The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady
The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” Luke 16:22-24 NIV
“I don’t believe in hell,” our server, Ally, told my best friend Nancy and me. “How can a good God create hell?”
Nancy and I had just left her church choir practice and were sitting at the end of a long table with several of her friends, including her Minister of Music. Sensing Ally was shy, we talked so quietly that Nancy’s friends at the end of table didn’t even know what was going on.
“Do you believe that Jesus died on a cross and rose from the dead?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “I believe in Jesus. I just don’t believe in hell. We’re all good and God loves us so we’re all going to heaven.”
“If that were not true, would you want to know it before you die?”
Ally stared at us for a few seconds and finally said, “Yes. I just can’t believe God would create hell.”
I began explaining the theology about hell. I talked about fallen angels, free will, and Jesus going into hell. Ally’s eyes glazed over and I remembered that non-Christians don’t have the Holy Spirit and can’t understand such things.
“Ally,” I said. “I’m a Christian. Like you, I believe in Jesus. I’ve gone a step further. I’ve invited Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. When I did that, the Holy Spirit entered me. The Holy Spirit helps me understand things that cannot be understood without Christ. The Bible is God’s letter to me. When I read it, God is talking directly to me. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Sin is the Bible word for making mistakes. The wages of sin is death. The Bible says there is a hell and that's enough for me to believe it. It also says all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. I may not like it but I believe hell exists and I trust God about that. If you pray to receive Jesus, you’ll also start developing that same kind of trust and understanding.”
Ally relaxed. Believing it because it was in the Bible was enough for her.
“Would you like to invite Jesus into your life right now?” I asked.
“Oh no, I can’t,” she said, frantically looking at Nancy’s friends. “I’m self conscious.”
“Ally,” I said. “We’re the only people in the restaurant. Everyone else at this table is talking and aren’t watching us. Look at my hands. They’re shaking. My heart is about to beat out of my chest. This is your moment. I don’t usually push but I can’t describe how I’m feeling. I think God wants you to do this now. I’m good at making this easy and will tell you exactly what to say.”
“Ok,” she whispered.
Nancy and I took her tiny, trembling hands. Together, we gave Ally the words that would change her destiny. Aloud, I added the words, “God, please help Ally understand all the things she doesn’t understand.”
When we finished, Nancy asked Ally if she could tell everyone sitting at the table. Ally said yes so Nancy got their attention and announced Ally’s good news. Everyone at the table clapped.
“Do you have a Bible?” I asked. “The Bible will help answer your questions.”
“No,” she said.
“I’ll bring you one this week,” Nancy’s Minister of Music eagerly spoke up. He will follow up, get her a Bible, and invite her to their church.
“Thank you,” Ally said, as we left. “Thank you so much.”
Nancy and I have been together a week. We’ve had 17 salvations. I leave her tomorrow to move to the next stop. Like Ally, I sometime wonder, why hell? The only answer I have is that I trust God and believe the Bible. I hate the idea of people going to hell.
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