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THRESHOLD OF SALVATION

(An account from The Book of Steven)



Chapter 1

On the morning I arrived, coming in reply of
a friendís beckoning. This friend is a
doctor named Jack.
Said he: Come and give witness to the wards
in my care. Spread the word of God unto
them who relish it, and unto them even
who donít.
Had not I to ponder what my answer should be.
In my life I have witnessed to many, and
as many have been saved---having accepted
Christ as their Savior.
No, I am not a preacher, nor am I an evangelist.
I am, by choosing, and by profession, an
author of scores of gospel books. They
pass the Word where I myself cannot
venture.
My words have brought me recognition, and I
have been called to give talks---not
sermons---at many colleges and hospitals
across the nation.
So when my friend contacted me, it was in my
heart to accept. He was intensely inter-
ested in one young lady, who had recently
tried to take her own life. She appears
immune to emotion, heíd written.
Her words speak only of death and hate. She
shuns outside help. I fear for her soul,
for she is slipping fast. Her grip on
life is loose and unwilling. Itís as if
she likes being this way.
If you, Steven, could come and speak to the
members of the ward, maybe the hand of
God will descend unto her. Please say
youíll come. My worry is immense.
And so have I come.


Chapter 2

I was to be a week there, witnessing to as
many strayful patients as time allowed
me, but never once did I see the young
lady Jack spoke of. Never once.
Now, three days escaped and time was dying
fast. If the girl was to be saved from
the misleading hands of Satan, then I
would have to go to her, for it was
evident she was not going to come to me.
Remembering the first time I saw her:
Upon a bench she sat, shoulders hunched, head
bowed. The sun was showing itself, and
an easy breeze was passing by.
Caution rendered my step silent. I stood
somewhere behind her for a time, until
courage made me move.
She did not see me, nay did she sense me.
No movement from her did my eyes see.
Pausing, my hand on the bench, my knees
became liquid, as a dread entered into me.
A dread, and a fear, I had never before
been a harbor to. Of what cause was this?
I wondered.
Careful to keep my distance, I took up resi-
dence on the bench beside her. The dis-
tance settled between us, a distance as
great as the bench allowed, but why I de-
sired this, I knew not.
An omen unto my Christian self.
To get too close would suffer me.
Came unto my mind this curiosity: If one
has faith in God, one fears nothing.
Where was my faith? Was not Godís strength
within me? Had not I the power to be
unafraid? I had.
I scooted closer, though not much so.
Immobile she remained, no sound came from
her. It was as if she had been carved
of stone. Yet did I know different.
Words escaped me like never before, and so
was I speechless, like a mute.
Never had God set such a task before me,
and loathe was I to attempt it, even
though it was what He wanted.
I was fighting to myself, afraid, yet not
afraid. Two stones sitting cold together.
Spoke I unto the Lord: Why, God, hast Thou
given me this duty? Is not the devil
king within her?
A voice within me answered: Verily I say
unto you, that my Son did conquer the
fallen one. Is thou so faithless as to
deny thy pleasure?
But a week is not enough, oh Heavenly Master,
said I.
It is too long, said He, then went away.
Sat I brooding in my disgust. To imagine I
had let slip my faith.
Courage donít fail me now, I prayed, for here
is a soul wandering lost. Witness unto
her so that she may find peace.


Chapter 3

She moved not, nay did I.
I merely sat and she sat.
I stared at her; she stared at nothing, eyes
cast ahead, dead.
She seemed uninterested, detached, not only
from God, but from herself, and from the
world. From life. Even from death.
Yet death became her prayer.
I sat pondering, and I sat wondering: How
to witness to someone such as this. To
someone who craved for death, not life.
Never before, in all my travels had I to
witness to a soul as this.
I looked within myself; I looked without.
I looked above me---to the Lord, and
prayed inwardly for guidance.
Oh, Lord, said I from my bleeding heart.
Help me to witness to this lonely child.
Help me to lead her angry heart to your
loving one. Show me the way to her
salvation.
I beckoned so unto the Lord.
I prayed and waited for strength.
Salvation was but a threshold away. I felt
this to be true, but where was this
threshold? And how far the salvation?
I knew not.
Fear became me, if fear can become one.
I suffered not from closeness, but from fear.
I felt the breeze dance about us, its
flowing skirts brushing against us, as
we sat silent, angry and tense.
I angry? Yes. But why, I knew not.
The wind cut in on my swaying emotions, and
I became its partner for awhile. I let
it take me where it would go. I breathed
of its freshness. I tasted of its life. And
I listened to the song it sang.
The wind is a wonderful thing.
I turned, refreshed, to the soul beside me, and
suddenly, miraculously, knew exactly
what I must do.
I must save this girl from the arms of death;
still the voices of Satan that raged
within her. I must show her the light
of the Lord, and the glory of life, as I
had come to know it.
I am Steven, said I.
The soul said nothing---or that is what I heard-- nothing.
I admired her as I would a statue, almost
believing her to be one, then, almost
unknowingly, I reached out a hand to
touch her, just to see if a statue she be.
My fingers fell upon chilly flesh---the way
flesh feels once it dies, for I have felt
dead flesh, even though the sun was warm
upon us. I cringed. How unusual.
I withdrew my hand, bringing it back to myself.
Do you know the Lord? I questioned.
Does the Lord know me? She had spoken
without moving; without looking at me,
or at anything, and when she did, I heard.
Her voice was a cryptic quietness, and I tasted
a bitterness I could not swallow.
The Lord knows everyone, I spoke.
No one can know everyone, she replied,
disbelieving.
The Lord can, I told her, and He does. The
Lord is your friend.
She turned then to look at me, and when she
did, I was crushed by the impact of her
eyes. It was a head-on collision of two
souls, different, and yet, somehow, the
same. I was shattered, irreparably.
I knew then, in that fatal moment, that I would
never be able to save this girl, for she
was already dead.
I had to take leave, and I told her so. But Iíll
be back. And I left, her eyes upon my
back, lifeless.


Chapter 4

It was the fourth day, and I came to the bench
where last we spoke, the soul and I.
But she was not there, where last she was,
and so I paused to wait.
Was she to come? I wondered.
Moments elapsed, and she arrived, to sit upon
the bench beside me as before.
Silence began our conversation.
My eyes skipped downward, and I noticed,
as I had not before, the cloths which bound her wrists. How callous Iíd been to
not have noticed such an obvious thing as
this, I berated myself. Am I blind?
I am, but only in the face of futility.
And in the face of her, stone-cold, marble-hard,
slate-gray.
Yes, I mused, she had a face of slate. A face
written upon many times by the hands of
life. Like a chalkboard reflecting that
which is written upon it, she reflected life?

Or was it, she reflected a reflection of life?
She would remain forever so, unerasable, a
mistaken scribble.
And how does today find you? I asked, trying
to be pleasant.
I am silent, she said, staring straight.
For what do you wish? I inquired.
For death.
But why? I asked.
There is no life, she replied, no real life. There
is only real death.
Yes, real is death, I admitted to myself, but I
said, Life comes first. Life is real. God
gave you life.
God gave me nothing!
This was not her soul speaking? Surely the
soul held not such anger, such hate?
I could not leash my anger.
God gave you everything! My hate was evident
for her, as was hers for me. I could see
that now. She hated me, and against my
Christianity, I was beginning to feel the
same for her.
How can you speak so? I demanded, jumping up
from the bench, for it felt so cold to me
then. It was giving me frostbite; a gift
from the soul beside me. God has done
nothing to you.
He has done nothing for me, she contested.
What have you done for Him? I countered,
throwing my faith, my goodness, to the
wind, as it rushed past us. I was glad to
set it free.
You have betrayed Him by trying to take your
own life; the very life He has given you!
I reclaimed the seat Iíd vacated a moment ago,
suddenly weary and saddened by what
I had said. I did not know where I was
going, nay did I realize my words.
She held out her wrists for me to view; for God
to view. This, she said, is not betrayal.
Her voice was as weary as I felt. This
is acceptance.
I did not understand, and told her thus.
This is all that I am---all that He gave me. I am
Godís work. Look, and say what you see.
I mused before I answered. What was it I saw?
What was it I was supposed to see? What
did she want me to see?
What eyes hast Thou given me, my Father? Are
they open or are they not?
Thou art not blind, a gentle voice spoke within
me, for thou hast seen the truth. Your
eyes are as mine, child. Use them wisely.
Go forth unto her. Offer her my salvation.



Chapter 5

Vaguely my mind beheld a deep curiosity. It
wondered why this young girl had tried
to take her own life.
Dared I ask?
Was it my business to know, or was it the Lordís?
Turning, I stared upon her chalkboard face, and I spoke.
Of why do you pray for death?
Death is fascinating. No more she spoke. Just
this.
Death fascinating? This was morbid to me, to
my faith; alien. I could not and did not
believe.
Death has no fascination, I told her, turning
away. Death has nothing.
Life has nothing. She spoke with quietness,
and I almost did not hear.
Your life has nothing. This I had observed.
My life has nothing, she agreed, nodding.
I am nothing. I have nothing.
Open your eyes, I said, reaching out my hand
to touch one of hers. Do you really not
see? God has given you---has given us
all so much! God is life! God is Love!
Let Him love you. Let Him be your life.
It is not so hard to do.
This I have tried, she replied sadly. And have I
failed. God does not want me.
I was hurt; wounded by her words. Around me,
I looked; to the trees swaying in the new
morning breeze. To the horizon that somehow
called to me. How far away the horizon sat.
And her salvation.
God wants you, I tried to reassure her, but my
attempt failed, as I supposed it would. So
again I tried.
God wants everyone.
And Satan? She tossed the words to me.
Satan defies the Lord, I confessed. And confuses
the soul.
As I am confused? she wanted to know.
I nodded. As you are confused.
I know Satan, she said.
I was silent, unsure of speech.
She continued: I have known him for a long
time. He is my friend.
Satan is no oneís friend. He is a deceiver, I
retaliated strongly. He has done nothing
but deceive you.
He has opened my eyes, she confessed.
He has closed your eyes! I spoke, grabbing one of
her bound wrists. He has destroyed you! He
has lured you into the deepest sin! He has
tempted you with the candy of Hell!
Leave him while you still can!
Leave him? she asked, wide-eyed. But I cannot.
You will not.
It is hard.
Nothing is easy, I admitted. But with God it
can be easier. Come with me, I begged of her.
Come, meet my Lord.
I have already met your Lord, she replied. And He
has met me.
This time, it was she who walked away, and as my
eyes watched her go, I knew she was right.
She had already met my Lord.


Chapter 6


Upon the seventh day, I departed, carrying failure
like a suitcase, for I had been unable to save
the girl.
Never had I been moved so deeply by anyone.
Never had I prayed so hard. Never had I
felt so helpless.
But God was with me still. I felt His presence, and
was I comforted.
And I needed His comfort much, for within
three days, I received a letter. It came
from Jack, my friend.
Bad news, Steven, he wrote. Sad news.
And I knew without reading further, what that
sad news was.
She has passed into the hands of Satan. Unwilling
to accept the Lord.
My eyes stopped their reading, for their vision
was beginning to waver.
I passed a sleeve before my eyes, and let bow
my weary head. My heart was breaking
with heaviness. My lips began to pray.
In my silent grief did I pray; for myself, and for a
soul I knew would never find God. For her
soul had gone the other way.
Oh, my Father in the highest Heaven. Oh, how I
have failed you. You gave me a soul to save
and I have lost it. Please forgive me, my Lord,
in my weakness.
Forgive her for her weakness, my Father, for she
was not strong. Forgive her her sin. Let her
rest in peace.
And once again, the voice within me spoke,
and my heart was healed by its grace.
My lovely child, you have not failed me. You did
that which I commanded. You witnessed to
her the Word. You showed Me unto her,
and she saw. I am pleased with you, my child.
Go. Go and witness unto others. Go and take
Me with you always.
I smiled, and felt the sun shine in my heart. I had not
failed after all.










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