Lucie’s mental stroll down victory lane is interrupted when Almighty’s Spirit lowers into the Holy Atrium. It hovers directly in front of her. She stands in defiance, refusing to kneel or bow her head. Once the light settles on the higher throne, she walks to the lower one and takes her seat. The brightness of the light burns Lucie’s eyes. If she squints, she can capture most of the visual, and at the same time, escape the pain of the searing beam. Almighty’s voice rumbles like thunder when he speaks. His sentences come out in waves and they echo off the high walls and open ceiling, giving his voice an ominous sound.
“Lucifer, I had hoped you would have ended your battle with me peacefully, and spared man all you are about to bring upon him.”
Lucie sneers. “This is not what you wanted in the least. Without a final judgement of man, you cannot have a final accounting of the free will you extended. Ending the game before it has run its course would imply that this entire charade of yours did nothing more than expend the precious resources of Heaven and cause you to play the fool.”
“Lucifer, you ignored the chance to internalize love and loyalty when both were within your grasp. They were the most important cards in the deck, and you ignored them and reached for other things. Sadly, this has trapped you where you are.”
“You’re right, I am trapped—into a character you designed. I might have chosen better cards, if I had known how you could use yours against me. By the way, expect to hear this same defense from every man who comes before you on Judgement Day. Like many of them, I still wonder if this whole thing is a sick game in which you toy with us, complete with preordained endings and using us as your unwitting pawns.”
“Lucifer, I will not enter into a verbal contest with you when you are using your twisted logic. We both know you hold that card. Since the day I equipped man with free will, one-half of all humanity has heeded my voice, and followed me. I continue to cry out like a shepherd looking for the rest of my lost lambs to come home. I reach out to each soul earnestly—up and until they are standing at the gates of Hades. I will not force them to follow me. They must choose.
“There are no preordained endings here. If the story had been pre-written, I would never have met you at a negotiation table, nor would I have changed my mind to save man when he gave into sin. I certainly wouldn’t have sacrificed part of myself through my son to create a new pathway when man failed to uphold the Law.”
Lucie fans her tail, disregarding Almighty’s answer. “I will allow man to confront you on all of this. I will not know until the very end if I am inside a bigger game that I cannot see, and neither can men. We have no choice but to play on until the end. Even if this turns out to be a twisted science experiment, I’ll admit there have been some gratifying times for me.” Lucie rests her hands on the arms of her throne and assumes a confident pose—perfect for delivering her sarcasm. “For example, I thoroughly enjoyed forcing you back to the negotiation table. Now, let me see, how many times did that happen? There were so many, it is hard for me to recall. I do remember the first one vividly: the ousting of Adam and Eve from Eden.
“I convinced them to eat of the Tree of Good and Evil by appealing to their egos. I told Eve the truth: she would not die if she ate of that tree. Rather, she would gain your ability to know the difference between good and evil. I suggested you were testing her by placing one tree in the garden with the instructions ‘do not eat.’ Then, I pointed out that you placed the tree in a prominent location and loaded it with the most beautiful fruit in the garden. She found merit in my reasoning that you did these things intentionally to test her resolve.
“From there, it was a slam dunk. The greatest fear of a man driven by his ego is manipulation. I must admit, I didn’t think simple-minded Eve would give in so easily. It appears even the first woman had a mind of her own. Your main man Adam gave into Eve’s compelling argument in even less time. It took less than an hour to insert sin into your perfect Garden world. That must have stung.”
The light of Almighty’s Spirit slightly dims. “Yes. I knew the magnitude of the pain and anguish that sin would bring to their lives.”
Lucie scoffs. “Ha! Adam and Eve ousted from Eden would have been the most boring chapter in your book of the Universe. And, it would have also been the shortest had I not stepped up. When you summoned me to the Holy Atrium that day, I thought it was to pick up the Eden evictees to move them into Hades. Instead, you told me of the curses you were placing on humanity and the Earth in response to the sin. They were doozies for sure. I was intrigued.”
The light flickers a little as it turns, as if it is retreating from the experience, but Almighty continues to speak. “I cursed the soil, making it harder for man to grow vegetation on parts of the planet. I cursed Eve, and the women who followed her, with pain in childbirth and lives lived in subservience to man. I cursed Adam, and the men who followed him, with a weak threshold for resisting temptation, especially when it comes to sexual sins. Every time he gives into temptation, he destroys part of the secure life he is attempting to build for his family and himself. From all humanity, I removed the privilege to speak with me directly as Adam and Eve did in the Garden.”
“I have to hand it to you, Almighty—even with your infinite power, you still find a soft spot for these carbon-based creatures. You have never failed them, but they continue to fail you. You pay for every one of their mistakes. I believe man will be ashamed to learn just how many times you altered your own laws—and changed your mind—all in an effort to save him. What you did, you did out of love, but what do I care? I don’t even understand love. I just saw an opportunity to buy time and keep man in a suspended state to sink deeper into depravity. I was enjoying the constant turmoil.
“Those curses you threw out showed me this was going to be one heck of a ride. For me, the real excitement is just beginning. The extensions and concessions have increased my forces and decreased yours. Have you noticed my strategy is working? The gap between our numbers is eroding.”
“Not all has played out yet, and all is not as you say. The capacity for faith is strong with man. Millions have laid down their lives for their faith, and millions more will do so during your reign. Many will be martyrs for their faith, but they will also be my most beloved in Paradise. I will welcome home their souls, even as you steal the last breath from their bodies. My followers have been through wars, famines, torture, poverty, and theft of their land. They are survivors. Courage courses through their veins. They will make one last powerful stand, and their resolve will cause you to quiver.”
“Think what you will, but once they are faced with tougher choices than which pair of jeans to buy, you will find out how weak they are, like domesticated animals released into the wild. I expect them to be paralyzed by fear and eager to sell their souls to me for protection, especially after I convince them you are behind all the bad things that are happening to them.”
“You are wrong, Lucifer. Pain brings out the very best in mankind. The ‘survival of the fittest’ has placed the strongest men on Earth to face you in these end times. The young generation is mentally and physically stronger than their ancestors who survived the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Roman Empire, and every holy war since the beginning of time.
“You likely chose your reign in the last seven years of time thinking the last generation would be the most sinful and religiously callous of them all. But I chose this time specifically because the Millennial Generation is in power. Its members are bold enough to stand against you.”
“Only a fool would think this way. The Millennial Generation is the least religious generation ever. You are being disingenuous at best. I see a decrease in your numbers, not an increase. I say you are choosing this time because you know you are about to lose. Millennials are turning away from every religion, even those that aren’t yours.
“The only thriving religions are the three that have historically made their point with a sword: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Lately, these three are looking more like armies than congregations of worshipers. Even within these faiths, the Millennials are breaking into smaller sectors and rebelling over differences in worship and traditions. The bloodbath between these three religions could make for the deadliest world war ever, and you know it.”
“Lucifer, you are forgetting this generation is equipped with an instinctive nature of hope. Many of them will find their way to me in these times in response to adversity alone. When they are denied something they want, Millennials don’t back down—they make a new way to get it. This is the real reason they are despised on Earth. They can come together in a matter of hours to battle an injustice. They are connected through their tools of communication and speak their own language. These people love and cherish their planet, and when it comes to their passions, they are unmovable. They love their fellow man in a way you cannot understand. The harder you push them, the harder they will push back.”
“Interesting theory, but I will gamble that the Millennial Generation shares more values with me—control, power, fame—than they do with you. They will choose me.”
“Lucifer, it is futile to look for an agreement.”
“Agreed! Let’s get this over with so I can begin my reign. I say we open the game board and start with the placement of the cards.”