This story is in the second part of my little book called The Glass Castle. In this section, I have related true incidents of people who have suffered for their faith.
Which Time Was Easier,
Theirs or Ours
I have adapted the following story to relate to our time. To my knowledge no one had a vision similar to this.
Mariken hovered in the back of the crowd. For many weeks she had been smuggling food to her father while he was in the dungeon and now was compelled to watch him be burned at the stake with many others. Her spirit was weary, discouraged. Every day they suffered from the threat of persecution.
She didn’t know how she could bear it much longer; this fleeing, this worrying, this fellowshipping in secret in the dead of night, in the storm and the cold, lest someone would reveal their whereabouts and tell the authorities.
One by one the fires were kindled in the rushes at the bottom of each stake. When the smoke began to curl up around her father Mariken fainted.
Mariken felt a gentle hand stroking the hair off her forehead and cheeks. She opened her eyes and instantly recognized the strong, compassionate face of her precious Saviour and Friend, Jesus.
“Mariken, you have become, weary and discouraged because of all the suffering around you. I am going to transport you to a time far into the future, so you can see what other Christians in another time, are going through.”
Mariken’s eyes widened when she saw the immense church building. Why it was as big, as or bigger than the state church that was filled with many of their sworn enemies.
Everyone was dressed in such fine, rich garments. Surely they weren’t followers of the same humble Jesus, they followed?
Dozens of people were strolling into
the building from various directions and she followed them, her heart thudding nervously. Many were clustered in small groups, talking softly and frequently smiling. No one was looking towards the doors as if afraid the authorities would come in to disrupt the meeting and seize the leaders.
After they were seated, someone at the front announced a song number and to her surprise, there seemed to be plenty of songbooks to go around.
Because it was all so strange and new, Mariken had chosen a seat near the back and off to the side. She was frequently distracted by latecomers coming in and people whispering long after the service began.
Mariken was grateful that she could understand every word and was touched when someone gave out a song that started something like this:’ faith of our father’s living still in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword. Maybe they are of the same faith although living in a different time.
She again bit her lip nervously when the assembly separated into smaller groups but found herself following several girls who appeared to be about her own age.
Her face paled. Why were they going behind a closed door? Were they going to be interrogated now?
Mariken was glad that they didn’t pay extra attention to her. They seemed so relaxed and comfortable in their soft, pretty dresses: she wondered how they could focus on Jesus when they had such nice clothes to wear.
Mariken missed the fervency of spirit that was so much a part of their tiny services ‘back home.’
Sure, several of the sisters seemed concerned, but it was almost as if they were talking in their sleep, and didn’t truly realize the dangers around them.
“Oh, Jesus,” Mariken cried inwardly, “Take me back home! I would fall asleep spiritually if I had to live in this time! I would fall in love with the luxury and lack of persecution and it would be so difficult to really put you first in my life. Take me back, please take me back!
As Mariken awoke she saw that her father’s pain creased face was radiant with joy. Just then someone near her burst into song, and throughout the crowd others joined in, too happy to care who might hear and nab them next.
As the suffering ones expired one by one, she knew their songs were mingling with the songs of the redeemed and that the Father in Heaven was welcoming them home.
Her earthly father gave her a weak smile just before his head fell forward, his eyes shut.
“I’ll meet you there!” she called and joined in the singing.