I wonder if we’d talked about Heaven would I have been better at it.
There’s a memory of my pre-pubescent days that lingers, leaves a lot of questions.
Saturday morning, my older brother and I and maybe the baby brother reported for duty.
(Here’s where I note, the memories are my own, my siblings’ are sometimes different, less or more.)
But, we’d arrive at the church and there would be a little preparation, pep talk, bellowing prayer sort of meeting.
No pants for girls were allowed, only skirts or culottes. I was shy, I was uncomfortable in my female skin. I wanted to do right, be loved and accepted.
We were transported to some big parking lot of a store and we paired up or if we were bold, we approached strangers alone.
We gave out the gospel tract that may have had a ruby faded flame depicting Hell on the front or a big bold question mark, prompting us to confront others about their salvation.
I don’t recall being very good at it. I hoped somehow I was good enough.
Last week or the week before, I felt afraid again. Someone mentioned the rapture. Another wrote about being certain those around you are certain of heaven.
I felt my spirit crouching, looking for a safe corner. Fear rose up.
I thought about why.
“The faculty of memory is particularly exquisite. I think there’s a secret to why God provided it.” John Eldredge, “Get Your Life Back”
I am certain of heaven, talk of it doesn’t scare me. It was simply the Saturday school of witnessing to strangers that scared me, a subtle trauma.
I began to think of a better approach. Although we were young people, little soldiers, what if we had begun our conversations with heaven?
I envisioned us all being schooled in a circled gathering. Inquisitive ones, looking towards our teacher. I see myself captivated by the hope of heaven, inspired, uplifted, casting off my despair.
Excited and at peace simultaneously. God smiling.
What if, way back then I had been trained in hope instead of fear?
Some things may have been different. My story not as meandering to be where I am today.
“Your story matters. Your story will not be lost.” John Eldredge
Years ago, I bought a Bible from an estate sale. It bothered me that it had been left so long. I decided I would find the family of this woman, I was confident they’d be thrilled to be discovered.
I’ve kept the soft worn leather Bible that belonged to a young woman who was an art teacher and became a school principal.
Treasures in her Bible are her membership card as a National Educator, her PTA card, a litany for children, a lesson plan on color, a newspaper clipping announcing her promotion and a photograph of my mama at my wedding I decided belonged here.
A Red Cross membership card
In 1939, Angela renewed her Red Cross certification. My mama was born that year, January 30th.
I’ve read all the notes Angela wrote about her journey of faith in the pages of her Bible.
“We have to open our hearts to the workings of God.” Angela
Heaven is restoration. It is no longer needing to revisit old stories. We don’t see yet; but, in heaven we will see them as God intended. God, both the author and finisher of us.
“Lest we despair, God has given us a “future and a hope” and to be quite specific, it includes the restoration of every precious day of our lives. Heaven is not a memory wipe.” John Eldredge
If I had a do over from my childhood evangelist days, I pray I’d have the courage to look another in the eye. I pray I’d have the sweetest soul penetrating eyes and that my voice wouldn’t quiver a bit.
I pray I wouldn’t be wearing culottes.
And I’d say “Hey, how are you…wanna talk about heaven?”
Today marks the year eleven since my mama went to heaven. Too soon, I’m nine years away from that age.
I’m certain she is joyous. I’m sure every pain and heartache she experienced no longer remains.
I thought of heaven in a new way yesterday. I pray I continue.
I envisioned the reunion with someone who harmed me, brought havoc and years of pain.
I saw us seeing each other and I heard myself say.
“I’m so very happy you’re here.”
“For the Lord himself will appear with the declaration of victory, the shout of an archangel, and the trumpet blast of God. He will descend from the heavenly realm and command those who are dead in Christ to rise first. Then we who are alive will join them, transported together in clouds to have an encounter with the Lord in the air, and we will be forever joined with the Lord. So encourage one another with these truths.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 TPT
I am certain of heaven. I believe in the rapture because I believe the pain and redemption of Job, of Paul, of the woman caught in adultery, the short man who stole from others, the flooding of the earth and the obedience of Noah, and the gracious decision of God to make heaven possible by giving His Son as a sacrificial death and glorious resurrection.
So, I believe in the rapture. Believe in Jesus. I am anticipating heaven.
I’m aware of the angels today, Angela and Bette. I see them celebrating my choice to see hope and no longer despair.
Wanna talk about heaven with me?
It would be great joy. I want to know you’ll be there too.