I woke up to the still and quiet, just before the first light of dawn. After such a deep sleep, my body was completely relaxed, so relaxed that I didn't want such sublime rest to end. My mind was alert and my thoughts were crystal clear. It was the kind of clarity that can only come when there is nothing to distract, nothing to interfere with hearing the very deep things in your heart.
It was amazing to see how easily I could focus on every detail of the events of the day before. The motivation of every act and every encounter, how I treated people, what I did and why, was vividly clear to me as I watched the instant replay of these things in my mind over and over.
It was impossible to escape the judgment of my thoughts as I considered how my behavior had been. In some instances, my mind defended me, but in others it accused me. I could not deny the accuracy of these inward judgments and it made me want to quickly make right all the wrongs I had done.
How different it was to see and perceive things about my life so clearly! I rarely take the time to really consider the outcome of my thoughts and actions. My life is filled with so many interesting things to do that I hardly ever consider the consequences. My mind is bombarded with so much information every day that it is never clear enough to speak to me about the things in my life that bother me inside.
Then, as I lay there, continuing to ponder these things, the most startling and shocking thought entered my mind. What if I were confined to this darkness and silence with no way to get out? What if I were in a place where the light of day never came? What if I were left alone with no one to talk to or nothing to do but listen to my thoughts as they constantly analyzed every aspect and every detail of everything I had done since the day I was born?
Could this be what death will be like, having to deal with the fact that you really did have a conscience which was the voice of the instinctive knowledge of good and evil within you? In the absolute darkness, confinement and silence of death, will every person wish that he had listened when he had the opportunity? How will you reason your way out of the crystal-clear judgment within you? At this point you will realize that your conscience really was your friend, trying to warn you many times of the things that were leading you to this place of death.
Perhaps the greatest agony will be the realization that you had a chance and you ignored it. You will know that you are guilty, and in the silent agony and lonely isolation of death, you will learn to admit the guilt of every infraction of conscience until you have admitted everything, until you have paid every last cent you owe. The power and clarity of the voice of your conscience will outlast every cry of your most complex reasoning to justify your guilt.
Can you imagine remembering every selfish act, every wrong motive, every hurtful thing you ever did? Can you imagine the torture of not having any way to undo the things that you finally admit are wrong? This penalty will make everyone who experiences it weep with loud groanings. Some will be broken-hearted by this discipline of death. At the great Day of Judgment for all mankind, they will find mercy and forgiveness, for they will have paid in full the penalty for their guilt. Others will only harden their hearts beyond remedy. They will never find mercy, for they will persist in loving evil and will not accept the penalty for their guilt. Therefore, at the great Day of Judgment they will go to a second death, the Sea of Fire. From this place there is no release, not ever, for all eternity.
As I consider these things, it thrills me to know that there was a man who once lived on this earth who had compassion for all mankind. He realized more deeply than I ever could the sentence of death that we are all facing for our guilt. He gladly took it upon Himself and willingly died for us. He experienced the loneliness, the darkness, the agony of separation from life and He was completely innocent. He made it possible that through His blood we could be forgiven in this life right now. We can be set free from the sentence of death and live a life of love for Him and for His people. This is the greatest news, the most profound headline that could ever be seen or heard. He dealt with the source of loneliness for all of us, when His blood covered our guilt and removed every barrier that separated us from our Creator. Whoever keeps His word will never see death.