“Where am I?” She said, waking up in an unknown place. Her heart raced for a minute, but then it calmed down after she studied the bedroom again. She had never been in that room before, but somehow it looked familiar. “What is this place?” She asked herself. The room was spacious and had a fresh smell of lilies, her favorite flowers. The decor of the room was also her favorite. The rustic charm of the wisteria wallpaper, the gently worn furniture, and the charming antiques made this room feel and look like the house of her dreams. She loved the weathered textures, the warm color palette, and the touches of natural beauty. She stood up and went to the double doors adorned with airy curtains that allowed plenty of gentle light to filter through. She pulled back the curtains, opened the door, and stepped onto the balcony. “Wow,” she said, barely holding herself together from excitement.
The scenery with rolling hills, woods, and the open countryside was breathtaking. She closed her eyes and smiled at the pleasant feel of sunbeams touching her face. She took a deep breath. The air was so pure; she could almost taste it. With her eyes closed, she delighted at the orchestra of birds singing, wind whistling, trees shaking, horses trotting. “Horses!” She exclaimed, opening her eyes and finding the team of horses at the horizon. She loved horses. The horses ran down the hill, moving towards a group of people in the valley. She focused on their faces. “No!” She said. “It can’t be. Is that?” She couldn’t believe her eyes. Unable to wait any longer to finally meet them again, she turned back inside and looked for a change of clothes. She found some in the closet and looked for the bathroom.
She entered the bathroom already undressing, moving fast, when she saw something in a flash, from the corner of her eyes. She froze. She turned slowly and faced the mirror. “Oh,” she gasped in shock, almost falling back stunned by the image. She touched her skin, her hair, her face. She stared at herself for a moment. “Is this really happening?” she said.
Her heart started pounding again. She finished getting dressed, left the bedroom, and ran downstairs. She suddenly stopped in awe. That was the house of her dreams. That confirmed her suspicion. She knew now where she was. She ran toward the door, went outside, and ran in the direction of the people. She increased her speed with every step, moving faster, hardly touching the ground. She could feel her muscles hammering strongly. A white horse approached and ran alongside her. In one move, she jumped and got on him. She rode fast. Her hair danced in the wind, and the trees became a blur while she passed by them racing. She was almost there, getting closer to where the people were. They looked dumbfounded when they saw her. Jumping in one move without stopping, she touched the ground running, and then she finally jumped into the arms of her beloved ones. The tears of joy ran happy and free. “I love you so much,” she said. “It is so good to see you…”
“Rachel, Rachel. Wake up. Were you dreaming again?” A female voice shouted, followed by sounds of strokes against metal bars.
“Meditating,” Rachel replied, opening her eyes gradually.
“Oh, yeah. Meditation. Of course.” The voice confirmed. “Here, look what I brought for my favorite jailbird.” The voice said, pushing some loose pages over the metal door.
“What is it?” Rachel asked. “Oh!” She gasped. “Is this? The Bible?”
“Quiet, woman!” The voice demanded in a loud whisper. “No need to advertise it to the whole penitentiary.” The voice continued. “Well, just a few pages. I couldn’t get the whole book. They are making a point of destroying them. I will try to get you more pages if I can.”
“Thanks, Sidney.” Rachel said with a joyful tear running down her cheek. You are my favorite jailor.”
“What is the positive thought for today?”
“‘keep [your] eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.'” Rachel quoted the scripture from memory and continued to explain it. “By focussing on things unseen, I can travel outside this prison’s walls. I can experience in my mind what perfect life will feel like in paradise. It reminds me that my present circumstances are temporary and that my future is bright and everlasting.”
“That is a nice one,” Sidney, the jailor, said. “I have to go now. When I come back with your rations, you can tell me more about this paradise of yours, ok?”
“Of course, Sid. As always, it will be my pleasure.”
“Wow, Rachel,” Anne sighed. “Really. What a story.”
“And that was how I survived my days in prison,” Rachel said.
“Recalling scriptures and fantasizing about paradise?” Anne asked.
“Singing my favorite songs and constantly praying also helped. Sidney was a provision from God. The answer to my prayers. I have never treasured anything so much as I treasured those few Bible pages.” Rachel said, moving toward the window. She stared at the view outside and continued. “I knew those pages came from Him.”
“They contained my favorite scripture.”
“Which one was it?” Anne said, joining Rachel by the window.
“‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.‘” Rachel quoted the scripture gazing at the horizon. She then turned to Anne and continued: “Romans, chapter eight, verses thirty-eighth and thirty-nine. Only He knew how much I needed that. Nothing could separate me from His love. And I was never alone.”
“That is incredible, Rachel,” Anne said. “But what about your dream house?”
“What about it?”
“Don’t get me wrong. Your house here is amazing, but it is not exactly the cottage with the rolling field of green and horses of your dreams, right? Aren’t you a little bit disappointed that things are different from what you had thought it would be?”
“Of course not. You can try to imagine and fantasize about how God is going to bless you, but what he gives you always exceeds your expectations. I could never have imagined this.” Rachel said, pointing to the world outside. The view of the forest from the top of her house-tree was no less than stunning. “And one day we will have our cottage in the fields with many horses. But, I am not in a hurry, are you?” Rachel asked, turning back to the living room and walking towards the kitchen. The kettle informed them that the water was boiling.
“Why not have it now? You could if you wanted it, right?” Anne asked, following Rachel to the kitchen. “Maybe. But what we want now is to be close to Lazarus, help with the Resurrection Center, and the School For Resurrected Ones. We still have some work to do until we can experience perfection for eternity. After this work is done, we will still have centuries, millenniums, to enjoy and satisfy all our desires. As I said, I am not in a hurry.” Rachel paused and holding the teapot she asked: “Tea?”
“Yes, please,” Anne answered. “Living for eternity. I still can’t fully wrap my mind around it.”
“It is hard to change your mindset regarding time, right? I remember it took me a while to see things in decades and centuries instead of in days and weeks. And when I’m thousand years old, I will probably have to adjust my mindset again,” Rachel said with a smile before she offered: “Cake?”
“Yes, thanks,” Anne replied.
“All right. How did you enjoy your preparation for our study?” Rachel asked.
“I enjoyed it very much. I know I shouldn’t feel like this, but I still think I am not ready for baptism. I mean. I don’t want to disappoint my Creator, you know. But, at the same time, I’m sure I want this.”
“That is a commendable feeling, Anne. It means that you take it very seriously. Let us talk about it. I will say a prayer, and we can start, ok?”
“Ok,” Anne agreed.
It’s fun to fantasize. How do you imagine life in Paradise? Share with us in the comments below.