Friday, November 23, 2007

Part 2: Gray Walls

Note: the following is a first person historical fiction, not my own inner thoughts.


Every surface is gray. Walls. Ceiling. Floor. Today, even the sky through the small window is a murky shade somewhere closer to black than white. Not a hint of color to relieve the monotony. If my vision were worse, I might not even be able to tell where one begins, where another ends. Thank God for my good vision, my good health.

Though I wish - I wish that I had vision beyond these walls, to see and understand. Because however strong my eyes may be, my heart remains shrouded in darkness. Hopelessness. I sing. I pray. I beat myself. I cry out to God. And still I have no hope. How could I? I, a sinner, a wretch, a vile man who is an affront to the Creator who made me. And why has He made me like this, unable to be holy, unable to be right, unable to stand before Him? No, I cower - like a whipped dog, an oft-beaten cur that knows only the well-deserved wrath of its owner.

For I am God's slave. He owns me. He saved me, that night, in the blackness. The terror of it - it still comes pressing in. The sheer, overwhelming terror of my depravity. The shrieks of condemnation tearing at my mind. Lightning searing both body and soul. I dream about that moment - often. If you can call them dreams: they are nightmares, really, an agony of the mind that I wish I could forget when I awake, but which remains ever with me, vivid: that God saved my life. I wonder why I did not die. Why did He give me any longer to live? I deserve nothing.

I wonder if hell will be something like that moment of fiery pain, but stretched out into eternity. I wonder if somehow, perhaps, I will merit enough to spend only a century in purgatory, if I will somehow do enough good for God, conduct a deep enough ablution of my heart to earn the absolution of my soul. I feel - I fear - that I will not: that I will spend an eternity cursed to burn in hell. Because I know myself enough to know that I deserve nothing else than that. Hell.

And if the torments of my own mind were not enough... other torments there are as well. Tormentors that will not leave me be. Tormentors that claw at my consciousness, at my understanding, that whisper soothing doubts in my mind that I know to be lies but which are oh so terribly seductive. They call out that I am a fool for abandoning my brightly glimmering future, that there is no God, no judgment, no torment of everlasting fire - and they hurl insult at my wounds, flaming darts at my soul's weakest points, jabbing blows against my vulnerabilities: calling out my every failure, every weakness, every faltering step.

And there is nothing I can do. I know this. I have done all that I know, all that my brothers have spoken of and recommended, all that the holy father has commended to me for ablutions. I have fasted; I have wept; I have beaten myself. None of it avails.

I want to please God. I do not know how. Because my heart is black, and He is perfect light. He is holy; I am depraved. He is righteous; I am wicked. He is good; I am bad. There is no gray here. There is the black stain on my soul and the pure white glory of God, and no bridge I see between the two.

I would in an instant trade my perfect spotless glimpses of this world for a right understanding of the spiritual one. I would give up my ability to discern between these shades of gray if I could thusly grasp - truly and firmly - the distinctions, the delineations, the degradations of the spiritual realm. If I could but for a moment understand why God so angrily torments us - those He created, and for whom He has left no escape - then I would readily trade a life of seeing clear the tepid hues of the world I now inhabit.


  1. "I want to please God. I do not know how."

    None of us does ... only He can please Himself through us ... when we choose to allow Him; and you are.

    I don't get it all, either. The darkness and the storm seem unrelentless. Why do some exist as if it's not there? Do they not see it? Or is it truly not existent in their lives?

    Perhaps, this is a form of depression. Perhaps it's an ability to see a reality and the gravity of such reality. Perhaps it's an inability to see and/or accept His love lavished upon us.

    May you find His peace, Chris. In the midst of all of it, it is His peace that will calm your heart and shield your heart from the raging, relentless storm.

  2. Glad to see you have marked these last two posts with a note that they are fiction. I was quite concerned reading the first one. I will be curious to see where you take this. It truly speaks of where the heart goes without grace...the acceptance of unmerited favor.

    Missing you!

  3. Poignantly written.
    Like your mom said, it will be interesting to see where you go with this.

  4. Chris!!!! This sounds strikingly like Luther, pre-95 Theses. Especially considering the mention of the storm. And since you say it is historical fiction...?

  5. Actually, rereading it, I am utterly certain. Wrestling with purgatory, intensely scrutinizing his own sinfulness.

    I'm looking forward to what you write next!

    P.S. I'm taking a class on the Reformation here next semester...should be interesting from the French perspective, especially in a region highly affected by it. Calvin taught here for a couple of years, after all.


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