A woman who died found herself standing outside the pearly gates, being greeted by St Peter. She asked him, ‘Oh, is this place I think it is? It’s so beautiful. Did I really make it to heaven?’ To which St Peter replied, ‘Yes my dear, these are the gates to heaven. But you must do one more thing before you can enter.’ The woman was very excited, and asked St Peter what she must do to pass through the gates. ‘Spell a word,’ St Peter replied. ‘What word?’ she asked. ‘Any word,’ answered St Peter. ‘It’s your choice.’ The woman promptly replied, ‘Then the word I will spell is love. L-O-V-E.’
St Peter congratulated her on her good fortune to have made it to heaven, and asked her if she would mind taking his place at the gates for a few minutes while he went to the bathroom ‘I’d be honoured,’ she said, ‘but what should I do if someone comes while you are gone?’ St Peter reassured her, and instructed the woman simply to have any newcomers to the pearly gates to spell a word as she had done. So, the woman is left sitting in St Peter’s chair and watching the beautiful angels soaring around her, when lo & behold, a man approaches the gates, and she realises it is her husband. ‘What happened!’ she cried. ‘Why are you here?’ Her husband stared at her for a moment, then said, ‘I was so upset when I left your funeral, I was in an accident and now I am here!’ ‘Did I really make it to heaven?’ to which his wife replied, ‘Not yet, you must spell a word first.’ ‘What word?’ he asked. His wife responded, ‘Czechoslovakia!’ I wonder if he made it?
How about us will we make it? You seldom meet a person who doesn’t want to go to heaven (I have met a few!). I came across these words of a devout atheist, ‘There is one thing that mars all the pleasures of my life.’ ‘Indeed!’ replied his friend, ‘what is that?’ He answered, ‘I am afraid the Bible is true. If I could know for certain that death is an eternal sleep, I should be happy, my joy would be complete! But here is the thorn that stings me. This is the sword that pierces my very soul; if the Bible is true, I am lost forever.’
Isn’t that fascinating; disturbing even but not surprising?! I think it was Mark Twain who said, ‘It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.’
Can I ask you an important question? Do you read the Bible? If you don’t can I encourage you to start? Listen to these words of John Wesley, the great preacher who God used mightily in days gone by. “I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. A few moments hence, I am no more seen – I drop into eternity, I want to know one thing. The way to heaven. God has given us a way, written in the Good Book, the Bible. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God!”
At our Queen’s Coronation, the Archbishop presented her with a Bible, declaring, ‘… we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.’ Isn’t that a remarkable thing to say to our Queen? But I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. Why? Because I have seen what the Bible has done in my life and so many others I have known over the years. Some of those started out as atheists too! So how about you? Can I encourage you to start reading in the Gospel of Mark, you could read the entire Gospel in 30 minutes? Just one thing, as you read ask God to speak to you … it helps Him know we are serious!
I must go, I have to brush up on my spelling of Chekislovaccia.