THE HERONS OF ELMWOOD
Copyright (c) Victor Darnell Hadnot
"She rose to his requirement, dropped the playthings of her life, to take the honorable work of woman and of wife." Emily Dickinson
"For I have experienced the Almighty power of Jesus Christ; he is not to be underestimated." Victor Darnell Hadnot
Zoe's life started in the most humble of ways. She was born to parents that loved her, but, they had problems, as did any family during those days. She was born on a bright sunny day, on a Sunday, a most blessed of days. Her full name was Zoe Shepherd, her mother died shortly after giving birth to her. She was raised by her loving father, who was tragically kill when she was seven, when evil men broke into their quiet home, seeking to steal, finding her father, defending his home. They killed him. Zoe hid and that is why she survived. At this point, her life was already filled with more tragedy than what any child should be made to endure. Still. She was not alone. She was placed in foster care, but the system was corrupt and filled with wickedness. People who are willing to take care of orphaned children, for money, often care more for the money, than for the children. One day, in the town of Beatbeat, Zoe found herself, lost and without hope. She had slipped through the cracks of society, she had become hopelessly hooked on drugs. She sat in a field of sunflowers one day. Smoking a cocktail of bath salts and marijuana and LSD. This was a bomb that would change her life forever, if it didn't cause her a permeant psychotic breakdown.
It wasn't that Zoe was a bad girl, she wasn't, she really was quite sweet and caring. It was just that one thing led to another, and before she knew it, she had fallen into a bad crowd. It happened more often than what Middle Class sensibilities would like to think. As she sat in the field of flowers, she was approached by a fox. The animal observed Zoe smoking her potion and decided to come over to her.
"My, what a strange smell that is? What are you smoking?" asked the fox.
"Hmm. I am smoking a bomb," she responded, not finding it strange that a fox was able to speak to her, or that there was a fox in the field, at all.
The fox went on. "That can't be good for you."
"It isn't." she admitted.
"Then why are you doing it?"
"Because I'm sad and lonely."
"Lots of young people are sad and lonely. Not all of them do things like this."
"No. They often do worse, actually. If you were young, or a person, you'd know that."
"Ah. But I am not."
"No. You are a fox."
"Yes. And I still don't understand."
"Why you are trying to destroy your life? You are so young. Give yourself a chance to live. Things will get better."
"What is that?"
"Do you promise that things will get better?"
"If I say, yes, will you stop trying to kill yourself?"
"Hmm. An honest answer. Then. Yes. I promise that things will get better."
"How do I know that you are not just some hallucination? I mean, I am stoned. Even I have enough sense to realize that."
"No. I'm quite real."
"And you can talk to me?"
"All animals can talk to humans. The problem isn't with us. It is with you."
"Okay, then. I think I've had enough."
"Come with me."
Zoe studied the fox. "Why would I go anywhere with you, Mr. Fox?"
"I have someone I want you to meet."
"Where do I have to go?"
"See that big elm tree over there?"
"Yes. The one where the herons abide?"
"By the Pond of Yesterday."
"Okay. Now I know I've had enough. But. What the hell. Sure, lead the way."
They started off, towards the elm. When they reached the tree, a strange creature flew over. It was a porcupine with wings. It spotted Zoe and the fox and decided to pay them a visit.
"Why are the two of you come to the Pond of Yesterday?"
Mr. Fox explained how he met Zoe and her condition. Then the porcupine said: "I am Azaka."
Zoe said, "You can fly? How is that so?"
Azaka answered. "I can do lots of things. I can also grant you one wish."
Mr. Fox asked. "And why would you want to do something like that?"
"Because I can. Interested?"
Mr. Fox stated. "No. We are not."
Azaka pointed out. "The invitation was not to you, fox. It was to the young girl?"
"I'm not that young. I'm a teenager. And yes. I am." said Zoe.
Azaka smiled. "Wonderful. Now what can I do for you? What is it that you wish and you shall have it?"
Mr. Fox whispered to Zoe. "This is a trick. Don't do it."
Zoe said. "Here I am. Higher than a kite. Talking to a fox and a flying porcupine. What can go wrong? None of this is real, anyway."
Mr. Fox asked. "What do you think is happening, then?"
"I'm probably still sitting in the field, surrounded by sunflowers, dreaming this whole thing up." she answered.
Mr. Fox put forth. "Or. Maybe you have down by the pond. You have gone into the water and you are drowning."
She looked at the two. "Are you serious?"
Azaka said. "Don't mind Mr. Fox, he is just jealous because you are not taking his advice."
"Maybe I should. If what he is telling me is the truth." Zoe expounded.
"I want things to be different for me and all those like me. I want to be with my dad and mother. I never knew my mother. She died shortly after I was born. And my dad, died trying to defend me from a home invasion." And with that, her and Mr. Fox were caught up in Seventh Heaven. In a place called Quiet Valley. Before her on the green grass, was a bag of chocolate bonbons. Zoe being hungry decided to taste a few, just to hold her over.
Mr. Fox pointed out. "Maybe you shouldn't eat those."
"Why? They taste good. Try one? Zoe handed one to Mr. Fox.
"Hmm. They are quite good." Mr. Fox admitted.
It was then that Zoe and Mr. Fox realized that they were in the clouds, high up in the sky. Higher than either could imagine. And off in the distance, were cities and towns and meadows and all sorts of wonderful and interesting things.
"I think we should head in that direction."
"Why? Maybe it is dangerous." Stated the fox.
"Really? We are caught up in the clouds, and if you were telling me the truth back on land, then I'm drowning in a pond, or something like that. So. What does it matter?" Zoe reasoned.
"Point taken. But. There is always hope."
"Yes. Faith, also."
"Do you ever pray to God, Mr. Fox?"
"Why. Of course. All the time. All Creation worships God."
"Well. No. There are those who have chosen not to do so. But. They are evil."
"Perhaps we will have to beware of them. I don't want them keeping me from finding my parents."
Along the way, they came in contact with a young man, standing off to the side of the road. He was selling fresh fruit. When Zoe and the fox got closer, they realized that he was blind. Still, Zoe found him very handsome, his handicap not putting her off a bit.
"My. What wonderful and fresh fruit you are selling," said Mr. Fox to the young man.
"Why. Thank you. Might I interest you in some?" The young man, then said, "You are new here. I haven't seen you around these parts before."
"Hmm. Considering that I believe you to be blind. How is it that you can see me and my friend?" asked Zoe.
He held out a golden orb in the palm of his hand. "This device allows me to see 360 degrees when I hold it in my hands."
"How wonderful and marvelous. What an interesting machine. Too bad that such a thing does not exist back on Earth. If it did, then might the blind see." Zoe said.
"Earth? The two of you are from Earth? But. Something about you doesn't seem to fit?"
The young man said.
Mr. Fox said, "We are not yet deceased."
"Not deceased? Hmm. Then you have been caught up in the spirit?"
"I don't think so. My name is Zoe. And this here is Mr. Fox."
"I am called Valhalla." The young man responded.
"Really? That is an interesting name." Zoe went on.
"More so, an interesting place." said Mr. Fox.
"It is just a name to me. Where might the two of you be headed?" asked Valhalla.
"We are going to the big city over there. I'm looking for my parents. They died when I was very young and now, I wish to be with them." Zoe explained.
Then in a great cloud, like the Cloud of God, they were taken. In the Great Spirit of the Soul of Man, the reality melted and another reality appeared. Zoe and Mr. Fox and Valhalla, were taken up in the Spirit and when they realized anything, they were delivered to a place on the surface of Mars. But. This was not the Mars of the common past reality. This planet was different. It had life on it. It was green and the sky was like a rainbow. The temperature was warm and there was water and trees of alien sorts and kind. Zoe looked about and she saw, the Black man and woman. The Red man and woman, the Brown man and woman, even the Yellow man and woman. Standing in front of them was the Great Sparrow.
"Who are you?" she asked the spirit.
"I am the Great Spirit of the souls of the Lost People." The Sparrow responded.
"Why have we been taken here?" asked Mr. Fox.
"This is the place where your ancestors came from. Before there was life on Earth, Mars thrived with life. People of all cultures worked and played together, and built a great civilization." The Sparrow told them.
Valhalla asked. "What happened? What happened to the people and places of Mars?"
"The Great Pretender came. The one who disguises himself as an angel of light. The Morning Star! It came with it's evil and it's vitriol. Great disasters soon followed. There had been a battle in the Heavens, yes, even unto the Seventh Heaven. A Heavenly civil war had been raging for millennia, in spiritual terms. In the terms of the physical world, billions of years had transpired. And finally, that last place, the last hope and the last star system, where the final battle would be waged." The Sparrow explained.
Zoe spoke. "So. This star system, is the final battle ground, for the civil war that has been going on in Heaven, like forever?"
"You are welcome to visit the original people of this star system. See their culture and enjoy the food. It was once called Eden, by spiritual terms. But, the Corrupter came and has made war with the Children of God." The spirit, the Sparrow spread out his wings, and with one swoop, flew up into the Heavens.
"This is a most strange turn of events." said Zoe.
Mr. Fox added. "I thought things were going in one direction, but, now I'm not sure. I never imagined, that the ancestors of Earth, were originated from Mars."
Valhalla corrected. "Eden. Mars was originally called Eden."
"Then the Eden in the Holy Bible? It is Mars?" Zoe asked.
Mr. Fox said, "The Holy Bible speaks to us in two ways. In the physical way, it is a story about primitive people, who lived thousands of years ago. It speaks to the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, King of Forever. But, in another sense, it speaks to our souls, and the truth, is revealed to us, by way of the Holy Spirit. When we read the Holy Bible, we read it with both, our physical bodies, and, with our spiritual understanding, our soul."
"Then, the truth transcends all understanding, And Jesus Christ, is beyond human comprehension. Being in the flesh, yet, coming from the Spirit." stated Valhalla.
Mr. Fox nodded. "It would seem that we have been given a chance to see how things were before the Great White evil came."
"It destroyed the land, the trees, the water. It left a wasteland of what was once a beautiful planet. And now, the last place, where the final battle will be fought, it has come to that place, Earth. And it is doing to Earth, what it did to Eden." said Zoe.
"But. Eden still lives, just look at where we are. I don't think we should ever leave. Why go back to the misery of the past, when we can stay in the place where we were all created to live. Let's go and meet the people of Eden." Valhalla suggested.
"I'm with you," said Zoe. And with that, they went on there way. Walking through paths of beauty and wonderment. Seeing things that can only be described in the best of dreams, yet, are beyond the mere dream of mankind.
Along their way they came to a small cottage. There was all sorts of life around it. Birds of a strange alien nature, beautiful to watch and hear. Small animals, strange but, somehow familiar, perhaps the original designs, before the evolution process began. And while evolution, hailed by those on Earth, as the pro-generator of all life, the process of Creation, that they, three saw, seemed to suggest a move advanced and obvious and simple explanation. That God did indeed Create life. Zoe knocked on the door. Finally, a woman answered. She was quite beautiful and friendly.
"Yes? May I help you?" she asked.
"We are travelers. From a distant land. We are just passing by and wondered if you might have some water? We are thirsty." asked Zoe.
"Why. Sure. Please come on in." And with that, they were shown in. The place was small, but, very comfortable. "My husband is out. He'll be in soon." They were given water and small and polite conversation took place. Finally: "You don't seem from these parts? Where did you say that you came from?"
"A place called Earth." Valhalla said.
"Hmm. Earth? Is this place far?" she asked.
Valhalla pointed out the window. "It is just beyond the rainbow."
"Oh. I see. And what is it that you seek?" The woman asked.
Mr. Fox answered. "We are not sure. First we thought we were headed towards this grand city. But, then, we were caught up in this cloud, though, in fact, we were already in the clouds. But, this time, we were taken to this place."
"I see. But what is it that you seek?" The woman studied each one of them. "Surely the three of you do not journey, without a cause?"
"Zoe spoke. "No. We have a cause. I think I am in the process of dying. Perhaps I am drowning in a lake or pond. I'm not sure."
"Oh. That sounds horrible. What is dying?" she asked.
"Valhalla answered. "You don't know what death is?"
"No. What is it?" The woman sat next to the window with a cup of tea.
Mr. Fox said, "If you don't know what death is, then, there is no way we can explain it to you. Best to say, it is like you never existed, but, after having existed."
"That doesn't make any sense. Are you sure you are explaining it right?" she asked.
"Well. Yes. Where we come from. All living things die. They cease to exist at some point in time." Zoe did her best to explain.
"What is time?" The woman asked.
"Why. Time. It marks the end of something and the beginning of something else." answered Mr. Fox.
Valhalla asked. "What place is this, that you know of no death or time?"
"Why. This is Eden. What other place is there?" The woman asked.
"I'm not sure. How long have you lived here?" asked Zoe.
"Since our Creation." answered the woman. Then, her husband came in. "Oh. Look, darling, we have guest. Adam, these three, they are travelers from a distant land."
Adam said, "Eve, you must make them something to eat. How fair the three of you?"
Adam and Eve walked with the three for a good way, after they had, had something to eat and were feeling refreshed. Along the way the conversation roamed to many topics, one of them was: "Where we come from. Eden was on Earth out in a continent called Africa. How is it that Eden is Mars?" asked Zoe.
Adam answered, "This is a strange thing that you speak of, because, from what we can understand, many strange things happened to your world. Things that did not happen to us over here. All I can say is that there must be different worlds with different versions of the events that seemed to have happened back on this Earth. For example, you say that your planet is the third planet from the sun?"
Valhalla answered. "Yes that is true. And we have eight planets in our solar system, but, I'm sure that there are more."
Eve interjected. "Mars is the third planet from the sun, here, in this reality. And we have twelve planets in the solar system."
"Then. We are not in our solar system at all. Is it possible that we are not in our galaxy either?" asked Mr. Fox.
"Anything is possible with God. Those other galaxies that you speak of, are they not, other versions of your own? Are they not what you would call, alternate worlds? With stars and planets, and people and creatures? Perhaps, you were in one of them, and now, you are in ours?"
"Is it possible, that the distant galaxies that we see, are actually alternate galaxies of our own. Is it possible, that the alternate worlds that we speak of, are right out there, in the Heavens, and that the vastness of the distance of the galaxies, presents a place, where the alternate worlds may exist, right here, in this universe?" Zoe pondered.
"What are alternate worlds, except, that they are not our own?" Adam asked.
The three carried on and finally they came across a small village. Within it were all sorts of wonderful and amazing things. It seemed, as Zoe noticed, that the people of the land lived close to it. Yet, there were some obvious points of advanced technology.
Mr. Fox said, "Have you noticed?"
Valhalla asked. "What?"
"That there are no old people in this place. Everyone seems fairly young. Even Adam and Eve, were young when you think about it."
Zoe responded. "If no one ever dies, then, growing old makes no sense. In this reality, Adam and Eve never listened to the devil. Therefore, they never sinned. And as a result, no one ever born, died."
Valhalla asked. "So. This is Heaven? Are we Heavenauts?"
"What?" asked Mr. Fox.
"You know, people who explore Heaven," answered Valhalla.
Zoe said, "I'm not sure what we are at this moment. All I know is that this place is like Paradise."
Mr. Fox stated. "Perhaps it is Paradise, Zoe. I mean, think about it. Everyone here is immortal, they are young and in perfect health. No death. No devil. Paradise."
Valhalla added. "You know, the fox has a point. Maybe we have somehow died and gone to the holding place, where those saved await the final Harvest, and then, the Resurrection of all those who are saved. It would explain a lot, as to what is going on here."
"So. You are saying that everyone who has ever lived is here. Those who accepted Jesus Christ as their God and Savior. And in this place, things were recorded as being done differently?" questioned Zoe.
Along their way they came across a squirrel in a tree. "Hi! How have you been doing on this fine day?" asked Mrs. Squirrel.
"We are well, thank you." replied Mr. Fox.
"I haven't seen the three of you in these parts before? Where are you headed?" asked Mrs. Squirrel.
Zoe answered, "We have been traveling from afar. We are trying to find out if we belong here or not? You see, I think there must be some kind of mistake. I died, and I have been on a journey ever since, to find my place in Eternity."
"Hmm? And your friends? Are the dead as well?" asked Mrs. Squirrel.
"I don't know, really. I never thought to ask them. Are the two of you dead, as well?" asked Zoe to her friends.
Valhalla answered. "I don't think so. Seems I'd remember something like that. Best to my knowledge, I'm very much alive. As are Mr. Fox and you, Zoe."
Mrs. Squirrel said, "Well. There you have it. The three of you are very much alive. So. Why worry about death, when you have life?"
Zoe said. "You make a very good point, Mrs. Squirrel. Is it true that no one or thing ever dies in Eden?"
"Yes. It is true. We don't even know what death really is. Some people speak of it, as if it were a thing of evil consequences. But. To be honest, I really don't know what death is. There is only the here and now, and it goes on forever."
"So then, this is not Paradise? Where the saved come to await the translation into the Kingdom Come?" asked Mr. Fox.
"I don't know. I suppose it could be. I mean, you could look at it that way." answered Mrs. Squirrel.
On they went, exploring this strange and wonderful new world. New to them, because none of them had ever lived in a place, where death itself, was nothing more than a strange concept, not feared, because Adam and Eve, were saved, in their time of temptation, Jesus Christ had intervened, keeping them from making the mistake that had happened, in the world that Zoe and the others came from. As a result, life went on, there was peace. I guess it is safe to say, that where the King is, so is the Kingdom. In the Holy Bible, when Jesus Christ spoke, telling the none believers, that the Kingdom was already upon them, they, seeing and hearing, did not see or hear; for if they had but used the knowledge of the past, where the King is, so is the Kingdom. In the case of Christians, the King was and is, with them, even to this day. Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven has indeed, already arrived. And, because the Resurrection happens on a day, and not a date, it happens, across all time and space, in every reality and place. Again, those who were fortunate to see the Lord and speak with him, and hear his Almighty Wisdom, for some reason, (because they rejected him as their Lord and Savior), seeking yet, another, they could not understand, that the Resurrection has already happened. For in as much as Jesus Christ was resurrected, then his Kingdom was resurrected. Where the King is, so is His Kingdom. Zoe and Valhalla and Mr. Fox were experiencing only one of countless alternate realities, for when you gaze up at the stars, are you not gazing into Heaven? For there are many levels of Heaven. There is the physical manifestation of Heaven, that we can experience with our physical bodies. Then, there are the infinite levels of Spiritual Heaven, that our souls' can experience, with our spiritual bodies. For we are more than what meets the eye. And there are beings and realities all around us that we are not aware of, because the flesh has fallen. As the three went on, they came across a lion and a lamb and a little boy and a little girl. They sat under a marvelous tree.
Zoe asked, "And, how are the four of you doing this fine day?"
The little girl answer, "We are doing fine. We noticed that you were talking to Mrs. Squirrel. How is she doing?"
Mr. Fox answered, "She is doing well. We were told that this is the path in which enlightenment can be found. Are we still on the right way?"
The lion said. "Enlightenment? Hmm. You are on the path for Truth. Now, if that is what you are seeking, then, you are on the right path. However, what one might call enlightenment, is another's, folly. However, the truth is the truth, no matter what form it takes."
Valhalla asked, "Isn't the truth subjective? Depending on who is telling it?"
"No," answered the lamb. "The truth is embodied in Jesus Christ. He is the Living Truth. In him and in him alone, can you find what you are seeking."
Zoe said, "I see. What I'm looking for, is the answer, as to if I belong here or not. You see, I'm not sure where we really are. My, what a wonderful tree the four of you are resting under. It's fruit looks divine."
The lion said, "This is the Tree of Life. All who eat of it live forever."
"The Tree of Life." then Zoe looked across the way. "And that tree over there, what manner of fruit does it provide?"
The little boy answered. "That is the tree of good and evil. No one eats of that tree. It is used to recycle all the waste that the land produces. It gathers the waste unto itself. It is poison and if any were to be so foolish as to eat of that tree, you would die."
"My goodness," said Zoe. "How is it that no one has ever been tempted to eat of that tree? You see, where I come from, Adam and Eve ate of the tree."
The lion said, "Good Lord. If they did something like that, they'd doom all that came after them to death. Why would they want to do something like that?"
Valhalla answered, "They were beguiled by the evil spirit."
"Hmm" said the lion. "There are no evil spirits in Eden. None can exist because this is the Garden of God. See, there he is over there."
The three looked and behold, there walked Jesus Christ himself, enjoying the Garden and talking with the people and the animals.
"Oh. You should go an say hello," suggested the little boy.
Zoe said, "I don't know. I get this feeling that I'm not good enough to approach God. I mean, I'm a sinner."
"Hmm. I see," said the lion. "Jesus Christ doesn't care. He loves the three of you just like he loves any and all of us. If it is the truth that you seek, there walks the truth."
Valhalla asked, "Suppose God rejects us. You see, I am blind, and I am not whole. Maybe my sins are of such that I will not be accepted?"
The lamb told them. "If you are here. Then it is because Jesus Christ himself has gathered you to this place. Eden is a place where peace and rest can be found. There are none who would judge you. None who would harm you, all who will love you."
Mr. Fox said, "Perhaps we should listen to them, Zoe? I mean, it isn't everyday, that you get to speak face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ himself."
"And ask him what? What would I say to God?" Zoe went on.
The little girl answered, "How about just saying, hello? For starts. I sense that the three of you have doubt in your hearts. You feel that you don't belong here, because of where you have come from. Think on this, everyone in Eden comes from someplace, and yet, everyone in Eden comes from this place. Because, it was in Eden, that all life began."
The three then decided not to bother the Lord and wandered on off. They finally came to an inn, where they sought lodging and something to eat. Before they partook they enquired as to the cost of everything. They were shocked to find that things were free. They would not have to pay for the lodging or for the food.
"How then shall we pay you for this fine meal and the lodging?" asked Mr. Fox.
The innkeeper smiled. "You have already paid for everything. Think on it. In the life that you came from, did you not suffer or did you witness the suffering of others? Wasn't your torment payment enough?"
Valhalla asked, "Then what incentive is there for people to labor?"
"In your past life, people labored to serve the rich and the powerful. The rich oppressed you, lied to you, in order to control you. Created laws to discriminate against you. Didn't they have their way with you at every turn? They lived like kings, they, who were no kings. Judges, corrupt and duplicitous ruled over you. Why would God have anything to do with that way of life? When in the end, was it not, they, who Crucified the Lord?" the innkeeper commented.
"Then we will do some kind thing for you, in order to pay for all of your kindness," insisted Zoe.
The innkeeper smiled. "On your journey, when you find someone in need, help them, and you would have paid for this a hundred times over."
With that they all settled in and partook of the innkeeper's kindness. The next day, they went on about their business of exploring the many wonders of Eden. There were all sorts of animals in the place and not one made the other frightened, for no creature sought to do harm to the other.
Zoe finally said, "I like it here in Eden. It is too bad that in our reality, Adam and Eve didn't have the faith that this Adam and Eve have. Things would have been so wonderful, but, alas, what is done is done. It is good to know that, somewhere, in Creation, other choices were made, and other outcomes were gotten."
The three went on and they decided to rest near a lake. The water was pure and sweet, refreshing. They watched as people passed them by and small animals went about their business. Finally a couple stopped by.
"Are you going to the gathering? I hear that it is going to be wonderful." asked the young woman.
Valhalla said, "We have been traveling a good way and we decided to just stop and rest. The water seems cool and refreshing."
The young man said. "Yes. It is. Every month, the water is blessed by the Spirit of God. All those who drink of it are then blessed."
Zoe spoke. "Really? We didn't know that. We just thought it was a good place to stop and rest. What is this gathering about?"
The young woman answered. "Why. It is our turn to hear the Living Word."
Mr. Fox asked. "And what is that?"
"Hmm. You three are not from around these parts, are you?" asked the young man.
Valhalla answered, "No. We are just passing through. We are looking for a place where we belong. Originally, we started out, seeking Zoe's parents."
The young woman said. "We all come from Adam and Eve. But. It is God and the Spirit of God who are our parents. All of us. We were Created in their image."
"Yes. We know. We all were Create in God's image." agreed Zoe. "So. Jesus Christ has come to speak with everyone at the gathering?"
The young couple explained everything and then went on. At that moment an angel of God appeared to them.
"Who are you?" asked Zoe.
"I'm an angel of God. God has heard your confusion and your fear. He has sent me to encourage you to continue here." The angel told them.
"Are my parents here?" asked Zoe.
"Yes. In fact, they will be at the gathering, should the three of you decide to go." The angel told her.
"But everyone seems so young. How is it that Zoe's parents are here?" Valhalla asked.
"Everyone who enters Eden, are transformed, your old bodies are left behind, for the Earth to lay claim to them. You are no longer flesh and blood. But. You have been changed." The angel explained.
Zoe said, "So then, we are dead?"
The angel shook her head. "No. You are alive. If you were dead, you would not be here. You would be suffering with all those who are damned."
Mr. Fox said. "Then we have been saved. God has saved us."
The angel spoke. "The choice is now yours. God has gathered his people unto himself. But, you have one final say in that process. If you do not wish to be saved, then, you are free to return. The Kingdom of God is not about slavery, rather, willingly, you make up your mind."
"Who would want to go back to the pain and suffering of the old world?" asked Valhalla.
"I'm going to stay. I'll be going to the gathering to hear what Jesus Christ has to teach us."
Mr. Fox uttered. "Where I come from, I am hunted, often abused, and go hungry all the time. I too, will stay and go to the gathering." And with that, Mr. Fox and Valhalla went on down the path, which led to the place; Valhalla could now see, as they went to the spot where Jesus Christ was to speak. The angel look upon Zoe.
"And you, Zoe, what have you decided?" asked the angel.
"I want to stay here. But. I started out wanting to just find my parents. You have told me that they will be at the gathering. But. I have sinned back in the world. I'm filled with sorrow and anger and doubt. How can I stay in a wonderful place like this?" Zoe said.
"This is a decision that you have to make, for God has called you to come and sup with him, to gather unto him, with all those who have been chosen. I understand your pain and your doubt. But. Do you know what doubt really is?"
"Not really. I guess it means that I don't believe." responded Zoe.
"No. It means that you do believe, you believe something, just not what you want to believe. You see, all things are possible with God. Even, doubt is dispelled in His presence. You have the opportunity to be saved and never have to go back to the wickedness and suffering and torment of the past. All you need to do is believe that there is a future, the Kingdom Come." The angel told her.
"So. If I turn around, and head back down that path, I'll find my way back home?" asked Zoe.
It was at that moment that she looked up and standing before her was Jesus Christ, smiling upon her. He said: "Zoe, you have had such a hard time. Life has not been fair to you, but, inside, your heart, you are not the facade that the world imposed upon you."
Zoe bowed before the Lord and kissed his feet. "Oh, my Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned. I am not worthy to live in the Kingdom Come."
Jesus Christ said, "Zoe, come to the gathering, for this day, have you come home."