|When I was growing up in Montana, there was one family with whom we were especially close. So many memories together- eating sprouts, playing Parcheesi, doing church, and walking to the bus stop. (It was obviously uphill both ways, with snow blowing in our faces.) A few years before I left for prep school, their family immigrated to Israel. Far away, but our parents’ friendship continued to grow and strengthen. |
I was the last of my family, somehow, to go to Israel. But at least I took my firstborn. We had an incredible trip, and everyone should do Hezekiah’s tunnel at least once. Unless you are claustrophobic. Then all four of us went. Driving without GPS from Jerusalem to the Galilee (and back!) in a day is not recommended. But it formed us as a family.
Recently, I heard that the dad of the family had gone into the hospital in critical condition. I was sad and concerned. At 75, his health had not been good for some time. But he had continued to lead prayer conferences and speak internationally. He was hospitalized in Scotland.
I was with a friend in the backyard, and they suggested we take a few minutes of silence for him, to focus our thoughts and pray.
When I closed my eyes, I was surprised by a bright light, too brilliant to see, and an intense sensation of joy. I felt the delight of arrival, that my friends’ dad was being welcomed into the heavenly presence, and that he was free and ecstatic (he was always so staid!) to be finally united with the Lord. There was a sense of happy recognition, like friends or loved ones long separated and finally reunited. And a joyful freedom that he was finally relieved of the difficulties of his earthly body.
The word from the Lord was, “Well done!! My faithful servant. You have served me with your whole life. Enter into my joy!”
Instead of feeling sad for him, I opened my eyes and was glad. He was so happy, more than I had ever seen him. And I had the clear feeling that he was finally getting his well-deserved reward, to be united with the Lord in joy and freedom.
I shared this *vision* in the backyard- and the joy and release that came with it- with my family at dinner. The sense was so strong and clear.
Then I heard the report. He was getting better! And his daughter and wife were with him. I was confused, though, because the vision had been so strong. But I thought maybe my understanding of timing was just off. Contrary to my sense of what was happening, he would recover and have many more years with his beloved family. I was glad and grateful (though just a bit sad for him, that the joy I saw him experiencing would be delayed a little longer.)
Then suddenly, he died. And the tears flowed freely. I knew he had entered the joy and freedom that I had glimpsed. But the loss for his family, and for mine, is keen. Many are sad to miss him. But he is experiencing true joy and the reward of having dedicated his life to the Lord. He is united with the one he loves, who has loved him his whole life long.
I don’t think of myself as a person who sees visions. Maybe because it doesn’t seem normal. We hesitate to speak of what we have seen and heard. Perhaps because these stories are pearls, and we worry that they will not be valued. Trampled underfoot. That people will turn a critical eye, and dismiss us as well.
But we need to hear these stories. And so I treat you as I would like to be treated. Which Jesus said is the Law and the Prophets. I would like you to share your pearls. The stories of great value. How the Lord speaks into your life, in your backyard, of heavenly mysteries. (Mt. 7:6, 12-14)
May we find the narrow gate, traveling together the hard road, sharing the journey that leads to life.
Worship with Restoration Urban Ministries
Sermon: Unity in Diversity
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