The prophet’s words broke over him like a great wave deluging a child at play on a calm beach – sudden and unforeseen. Overwhelming. One moment all is serene. . . all is chaos the next.
Tears surfaced from a bottled place deep within Leonard, like a long-capped reservoir straining for release. The emotion driving the tears was anguish – an all-encompassing sorrow like he had never known. Soul anguish.
The fourteen words he just read had wrecked him. The first line looped repeatedly in his mind.
“The heart is deceitful above all things” The statement – bold as it came – stripped him entirely. Between sobs he wondered, How could the mere reading of words impact me so? The puzzlement came jumbled, not tidily delivered – more a crying than a question. He felt the worst kind of pain, the pain of detecting his own dreadfulness, the deception of his own heart. Shame.
Leonard realized that for too long he had been self-deceived. He took in the remaining words. . .
“. . and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The anguish remained, coming even stronger now and in waves.
“Deceitful and wicked.” His sense of guilt brought him to the floor. Sobbing, he lay face down, prostrate. A crushing sense of unworthiness drove him further. Moving the throw rug aside he stretched himself directly to the floor. The next day came and went. When not at work or trying to sleep nights he lay at his place on the floor. He knew his misery had a name. Sin.
Years later he recounted the scene in his memoir Impossibilities Become Challenges.
“I saw myself as I had never seen myself before. Lost, undone, wicked. .It seemed as if my very clothes smelt of the awfulness of sin.” In his drive to critically dismantle the book, the book was dismantling him. In a single verse the Bible exposed him, shining its light on his own pride.
Entering his third day of misery, Leonard thought to exit his room, find a place in the back yard and go prostrate there on the bare earth. It was then something happened.
“Something arrested and stilled my mind.”
Leonard found himself looking at a cross. “It possibly was a vision”.
Affixed to the cross by sharp iron nails was a heavily bleeding man.
“I seemed to understand this blood was for my sins.” He knew the man to be Jesus. “He was saying to me, ‘I died in this way for you. I shed my blood for your sins. Just accept my work of redemption.’”
“I did so crying out, ‘I believe, I believe.’”
©2017 Jerry Lout