Beyond the Veil | Love After All

It had been seven years since Anna discovered the truth; yet it seemed a lifetime ago.  What lay beyond the veil before her? 

A man named Paul had written, as if to Anna personally… “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes… to free and slave, prisoners, and those who suffer.” 

Anna had been a long time in grasping that message in her own heart, although she’d suffered much in her young life; a prisoner of her own pain and distrust.

 

Thankfully, that truth had sustained her as she struggled to survive those horrifying seven years, while she feared that most of those she cared about were lost forever.

Unable to move now, Anna found herself standing between fading memories and the door to eternity.   Everything had changed, and only what she had finally come to believe kept her from crumbling, as had so many, into total madness.

“Am I breathing… dying?  Am I dead?” she wondered.

The Great Veil

Rising before her was a great, shimmering wall of indescribable dimensions, like an immense veil or theater curtain in the grandest proscenium archway.  Suddenly, the veil ripped from top to bottom before her eyes.  Anna remembered reading a story about something like this in a Bible, during the past seven years when being found with a copy of that forbidden book threatened imprisonment or worse.

The story told of a devastating incident, long ago.  How another mammoth veil in a Hebrew temple had torn violently, right down the middle, as if by unseen hands—as an innocent Man died on a Roman cross.  Anna had finally come to know that Man as her life. Now she understood. He was the only way to God—for her, for anyone.  God Himself, appearing in human flesh; born to die, to pay for the sins of every person on earth, of all time, in one sacrificial act of grace and forgiveness.

Anna hadn’t let herself believe it before that day—when so many people just disappeared!   

Everyone had heard the voice roaring from the heavens then.  Like the blast of a great horn, it had shaken them all to their knees.  Some recognized the voice instantly, yet they had been too late in taking the prophecy seriously, because unbelief or mere “religion” had masked the truth.  Anna had only covered her ears at the sound; still unwilling to listen.  It had all been too incredible for her to believe.

But, people were suddenly gone, and Anna realized she and millions of others were now left behind to face what Jesus Himself had warned of, “For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred, since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be.”

The Man of Lawlessness Comes

The mysterious book of Revelation told of a “man of lawlessness” called Antichrist, who would rise during the final seven years.  Ultimately, it said, he would show himself for who and what he was—Satan incarnate.  At first, Anna had listened to that charismatic world leader; captivated by his smooth, persuasive words.  But, just as the Book had foretold, three and a half years later, the man changed; morphed into something hideous in nature. A killing force; vicious and cruel.

“Science is king,” he chanted. “Evolution is truth, and creation is a lie. Your GOD is a lie!”

Then came that day in the new temple when he did the most abominable thing!  

“I alone am god!” he declared, as millions watched via satellite around the world.  So many had cheered, while others like Anna were terrified, knowing who he really was.  The builders of the new temple had finally realized also, and remembered the One they had rejected.  Those who could run fled into the desert.  After that day, those who wouldn’t bow down to Antichrist’s image were destroyed.

The Mark

“Do NOT take The Mark, no matter what!” Anna’s best friend Grace had warned her.  Grace was one of those who did read that Book, and knew the consequences of taking the Mark—that symbol of allegiance to Antichrist.  NOT taking the Antichrist’s “Mark” would mean not being able to buy food or anything else; all privileges taken away.  However, taking that Mark had dire, eternal consequences!

One day, Anna’s friend Grace had desperately insisted on reading a Bible passage to Anna… “It says, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his Mark on their forehead or on their hand, they shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God… Here is the patience of the saints (believers) who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus the Christ.’ PLEASE, don’t take the mark, Anna!” 

Still, Anna had not listened.  It had taken the disappearance of her friend and many others to convince her of what had been inconceivable before that day.

Seven Terrifying Years Later

Endless lines of rescued souls stood silently to her left and right.  Waiting.  Unable to move, or to see clearly beyond the veil, they were captive to a seemingly infinite moment in time, before there would be no more. 

Standing beneath the great veil, Anna’s mind raced at light speed through what had been her life.  Faces of those she had known and loved.  But, even as her heart assured her she would soon be with God forever, deep grief swept over her for those who would never go beyond the great veil.

The evidence of the disappearances and a world gone mad around them had not convinced most of those on earth, who had been too willing to take the Mark.  Sadly, those would never realize their dreams or find the love they had sought, in anything and anyone, but Christ.

For Anna, it was unbearable to think what waited for them now.   “If only they had believed!”

She wept, one last time—her only comfort, remembering what the Book said lay beyond the veil. “For God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”

A Prisoner and Yet..

Anna woke with a start at the sound of the prison bullhorn; her heart still racing.  The veil was gone now.  The images she had dreamed about in such detail had been prompted by Corrie and Betsie ten Boom’s nightly readings in Barracks 28, from a small, smuggled Bible.  Thankfully, the Tribulation had not yet happened; but now she understood, it would certainly come.

Too early for daylight to show through the dirt-encrusted windows, Anna and hundreds of other women were crammed into a space meant to house much fewer people.  Yet only their closeness kept most from freezing to death in the icy winter of Northern Germany.  Women, Jews and Gentiles of many countries and languages, were forced to lie in filthy, flea-infested bunks, hoping a Nazi guard would not call their name, one final time.

Now fully awake, Anna was relieved to be alive, even in Ravensbruck prison.  There was still time, however short, to comfort others with the hope of heaven beyond this place.  She and the other women would likely never leave Ravensbruck alive.

Night after night, Corrie and Betsie had read scripture to give that hope to all the women.  The images Anna had dreamed about had once frightened and confused her, not having understood the Apostle John’s vision in the Book of Revelation. But, it was the important warning Christ had given His beloved friend John—to be delivered to any of us who might believe and be spared what was going to come.

Love, After All

However, it wasn’t the fear of the Revelation’s horrible images of the end times that caused Anna or others to trust Christ as Savior.  It was those other passages they read each night—about God’s mercy and forgiveness.  It was Christ’s willing sacrifice on that cross, for Anna and all mankind, if they would only believe and be saved.  His resurrection promised victory even over death, and new life forever with Him.

God’s amazing and sacrificial LOVE was what won Anna’s heart!  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,”  Romans 5:8 proclaimed.  And “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends,” says John 15:13.  Now she knew, God Himself, through His Son, was Anna’s Friend!

In 1944, Corrie and Betsie ten Boom risked their own lives reading from that smuggled Bible, to the women in Barracks 28.  It was ones like Anna (although a supposed character here) who listened and believed the readings from God’s word each night, who found hope, strength and true freedom, even in prison.

On those dark nights, with death so close, some might have wondered if that man in Germany, Adolf Hitler, was the long-prophesied Antichrist himself.  After all, Hitler’s twisted ideology had caused them and so many others to be captive there.  Time would prove, the final and notorious “Antichrist” was yet to come. 

Heeding the Ancient Prophecy

However, the ancient prophecy, found in the books of Daniel, The Revelation and other passages, remains a serious, yet merciful warning to any who would find ultimate victory over this world, beyond the veil,  through faith in Jesus Christ—Yahshua, the Messiah!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world, through Him, might be saved” … John 3:16-17

~  ~  ~

[Ravensbruck was a Nazi Concentration Camp where more than 100,000 women, Jews and others, were exterminated during World War 2]

Scripture references include: Rom. 1:16, Matthew 24:21, Rev. 14:9-12, Rev. 21:4.

Angel on the MTA | Nashville

I’ll never forget that day, and that strange ride on the MTA bus line in Nashville!

“Do you believe in angels, Mom?” I remembered my young son’s question, as if it was not 40 years ago. My preoccupied response to his question had been a decided, “No!”

Personally, I had never seen an angel, and had placed the possibility of such a creature alongside Santa Claus and other childhood tales. It would be a long time before I read a scripture verse that says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained ANGELS.”

It was the summer of 1984 and I had been riding buses, seeking employment, since giving up on my pursuit of music stardom. Months earlier, faith had finally replaced misery for me, while visiting a large Nashville church. Carrying a huge chip on my shoulder, I’d gone there at what seemed the bottom of my life, arrogantly challenging God to, “Show yourself, if you even exist!”

Truth is, I should have been squashed like a bug on a windshield for my feisty approach. Word to the wise: Even if you don’t believe in God—unless you have all knowledge yourself, it’s wise to reconsider, should you decide to shake an ignorant fist in God’s face, as I did that day. Just saying!

However, I was stunned, to say the least, when the most gentle, albeit firm Voice actually spoke right out loud to me. I learned the meaning of grace that day.

My life situation wasn’t quick to change then, but my perspective on almost everything else had instantly, and I believe miraculously, done an about-face.

By now, I was sure I wouldn’t be at all surprised to meet up with a real live ANGEL.

Angels are people, too!

The alarm clock startled me at 5:30 that morning. It seemed only minutes before I had finally fallen asleep after a rough night of coughing and sneezing. A quick swipe at the frosted bedroom window with a rumpled tissue told me; at least, it had stopped raining. But, something was wrong—more wrong than that monster head cold!

Since hearing the Voice, most days I woke with a deep inner peace and a positive outlook. “Surely this will be the day I find a job!” But, this morning was different.

Trying to find a job without a car left me with one choice—the Nashville Metro Transit Authority (the “MTA”).  I was thankful for that, but, unfortunately, I’d never gotten used to the smell of diesel fumes, for all the years I traveled and sang with Grand Ole Opry star “Whispering” Bill Anderson, on his Silver Eagle bus.  But, that’s for another story!

The thought of bus fumes this morning only added to my nausea, but going back to sleep was not an option. I had a job interview at Belmont College (now Belmont University), and I needed a new income. The mirror told me it would take the “big guns”—stage makeup—to make myself look at all presentable.

Nobody wants to hire an ex-roadie-turned-Jesus-freak, anyway!” I moaned. Numerous job applications had turned up nothing solid. No one seemed to understand—my life had changed so much, I didn’t plan to head out on the next show bus.

Still, the days had dragged on, and my faith was sagging for the first time since hearing Him say, “You’re going home, Susan!” How could I ever lose heart after that? Still, here I was. Poor, poor, pitiful me!

Prayers for Passengers

The interview at Belmont went well enough, and I got the job. But, my head pounded as I left the Belmont campus that day and boarded the #2 Belmont bus headed downtown.

The familiar publishing houses and recording studios flashed by the windows as the bus wound through Music Row toward Broadway, where I would have to wait for yet another bus to take me home, south of town.

Months before, I’d promised God that, as long as I had to ride the MTA, I would pray for every soul I rode with every day.  I’d kept that promise, but this day I just wanted to be left alone; certain my conversation would be less than inspiring.

Forgetting to Entertain Strangers

I was seated in one of those sideways seats upfront, behind the driver, when the bus came to a stop and an elderly black woman got on. Toting a couple of huge plastic bags, she quickly flopped all of herself and her treasures onto the seat right by me.

“Only a few other people scattered about the bus, and she has to sit down right next to me,” I protested silently. “Okay, I’ll pray for her, God, but I don’t feel like talking to anybody today!”

There she was, right beside me now. The old woman’s chocolate eyes sparkled and smiled, almost as broadly as the toothy grin that exaggerated her otherwise small, weather-worn face. “What does she have to be so joyful about?” I wondered, behind a token smile. Before long, I would have the answer.

Trying not to stare, I noticed she wore several layers of old clothes, likely her entire wardrobe. Buttons strained to hold multiple sweaters together. Nothing matched anything else, from the brown knit hat that covered most of her salt and pepper hair, to the out-sized granny shoes on her feet. It was all I could do not to laugh, despite my resolve to bask in a pity party.

Stranger than Fiction

“Okay, God,” I finally capitulated, “If you want me to tell that lady about your Son, you need to give me an opening!” Surprisingly, the old street woman spoke first.

She was full of information about the history of “Music City.”  Her thick brown knee socks sagged annoyingly. But, it only allowed her constantly animated hands one more lively gesture, as she gave the socks an occasional tug. She talked about the weather and the city’s plans to turn the old Union Station Depot on Broadway into a “fancy” hotel.

Surely, she would take a breath and I would be able to say something. Feebly, my nose still trying to run off my face, I tried to jump in a time or two, but I guess the most I was ever able to say was, “Well, I…” or “Yes, but…,” and she was off, onto another subject.

Don’t get me wrong, she certainly wasn’t boring or negative; in fact, she was downright funny!  But, getting a word in edgewise, I decided, would take a sure act of God.

Botched Assignment

Finally, the bus came to another stop and this irritatingly joyous—but “lost” I was sure—bag lady jumped up energetically, to get off the bus.

“Well,” she said, wrestling comically with her bulging bags, “Nice talkin’ to ya!”

I smiled weakly and nodded, feeling like a complete failure for not being more forthright to tell her about Jesus, and that He loved her. She shot one last oversized grin at me; then, elbows in the air, she hauled her bundles toward the bus steps.

“I blew it, God, I’m sorry,” I sulked, wishing I was home in bed. “Now she’ll probably never know You!”  A sympathetic smile, if not a big LOL, might have filled His face; shaking His head over my still infantile faith.

Then abruptly, half-way down the steps, that funny old woman turned and ambled nimbly back up toward me. Placing a dark, ancient hand on my knee, and searching my eyes with a depth and compassion I hadn’t noticed before, she said, “Don’t ever stop talking about Him!”

Then she leaned in closer and said again, “Don’t you EVER stop talking about Him!”

Touched by an Angel?

I must have turned angel-robe white! I had not been able to say a word to the old “woman,” about my faith or even myself, on that bus ride down Broadway.

I sat stunned as the bus door closed behind her, and she was gone. I mean, she was just gone! I looked both ways on the street. Gone!

It occurred to me then; there were no bundles in her hands when she had stepped back up the stairs. More amazing, I didn’t feel ill anymore either! A renewed joy crept up all over me as I realized what had just happened.

“Oh, dear God, that wonderful old street person was from You!” Tears flowed even as I wanted to laugh right out loud at God’s sense of humor, and the method He’d used to lift my spirits. Surely, He had sent an unlikely messenger to encourage me that day. I had to tell about Him, even if it sounded just plain crazy to the whole world.

I was more assured than ever that God’s word is true. “Angels ARE real,” I told my now-much-older son. “Sometimes they even ride the MTA!”

~ ~ ~

For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your waysPsalm 91:11

[From Susan Beyer’s book, Above “Reality”: Where Miracles Happen and Healing Begins – Available at Amazon.com]

References above:  1 Hebrews 13:2,  2 Matthew 7:7-8, 3  Lamentations 3:22-23

Uncle Tom | An Unfortunate Myth

A big lie has been perpetuated for more than a century, about the character of a character known as “Uncle Tom!” I hope to set the record straight here, and that many will choose to learn the truth, by reading one of the greatest and most controversial books in American history.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a book by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852), meant to expose the hideous practice of SLAVERY, for what it was. However, although an instant best-seller, the book soon met with enormous opposition, that caused many to believe and spread an unfortunate myth, and to ignore truths that might have helped heal a divided nation, short of a deadly Civil War.

“He’s just an Uncle Tom!”

Many African Americans still use that misnomer to shame other black people they think of as “weak, go-along” sorts—“sell-outs to white masters.” But, why defame “Uncle Tom?”  Where did that comparison come from, about a character I’ve come to admire as one of the greatest men ever written about—fictional or real?

Black slaves, likely unable to read Stowe’s stunning book back then, or barely even to speak English, no doubt believed the propaganda of the book’s CRITICS, who portrayed Uncle Tom as a traitor to the black race. Yes, an unfortunate myth!

Who Was “Uncle Tom”?

Uncle Tom’s Cabin  describes its main character as a gentle, amiable black slave named Tom—a man of deep faith, loyalty and integrity. A victim of a cruel injustice in those times, Tom worked hard to keep his family together; not sold off separately, like chattel to the highest bidder. A man of his word, Tom obeyed his “owner” so long as the requirements did not compromise his faith and moral convictions. Closer examination shows the character as, I would say, a powerful role model for black people and others alike, even today. But, those who profited by the slave trade then wouldn’t have wanted THAT to get around. Stowe’s book posed a threat!

Ultimately, Tom chooses to die at the hands of a vicious slave master named Simon Legree, rather than betray two slave women who had escaped. In that, “Uncle Tom” proved one of the most Christ-like characters ever to grace the printed page. Uncle Tom exhibited colossal courage and character, as he laid down his life, rather than betray others!

The Bible says, Scarcely for a righteous man will one die… but God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still slaves to sin, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:7-8]

Moving South

In 1977, I moved with my three children to Nashville, Tennessee, and have since learned much about the south and its history. My Louisiana-born husband Philip and I love to read historical and other thought-provoking books together. A few years ago, we decided to tackle a rather large volume, titled Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  As a southerner, and “baby boomer,” Philip remembers some of the harsh realities of bigotry that lingered long into the 20th century. For my part, originally from California, much of my life was relatively untouched by the true story of slavery in America.  However, my husband and I agree, slavery was an ugly blight on our nation—one never to be repeated!

Sadly, I realize now, many black people believe they are still victims of “white supremacy.” Yet, I believe the great majority of our society recognizes the equality and worth of all humans; all races. Many black Americans have risen to high and influential positions in our nation over the past decades; in the military, as high-ranking statesmen and women, as mayors of major cities; even as president of the United States. Many excel in business, medicine, science, media and journalism; in the arts, sports, and in academia, etc.

Are all of THOSE “Uncle Toms”?

I like to believe, rather, they have courageously overcome any victim-mentality passed on to them by more cynical blacks, or purposeful/political race-baiters?  Thankfully, many seem to have been able to look past the ignorance of any lingering prejudices in our society, and to make their way.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin | The Controversy

With Uncle Tom’s Cabin published in 1852, abolitionists and Northerners generally praised Harriet Beecher Stowe’s fictionalized, albeit candid depiction of the inhumane and often gruesome nature of the slave trade, and they were quick to confirm the truths Stowe had written about.  

On the other side, PRO-SLAVERY advocates claimed that Stowe was “misrepresenting slavery and exaggerating the cruelty of the institution.” They said her book was “a distortion of the facts and a mutilation of the records, for the sake of giving substance to a scandalous fancy.” Interestingly, they didn’t accuse her of using false documentation. Rather, they claimed that, “The examples Stowe provided are the most extreme instances, meant to give the worst possible impression of the institution of slavery, and of the south.”

Nicer Slave Owners?

Were there those wealthy land owners who took in slaves to keep them from the auction blocks that demoralized many blacks for profit then? I suspect there were. I’ve found southerners to be, generally, kind, God-fearing and hospitable. I would hate to think that back then they were overcome by some collective evil spirit void of compassion for those black immigrants. But, how many, otherwise good, people in Germany looked the other way when the Nazis victimized the Jews during WW2?

Slavery is a monstrous thing, and Harriet Beecher Stowe was courageous and right to expose it as she did!

Other pro-slavery reaction to Stowe’s writing was more a critique of her character, than a critique of the work itself. One review, by George Holmes, questioned Stowe’s writing of the truth as a “lack of decency,” portraying “scenes of license and impurity, and ideas of loathsome depravity.” Holmes appealed to women, especially southern women, NOT to read Stowe’s writings.  History proves that the so-called “decency” of many of those women and men of the time turned its back on other human beings who truly suffered, often the cruelest enslavement.

A Legitimate, Yet Unrecognized Hero

It seems there has always been, and may always be, those who would demean, oppress, enslave, even destroy others to further their own ambitions. Corrie ten Boom met head-on with that in her time!

On the other hand, I believe the power mongers of our world, and any of us, could learn much from the character of an “Uncle Tom.” Compassion for other human beings, as Jesus showed us during his time on earth, is what brings greatness to a person or a people. Tragically, those such as Adolph Hitler, the fictional Simon Legree character, and other Judases, are remembered only with disdain, if at all.

I highly recommend that everyone read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”—especially black Americans. The truth is a great healer—our nation longs for it!