Excerpt taken from Let’s Go Find This Kingdom Come – Chapter Two, What’s For Dinner For the month of February this chapter, in it’s entirety, will be online at the link above.
Went to see the northern lights,
So bright, reflected in our eyes
After Papa died, he was a better man - full of joy and grace and love.
My Papa was a minister. He was a good man before he died. He was also a flawed man who hadn’t fully encountered his Heavenly Fathers love. Before he died, he was a happy man, but his joy was incomplete as it was suffocated by the uncertainty of need. Before he died, Papa was an accomplished man. He was also insecure in his ministry, constantly moving and starting over. Before he died, he did some amazing things; he also inflicted some very large wounds.
But the best was meant for last. God, in His infinite goodness, gave Papa revelation…and more time…
Papa woke up and the first thing he saw was a clock – a sad reminder of an inferior reality. He was in a hospital bed and the way he told it, everything hurt. He had three broken ribs, which he had sustained during CPR performed on him by his son. He had been at a family reunion celebration. Papa was out in the parking lot when he felt severe chest pain. He collapsed and that’s where he died.
Papa visited us six months after he died. He and Nana stayed with our family, out in the beautiful Pacific Northwest for a whole week. It was an amazing time. A time where my parents and my grandparents laughed together like I’d never seen before. Mom and Dad have told me since that there were tears too, as Papa shared his heart and asked forgiveness for past wrongs.
During the week they were with us we had a rare snowstorm. This kept us all indoors. Papa and Nana had discovered a new fantastic game – Skip-Bo - which they introduced to us. We sat around the kitchen table every night and played for hours. We laughed and told lots of stories. The best story was the one Papa shared, about when he died and went to heaven and met Jesus - Love - face to face.
After collapsing in the parking lot, he found himself standing in a line surrounded by angels and glory. He said the people in line with him were amazing. He talked with them and recognized every one. They were the closest of family even though they had just met. He said the light in heaven is beautiful, almost alive - it wasn’t from the sun, it was everywhere.
Suddenly he found himself at a gate, standing before the King of Kings! Jesus was stunning, absolutely glorious! He was standing, radiant in light, and He was holding a scroll. He was reading it to Himself, un-scrolling and smiling as He read. Then He looked at Papa and said, “This is really good!”
Papa laughed and then asked, “What are you reading?”
Jesus responded, “Your book. I want you to finish it!”
So Papa woke up in a hospital bed to a clock and artificial light. For a moment he was overcome with sadness.
“You know, earth is but a dim shadow in the light of heaven.” He told us.
However, it wasn’t long before he was smiling and laughing. It was the kind of smiling and laughing that just compelled those around him to join in. You see, He had stood face to face with Jesus, he had seen and experienced heaven, he was confident in love. He was transformed. He was a better man.
At home one afternoon, about six months after their visit, Papa found Nana sitting with their daughter, my Aunt Joy, around the kitchen table.
“I have completed the final proof read for the editor.” He said. Then he grinned, “My book is finished.”
Papa left the kitchen to take a short nap before the celebration dinner they had planned for later that evening. Papa fell asleep and went to heaven for the second and final time the very same day he finished his book.
You know, you can’t encounter Jesus and not be changed. You can’t know Love and not become surer. My Papa wrote in his book about how Love changes us. “His love can totally revolutionize our thinking about ourselves. When we live in His love, we do not labor to love.”
He also wrote about how living Heaven on earth is the calling of every believer. “From the standpoint of His position in Heaven, we worship Him; from His place in our hearts we allow Him to reign on the earth… Christian faith thinks miraculously. We do not major in the problem; we major in getting answers from the Wonderful Counselor.”
My Papa experienced a small taste of heaven - literally. He came back to earth and he was a transformed human. He righted past wrongs, he loved in a way he never had before. He became sure, secure in Gods love and he brought a little bit of heaven back with him.
For me, looking back on my Papa's story, I am beginning to think that while earth trades in the commodity of need, heaven operates in the revelation of Love. I think that’s why Jesus actually taught us to pray “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” He knew that Love was the answer to every need.
I believe we are living in two realities, but one is greater than the other. The first reality is the one we are often the most aware of. In this reality we know words like starving, or desperate, we live in the ache of insecurity – need defines everything. But I am coming into a conviction that there is a greater reality, a greater revelation available to us in which the words that describe need are forever settled…