God sat at the pearly gates twiddling his thumbs. He had already done everything there was to do that day. He answered every prayer around the world, communicated with every religious leader on the planet, and called Satan three times to check how it was going down there. Finally, he could relax. He reclined on his most comfy chair made out of the softest clouds Heaven had to offer and closed his eyes. He couldn’t sleep, however, as something was troubling him. His hands kept shaking themselves as he awkwardly fiddled around with nothing in particular and were just itching for something to do. “Dammit,” he said as he rose from his chair. “Perhaps I’ll take a stroll.” So God decided to walk around the outer gates of heaven and admired the view. There he witnessed all the wonders one could imagine. He saw a first kiss, a baby being born, a flower bloom, a shooting star. God sighed. “What a wonderful world.”
The eternal Father kept walking along until he saw a man. This man looked like almost any other person one might see on the street. In fact, it would be a miracle if anyone even noticed him in public. In a busy room if someone asked where “Jack Smith” was, after singling out every mildly interesting person in the room, the man before God would be the one left. Baffled by such a plain man, God asked “Why hello there, my son, what is your name?”
The man replied “Timothy Atkins.”
“What brings you to outside the gates. Friend?” God inquired.
“Nothing much.” Timothy said.
“Oh well… Would you like to go back to heaven with me?” God offered.
“No, not really.” Timothy stated.
God raised an eyebrow quizzically, “No? Why not?”
“Can’t. Never been,” Timothy answered.
“Never been? But you’re right outside!” God said with a chuckle, “Well then, Timothy, let’s go together eh?”
“Do you think I’m worthy? Furthermore, I don’t think St. Peter likes me. Last time I came here, I got an odd vibe from him. Like he didn’t want to see me.”
God was suddenly very concerned, “Wait… Did you say St. Peter?”
“Yeah what of it?”
“St. Peter retired from gatekeeping three hundred years ago! How long have you been here for!?” God urgently blurted.
Timothy scratched his head and thoughtfully said, “I don’t know.”
“The gates are just over there, Timothy! Let’s go together. We’ll work something out as soon as we get there!.” God exclaimed as he extended his hand.
“If it’s not much trouble, would you mind answering just two questions first? After you answer, I’ll go with you. I promise.”
God crinkled his eyes with a warm smile. “Of course, my son, what is it?”
Timothy took a deep breath and asked, “What is the worth of a person, and how can one measure it?”
The same warm eyes of God were now wide with surprise.
“Well… I…” For the first time in centuries, God stuttered. “That’s an excellent question. One worthy of an excellent answer. Unfortunately, I cannot provide one at this time… Could I hear what you think first?’
Timothy sighed and said “Well I suppose it can’t be helped. Very well, I’ll tell you.” He looked off into the distance, gazing at the wonderful sights of God’s creation. “Well from a personal standpoint, I appreciated people in my life when I could have spent time with them and make fond memories. I appreciate deep conversation and connecting with people on a personal level…” He witnessed a boy give spare change to a beggar… and flinched, “ Someone who can provide that for me, is worth a lot.”
God nodded in approval, “I appreciate your thoughts, Timothy, I believe I have a suitable answer for your question.” He waved his hand to dismiss the sights in the sky and replaced it with a single image. The whole scenery was enveloped in the picture of a boy giving spare change to a beggar, “This right here is what measures the worth of a human. Not the money, but the act of kindness the boy displayed to a stranger. The more good deeds and services one can provide, the better. I’m sure the people that you mentioned before made fond memories of you and their actions to help others.” God waved his hand and the sky was filled with vibrant colours and scenes once more. “Is that an answer that satisfies you?”
Timothy clenched his fist and muttered, “Yes, yes I do. In your eyes, I would be worthless.”
“Timothy… Don’t say that… What were you during your time on earth?” God pleaded.
Through clenched teeth, Timothy said “I was a humanitarian worker. Originally from New York, I was so sick of the drugs and crime that my friends were involved in that I decided to join The Red Cross. I travelled all over the world working with people in developing nations… I tried to help them.” He started to tear up, “It wasn’t enough though… Never enough… I couldn’t save everyone… I couldn’t even save myself.” With tears streaming down his face he confessed, “In the end, I couldn’t take it anymore! I quit my work and flew back to New York after three years… There I saw my friends who got out of rehab and gangs without my aid. We laughed, we joked, we made memories together… I was happy.”
God asked, “Then how can you… Isn’t that good?”
“NO, GOD, YOU’RE WRONG. IT’S ANYTHING BUT GOOD!” Timothy wailed, “My greatest pleasure is my greatest guilt! While I was having fun with my friends, the people that needed me, the people that I abandoned were dying!” He wiped tears away from his red eyes and flung himself off the edge of heaven, “I’m nothing short of despicable.” he whispered as he fell.
God reached out, caught his wrist, and hoisted Timothy back onto the clouds despite his pleas. “That’ll do, Son, I won’t explain myself right now but you’ve done quite enough.” The pleading stopped. “You’ve endured so much outside these gates up here…” God glanced down where Timothy had almost plummeted, “… And down there. You are truly worthy of Heaven. Now come, my child. I’ve answered your question.” He sighed, “Now let’s go back home. Just like we promised.”