Dan, one of the recently-recruited angels in the heavenly host, was on his first day of field experience under the supervision of Zedek, a long-time participant in the Celestial Training Program. Today, Dan was monitoring the crystal-studded entry-way into Heaven. Outside the gates, a vast multitude of former earth-dwellers awaited their divine judgment. The two guards had strict orders to only admit the righteous souls who had a home awaiting them in the blessed sphere. Their judgment would be quick and pleasant. Those souls who didn’t make the cut would have to wait a millennium for their judgment. From what Dan observed and heard, this waiting period was nearly as despair-inducing as the excruciating torment they’d receive after.
Naturally, Dan and Zedek performed their job exactly according to divinely-established protocol. Every candidate had to pass a strict set of criteria. Foremost on the list was observance of the Law of Consecration. No one was allowed entry who had not given selflessly of his time, abilities and possessions to render his neighbor Christ-like service. Zedek had been doing the job for centuries and was entrusted with helping his trainee develop the keenness of vision necessary to read between the lines and grasp the full story behind each life file. Dan flipped through the thick catalogue of life files to find hopefuls.
“Ah, here’s a good one,” Dan said. “Take a look, Zedek. This man was a widely-revered philanthropist. Before his death, he awarded millions of dollars to charities and was responsible for the construction of hospitals, libraries and orphanages. I think that a more ideal candidate we cannot find.”
Zedek examined the file. “Inspect a little closer, my friend. This man performed a great deal of good with his resources. All of it would certainly be to his credit. But, unfortunately, he was more motivated by a desire to avoid taxes on his financial estate than a zeal for helping his fellow-men. With those around him, he was arrogant and condescending. Put his name toward the bottom of the list.”
Dan did as he was ordered. He was not an easily-deterred angel. His next find would be a choice pick. “How about this one? Nearly half a century of community service in various civic positions. This man’s work helped reduce poverty, crime and illiteracy. Surely he’s getting in.”
After taking a minute to review the information, Zedek handed the file back to Dan. “He led a praiseworthy public life, for sure. However, his acts of service were a mere byproduct of his affinity for recognition. He wasn’t averse to soiling his hands for the sake of his political career; he would have crucified you, me and his own mother if it had helped him get to the top.”
Dan put the life file away and went back to searching. He was starting to get frustrated. He found a seemingly ideal profile and turned to Zedek with a triumphant smile. “Try to reject this one. A pastor with a faithful congregation. The guy has a clean track record. An easy pass.”
Zedek took the file in his hands and pondered over it longer than he had with the previous two. When he came back from his thoughts, he replied “A righteous man beheld from the exterior. Nevertheless, he inwardly considered himself to superior to the poor and afflicted members of his congregation. Moreover, he was verbally abusive to his wife and children. He failed to apply his gospel to his own home, which is where true Christian living begins.”
Dan was exasperated. “I don’t get it, Zedek. If these guys can’t make it in, who can?”
The mentor waited a moment, then opened the catalogue and pulled out a thin file. Inside were two-or-three sheets of paper accompanied by a picture of an aged, but kind-eyed woman. “This woman here has a pending appointment. She never aspired to or attained any position of earthly leadership. She couldn’t boast of an impressive income or significant formal education. She lived and died an obscure housewife. But she gave all of her adult life to her family. She sacrificed her comfort and appearance—even risked her health—to bring her children into the world. She put aside her education, professional pursuits and social life to clothe, feed, bathe, nurture, teach, comfort and heal those children. She never received more than a kiss and an ‘I love you’ for her work. And it never bothered her. Today, she enters to meet with the Master.”
At Zedek’s urging, Dan opened the gate. The little old woman walked in slowly and cheerfully extended each angel her hand. They led her to the judgment bar, where the Son of Man enveloped her in his arms.