The ¡Alarma! Chronicles, Volume I
"Not to us, O lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say, "Where is their God?" Our God is in Heaven; he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel; feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will those who trust them."1
The ¡Alarma! Chronicles, Volume II
"Distance and Direction"
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace"2
Before my worst fears were realized, all again was darkness. For how long I remained in a state of unconsciousness only God knew, but in what seemed to be a very short time, I became aware of a great white light. Uncontrollably, I ascended into its vortex.
I cannot here speak the visions which I encountered; not only am I forbidden to do so, but words would be inadequate. What I can relate without violating the celestial command is that my final vision was one of the heavenly realm. What I saw there even now chills me. For in that place I saw myself seated with the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of the universe! Somehow I knew that there was reality in that moment, and though I wanted to surrender all consciousness then and there, I could not deny another reality which stalked my every thought and hope. Yes, I was there seated at the throne of the kingdom of no end, yet at the same time, the same moment, earthbound and human. I was out of time and yet in it; completed, yet fragmented; truth-filled, yet blown by every wind of thought; content, yet consumed by foolish desires. I knew that I was in Christ Jesus above all principalities and powers, authorities and rulers of this dark world, yet struggling and being fooled by them all. In that moment I saw clearly two realities, seemingly contradictory, which created one truth:
Everybody, everything has a double existence both in time and when time will be no more.
Even as this thought formed, I felt myself in motion, being inexorably transported toward another light, this one dimmer and more distant than the first. The instant the thought crystallized, my movement stopped. I was in a brightly lit room sitting next to a man. His appearance made me shudder. He never looked at me but sat staring at the ground, his face an ashen gray, his eyes colorless, and his mouth like a bloodless gash slashed beneath a small, upturned nose.
Because he never looked at me, I saw features, but never a full face. I reached out to him to see if he were more than a ghost and found that I touched nothing. The man also put out his hand, but in a direction away from me. "Who are you?" I asked. "Who are you?" he said. It was not a question - more an echo of my own inquiry. "I am a ghost," I said. "I am a ghost," he replied. "You are repulsive," I said, and though I was testing further, this statement was spoken from my heart, for I was now intensely aware of my hatred of my misshapen companion. "You are repulsive," came his reply.
At this I was furious and lost all self-control. Lunging at the man, I tried to grab his throat, but amazingly he disappeared and I found my hands around my own throat. I let go, and there was the man again. I flew toward him again, fist first to strike him, but again he was gone and I felt the blow on my jaw knocking me sprawling to the floor. Once more he appeared and this time the shock of my first two efforts slowed my response and suddenly I realized that he was someone familiar. My eyes did not reveal this, it was my heart.
"Angels Tuck You In"
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"3
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off the old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."4
"'Nice people don't live falsely and don't have doubles.' 'Yes,' continued Petrushka, 'they don't have doubles - ever. They aren't an insult to God and honest men.'...(He is)'true to his word and to his friends, not insulting them behind their backs while being nice to their faces.'"5
Somehow, I did know him; I knew his thoughts though unspoken. It was as if I had created him. I knew every aspect of his personality. So many realizations came flooding into my mind, He worshiped things as his religion - Full of pride, of his own status, he boasted of his past and exaggerated his future - He had little compassion and empathy for others "less fortunate", dwelling instead on his own psychological well-being - Somewhere he had lost his concern for others in his concern for himself - As a result, sensitivity for others was foreign to his emotional vocabulary - His judgements of others were pandering efforts to create a good impression of himself or self-righteous condemnations revealing his own insecurities and weaknesses - Suffering, he thought, had no place for those who follow "The Way" - Choosing to set himself up as an authority, he tried to teach and influence others in the creations of his mind - He conformed the Scripture to his lifestyle, rather than his lifestyle to Scripture - He was misshapen by his own words and deeds - He made the inconsequential important; the essential, trivial - Where love should have been, he was filled with self. Indeed he was a "Hunter of shadows, himself a shade..."
As a torrent of impressions subsided, pity began to well within me. I saw through the weakness and felt his frailty and fear. Under the surface, beneath the welter of his defenses, lay his childlike vulnerability. A companionless life where no one would help bear the hidden pain, and a directionless past that placed value on following without thought. Action without reflection entrapped him in a life of insecurity and pain. Though "religious", he was filled with ideas and beliefs that were not his own; unexamined thoughts that crossed by osmosis into his mind.
Even as my heart went out to him, I could not help but loathe what he represented and who he was. Torn between pity and animosity, I grew weary and fell into a dreamless sleep.
"It's better left till another time, Doctor...Till a more convenient time when all will be made clear, when the masks will fall from certain faces, and this and that will come to light...I'm merely developing the theme, putting forward the idea that people who wear masks are no longer uncommon, and that it's difficult nowadays to recognize the man underneath."5
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.6
When I awoke, I saw that the man was still with me, but this time I could only see his back. He stood and walked quickly toward a doorway that I had not previously seen. I called after him but he did not turn until he had opened the door and was ready to step to the outer world. What I saw paralyzed my senses. A scream from my heart froze in my throat. Instead of the ashed countenance of our first encounter, his face was hidden by a mask.
It was the mask that chilled me - for it was me - or at least it was my face - or a perfect likeness of my face - a twin? How was I to know - all I knew was that I was looking at myself, seemingly at a mirror image of my soul, and I was filled with repugnance.
Incredibly, laughter began to pour out of the smile, louder and louder as the stranger - the twin - the double, passed over the threshold and out the door. "Stop." The word leaped from my throat, but it was too late. He was gone. "Stop," I screamed again, the empty streets echoing the command. Through the door I plunged terrified and confused. Reaching out into the night, I could feel nothing but the darkness...
1 Psalm 115:1-8 NIV
2 Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV
3 Romans 7:15-24 NIV
4 Ephesians 4:22 & 23 NIV
5 Excerpts from "The Double" by Fyodor Dostoevsky
6 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NIV