Autumn had always been Kerri's favorite season. The beautiful colors of the changing leaves, the cooler temperatures and the early sunsets were all wonderful to her. Today was a perfect example of the Fall days she enjoyed. Not too hot and not too cold. All you needed was a jacket to keep you warm.
As she walked down the street, she looked at all the trees, and took in their beauty. As far back as she could remember, the colors of autumn always filled her up with awe. She couldn't even imagine there ever would be a day that these colors would ever stop being beautiful to her.
Kerri had just left the Church, wearing her Sunday best, and was now heading toward the bus stop. Normally her boyfriend, Jeff, would have been walking along side of her, but not today. Football season had just begun, so (after Church) Jeff headed to the bar to watch the game instead of coming straight home with her.
She had a love/hate relationship with Football. She hated it when Jeff's team lost because he would come home in a fowl mood. Not that he would abuse her or anything, he would just be in a depressed state of mind. As if he lost a loved one or something. But when his team won, now that was a different story. He would come home filled with excitement and usually lead to . . . well, you know.
How her evening was going to turn out, was going to be determined by men in heavy gear throwing around a football. Nothing she can do about it, so she would just go home and lounge out until Jeff arrived.
When she reached the bus stop, she sat down and looked at the changing colors of the tree across the street. It was such a beautiful display of red and oranges. Taking out her phone, she went to take a picture of it. She kept so many pictures of trees she had taken over the years; both digitally and on film.
She was about to take the picture when a homeless man came up to a garbage can near the tree. He started going through it, looking for food. For Christ sake, she thought, disgusted as she lowered her phone. Somebody should do something about these disgusting people. Not only is he ruining my shot, but he is. . . just disgusting.
Kerri impatiently waited for the homeless man to leave so she could take a picture of the beautiful tree. It was just then that a woman approached the man. Though this woman was dressed down – with ripped jeans and old faded T-shirt - you could tell she was far from being homeless. Why on Earth, Kerri thought, would anyone want to talk to these loathsome people.
The woman pulled a sandwich from her bag and handed it to the homeless man, who was so grateful that he actually hugged the woman. When the woman hugged him back, Kerri felt like she wanted to puke. Why would she do that? Never mind how dirty you would get from touching this degenerate, but how can she stand the smell?
As disgusting as what Kerri was watching was, it wasn't the thing that was bothering her the most. What was really making her mind race was the fact that the woman across the street looked so very familiar. Kerri knew she knew her, but could not put a name to the face. Deeper and deeper she searched her memories, trying to figure out who this woman was.
As the woman smiled and started to walk away from the homeless man, the correct memory popped up in Kerri's mind. “Jane,” she called out as she stood up and waved.
Jane turned around, wondering who called her name. When she saw Kerri waving at her, she instantly smiled and waved back. She started to cross the street toward Kerri.
As anxious as Kerri was to talk to her old friend, she was secretly praying that none of the smell of the homeless man went onto Jane. That would be way more than Kerri could take and still hold a civilized conversation.
“Kerri?' Jane asked as she came up to her. “Is that really you? It has been years.”
Jane went to give her a hug, but Kerri held her hand out. “I would love to give you a hug hello,” Kerri explained, “but I am wearing my good clothes and I saw you hugging that . . . “ Kerry pointed to the homeless man from head to toe, then pulled her hand back as if pointing at the vile creature alone would transfer the dirt and smell onto her. “I just don't want to get my clothes dirty.”
Jane, confused, looked at the homeless man, who was deep into enjoying his sandwich. “Oh,” Jane said as she looked back at Kerri. “I get it.”
“Well, how have you been?” Kerri said, getting off the gross subject. “I haven't seen you since . . .”
“High School,” Jane said, finishing Kerri's thought. “I'm doing great actually. How about you?”
“Oh, so much has happened,” Kerri said, bragging. “I went to college and got my Masters in Business. Landed a great job and a great man. We have been living together for a little over three years now. I don't know, I guess you can say we are in love, but I think we are still in the lust stage, you know what I mean”
“Oh,” Jane replied.
Kerri waited a second, expecting Jane to say something a little more supportive of a friend getting her rocks off. When Jane didn't say anything more, Kerri continued, “Well, I couldn't be more happy. Things just seem like they are falling into place. What about you? Did you graduate?”
“No, I didn't,” Jane said, feeling a little embarrassed.
“Well,” Kerri responded with a smile, “you were always the wild one. The ultimate party girl able to out party anyone.”
“Yeah,” Jane said, uncomfortable. “Got me into a lot of trouble.”
“Come on,” Kerri pried. “I am sure you have a lot of amazing stories to tell.”
“Very interesting to say the least,” Jane said looking down. She then took a deep breath, smiled and looked back at Kerri. “Luckily, those days are over with. I am a new person.”
“Yes, I am. I found Jesus and the experience turned my life around.”
“Well, that is really good to hear,” Kerri said honestly. “Me and Jeff – that's my man – go to Church every Sunday. You should come to our church one day, there are a lot of great people there and not so good people. I will let you know all about them, after I introduce you to them, so you know the scoop.”
“Okay,” Jane said, nodding. Changing the subject she said, “Isn't being in a relationship with him amazing?”
“Who, Jeff,” Kerri said, smiling fiendishly. “Well, he does some things to me that you wouldn't believe. . . “
“Oh no,” Jane corrected. “I don't mean Jeff. I mean Jesus.”
Kerri felt a little uncomfortable. She looked around and saw and older gentleman sitting there trying not to pay attention to their conversation. From his appearance, he wasn't too happy to hear was said. “Oh yeah,” Kerri said, lowering her voice a bit. “That's great too.”
Jane didn't lower her voice as she started to feel excited. “Giving my heart to Jesus is the most important thing I ever did. Gave my life new meaning.”
“Oh yeah, sure,” Kerri said, trying to give Jane nonverbal cues to lower her voice. She noticed the older gentleman was now looking over at them, getting upset. Kerri gave him an apologetic smile.
Jane, obliviously missing Kerri's cues, continued, “Oh, I love Jesus so much. He is doing such great things in me. It is simply amazing. Praise you Jesus!”
“Uh, Jane,” Kerri said, feeling uncomfortable. The older gentlemen now folded his arms and looked away from them, frowning. “Maybe you want to keep your voice down. You don't want to offend anyone.”
“Offend?” Jane asked, confused.
“Yeah,” Kerri explained. “Not everyone is a Christian like us you know.”
“Oh, that is why we have to spread the Word. To help get people out of Bondage.”
“Well, a lot of people really don't want to hear about it.”
“But that is not a reason why we should be quiet about it. So many people are living in sin and we need to show them there is a way out of it. I am not saying we should shove the Bible down people's throats, but we should be talking about it. Making people aware of the love and sacrifice that Jesus has made for them. Pray that these discussions leave a seed that will someday grow.”
“What,” Kerri joked, “are you a Pastor now?”
“Well then,” Kerri said as if talking to a little child, “I think it is best if we leave the preaching up to the professionals. I mean, who are we to tell people what to believe or think?”
“It's not about telling people what to think,” Jane said, shaking her head, “it's about letting people know that there is a Savior who loves them.”
“Well, I am sorry, I am really uncomfortable about that,” Kerri said, disappointed that Jane was not getting her point. All that time she spent partying must have slowed down her brain, Kerri thought to herself.
“But we have to,” Jane said, trying to make her point clear. “We have to step out of our comfort zone. We know that hell is real and we know a lot of people are heading straight for it . . . don't you think we should do everything we can to stop them from going there?”
Kerri frowned and folded her arms across her chest. She felt like she was dealing with an emotional child that refused to see reality. “It is a free country,” Kerri scolded, “and people are allowed to believe whatever they want to believe. We have no right to bother other people by talking about our beliefs in public places. We should respect their beliefs and not offend them because our beliefs are different from theirs.” Kerri looked to the older gentleman for approval and he gave it to her with a nod. She smiled and felt accomplished.
“But don't you see the danger in doing that?” Jane asked desperately. She took a second to think about it, then continued calmly. “If you saw someone crossing the street, not paying attention, and a car was heading straight for them . . . would you say something?”
“Of course I would,” Kerri said, offended.
“What if that person did not believe that car existed? Would you let them believe what they wanted to, just so you wouldn't offend them? Or would you do something to save their life?”
Kerri sighed and looked back at the older gentleman. She shook her head (as if to say she was sorry for her friend) and he just rolled his eyes and smiled (as if he was letting her know that she was not the one who was wrong).
“Come on now,” Kerri said, getting a little tired of what she considered a stupid conversation, “they are completely different things. You're making yourself look like a fool by being over dramatic.”
“It's not being over dramatic,” Jane once again pleaded, “it is the truth. It is . . .”
A sudden screeching of tires cut Jane off. Both Jane and Kerri looked over to the source and saw an out of control car heading right for them.
* * *
Jane and Kerri found themselves sitting in a court room, both feeling a little confused. One moment there was a car heading straight for them and then (in a blink of an eye) they found themselves sitting in a court room. They were surrounded by hundreds of frightened people.
“What happened?” Kerri asked scared.
Before Jane could answer a deep and powerful voice called out, “Jane Klein, please come and face the court.” Jane looked up at the source and saw it was coming from the Judge. She couldn't make out his features, just a silhouette, because there was an incredible bright light behind him.
Swallowing hard, Jane slowly stood up and walked toward the Judge Bench. She has been in court so many times in her younger years that she knew the procedure. This time was different because she now knew she stood before the Almighty God, and she was about to be Judged.
Her heart filled up with fear when she looked at the prosecutor and saw it was none other than the Devil himself. The fact that he looked like a regular person in a fancy suit did not make him seem less terrifying. In fact, he looked very handsome - with the exception of the horns on his head. Nothing like any adaption of him in any movie. Seeing the Devil sitting there was not the worse part of this courtroom for Jane. As horrible as it was, the fact that the defense table was empty made things fell a hundred times worse.
Jane stood by the Judge Bench visibly shaking. The Devil sits to her right and the empty defense table to her left, Jane feared for the worst.
“Your honor,” The Devil spoke as he stood up holding up a file. “This woman before you has committed many sins in her time on Earth. She has lied, stolen, abused her body with drugs and alcohol to extreme excess and has laid with many of men that was not her husband. In some cases, you will find, that there were some men that were a husband, just not her husband. Your Honor, this is just part of her file.”
Jane could not stop shaking for she knew the accusations were correct. If only she knew sooner, she would have never done the things that were in that file. She knew she was guilty of everything the Devil accused her of and was deserving of the punishment she knew she was going to receive.
Jane's thoughts were interrupted when, from her left, she heard, “Objection, your Honor.” She opened her eyes and saw Jesus himself, in all His glory, standing by the defense table. She felt as if a terrible weight has been lifted from her chest as her tears of horror were transformed into tears of Joy.
“According to the Legal Code 2 Corinthians 5:17-19,” Jesus continued with authority, “this woman is a new creation and no longer subject to the sins of the past.”
“Your Honor,” the Devil cried out in frustration.
“The defense is correct,” God called out, ignoring the Devil's plea. “Jane Klein you have been found not guilty of all charges. Case dismissed.” God slammed the gavel down.
Unable to contain herself, Jane ran to Jesus and hugged him tighter than she has ever held anyone before. Her face buried in his chest, she never felt so much love in her entire life. “Thank you,” she cried out. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
She looked up into Jesus' eyes and felt fresh tears come flowing out. “Well done,” Jesus spoke then smiled at her lovingly, “good and faithful servant. Welcome to the Kingdom.”
Two big doors opened and amazing light flowed out from behind them. Jane could not see beyond those doors (because the light was so bright) but she walked toward it anyway. The closer she walked, the more happier she had become. As the doors closed behind Jane, Kerri heard her say, “It is so beautiful.”
Excited, Kerri jumped up and ran to Jesus. If Jane got into Heaven, she was a shoe in. She wanted to thank Jesus in advance. “Lord, Lord,” she called out to get Jesus' attention. She was unable to reach him for there was a barrier separating the Gallery from the rest of the courtroom. When Jesus turned to face her, she spoke, “It is such a pleasure to meet you and I am so happy to have you in my corner. I knew you existed, I just knew it. I am ready to take my place in Heaven and to have you defend me against this disgusting creature.”
The Devil looked over at her and sneered. She stuck out her tongue at him and laughed. Get ready for another defeat, she thought with confidence.
“I will not be defending you,” Jesus said with sorrow.
Shocked, Kerri looked back at Jesus. “Why?” she asked, confused. “You defended Jane and she broke your commandments so many times without hesitation. I am a 10 times better person than she ever was. I went to Church every Sunday for years, I have prayed over people, spoke in tongues and kept up with my tithes constantly. Why would you defend her and not me?”
Jesus took at her with tears in his eyes. “I never knew you,” he said then turned his back and closed his briefcase. With great sorrow, he walked away from the defense table.
As he walked away, Kerri watched in horror. She turned and looked at the Devil who was smiling. His face suddenly transformed into the older gentleman that she so desperately wanted approval from (when she was at the bus stop just a little while ago) and then transformed back. Her jaw dropped.
She stared at him in disbelief until she heard, “Kerri Johnson, please come and face the court.”