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Excerpted from Friendship with God by Neale Donald Walsch. Copyright 1999 by Neale Donald Walsch. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"I remember exactly when I decided I should be afraid of God. It was when He said that my mother was going to hell."

Neale Donald Walsch, 
Friendship with God
, Part 1

I remember exactly when I decided I should be afraid of God. It was when He said that my mother was going to hell.

Okay, He didn't say it, exactly, but somebody said it on His behalf.

I was about six years old, and my mother, who considered herself somewhat of a mystic, was "reading the cards" at our kitchen table for a friend. People came to the house all the time to see what sort of divinations my mother could extract from an ordinary deck of playing cards. She was good at it, they said, and word of her abilities quickly spread.

As Mom was reading the cards on this particular day, her sister paid a surprise visit. I remember that my aunt was not very happy with the scene that she encountered, when, knocking once, she came bursting in through the back screen door. Mom acted as though she'd been caught red-handed doing something she wasn't supposed to be doing. She made an awkward introduction of her lady friend and gathered up the cards quickly, stuffing them into her apron pocket.

Nothing was said about it in that moment, but later my aunt came to say good-bye in the backyard, where I had gone to play.

"You know," she said as I walked with her to her car, "your mom shouldn't be telling people their future with that deck of hers. God is going to punish her."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because she is trafficking with the devil" -- I remember that shivering phrase because of its peculiar sound to my ear -- "and God will send her straight to hell." She said this as blithely as if she were announcing that it was going to rain tomorrow. To this day I remember quaking with fear as she backed out of the driveway. I was scared to death that my mom had angered God so badly. Then and there the fear of God was deeply embedded inside me.

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