I arrived at heaven’s doorway and found my friend, Walter, sitting on the front steps. Walter had passed years before me. I was surprised to see him still waiting in front of heaven’s gate. Walter was, without doubt, the nicest, humblest, most religious person I knew during my days on earth. How in the world could Walter be kept from entering into heaven? If there was anyone who deserved immediate entry into heaven, it was Walter.
He looked so sad and forlorn. I was so angry at God for denying this good man entry into his kingdom.
“Walter,” I pleaded, “why are you sitting out here on the steps to heaven? Please do not tell me you have been denied entry.”
“No,” Walter replied. “They have a place for me. But I am torn.”
“TORN,” I screamed. “Torn over what? You lived the closest thing to a perfect life that I can imagine. You took care of the sick, the wretched and the poor. You never spoke ill of a single person and you shared all the goodness shone upon you with everyone you knew. What is it that has you so torn?”
“Well,” Walter bemoaned, “that’s just it. I was taught to live my life in such a way as to relieve the pain borne by my brothers. I was taught to share my wealth and happiness with those less fortunate. I was taught to love and care for my enemy.”
“And you did that without fault, my friend. So, what is your dilemma?”
“My dilemma is: why should I stop now? How can I possibly enter a paradise of everlasting joy and happiness when my brothers and sisters are suffering in hell? If I am the man that I pretend to be, I must refuse entry into God's kingdom and try to make hell a little more bearable for my brothers and sisters down below. I must go down there and mop the brow of those sinners whom I still love and still care for. I simply cannot accept this reward of everlasting light. I did not live my life the way I did for this reward – I lived it for the simple reward of doing what is right.”
I sat down next to Walter and took hold of his hand.
“You are a good man, Walter”, I said. “Come on, we are going to hell … that’s probably where I was headed anyway. Grab your handkerchief; we are going to need it. I am sure there are plenty of brows to mop.”
Walter’s face lit up with the loving smile I found comfort in so many times on earth.
On our journey away from heaven’s door, Walter turned and said, “Leave the light on God, we will be back when our job is done in hell.”
He is a good man.