All Used Up
God received three men on the plateau of judgement, just outside the gates of Heaven. All three men had reached the age of 80 years when they were called home. They all had lived good lives. They stood together before the Almighty as souls cloaked in facsimiles of their final, naked earthly forms.
God looked them over and said, “You are all worthy of eternal peace. However, only one of you will walk through the gates of Heaven today. The other two will climb the island of Purgatory to atone for their missteps.”
He turned to the first man. The man’s soul was arrayed in a muscular body that looked like the physique of a middle aged fitness instructor and body builder. He was deeply tanned and his skin gleamed.
“How did you use the gifts I gave you,” God asked.
The man puffed up his considerable pectorals, looked God in the face, and proudly declaimed, “I spent my life worshiping the temple of the body you gave me. I have perfected every muscle and kept my body in perfect working order. I avoided anything that would put this gift at risk. I spent my life helping others to perfect and protect their bodies. I built a chain of gyms where people spend their days worshiping and refining the bodies you gave them.”
The first man finished with a pose that accentuated his many bulging and sculpted muscles.
God nodded and turned to the second man. This man did not look 80 years old. He looked no more than 30. His brown hair was long and flowing, he stood straight and tall, his musculature as defined as that of a Da Vinci diagram. His nails were manicured and his pale skin was blemish free and untouched by the rays of the sun. God noted that the body was as perfect as Adam before the fall.
“And you, how did you use the gifts I gave you?”
The second man looked up at God with pride and confidence and declared, “I have spent my life protecting the body you gave me and using my mind to develop methods to extend the life of this body and the lives of many others. By staying safe, avoiding all physical risk, refusing anything that might jeopardize myself, and creating new medical treatments and medicines, I kept my body in perfect condition to the end.”
The second man looked God fully in the face with triumph and turned slowly around so all could see the perfect condition of his body.
God nodded and turned to the third supplicant. This man looked more like 100 than 80. He was crumpled with swollen joints and years of scars and burns covered more than half his body. He was missing fingers on his left hand, his right forearm was gone, and half the hair on his head was burned away. In his stooped and broken condition, he reached only halfway to the heads of his two fellows. When he spoke, his voice was cracked with pain and he held his head down and to the side, barely looking at the feet of The Almighty.
“Dear God, I climbed your mountains and many times I failed and fell in my attempts, but I did manage to reach a few peaks and the beauty astonished me. I swam and dove the world’s oceans until my lungs became too weak and rigid, but I was able to behold the perfection with which you filled the waters of Earth. I fought for the preservation of animals and fish and the Earth, but placed myself in danger that resulted in many injuries. I ran marathons just to see how far I could push this body. I did this till my knees and feet broke down, but I did come to appreciate the immense capability of the body you gave me.”
He sucked in a breath with difficulty and a dreadful cough wracked his frame, “Oh Lord, I ate and drank of the many foods you provided and, yes, I sometimes over indulged, because your bounty was so good. I was weak.”
He took another shuddering breath, touched his singed scalp, and continued, “And I piloted airplanes over the remotest places of Earth searching for your Glory. I saw the most incredible sights. But, God, I destroyed this body when an airplane I was flying experienced mechanical failure.”
The crumpled man heaved with the effort of his speech and sank to his knees and elbow to rest. He continued to look at the ground.
God looked over the three men for a second and then leaned down and took the remaining hand of the man who lay in a heap on the plateau, “Come, my son. Join me.”
As he was lifted to his feet, the broken man became whole again and his form metamorphosed into the athletic body he had at 18. He strode arm in arm with the Almighty toward the gates of Heaven.
From behind them came protests.
“Hey, why him?”
“Yeah, he’s all used up.”
God turned back and looked down with disappointment on the two perfect bodies and said, “Yes, he is used up. He used the gifts I gave him. He used them to their absolute limits and exhausted his every capability. He enjoyed and protected the beauty that I provided to all men and women.”
He turned to the first man. “You worshiped your body, when I told you to worship nothing but me. And you spent your years only trying to improve on the perfection of the body I gave you, instead of also using it to better the world.”
He turned to the second man. “You attempted to extend your life, instead of living it. You squandered your years trying to achieve immortality, something only I can grant. Neither of you showed faith in my promise to make you whole again at the resurrection and you wasted your time on Earth over protecting your physical, non permanent forms.”
God turned and disappeared with the third man through the gates of Heaven.