Julian stood rooted in place, unable to move, unable to conceive what had just happened. “How can this be?” he asked, bewildered, as he stared at his lifeless body.

People rushed up to the car, right past him, as if they didn’t notice he was there. “Call an ambulance!” Julian shouted. “Do something!”

He was completely ignored.

“Tough break,” someone said. “No way could anyone have survived that crash.”

Julian stepped back from the crowd. The horror that he had suspected was becoming more and more of a reality to him as the people seemed to rush right through him. Deep sorrow and fear filled his heart as he backed further and further from the car.

“In denial, are we?” a rather pale looking man asked him.

“Thank God, I was beginning to think no one saw me…that I was dead.” Julian sighed in relief.

The man smirked coldly. “You are dead, and so am I. That is why I can see you, and you can see me.”

“What?” Julian asked, suddenly very uneasy.

“You don’t believe you are dead, do you?” The man laughed.

Julian stepped away from him. “Who are you?”

“I was sent to get you,” he said simply.

“Well, I am not leaving. Go tell whoever sent you that I am not going anywhere but back to Eve.”

“I am afraid you don’t have much of a choice. You had your chance to make your choices, and this is what it has gotten you - death. Unfortunately, that is the door every human being has to go through, no exception….except for Enoch and Elijah.”

“What? Who?” Julian asked in confusion.

“Two guys from a few thousand years ago; they are the only two who have not experienced death…yet.”

“Yet?” Julian asked.

“Never mind, we have to go now,” the man insisted.

Julian studied him for a moment and then decided to follow him.

As they walked farther from the accident, Julian noticed that others were joining them, staring at him. Uncomfortable with their gawking, he stared straight ahead.

Suddenly, someone smacked him on the back of the head. “Hey, Crane. I suppose you think you are too good for us,” an older male with a menacing glare said.

Julian ignored the rude remark as fear started gripping his soul the farther they went from his body.

Soon all the people around him started crowding him, poking him, slapping him and calling him names. Julian drew his arms close around him as he tried to defend himself. Fear kept him from saying anything, not wanting to encourage their awful behavior any further.

“You tried to kill your sister, Sheridan!” One of them poked him in the ribs, causing Julian to gasp in pain.

“Yes, and you cheated on your wife on more than one occasion. You stole another man’s wife.”

“I did not!” he blurted out, then immediately regretted saying anything, as they listed all of his transgressions one by one, truth and lies altogether. He winced when they started hitting him, biting him, and calling him names.

His whole being shook with fear as they walked him further away from the scene of the accident. He stopped and looked back, but it was too far to see what was happening.

“No need to look back,” a nasty looking woman hissed. “You ain’t going back to that.”

“You’ve been a bad boy, Julian,” someone else snickered.

Julian closed his eyes as panic and despair gripped his soul. “God help me, where am I?” he prayed silently.

Then out of nowhere, he remembered a little boy. Everything fled from his mind except the time when he was just five years old. He watched as the young child sat among other children, singing songs. He listened. He could hear a faint sound, almost too faint. ‘The song, what was that song again?’

He tried hard to remember. His heart sank when he could only remember the first line. Finally he decided to sing that line, anything to shut out the nasty slurs of the people around him, poking and biting him.

He hummed for a moment and then sang that one line, “Jesus loves me…..Jesus loves me…” He couldn’t remember the rest, so he just kept singing that line. He sang louder when he noticed the nasty people shrank back in fear. His heart pounded as he sang. He was not sure why the song made them so afraid.

Suddenly in the vast distance, a pinhole of bright light appeared. Julian shielded his eyes as it rapidly sped towards him. Quivering in terror, he stumbled back when light flooded the emptiness, and a man stood before him.

The nasty people fled, and he was left all alone with this man. He was dressed in a brilliant white robe, with a gold sash around his waist that dangled down his thigh. On the sash was written ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords.’ His hair was shoulder length and golden blond in color. His eyes were kind and gentle. He stood before Julian and said, “Do not be afraid.”

“Who are you?” Julian quaked with fear, despite what he said.

“I am Jesus, the son of God. The one of whom you sang,” He replied.

“Jesus Christ? Oh God, I am in trouble now!” he cried.

Jesus smiled and stretched out his arms. “Fear not. I have come, that you might live.”

Julian looked at his tattered clothes. He was covered in grime and filth. “I am so filthy, how can you look at me like this? Why would you want to help me, a Crane?” he asked as tears sprang into his eyes.

“Because I love you,” Jesus said simply.

“You love me? How can you love me? I have done so many terrible things,” Julian said, weeping.

“Before you were even born, Julian, I knew you. I am well aware of the mistakes you’ve made.”

“Why has this happened to me? Who are these horrible people?” He motioned to the group who had shrunk back into the shadows, cowering in fear.

“Those people are you, Julian. That is what you are like - not the man you try to be, but the man that you are, hopeless and lost.”

Julian was crushed; he’d never felt so lost and full of despair. “Why?” he asked again. “Why am I here? What is going to happen to me?” he asked, clearly terrified.

“I came as a babe to live among mortal men. I was hung, beaten and torn for your sins, the sins of the whole world. I am the only sacrifice my father will accept as the atonement for sin. Your sins are forgiven, Julian. All you have to do is believe.”

“Even the time…?”

“Yes, even when you tried to kill Sheridan. You can be free and clean of it all, if you will only trust me.”

“But I am so filthy…” Julian started.

“The filth you see is not dirt of any earthly substance. It is the condition of your soul. You may have tried to change, Julian, and on the outside it appears that you have, but it did nothing for your soul. You cannot, under your own devices and strength, change your status with God.”

“I tried; I really tried!” Julian cried in despair. “I don’t want to be like my father.”

“I know, Julian. That is why I am here. Your heart is in the right place. Your motives are honest and good. But to really change your life requires more than starting to do good things and refraining from evil. You need a change of heart and soul, Julian; otherwise, eventually you will just go back to behaving the way that you used to. Your love for Eve does not have the power to keep you from evil, but I do.”

Julian trembled. “What can I do? I feel so lost and empty. Please tell me what to do.”

“It is written, for God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but receive eternal life.”

Julian sank to his knees and wept. “I am so sorry for the things I’ve done, please forgive me. Please help me, please. I do believe you.”

Jesus smiled. He reached down and took him by the hand and raised him to his feet. As He touched him, suddenly the filth and grime was gone, and he was clothed in a robe of spotless white. Jesus wiped his tears and said, “From this moment on, you shall live forever. Do not fear death. It is but a shadow, a gate if you will. Your life and hope is secure in me. No one shall take you from me, and I will bless you for all eternity for believing in me.”

Joy and peace flooded Julian’s heart and soul. He could scarcely believe what was happening, yet he did. Any doubts and fears that he had had were gone. Instead, he felt safe. For the first time in his life, he felt completely safe.

At the scene of the accident, paramedics leaned over Julian, desperately trying to revive him. He groaned, “Forgive me, help me…” and then went into cardiac arrest.

One of the paramedics shouted with dumbfounded amazement, “Oh my God, he spoke! He wants us to help him.” They rushed to get him into the ambulance and took him to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, furiously working, trying to get his heart started again.

Meanwhile, Julian stood before the King.

“Look, this is what I am preparing for you and all those who trust in me.” Jesus extended his arm, and suddenly before them was a river, crisp and clean, flowing out of a city that stood in the distance.

Julian stumbled backward in complete shock. “My God, it’s beautiful!” he gasped. “The colors - I have never seen anything like them!” he shouted with joy as he stared at the magnificent city. ** Color seemed to be bursting from the seams. There were twelve gates, each made of a single solid pearl, and twelve foundations constructed of precious jewels. The construction of its wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold, shining like transparent glass, measuring fifteen hundred miles squared.

“Can we go in? I have to see it!” Julian cried, breathless. “I want to see what is inside.”

“Your time has not yet come,” Jesus said. “I have shown you this so that you will know what is waiting for you when it does. This is only the city, there is so much more that can be found in the Word. Search it; seek after the things of God and your rewards will be great.”

Julian’s face fell in disappointment.

“You have to go back, Julian,” Jesus said.

“You’re sending me back? Why?” Julian asked, confused. “I thought once a man dies, that is it.”

“That is true; a man cannot go back unless he is sent back. You have been given a second chance, Julian,” Jesus explained. “When you died, you were unprepared for eternity, so I am sending you back to make things right. Your father has destroyed your family’s name. You are going to go back and undo all the damage he has done, and share with others the things I have done for you.”

“What about my Eve? She is barely hanging onto life; if I have to go back, I don’t want to live without her…I love her so much.” Tears sprang into his eyes.

Jesus touched his shoulder. “Eve is going to be all right. I am with her; she will recover completely,” He promised. “Your son as well…I have seen fit that no harm comes to your child.”

Grateful, Julian threw himself into Jesus’ arms. “Thank you, thank you,” he wept. “All the days of my life, I will thank you.”

Jesus wiped his tears away. “I will make you a mighty man among men. The Crane name will be one you can be proud of.”

“What about my father? He tried to kill my family, and I fear he will do it again,” Julian said in concern. “He is a ruthless man.”

“Yes, his heart is continually evil. He has tried to place himself as God in the lives of men. He has chosen his destiny. He will get his Just reward,” Jesus promised. “Do not fear him - no evil shall prosper against you or your family.”

With a final smile, Jesus disappeared, and Julian found himself standing next to his body. The paramedics were performing CPR on him when the heart machine suddenly started beeping, and the relieved men congratulated each other on a job well done.

Julian opened his eyes and smiled weakly at them.

“He’s conscious! I can’t believe after everything he has been through, that he is alive and conscious. It must be a miracle,” one man said in amazement.

“Don’t worry, mister. Everything will be all right,” the other assured him.

Julian smiled again. He knew it. He knew it better than anyone.

** taken from Revelations 21