He walked in the room and was immediately impressed. There was a beautiful, inviting couch in one corner, and a soft looking bed in the other. The lighting was low and gave the room a warm, cozy feeling. He saw that the carpet beneath his feet was plush and thick so he took off his shoes. He saw magazines spread on the little table in front of the couch, so he went over and picked one, then plopped down on the couch. Even the couch pillows were perfect for resting. Just as he got comfortable, a woman walked in with a tray in hand. She was dressed in a uniform, so he knew she worked for this place.
"Something to quench your thirst, sir?"
He saw on her tray that his favorite drink had already been prepared. How did she know what his favorite drink was?
"Yes, I believe I will have something." he said, sitting up on the couch.
He studied the woman as she set the tray down on the table. She was young and beautiful. "How long have you worked here?" he asked her.
She stopped and looked at him for a moment, the responded. "Why, as long as I can remember." Then, she smiled a beautiful smile. "Can I get you anything else? Anything at all? You are the most important person here, so whatever you want, just ask and I'll be sure to get it." He studied her, thoughtfully. Anything he wanted? This hotel was exceptional. Never had he been treated so well, and he had only been here a few minutes! He liked this place, a lot.
In fact, he thought he might stay here a very long time.
"Could I get room service?" he asked her.
"Certainly." she responded, and pulled out her little pad to write down his order. "What sounds good?"
"Do you have a menu?" he asked.
"You name it, we can make it!" she said with a smile.
He grinned, trying to think of what he wanted. Anything, she had said.
"I think I would like a steak, medium rare with a sweet potato on the side, all the trimmings."
She scratched his order down. "I'll be back with this in a jiffy!"
He watched her leave, quite in awe of this place. They really meant what they had plastered on the wall out front of the building:
"You are the most important person here."
He laid back on the couch and crossed his ankles. Indeed, this place was great. He could stay here forever, and he just might, he thought with a smile. Why leave when everything he wanted could be brought to him?
He dozed off, laying there waiting for his steak and didn't move until he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder.
"Sir," the woman said, softly. "Your dinner is here."
He opened his eyes and saw the beautiful woman standing over him. Not a bad way to wake up, he thought. "Thank you," he said, sitting up. "I must have dozed off."
He saw his dinner there on the table and his mouth watered at the sight. "This looks delicious!" he said, picking up his knife and fork so he could cut into the thick steak before him. He put that little hunk of meat in his mouth and closed his eyes to savor the taste. When had he ever had a steak cooked so perfectly? "This is the best steak I've ever had!" he said to the woman as he sliced into it, eager for another bite. She smiled at him and produced a little bell. "If you need anything, just ring this. I'll always be close enough to hear it." With that, she turned and hurried from the room, leaving the door open on her way out. He noticed that she always left the door open when she left.
Time passed, and he stayed in that room. He stayed comfortable, well fed, had every luxury he could want. The beautiful young woman was always there, as she said she would be, bringing him everything he asked for. He could look out the window of his room and watch the sunrise and set. Friends came, mostly new ones that had heard of his new, luxurious place. They came to check it out, to see the beautiful woman he talked about, to experience his perfect lifestyle. He even wrote about his life of luxury and all the benefits that came with it, sharing his tips with everyone on how they also could achieve such success. He made money from what he wrote, and he traveled the world and experienced all it had to offer. He always came back to this room though, this place that constantly supplied him with everything he wanted.
His life was perfect.
Then one day, when he had been there for a long time, something happened; something unexpected. He laid down on his couch, the one he had rested on so many times before, and he dozed off as he always did. A little later, a sound caused him to stir and he opened his eyes slowly, stretching out his arms above his head. He sat up then and when he looked around, he jumped up, completely confused.
He was in a jail cell.
Confusion filled him. The carpet was gone, replaced by cold cement. The walls were no longer walls but thick, iron bars that went all around him. There was nothing in the room except his couch that sat in the middle of the cell, and the bell sitting on the little table in front of the couch. He rang it frantically, then ran to what was now a thick iron door, and pulled on the handle.
It was locked.
He heard footsteps coming down the hall, and he tried getting his head through the bars to see who it was. He recognized the click of heels that the beautiful, young woman wore, and expected to see her coming around the corner.
What he saw froze him in shock.
He recognized the uniform of the young woman, but when he looked into what he expected to be her beautiful face, he saw the face of a woman with skin like leather, cracked and dry. Her eyes were colorless and completely void, her lips a gray, dead color. Her hair, the color of hay, was limp and dry on her shoulders.
"W-who are you?" he asked backing away, feeling for the first time in his life, overwhelming fear. She began to laugh and the sound turned his blood to ice in his veins. Her laugh was shrill, menacing, and mocking; not warm and soothing as he remembered.
"Why, I'm here to serve you." she said in a taunting, shrill voice. She laughed again, and reached out with gnarled, old hands and grabbed him through the bars before he could back further away.
"I gave you everything you wanted. and now I have everything I want." she said so close to his face he could feel her cold breath on his skin.
"What do you mean?" he whispered, trying to break away from her hold, overcome with panic and confusion.
"You fool! I gave you this life, made you so comfortable that you never even looked beyond these walls....and now you are mine forever."
She pushed him back and he fell to the cold cement. She laughed and as she did, he watched in horror as her shrill, menacing laugh turned deep and even more hollow, like that of a man. "What do you mean...forever?" He realized with cold clarity that he was trapped.
He wanted out.
"You blind fool!" she said, cackling now so loud that it pierced his ears and he covered them to try and block her out.
"Please, I want out!" he screamed, trying to be heard above her mocking laughter. "I don't want to be here anymore!" She stopped laughing, abruptly, and leaned in again, grabbing hold of the bars.
"It's too late. You had your chance to leave. The door was always open. You are mine, now." she said, in a deep, low voice that filled him with terror.
She turned then, and began walking away. He jumped up and ran to the door, grabbing the bars and yelling through them, "Wait! Please! I'll do anything to get out! Name your price!" He yelled at her back. She stopped then, and turned to him and with a sinister expression she raised her long, leathery finger and pointed at him.
"You are my price."
Then, with more laughter she made her way down the hall, leaving him to scream after her, and continue to beg for freedom. He grabbed his head with both hands, panicked, searching the room for a way out. How had this happened? How had this place that had given him everything he wanted become a prison?
Had it always been a prison?
He ran frantically from wall to wall, shaking the iron bars, desperately. How had he not seen this place for what it was? How had he been so easily deceived? He heard the faint cries of others and realized with sobering shock that there were others in this place, others trapped here. He collapsed on the floor in the middle of the cell, exhausted from screaming for help, clutched his head in shaky hands, and began rocking back and forth as overwhelming desperation and regret filled him. How could this have happened? How could he have been so blind to what this place was? He never suspected anything was wrong, never saw anything to make him worry. He stopped his rocking and looked up with wide eyes. That was it. The truth settled over him like a weight and he thought he might suffocate from it. The woman had kept him comfortable so he wouldn't ask questions, wouldn't go seeking for anything different.
He had been fooled by his own selfishness.
His eyes filled with tears of sorrow as he realized he had lost his chance. He had made his choice, not even knowing it, and as the truth seeped in on him, the tears began to fall. He wept, bitterly, for the first time in his life. He wept for what was lost, what he had given up, what he had not even stopped to look for. He wept for the arrogant indifference to truth he had carried in his soul.
His indifference had become his soul's prison.
And the sound of his moaning, his weeping, blended with the sound of others who had just discovered the same truth...and together, they wept..
forever, they would weep...
Jesus, you are coming for your bride and we are it. We are the last age, the last church to stand before you. Purify our hearts, rid us of this indifference, these selfish eyes we see through. Set the soul of your church on fire in this last age, so that we will stand before you, blameless, ready and wholly yours...