some high, some low, but in perfect unison. The effect was much like the sound of rushing waters. “I would have gathered you together to protect you, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wing, but you would not”.
This is my chance to plead my case! I had been a good man on earth, better, I’m sure, than nearly everyone who stood with me. Before I can speak, my mind is filled with the image of many books. It is like a giant movie screen in my head in book form. Rather than just pictures, however, there is sound, and I actually experience everything contained in the books. The pages began to turn; each one a day in my life. I see myself as a young man growing up. Many good things that I had done pass, but I quickly realize that they pale next to all the things that, while mostly acceptable to men, were clearly sins to the God who sat before me now. I feel and see myself committing all sorts of transgressions against a holy God.
There I was lying to a friend about some trivial thing; so I was a liar. Then taking a couple dollars from my dad’s wallet; so I dishonored my parents, and I was a thief. Next I saw a man that had wronged me, and that I had hated; in God’s eyes, I was now a murderer. There I am lusting after a woman at a party. I see myself watching her; and know that in God’s eyes, I am an adulterer.
I see my brother, Bill, telling me about Jesus’ love, and how he had died for my sins, but now watch as I laughed it off in disbelief. “That’s good for you, but I don’t need salvation,” I had replied. “I go to church, and a loving God will certainly deem me worthy when I die”.
Now I had rejected God, and his son, Jesus.
In horror, I watch as my defense crumbles before me. The images continue on and on, crushing me with their accusations. Each page is soiled by a measure of sin. My life was completely open before the God of the universe; nothing, not even my thoughts, had been secret.
I stand now as a liar, thief, murderer, and adulterer. There could be no defense and I know it. For the first time, I see myself as God saw me, a wretched sinner, the good in me nothing but filthy rags. I fall face down, prostrate before God and his son Jesus. “Have mercy, Lord, I’m sorry.” Over and over again I beg for forgiveness, but feel none. I know now that my good works meant nothing to God and that only by accepting His son Jesus as Lord of my life while I was still alive on earth could have saved me from judgment. Why hadn’t I understood that before?
Through eyes fogged by tears, I venture a look into the eyes of Jesus. For a split second, I see a flicker of sadness, but it quickly passes. I know that Jesus had loved me, or He would not have come to earth to save me. But during life I had not chosen to accept Him as my savior.
The time for compassion had passed. Judgment would now follow.
Jesus spoke again, that beautiful voice sounding like an angelic choir.
“Open the Lambs Book of Life; see if any of those present have their name written in the Book.”
I notice another form that I had not seen before. This form appears much more like a man than does Jesus or God. He is larger and more majestic but does not give off the air of perfection as does God. I see wings on his back, he is an angel.
Before the angel, I now see a great golden table with a large leather bound book sitting atop it. The angel scanned out over the audience, and then flipped through the pages, looking intently down at the words.
After a moment, the angel turned to Jesus, “No, my Lord, none of these present have their names in the Lambs Book of Life.” The angel looked down, as if ashamed to be in the presence of God the Father and Jesus.
Jesus spoke again, “Father, judgment is passed and all before you are found wanting.”
Just then someone from the crowd, braver than I, shouted out, “But Lord, I served you my whole life, I even cast out demons in your name.” Several others joined him, “Lord, don’t you remember me?”
Jesus looked at them, and his mere gaze silenced them all. “By grace are you saved, not of yourselves, itis the gift of God. None here has accepted me as Lord and Savior, and no one comes to the Father, but by me.”
Then God spoke for the first time, His voice shaking the atmosphere like thunder, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” His mighty voice was terrible to behold, and shook my very being.
At this I knew my fate was sealed, and that I was doomed forever. On earth, I had chosen to reject Jesus as my savior, and now it was too late. Even as He finished speaking I feel myself being pulled away. Judgment was complete. The tortured souls and I are headed back to hell where we will exist eternally. I put my hands to my face to hide myself from the anger of God, and feel my tears sizzle and burn away just as my hope had done moments ago.
Why am I here? Wait, it’s coming back, it’s his fault. I remember him talking about God, and about heaven, and about Jesus being the only way to avoid hell. He had said something about being, what was the word, saved? But I hadn’t listened. Yes, and Bill, that was the fool’s name, agreed not to bother me any more, not to intrude on my life with such things. Why would he give up so easily? He should have grabbed me and forced me to listen. I curse my brother until I run out of words.
Shall I tell you how terrible this place is? I, the perfect husband and loving father, would gladly throw my children and wife into hell if it could only buy me a single drop of water to cool my tongue. Don’t you dare judge me! I lived a good life, most likely better than you, but now this torment is more than I can endure. This place changes you. Your thought patterns are warped by mind-bending pain and inky darkness. And the loneliness; can you image an eternity alone in the dark? Although I share this place with a multitude, I am truly alone.
Ah, but I have a secret. Yes, I have found a way to beat God at his own game. Yes, that's right, he thinks he's won but he hasn't. I spend most of my time screaming and cursing, but I still have moments when my mind works better, almost like it did when I first arrived. When it does, I play a clever little game that I have invented. You see, I have a list of the people that I hate the most, and what I would do to them if I could wrap my hands around them.
First of all I hate my daughters because they lived longer than I. Actually, I hate everyone who spent one less day here than me. Even if they died a week after me, even a week of misery on earth, that is reason enough for me to hate them because I spent that week here in hell.
You think you love your children? Spend thousands of years in hell, as I have, and you will see that you love only yourself. Your children, if you can even remember them, will mean nothing to you. Don’t believe me? You will see. I also hate my mother for giving me life. And I hate you, whether you are good or bad. You think I’m crazy? How long will you maintain your sanity? One day? One million days? We will see.
Ah, but number one on the list is Bill. He knew of this place, and yet, when I told him I was not interested, he chose to “respect my wishes” and not mention it again. For years he pretended to be my friend, all the while knowing that I would end up in this place. And yet he said nothing.
Yes, my brother tops the list and I will hate him forever because I am an eternal creature.
Thousands of years have passed, infinity lies ahead. By now you have joined me.
Welcome, creature. Welcome to my eternal game.
This is, of course, a work of fiction. That said it is based on the Biblical teachings and descriptions of hell and Judgment day. Even as you read this, the Bible tells us that a multitude of people inhabit hell and are suffering much like John. They wait for Judgment day without hope.
I wrote this story in the hope that no one who reads it will ever experience hell. The following is a list of scriptures that I used when writing this story. Please take the time to read them. For ease in understanding, I recommend the New Kings James Version of the Bible.
Is there a hell? If so, what is it like?
Matthew 8:12, Matthew 13:41-42, Matthew 13:50, Matthew 25:41, Mark 9:43-44, Luke 16:19-24,
Is there a “Judgment day”? If so, what will it be like?
Matthew 7:22, Revelations 20:11-15
Why did a good man like John go to hell?
Mark 10:18, John 14:6, Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Eph 2:8-9
Is hell eternal?
Matthew 18:8, Matthew 25:46, Mark 3:29,Hebrews 6:2, Jude 1:7, Revelations 14:11
How can I avoid hell?
John 1:12, Acts 4:12, Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, Romans 10:9-13
Sample Prayer: Dear Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner, and that I am doomed to hell without your salvation because of my sins. I know that your penalty for sin is death. I admit that I have sinned and have no hope outside of your free gift of salvation. I believe that Jesus is God, and that he came to this earth to pay the price for my sins by dying on the cross. I accept this free gift, and I ask that you save me by your power and love. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me right now. Help me to live for you the rest of my life. Amen
If you pray this prayer, or one like it and you believe in your heart, and if you are sincere, then you are now saved. Next step: read and become familiar with the Bible, God’s word. Also, find a good Christian church, where you can learn more about how to live for God.
See you in heaven.