Within a few brief days, a number of pretty intense incidents have sent my emotions reeling into quite a roller coaster.
I have watched my grandmother's terminal illness take another turn for the worse. And I'm scared.
My great-aunt is dying of cancer. Hopefully she'll make it through another couple of weeks.
My neighbor across the street fainted in her kitchen, banged her neck on the counter, and was paralyzed from the neck down.
A friend and coworker of my father, who had been a quadripalegic all his life, was quite suddenly taken to be with the Lord.
As my brother is barely weeks into his new job, he has seen three of his coworkers hospitalized with urgent maladies.
All of these events, one on top of another, have left me exhausted, trembling, and confused. But I have to tell you that all of the above certainly brought me to my knees -- they went crashing to the floor.
I thought I could come up with some kind of neat summation, some lesson learned, something I could wrap up in a blog post and put a nice, pretty, spiritual bow on it. But somehow, I can't bring myself to do that.
What I will say is, heaven seems a whole lot closer now than it ever has been before.
I love the way Max Lucado puts it -- a "Goodbye" on earth is in reality a "See you tomorrow" for the Christian. That brought me so much peace. I remembered the face of my dad's friend and realized he has a new body now, one that's completely whole. He has gone to his heavenly home and is waiting for us.
I really don't want to think of the day my grandma will pass -- though there are some days admittedly where I just can't stand to see her go through anymore pain or discomfort and wish God would take her soon. Then I realize that she too, along with my great-aunt soon, will pave the way for me, to heaven. They'll be waiting for us.
For those who have experienced death before of an immediate friend or family member, it really does bring the reality of heaven so much closer, doesn't it? It almost gives me a giddy feeling inside to picture those whom I love, those who are sick, with entirely new bodies, ones that can withstand the immense glory of God. And I remember what heaven is really all about -- seeing God.
Lately, I had not had the courage to even look God in the face. I so easily become caught up in self-condemnation and shame. Yet the closer I draw near to His cross, the brutal cross which I could never entirely stomach before, the more He is giving me the boldness to look directly into His piercing eyes. That is heaven. Looking into the face of God. The overwhelming reality, the overpowering feeling of "now" in which we are forever caught in His embrace.
I guess what I'm really trying to say is that we are closer to heaven than we think. It is literally just around the corner. Heaven is just another word for the place where God dwells. It is not some magical place on a cloud in the sky. It's right next to you. God is right next to you. You can't see Him face to face now. But you will.
Do you know Him well enough? If you were called home or raptured today, would you have gone on enough coffee dates with Him, read enough of His sweet love letters, experienced the joy of His Spirit to really know Him? Because heaven, eternal life, is one big reality of Him. God the Father. God the Son. God the Spirit.
Are you ready to meet Him?
I hope this was encouraging in some way. And if you could, Reader, please pray for the people mentioned above. For me, even. For my family. Praise God, my neighbor was able to itch her nose and move her upper torso, but please pray for complete healing. I'll hopefully post praise reports as they come.