Little feet make no soundwhen they are treading on clouds, but He could still hear her coming toward Him through the billowy white mist.
The little girl glided up beside Him and sat down. “Hi, Abba,” she said.
Jesus turned to look at His Sarah. “Hi, little one,” He replied as He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead.
They sat there together looking placidly out over the skyscape, listening to the sound of children playing in the distance.
“Has anything changed?” She asked Him.
“Very little,” He replied somewhat sadly.
“May I see?”
“Are you sure you want to?”
He knew she had loved ones still on earth at this critical time and she was concerned.
“They all believe in You,” she said, because she knew what He was thinking.
“There are choices that your loved ones will have to make, you know that.”
“Yes, I know,” she replied softly.
“You asked me once before if I would let you see, and I wouldn’t let you then. You were not ready.”
“Am I ready now?” She looked at Him earnestly.
“You will see things that will remind you of the pain you experienced on earth. You will want to intervene when you see sin take its toll on the ones below, but only My angels have that authority now. Much later you and your brothers and sisters here will reign with Me after I descend to claim our kingdom, but for now you must realize that you can do nothing but observe. I am telling you this because you will experience a tremendous amount of pain, Sarah. You have been sheltered from pain for quite a while, and when it comes back upon you it will come in flood waves. You have My compassion now that you have been with Me, and this is why you will feel their grief so intensely.”
She looked at Him with her large, brown eyes. Her gaze was strong and steady, like His. He smiled. He knew she was ready.
“Come,” He said simply and He floated to His feet. “We are going on a journey.”
She rose up beside Him, her white robe fluttered in the soft perfumed breezes that caressed Heaven’s dewy meadows.
He raised His hand and drew it across the sky before them. It shimmered at His touch and a passageway opened in the blue. He took the little girl’s hand and together they stepped off the cloud and floated into the portal.
It was a very long corridor. The walls were a lovely multi-shaded purple and green like mother-of-pearl on an earthly seashell. In a moment the hallway came to an end and the child found herself looking out into a large golden room. The room was illuminated by tall candlesticks. There were seven of them and Jesus began to lead her among them. In their flames she could read their names, and she knew she was beholding the spirits of the seven churches. Their spiritual conditions were apparent, some of them were burning brightly, others appeared as if they were about to go out.
Sarah looked at her Lord’s face. She saw how concerned He was for them. They were the most important care of His heart.
He walked among them, admonishing some, encouraging others, tending to them as if He was in a garden coaxing a reluctant crop to bloom.
“Sarah,” He said, “I want you to look at this one.”
She turned to see where He was pointing. This candlestick was very elaborately carved. She knew by its design it was the church of Thyatira. It held a very large candle and in its glowing flame Sarah could see figures moving. There was a woman in a pulpit speaking prophesy to an audience of rapt listeners. Sarah studied the scene intently. There were people in those pews she had known from her time on earth. There were storm clouds gathering around the church where the people were, but no one seemed to notice.
Then the scene changed suddenly as if it had been jolted by an earthquake and the child was allowed to see into the souls of the people. She witnessed a cloud coming out of the mouth of the woman in the pulpit. It was weaving like a serpent into the beings of the people who were listening so intently. Then like a rope it wrapped itself around the gray captive souls and pulled tight.
The words the self-proclaimed prophetess was speaking were not the words of God, although they were encased in a god-like veneer. The undulating serpentine rope that these words produced continued to coil around their captives then drew them from their seats and into the arms of the woman speaking. Sarah had to turn her eyes away from the sins that were about to take place. The dreadful odor that was compromise assaulted the little girl’s senses, as the black clouds of tribulation enveloped the church. Locked in Jezebel’s embrace, her captives had only one last chance to escape.
“I am giving them space to repent, Sarah, but time is running out.”
Sarah looked up into His eyes. “There is hope for them then?” she asked.
Jesus smiled. “There is always hope.”
Sarah noticed the two candles that were next to Him. They had the brightest, whitest flames than any of the other candles. Sarah walked over to one of them. In the glowing orb she beheld a collage of human suffering, as scene after scene of persecution and torture of the Lord’s people passed before her eyes. She began to sob uncontrollably, bearing the pain, and at the same time, their triumph as one by one each of these souls refused to deny the Lord that bought them and allowed themselves to succumb to flames and the mouths of wild beasts; to beatings and incomprehensible tortures.
As Sarah beheld the suffering of the Lord’s martyrs through the ages in this church called Smyrna, the fragrance of the pain they endured for Christ began to fill the golden room with the sweet perfume of love for their God. It permeated the heavenly corridors and made the jewel-studded halls of Heaven glow in response. Sarah realized at that moment, that part of Heaven’s beauty is a reflection of these ones, these special servants whose sacrifices helped to glorify their future home where other hearts would dwell forever in peace and security. She smiled through her tears, seeing their glory through Heaven’s perspective, as the offerings of their sufferings continued to flow upward in a golden cloud of perfumed magnificence.
Beyond their flames she was directed to focus on the candle of Philadelphia. There the scene was quite different. She saw the servants of the Lord being protected from the tribulation to come as they fervently, obediently clung to the simple purity of God’s word with all the little strength they possessed. The dark cloud of judgment that hung over Jezebel’s children was not allowed to encompass them.
Sarah looked from them back to the suffering ones of Smyrna, then back to Philadelphia. Then she turned her bewildered gaze to the Lord. “Jesus, why are these suffering so while the others are protected?” she asked as she pointed to the two candles.
Jesus smiled. “Look again at Philadelphia, Sarah, and I will show you their sufferings.”
She did as she was directed and she was allowed to see into their souls. She witnessed again scenes of incredible suffering and torment as these dedicated ones repeatedly resisted the sin and lusts of the earth life. Bombarded by satan’s continuous onslaughts of temptation, the servants of Christ knelt with Him in their own gardens of Gethsemane, writhing in agony to overcome their sin natures and prepare the way for the Spirit of the Lord to take full control. Though some of them failed, their repentance was immediate and brought instant cleansing and restoration through their Lord’s sacrifice.
Sarah suddenly understood that there was more than one way to suffer and die for the Lord. She understood the nature of suffering and its purpose, the value of it, the glory of it. With refined clarity she was allowed to taste of its victory, its sweetness, its perfection as her heavenly senses permitted her to experience these intangible realities.
Then she noticed several shadowy figures standing around Smyrna’s and Philadelphia’s radiant flames. She saw them kneeling in submission to the martyrs of both churches.
“Who are they?” Sarah asked.
Jesus answered, “They are the Jews who say they are Jews and are not. These are the uncircumcised of heart, those who know My name
but have never received the circumcision of My Cross. They profess to know Me, but do not. They shall see the seeds that I have blessed and come and bow at their feet and know that My love is the crown upon my true servant’s suffering heads.”
Sarah nodded, and then she looked back over the entire room, realizing that the spiritual conditions of the churches represented in the flames of these candles were the same throughout all the ages. Some souls could graduate from one to another depending on their degree and desire for the Lord. Baalim-mites could repent and not progress to Jezebel’s embrace, but tread the narrow path to Philadelphia’s gates instead. Those who had names that lived, but were dead, could revive and walk in white. Ephesians’ zealous religious crusaders could balance their agendas and once again share the Gospel in love.
It was interesting for Sarah to behold the various transitions. She saw this complicated process happening on a multitude of levels and that the Lord was in complete control as He oversaw the spiritual development of an innumerable amount of souls.
Then she looked at Him with sudden concern in her eyes.
“Abba, which of these church spirits do my parents belong to?”
He turned His head in response to her question and she followed His gaze to the candle that was Laodecia.
Sarah slowly glided over to it and looked into its flame.
A church service was in progress and she could see her mother and father sitting near the back of the church listening to a meticulously well crafted sermon designed for a congregation that preferred not to be challenged. Her mother was listening intently while her father kept glancing at his watch. When the sermon was over, the congregation stood and was formally dismissed precisely at noon.
Sarah looked up at Jesus. “Nothing’s happening,” she said.
“Exactly,” Jesus replied. “I have been standing at the door of the
hearts of these people for a long time and so few of them have
responded to the sound of My Still Small Voice crying from the outside.”
The ominous dark cloud that threatened to devour Jezebel and her children was gradually spreading to overshadow the comfortable Laodecean community Sarah was beholding in the candle’s flame.
She saw some people returning to their homes only to find them destroyed by a tornado’s fury. Complacency opens the door to satanic attacks and others were enduring afflictions and other hardships. Some responded to these testings by turning their backs on God and drawing even farther away. Sarah could see that others were struggling to understand and turned to God, clinging to Him for strength and direction. These were coming through their fiery trials like clay in a refining oven. When they emerged through the smoke of their afflictions, they were shining like gold in various degrees of passionate zeal for God that had replaced their lukewarm complacency.
Sarah saw through her spiritual eyes that this new zeal that was being birthed into these souls was breathtakingly beautiful. Zeal produced a radiance upon them that glorified those who possessed it. It shone in layers upon their souls with a translucent jewel-like glow that was constantly shimmering. Zeal reflected out of their eyes coloring everything they saw in a new light. Joy had replaced sorrow, for their trials had become mere stepping stones that led them to this new level of brilliance.
Sarah saw the satisfaction that radiated from the Lord’s eyes as He watched them struggle toward a deeper relationship with Him as the things they had clung to so fervently in their past, were purged away from them in the fire.
Sarah knew her parents were somewhere in the crowds she was watching. They had filed out of the church with the others and had become part of the scene, but she was not allowed to see what was happening to them. She struggled to locate them although she didn’t really want to watch them suffer, if this is what they needed to go through to change them. If they were ordained to suffer would they fall away? she wondered trembling. Or would they be among the ones who would endure to be adorned with zeal’s beauty?
Jesus knew what she was thinking.
“They are Mine, Sarah. They will not fall away. They will be among
those who will walk with Me in white. They will be refined.”
Sarah watched the dark cloud that harbored the abyss called tribulation begin to churn around Laodicea’s flame. Tribulation’s winds came against it causing it to flicker violently and Sarah thought it was about to be blown out. Sarah knew there was much death in those clouds and much evil.
“Your parents will be prepared so that they may endure to the end to My coming.” Jesus said, and then He looked over the seven candle flames as a bridegroom would gaze at his beloved. His heart was beating in these fires aching with her, suffering with her, rejoicing in her victories, catching her tears, cradling her sorrows, nurturing, admonishing, blessing and loving. The Overseer of the flames, the Gatherer of many hearts embraced them all as one, calling those that were truly longing to hear Him say, “Come, come…”
copyright 2007 by H.D. Shively