VIOLENCE IN HEAVEN—Summary
“The Master Craftsman is the Wisdom of God"
Violence in Heaven describes a broken man’s sudden encounter and continued dialogue with God that finds him transformed, tempered, and perfected in mind, strength, and spirit by the Master Craftsman. Through an extraordinary series of encounters, we see that the Master Craftsman is not just working with a man. Rather, in a distinctly tangible manner, He is explicitly teaching and calling each of us to take hold, pull in tightly, and fervently embrace God. Our King of Heaven is expressively offering guidance and preparation for new birth into His Kingdom and the fullest experience of His promise of Abundant Life.
In this story, the man called Aspot is so named because he has proven himself to be problematic and blemished. Yet for all practical purposes, Aspot is only a placeholder for all mankind, as God discusses life with you, the Reader. Perhaps you are the kind of person who can satisfy God as He and you work together…fruitfully…building Life.
SAMPLE CHAPTER—Chapter 1
1. Into an Ore Furnace
Journey BeginsHis forehead stings from the latest outburst of the sky, and he squints to see the outlines of the road blurred by the deluge of rain and sleet. It is mid-afternoon of what has been an intermittently wet and chilly September day. His spirit is as dark as the demons he can feel riding on his shoulders and even now gnawing at his heel.
In the distance, an interstate overpass is approaching, which is about the only thing he considers good this entire ride. But he wonders if his motorcycle is even going to make it that far. Indeed, the engine is sporadically coughing loudly and weakly backfiring while climbing a small knoll towards the concrete overpass located in a barren landscape somewhere within the middle of Montana.
As if obliging to a disgusted kick, his bike whines and complains but also chugs contemptuously under this concrete umbrella. “Whew!” Aspot quietly mutters, “I didn’t think you were going to make it you stupid ole nag,” as he allows the old machine to give a dying cough and quietly roll to a stop. It quickly proceeds to muddle the roadside with puddles of oil and rainwater.
Slowly and a bit stiffly, he lifts himself from the seat and steps back far enough to cast an angry eye at this thing that is proving itself to be about as worthless as his repeatedly unfaithful wife. For a moment, he is tempted to just kick the bike over and thumb it the remainder of the trip, which is to spend some time with his brother living near Seattle. Rather, he only grunts and scrambles up a steep embankment to sit on a ledge of a concrete shoulder near the bottom side of the overpass, somewhat out of the wind. He leans back against a concrete abutment and glares down at his bike, wondering just how much worse things can get.
None of his efforts to save his marriage seemed good enough. Very recently, his wife let him know that her latest fling (boyfriend) is so important this time that she “no longer needs” Aspot. It is simply best if he packs his bags and goes anywhere far away. But of course, she also made it very clear that he had still better expect to pay child support because she is going to ask the court for the family home he built and for him to continue supporting her.
Yes, his wife has long been faithless to her entire family, at times disappearing for days and then later showing back up with no sense of remorse, acting as if nothing is amiss but certain to show contempt and anger if questioned. Aspot at first hoped she was just taking innocent and needed time away. But when she had once quietly handed him a bottle of prescribed pills needed to cure a venereal disease most certainly already passed to him, the foreshadow of what was to follow—the inherent challenge of keeping his family intact— dismally increased his somber attitude in prayer. But to no avail, because the past two years she had been coming home later and later, at times not until after the sun was far past being back up. He had to stop handing her his paycheck and take charge of paying the family bills so that they actually got paid.
But at this moment, Aspot is distant, cold, wet, and altogether miserable as he dismally ponders what the “slow train” has brought. He had quietly accepted her dismissal of him and summarily resigned from a long-term job. And then, with no plan in hand, tied his sleeping bag to the handlebars, inventoried the tools in his saddlebags, and stuffed in a dozen pairs of clean socks.
Then he had sat in the middle of the couch and called his three children from their rooms to come sit with him. He kept his talk with them short by only letting them know that he was no longer employed and would be gone for a while as he looked for work. He told him that he loved them, would be missing them, and to expect him to write often (which he did).
Now in the shadow of the overpass, he smiles as he ponders how they had all looked at him with sincere concern and love and grabbed tightly onto his waist. At the same time, he wrapped them in his arms for a great big hug, then kissed each with love on the cheek and captured the unique smell of each before getting up and quickly saying goodbye.
They did not need to know what was fully happening yet. Besides, he didn’t know either and definitely did not know how to better explain it. They will figure it out very shortly when a strange man’s face shows up at their breakfast table. The oldest daughter is still only a young teenager, but Aspot is confident that she is also sensible enough to take care of her brother and sister much better than her mother has ever been able to do.
Rain and sleet are now blowing hard against his bike below and tugging at his wet pant leg. Sighing, he thinks somehow life has remained very disordered and chaotic, no matter how hard he has tried. When he had married, it was in his heart to be a faithful husband and father. He has always remained employed, found pleasure in pleasing his wife and attending school affairs and t-ball games of his children. And even when it became apparent in many ways that his wife had little interest in any part of life with him, he continued to look for ways to please her. And at times, it even seemed like there might be hope on the horizon. But such times only lasted for a moment.
He considers many things as he listens to the rain splatter on the concrete lid above and the distant crack of thunder. “Just what has happened, and what have I done wrong?” he questions himself. “Where is that god I have wasted so much time going to church for?” he angrily mocks. Yes, he has always maintained a habit of regular church attendance of the faith he was born into. His children always went to Sunday services with him, although his wife rarely did. Yes, over the years, he has had brief encounters with situations that suggested God might very well be present. But, now in his mind, all of those brief God experiences could have only been but desperate thoughts with hope for encouragement.
After nearly an hour of many dark thoughts and glaring down at the ill-running motorcycle, he feels as if he is very near the brink. He just wants to give up on everything, including anger. He could see nothing good anywhere on the horizon. In his mind, both he and “that god” are total failures. “I am done!” he mutters angrily while making a grim decision to go kick over that worthless bike, retrieve his sleeping bag, and let his two feet carry him down the ever meaningless, dark and dreary road.
In a rash moment of anger, he grabs hold of the top edge of the incline, and with a strong heave, drags himself recklessly forward down from the abutment in a hopeless, meaningless motion and abruptly stops as his nose brushes some unknown object. He sits up and focuses upon what his nose just encountered, and instantly, God opens his eyes.
In a single breath, his attention and thoughts are altogether changed, and he sits back in bewilderment and awe to stare at an object hanging right in front of him. It is dangling from a piece of old boot lace, not more than fifteen inches directly in front of his nose. He asks himself, “How did I not see this thing, even as I sat here glaring directly past it at my bike? How did I not see it when I had climbed up and sat down behind it? How is it possible I did not see this cross?”
It is indeed a cross, shaped out of what looks like an old piece of once used blasting wire neatly formed about four inches tall and three inches wide. It hung from an old worn boot lace between two overpass girders he had been sitting between and under. He is profoundly amazed by how he did not notice this cross hanging directly in front of him until now, after nearly an hour of sitting. It is certainly suspended directly in line between his eyes and his bike. As he ponders this cross and what its mysterious appearance might mean, he feels electricity running up his spine and across his scalp and begins to shake. The corners of his eyes became moist as God speaks into his heart. He sits there and absorbs Love…Oh, he feels it soaking into him…the love of God.
He sits silently pondering this cross and softly cries but is just not sure why. In part, he weeps with joy, feeling the incredible warmth from God. And he cries out of selfish misery, the way a long suppression of pain is allowing, if not begging, him to do. Intense emotion spins within him like a whirlwind, and he reels with an intense feeling of unbalanced vertigo, as if being suddenly caught standing with two feet on different ledges contending against each other above an unfathomable depth. Unable to comprehend the magnitude of contrast between the two ledges, he feels trapped by not knowing how to get both feet onto one side without plummeting into the impenetrable darkness. Yet, like a lost child, he also feels the warm embrace of God (Love) and closes his eyes to sob with a deep sense of relief and security.
Almost at the same time, the wind quiets, the rain stops, and the sun steps from behind the clouds. It is quickly bright outside the overpass, and warmth from the low-hanging sun feels wonderful upon his skin. Leaning forward, he takes hold of the cross and brings his lips to meet and kiss it. Then he allows the cross to remain so that another stranger might also be likewise touched and scrambles down towards that actually rather handsome old clunker of a motorcycle.
His saddlebags are mostly full of tools, and it does not take him long to find the engine troubles are being caused by excessively tight exhaust valves. Remembering the joyful spirit of his dad when whistling, he imitates that joy and expresses a tune through pursed lips while adjusting valves. After a quick adjustment, he pulls on his gloves, kicks the engine to life, and singing a simple hymn, sets straight towards his new, well-defined goal. He is now on the road towards finding this mysterious and loving God that has greatly and wonderfully surprised him.
He has been given or perhaps rediscovered a security he had possessed in innocence when a boy full of trust, joy, and hope. The picture of that cross hanging from the overpass is now indelibly imprinted in his memory, has begun to discover his own song and entered the dance.
In fact, he continues on the rest of this journey, even though this old engine is slowly dying as the exhaust valves, designed for leaded gas but now burning the recently added unleaded fuel, are rapidly deteriorating. Meanwhile, he is still traveling, and although needing to repeatedly readjust the valves, he remains filled with song as he watches, in awe, the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. This trip, which began in sadness, has unexpectedly become hope-filled joy and a progress mark for the beginning of life.
Many things happened in the following years, some far too bizarre to attempt describing in fewer words than another entire book could afford. It has now been numerous years since Aspot first started his search for God and walked through a season of his life that he sometimes calls “A time in hell.” The Craftsman grins and says, “It was only a little time needed within a furnace.”
The Journey ContinuesBut as we continue, Aspot claims, it took a long time to get any traction with life because it is difficult to walk in this world without many missteps. The Craftsman wipes dust off his hands, shakes His head, and says, “No. Rather, creating quality takes time when there is little room for carbon (the Word) while excessive impurities continue to burn out.”
Aspot’s oldest daughter is now in high school and still living very near him in Washington State with a friend of hers, another girl, and her family. This seems to be a great arrangement because his daughter is excelling in school and excited about the future. However, Aspot hears from his son, now living in Colorado, that his youngest daughter, who is only fourteen years old, has been kicked out of her mother’s house. His son reports that his mother piled this sister’s clothes on the lawn and locked the door. This happened two weeks earlier, and since that time, his son has not seen his sister. Meanwhile, his sister’s clothes have been moved by the mother to the back lawn where they were scattered by dogs amongst much excrement.
Because of being unable to remotely find anyone who might know where his daughter might be, Aspot was prompted to resign a well-loved job, pack his possessions in his jeep, kiss his oldest daughter goodbye, and head to Colorado where he intends to locate his youngest daughter.
It takes a couple weeks, but he does find her and is much relieved to discover that she had been noticed, living on the street by another girl her age, who had invited her home for dinner at a nearby but somewhat isolated farm, where she remained. Dear Lord, he thought, continue to bless that God-filled family!
Soon Aspot is re-employed, and his youngest daughter is living with him. Instead of hiking in the Cascades, he hikes the Rockies. Instead of riding the east slope river valley through aromatic fields of cultivated hops, he rides the west slope through bright blossoms of peach and apple orchards.
Also importantly, within a pocket of his leather jacket, he keeps a pocket-sized New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs that a kindhearted Gideon handed to him during his most recent Seattle weekend jail cell excursion. (Don’t read too much into this. Remember the Craftsman was there with him all through his time in the furnace.) This book of Holy Scripture gets much attention. It is always a perfect reason to take breaks during a ride and stretch his legs while enjoying the sunshine, beauty, and solid ground.
One Sunday morning, as parishioners of a church, where he is now an active participant, crowd out the doors and into the sunshine, he finally meets a friendly woman, whom he has been exchanging glances with for some time now. They engage in a pleasant chat and walk down the lazy street sidewalk into a local café to continue talking over a cup of coffee. Again the following Sunday, they meet and enjoy another lighthearted brunch. During their third meeting, he suggests they take advantage of the quickly melting mountain snow and brave a whitewater rafting adventure down the Arkansas River canyon. “Okay, I’m in!” she agrees. He obtains tickets, and on Thursday, he calls her to make travel arrangements with her. However, silence is caused for a few moments when she asks if it is okay if her boyfriend comes along.
Whew, this is the first time she had thought to let him know she was dating another man, and it is rather disappointing news. He sighed, and with an awkward chuckle, he says, “Sure, it will be fun,” and suggests that they meet independently at the rafting start point alongside the river.
As he reads, he feels deeply moved and cries out, “Lord, this is good! It makes me wish that I could find time to read Your Word more often!” Following this outcry, his eyes return to the page, but he is soon startled when he seems to audibly hear, “I will give you time.”
He jumps up and scans all around to find who had spoken, but he is in a remote meadow with trees at least two hundred yards distant where he can only see much grass and mountain flowers. Upon verifying how far apart he is from everyone, he realizes he is in the presence of the Lord. As his neck and scalp hair crawl, he falls to his knees and is silent for minutes. Not hearing anything further, he replies, “Thank You,” even while considering that this promise is likely to come accompanied by some form of discomfort. Nevertheless, certain of the promise and the presence of God, he feels greatly blessed.
The following whitewater adventure is memorable, although he feels a tad bit punchy with that woman and her boyfriend there. But God is silently working with both his attitude and his many other flaws.
The promise heard in the mountain meadow does not take long to arrive as Aspot rides past a tawdry dark bar filled with alcohol, smoke, and girls that make a living by stripping in public. A demon on his shoulder shouts, “Hey look, two dollar beers! Besides, it has been so long since you have been with a woman I bet you can’t even be aroused anymore.” Aspot, feeling challenged, spins his bike around, parks it, and steps into that joint. It takes a few moments for his eyes to adjust, and sure enough, there is a stage in the center of this place, but feeling rather uncomfortable, he is not yet willing to look above the stage or even that direction. Instead, he proceeds directly to the bar, purchases a cheap beer, and locates an isolated table in a far corner.
Sitting down, he now focuses on the stage just in time to watch a girl strip her last tiny bit of clothing. Immediately he is overcome with embarrassment and moves his chair around to the opposite side of the table so that he can only see but a dingy gray wall to finish his beer and leave. His eyes are closed when he feels a hand run across his shoulder and slide down his arm. “Hey, big guy, want a table dance?” He looks up into the eyes of a pretty woman, who, thankfully, is sufficiently covered. “No,” he responds.
“Are you so sure?” she asks with a grin and a little shake of her tassels. He gazes into her eyes and identifies a form of loneliness little different from his.
“Tell you what,” he says, “Sit and talk to me for ten minutes, and I will leave you a Jackson note.”
“Okay,” she says and pulls a chair over to sit across the small table from him. One at a time, she plies back his fingers from the beer mug until she takes hold of his entire hand and asks, “So, stud, just what do you want to talk about?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Let’s talk about you.” Going straight for the jugular, he asks, “Why do you work here?” With a sudden jerk she pulls her hands back from his, leans back, shows a moment of defiance, looks in his eyes and senses that he is asking from a sincere interest. Her posture softens, and her shoulders slump so that he can now also see a certain weariness, making her look much older than she really is. She begins, “Tell you what—you can keep your Jackson, but I do need a drink to answer what you ask.”
They talked honestly for over an hour; he learns that she wants to be a nurse but has a daughter to feed, rent to pay, etc., and has not found a way to get the needed schooling. He confides his hope to find and purchase a mountain property conveniently close enough to build a cabin, allowing for his daily commute to work. Upon hearing this, she slides a calling card of her realtor friend across the table to him. Then while preparing to leave, never expecting to see that woman again, he says, “I kind of think that if you take time to find a church, you will also find a way to satisfy what you really most need,” slides the promised Jackson note to her, and says his goodbyes.
Not long after, he does purchase that mountain property he is looking for via the realtor contact information provided in the dark striptease joint. Many days later, he gets an impromptu call from the same realtor who asks if he is willing to go out on a dual date with her, her husband, and that same striptease woman.
Who knows why men make mistakes the way they often do? Yet, in this case, is a mistake being made, as he agrees to go on the dual date? In short, he dates that woman three times and decides that her path and his are not well enough aligned to ever justify a relationship, so he simply stops calling her. However, six months later, she calls him, crying, “I have just been evicted, don’t have any money, and don’t know what to do. Would you be willing to let my daughter and I use one of your spare bedrooms until I get things figured out?” A silence follows as his thoughts worm their way through weeds.
“Hello…?” she asks. “Are you there?”
In fact, Aspot is renting a large house with two totally empty bedrooms, so offering help could cost little more than a possible messy relationship. “Tell you what—you can find a roof here as long as you realize that I like peace in my life. I am not looking for a relationship with you. You must strongly consider pursuing your nursing career and not bring any strange men into my home.”
Daughter and mother quickly move in a manner that shows an intended stance of permanence but personal distance. No relationship develops, and in fact, they seldom see one another for much more than a minute or two each day, although he does keep an eye on her daughter while she works night hours. A couple months down the road, she asks Aspot for a ride across town. He offers her a motorcycle seat behind him and follows her directions to what turns out to be a strongly guarded compound with exposed automatic firearms being held by ugly men inside the inner gate. As his bike rolls to a stop, he scans the environment and whispers to her as she hops off, “This is not the kind of church I was talking about.” She casts him a smile and says, “I won’t need a ride home.”
He watches as she is escorted into a large dingy-looking house by a man wielding an upward-pointing rifle. Silently he mutters, “Whew! How sad…” kicks his bike to life, then nods at the stone-faced gateman and leaves the lifeless compound.
Not much later, he notices evidence that another man (or men) is periodically sleeping in his home, raiding his refrigerator, and consuming his coffee. But he leaves for work too early, and she comes home too late for him to spot them. It is after his eyes get seared by the image of a naked man’s butt disappearing into her room one morning that he encounters the woman that evening and reminds her that she had agreed to keep her business out of his home. He gives her a deadline to either move out or find her possessions out on the front lawn with the locks changed.
Less than an hour later, Aspot hears many loud motorcycle engines and sees many riders pulling up near his front door with headlight beams piercing the front window curtain. What follows is an echoing, loud and definite knock on his door. Aspot calmly walks and opens the door to see a gruff tattoo-faced stranger wearing much leather. Aspot scans him a moment and then asks without any quaver or fear, “How may I help you?”
The stranger says, “If you make my girl cry, I will cut your throat.” The stranger does not wait for a reply but returns to his bike sitting atop the sidewalk directly in front of the door. In the company of smoke, noise, and similar looking henchman, a horde of demons disappears into the dark of night, yet still young enough to bear much trouble.
Behind Aspot, the woman stands watching, and as he turns towards her, she drops her eyes and quietly slips into her bedroom. He can actually understand the dilemma she has built around herself and daughter, and although separated by a wall, shares a type of sadness with her. He has observed with little doubt that she truly loves her daughter in some totally messed up lifestyle type of way. Aspot sighs, shakes his head, grabs his jacket, and starts his bike while asking guidance from above. He truly does not feel any fear, even though quite certain that getting his throat sliced is not an idle threat.
He pulls out onto the highway and soon hears the Spirit whisper, “Go home, or you will find trouble.” This makes him laugh, “What do you mean?” which is really more of a statement than a question. “Haven’t I already found enough trouble for the day?” He hears again, “Go back home.”
Aspot does not go home but instead drops into a local bar, which is mostly empty. He orders a beer from an idle bartender who, upon finding a customer, starts a casual chat. However, he is not interested in her bar chatter and his ignoring her makes him more of a bore than the bartender can accept. She confronts him and says, “Whoa. You seem to have a real heavy over you.”
He looks up and says, “Yep.” She plants her elbows on the countertop and proceeds to weasel this evening’s encounter with the motorcycle gang out of him. At one point, she suddenly stands straight with concern and says, “Oh no, that gang is definitely not one you want to mingle with! They are well known for causing people to disappear. Here, I need to practice a new drink so I’ll make you one. Tell me the whole story and let me know how this drink tastes.”
Aspot begins to report the whole story as she slides a glass into his hand and goes back to her elbows across the counter from him.
The concoction in the glass goes down easily with little taste of alcohol. Seeing that he has finished the drink, she asks how he liked it. Hearing his positive reply, she says, “Here, try this one,” and he receives a different elixir which again is tasty. He continues to portray the story but quickly notices that alcohol is hitting his bloodstream and asks, “What is in those drinks?”
“Oh, they were both a mix of three pure shots. Here let me make you make you a different one.”
“Oh, no! I am beginning to feel the alcohol, and I’d better get home.”
“Okay, take care!”
Almost immediately, a patrolman pulls him over for excess acceleration, books him for DUI, and he loses his driver’s license on the spot. So for three months he gets to work by bus, which is where he discovers that his public transportation commute is providing the time he was promised by God for reading more of His Word. Yes this situation might be seen as a type of partnership in effort, but nonetheless, the promise did come true.
However, it also seems three months is insufficient for the duration of the promise, because after the three month period of revocation is over, he unwisely rides his motorcycle to the nearby city where he expects to get to court and get permission to re-obtain his driver’s license. It turns out that although his initial suspension period is fully over, until a revoked driver’s license is appropriately re-obtained, the driver’s license remains fully suspended. But, of this Aspot is confidently ignorant and feels certain that he can safely ride the relatively short distance to the courthouse. Again, there is very little that is certain in this world!
As it so happens, within a block of the courthouse, another driver, coming from a side alley, does not see Aspot or his motorcycle and speeds quickly out directly towards him. Aspot does not notice the car until the bumper is about to crush his leg. At the last instant, Aspot jumps clear and lands on the car hood while his motorcycle is pushed sideways across the street by mass and motion. By the way, for the beginner, this is life, and life provides “the necessary heat for our time in the forge.”
Aspot is not hurt but very soon discovers that his antic of driving with a suspended driver’s license has just bought him an additional year of Holy Scripture reading time! Looking back, Aspot has said numerous times, “That DUI is the best thing that could have happened to me.” This is because he does read the Bible while riding the bus to and from work, which takes three hours every day. Furthermore, he has found an unexpected type of freedom in that he does not always need to spend his time driving in rush hour traffic. There are numerous ways of getting around without driving. For instance, it is great fun to ride the Ski Train right to the door of a ski resort, and he often goes skiing with his son this way. But perhaps most important of all is that during this season, he meets God in a very personal and great faith-building manner that you are about to read about.
Oh, first, let’s close this chapter, which needs a few details explained. First, within a couple of days of the initial loss of a driver’s license, Aspot had already bought a townhome near a bus stop and moved. He continued to pay his lease on the house where the wayward mother and daughter still live. However, she calls him many months later to thank him and let him know that she has partnered up with a good, safe man. They have leased that same house, and she is back in school to become a nurse. May God continue to bless her and her family!
Yes, Love does work in mysterious ways. “For the believer all things are allowed, but not everything is beneficial.” In all cases, being inoculated with a good dose of Love in our heart is probably the first and best defense. Yet Aspot sincerely suggests that strongly avoiding the two-dollar beers in a strip joint is one reasonable form of defense against the enemy who exists only to seek and destroy.
If you enjoyed this sample chapter, consider buying the book.