I wasn’t feeling real well that night after dinner. I tried to watch television, but I just felt so uncomfortable that I couldn’t, so I went to bed. If you’ll excuse the expression, I just plain felt like hell.
I tossed and turned. I got up and threw a few antacid tablets in my mouth. Surely it was nothing worse than a little heartburn. I lay down. I got up. Eventually I was able to fall asleep.
There was a bright light – like a tunnel. I felt drawn toward the other end and felt like I was walking toward the source of the light.
“Oh, my God, I’m dying!”
“Yes?” came a reply.
“What?” I answered, quite confused.
“You called me. You said, ‘Oh my God…’ so I answered you.”
“Sure looks like it, doesn’t it?” I just stood there, stunned. Everything around me seemed indistinct like it was foggy.
“Well, let’s see,” the voice continued. “You have faith, so that works in your favor. Not too bad a life overall. Nothing spectacular, but I grade on a very lenient curve.”
“So what does that mean?” I asked.
“Heaven,” came the reply. I realized that I had been holding my breath and I let it out all at once.
“Breathing is optional, here,” the voice explained. “Lots of folks find it helps keep things in perspective, but there’s no oxygen requirement.” The fog around me swirled together and became the form of a very tall and quite distinguished man.
“So let’s see where We’ll put you.” A large detailed, three-dimensional map appeared behind the figure. He walked over to a podium and waved his hand over it. As he did, different parts of the map lit up in different colors as he spoke.
“Let’s see… Baptists…Baptists who read the King James Version of the Bible – No… Baptists who practice full immersion…No. Christians – non-denominational…No
“Catholics…Here we go…Armenian, Byzantine, Hmmm, Roman Catholic.” Each time he spoke, a different part of the map lit up.
“Okay, Roman Catholic, Latin Mass/Douay Bible…No. Here we go, post Vatican II Ecumenical Roman Catholic.” One portion of the map began to blink brightly.
“Excuse me,” I interrupted without meaning to. After all, I’d figured out that this was God with whom I was dealing. “Uh, sir, I mean Lord. Why the map. I thought that in Heaven we’d all be together!”
“So did I,” He replied. “However, in order to have eternal happiness, I’ve had to precisely place all the Christians. I can put Anglicans – or as you call them – Episcopalians next to modern Catholics. I can put Contemporary Methodists in the same neighborhood. Lutherans aren’t too much of a problem either, but it gets more complicated from there, then even more complicated, then – well you get the picture.
“This can’t be!” I exclaimed. “It’s like exclusive neighborhoods based on which church people attended!”
“Yep! Crazy, ain’t it?”
I realized this wasn’t the Heaven that I had hoped for.
“If you let me go back, Lord, I promise I’ll be more open to other Christians! I promise I’ll cherish all your children. I promise….”
I woke up with a start and sat bolt upright in bed.
“I promise I’ll never eat a jalapeno, chipotle, anchovy pierogi with hot sauce before bed ever again.
“Oh, and I promise to be more Christian and love my neighbor as myself.”