The Pearly Gates

Creative Writing by Daniel Blain

Lone Soldier

A lone soldier in full battle rattle approaches the pearly gates of Heaven. He’s dirty and tired and walks with a slight limp. Its clear from his gaze that he has seen war, the darkest side of humanity. After years of struggle and strife, his fight is almost done. As he draws near the gates, Saint Peter runs to meet him – “Hello my son! Come, rest your feet and be at peace at last. We have your seat at the banquet hall prepared!”

As they pass through the gates of Heaven, the soldier is awed by the beauty and riches that surround him! There is no more war – no more struggle. At last this soldier is at peace.

The soldier follows Saint Peter into the banquet hall. The air inside is filled with the long forgotten smells of home cooked food and sounds of happy laughter. There is no shortage of provisions here – piles of fresh fruit, a thousand breads, chicken, beef, pork, its all there. The soldier has never seen such a feast of plenty!

As Saint Peter leads him to his seat, the soldier recognizes fellow soldiers, his pastor, his family, members of his church and many people from his neighborhood. He scans this well known crowd for an empty seat, but does not find one. Saint Peter leads him a little further up the table and indicates an open chair between a bearded old man and a young Arab.

“This can’t be right!” says that soldier, “This can’t be my seat. You must have made a mistake – see that bearded hippie on the left? He protested the war, sympathizing with the enemy! That guy on the right? He refused to stop at my team’s checkpoint while I was deployed to Iraq! There must be a mistake, they shouldn’t be here!”

Saint Peter replies, “Hm, perhaps I did make a mistake, let’s check with God. Follow me”

As the soldier nears the throne, before he can voice his complaint, a voice thunders down from above: “My only Son was a bearded peacenik who taught people to love, not hate. He was a man from the middle east who was killed by soldiers from a mighty western empire! These men knew Me and, as my children, are entitled to the same privileges you have.”

The soldier was speechless. He returned to his seat, thinking of what he had just heard. As he sat down, the bearded old man reached out his hand – “Welcome home, friend.” The young man on the other side spoke up – “Welcome my brother – please sit next to me!”

With some hesitation, the humbled soldier sat down and grasped the outstretched hand. He saw no bitterness or hate in the eyes of his table mates. They sat here as equals, as fellow children of God. For the first time, this weary old soldier realized the truth that he had read so many times – “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Without another thought, the soldier smiled and began to fellowship with his brothers: an old hippie and a young Arab.

Let us take a lesson from this soldier: In spite of how much we think we know about who is going to Heaven, we will likely be very surprised at who waits for us behind those pearly gates!