Going to Hell and That’s That

23 07 2017

Jim and I had one thing in common, we both were trying to make it as musicians with Rock _nthe big boys; from that point on it went downhill. He was older, more confident and truthfully much better at his instrument than I was. Throw in he didn’t like me from the moment we met and, well, let’s just say that’s not the makings of a lasting friendship.

We found ourselves together in a band for an up and coming singer and we both thought we finally grabbed the gold ring. But constantly Jim ridiculed and criticized my playing in front of everyone else knowing I would sit there and take it. Thankfully the singer liked me and would tell Jim to knock it off. After a performance, the guys in the band would go out while I’d stay in a motel room watching TV since I wasn’t old enough to go the places they went, and of course my buddy Jim would drive a dagger into me with statements bashing my age.

One late evening, bored with television, I opened a dresser drawer and found a Gideon’s Bible and started leafing through pages. Wouldn’t you know that would be about the time everyone got back, loose from a lot of drinking. Soon as Jim saw me an evil smile came over his face. “Look guys, Johnny’s going to preach us a sermon; go ahead Johnny, lay it on us!” I just kept looking down at the Bible, not really reading, but doing my best not to lose my temper. He came over and sat on the bed next to me and started, “So tell me, are you going to heaven someday?” “Well, yes, I’d like to think so.” “How do you know you’re going to get to heaven, or if there really is a heaven?” he shot back. Jim enjoyed the moment of quiet knowing he had me in a tight spot. I believed in God but really didn’t know enough to answer him the way I should, so I started; I was raised to believe in God, Jesus, heaven and the Bible, and if I did my best to do what God wants me to then someday I would get to heaven.” Now the quietness came from Jim as he glared at me through glassy and somewhat angry eyes. Then in a quieter but still forceful voice he said, “Let me tell you what I believe, I don’t know if there’s a heaven or hell but I do know heaven never sounded like a place that would have someone like me in it. If there’s a hell then that’s where I’m going and that’s that. So I may as well enjoy life any way I want until then.” My mind couldn’t come up with anything to say that was contrary to Jim’s reasoning, so after a few moments of staring at each other he stumbled off to his bed and went fast asleep. The room went dark and the rest followed Jim’s lead leaving me virtually alone again. As I laid wide awake my only thought was Jim’s words, “If there’s a hell then that’s where I’m going and that’s that.” I don’t know if my anger burned more at his attitude, or my inability to give him a solid answer. Perhaps what fueled the rage in me is the small voice in my mind that was saying, “He’s right you know.”

It was years later I finally understood what one writer meant when he said, “Only Jesus could build a bridge to Heaven with just two pieces of wood.”

Even though I saw myself as “better” than Jim, I believed the same way he did; if the good you did outweighs the bad you would get to Heaven. For me that meant trying hard to do good, for Jim it was an impossibility that couldn’t be reached so why try. As I began to understand the words in that Gideon Bible, I came to the realization Jim was right; there’s no way I could be good enough to get into Heaven.

First, can I be good enough?

Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

Romans 3:10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

So does God love me or not?

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Then how do we get to Heaven?

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the “GIFT” of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 10:9-10 “If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

John 3:16 John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God “DID NOT” send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

It’s not about good deeds outweighing bad and hoping you did enough to tip the scales in your favor;  its God in His love for “ALL” of us pure and simple.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I left the band shortly after that night and never saw that cotton pickin’ trouble making “Traveler of the Rock Road” Jim again. I heard he moved out to L.A. to try and break into the music industry there. Looking back as much as a thorn in my side he was I wish I knew then what I know now so I could say, “As much as you think you’re the worst apple in the cart, God still loves you just the way you are, ya pompous pigheaded bone brain!” In Jesus name, of course. 😉

But I have no doubt God has made Himself known to old Jim somewhere down the line through other people and avenues. Who knows, perhaps with a Gideon Bible in some cheap motel. I just know God’s pretty good at letting His love be known to ones like Jim, me, even you.

After all, you’re reading this, aren’t ya?

See ya next time.




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