Saturday, October 29, 2005

Free to choose

I jumped out of bed

"P..P..Peter?" I stammered.

I fell on my knees.

He stepped out of the shadows.

It was a familiar face. Solemn, yet kindly. A glint of mischief in his eyes.

I had seen that face the night I died.

"Nicholas. Nicholas," He said, with a hint of humor in his voice. "And they say I'm guided by my heart and not my head."

"I know I've been foolish."

"Foolish?" he said. "To fall in love? Love is one of the Lord's greatest gifts. Love for another gives us a taste of the love of the Lord for us."

He chuckled.

"Besides, I knew human love as well."

"What do I do? What does the Lord will."

"What do YOU want?"

"To marry. But my vows?"

"When you made those promises, you made them sincerely. You faithfully kept them in your lifetime, even though you struggled at times. But you always sought the Lord's aid whenever you struggled. You were a man of prayer. You still are."

"What of now?"

"Now? Now you have a special ministry in service to the Lord. It is a ministry you freely accepted when I first visited you the night you died. You could have chosen to enter your heavenly reward, but you willingly agreed to remain in the world."

I remembered that choice. To remain and bring joy to others. To keep alive the sense of wonder and magic. To make this world of sorrow and suffering also a place where people can experience a taste of heaven and its gifts. Especially the children.

It really wasn't a difficult choice at all. It was a gift.

"You have served God well. You have sought nothing for yourself.

"But when the Lord created man, he said it is not good for man to be alone. You have chosen to remain alone far longer than any other man has been asked to live.

"Moreover, the ministry you have accepted is growing. You have added helpers along the way. But what you need is a partner to share in the work and to provide mutual comfort and support.

"So, by the authority given me by Jesus Christ, I dispense you from the promise you made to remain unmarried for the sake of the kingdom. You are free to choose."

Then he was gone.

For a moment I wondered if it was all just a dream.

So I fell on my knees and prayed until the sun rose.

And in my heart, I knew.


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