My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Posts tagged ‘Heaven’

The Door…

All my life I had been walking down a dark, dreary alley. Let me describe it for you. It was damp stone with moss growing between them and cracked and broken bricks. The street was also brick and could be very slippery. Sometimes I would slip on the brick and fall and skin my knee or hurt my hands when I tried to catch myself.

From time to time, I would come to place where the buildings rising up on either side of me were a little farther apart and, if it was daytime, I would have a glimmer of sunlight around me. But most of the time it was dim or even downright dark. And there was no color anywhere. Just blacks and browns and grays everywhere.

There were people around me once in awhile. And every now and then there would be someone there that seemed to shine with light from within. But mostly I trudged along by myself. I did all the things I was supposed to do every day, but I couldn’t seem to escape the alley.

Once in awhile I almost felt like I had escaped! Things would be brighter there might be some blue skies and some nice, soft grass under my feet. However, sooner or later (usually much too soon), I found myself back in my alley – trudging down the uneven brick – in the dark, colorless place that was my home.

Then one day, one glorious day, I found myself in what seemed to be almost a maze. I couldn’t seem to get out of the maze. No matter which way I turned and walked, I always ended up right back going through the maze. And sometimes I was really upset and wanted out of the maze, but mostly I was curious as to where the maze led and how I got in the maze in the first place.

Then one day I noticed that it began to be a little bit lighter in the alley. It wasn’t a big change but it did seem to my eyes that I could see the stones and bricks a little clearer. I didn’t think I was stumbling near as much either. Also, I began to notice things around me in a different sort of way. There were actually more people around me than I had ever realized. Maybe it was because there was a little more light that I could see them better. I also could see their expressions on their faces and hear them talking.

I also noticed that everyone around me seemed a little excited about something up ahead. And when I thought about it, I realized that I had a sense of anticipation and excitement as well.

As days went by, I noticed that it was definitely getting brighter. Through the brightness I could also see how really dingy and dirty everything around me was. I also noticed that even though everyone had that sense of excitement, beneath that excitement there seemed to be a sense of desperation and longing in everyone’s face. When I saw that desperation and longing, I realized that it had been on these people’s faces all along. I had never seen them without those feelings.

The excitement continued to build. People around me had started talking to each other and to me about what lay ahead. What could it be? What did it mean? There was so much anticipation but also still some nervousness too. What would it be like in that light? What if I liked my alley better?

But still we trudged along. And it got lighter. And suddenly, at the end of the dim, dirty alley we saw it! It was a door.

The door was just a plain, ordinary door set into the brick. There was nothing new or even very exciting about the door. It was what was beyond the door that was so exciting. There was light. There was color beyond my wildest dreams. It was as if everything in the world had gone from black and white into Technicolor! There was so much detail in everything I could see through that door. There was also music more beautiful than anything I had ever heard. It seemed as if everyone on the other side was so happy they were laughing and singing all at once!

As I looked I felt the deepest, most profound longing to walk through that door. I actually started to walk right through it but then the doubts and fears started. I had a huge wave of doubt. “Do you really think you, of all people, belong here? What would happen if they found out who you really are? What if they knew how you acted, how you thought deep inside?” I thought if I just stepped back and finished some of those improvements I always thought I needed, then I would be ready to walk through that door. Maybe if I took a good, hot bath and cleaned myself up, then I would be ready.

I looked around and saw that many were hesitating. But what I really noticed was there was a man behind each one of those hesitating and he was whispering in their ear! I didn’t know what he was saying to them but everything he said caused them to hesitate and the wonder and excitement that had previously been on their face was leaving.

I began to worry that I had one of those men behind me too. When I turned around, there he was. And what I thought were my worries and fears were actually what he was whispering in my ear, “Who do you think you are? Do you really think anything over there is for you?”

I realized he was trying to keep me from going through that door. I also realized that there was nothing I wanted to do more but go through that door right at that moment.

I looked back one last time through the door. Beyond the door I could now see my dark, dreary alley. I saw poor, sad people trudging along the alley with their heads down. They were so intent on not stumbling; they didn’t even see the open door in the alley. How I longed for them to look up and see the open door.

Then I turned and stepped through the door.

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44

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Heaven…

I got to talk to Bella in Kenya today. I was so glad to hear from her and find out about their first CBS (equivalent to our VBS). They had around 125 kids show up! God is truly blessing their work in Meru, Kenya.

Something Bella said really got under my skin. The team noticed that pretty much every song that the Kenyans sing in worship is about Heaven. Why do Kenyans sing about Heaven so much? They asked the Kenyan Christians and the response just astounded me. The reason the Kenyan Christians sing about Heaven all the time, they explained, is that Americans live in Heaven now, but Heaven is the only hope the Kenyans have to look forward to. WOW!!!

Did that just hit you like it did me? They are correct, these wise Kenyans. We Americans have no clue how the rest of the world lives. Just today my office was all in an uproar because our internet access was down and the phone and fax weren’t working too well either. It took approximately half a day to fix them. We were all stressing about not being able to check our email and do our jobs. Yes, it was frustrating but how important was this actually?

There is the beginning of a famine in Kenya. The people in Meru haven’t had enough rain to grow crops to eat for the past two years. Even worse, the people of Maasailand haven’t had enough rain for three years. Their cattle are beginning to starve to death. The Maasai people are having to herd their cattle 150 or more miles to get to the base of Mt. Kenya where there is more rain and vegetation for the cattle. And I’m worrying about my email?

Heaven is the hope for all of us. We Americans are just too pampered and have it too good to remember how wonderful Heaven is. People who are truly suffering know the hope that is Heaven. The live with that hope everyday. That is why the sing constantly about Heaven.

As much as I hate “suffering”, if you can call anything I’ve been through really suffering, I don’t think I’ve suffered near enough. Because if I had actually suffered, I would long for Heaven. I would long to be resting in the arms of Jesus.

So while I am praying for God to ease the suffering of the people of Kenya, I am also thanking God that He is letting me see the Kenyan Christian’s faithfulness during their suffering. Paul tells us in Romans, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willing, but, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” Romans 8:18-25

My Adoption, Part V…

Ruth and I continued to write and talk on the phone from time to time. A year after I found Ruth, my Grandpa Frank (my mom’s dad) in Colorado died. I decided to go to the funeral and spent time with my uncle and aunt that lived there. My brother and my dad would be going to the funeral so I would get to see them as well. Once the plans were made for me to visit Colorado, I arranged for Ruth and me to meet in person while I was there. That was the most emotionally draining trip of my life.

I got to Colorado and was met at the airport once more by my brother and my dad. This was reminiscent of my trip back to California for my mother’s funeral. Of course, this being the first funeral I had attended since my mother’s death 11 or so years before, I was really nervous as to how my reaction was going to be. Add to that my impending visit with not only my biological mother, but also my half-sister and my biological grandfather and I was a basket case.

The first thing we did once we got settled in was to visit my grandmother in the nursing home. My mom’s mother had died of breast cancer when I was 4 years old. My Grandpa had married my Grandma Helen when I was in first grade. I just adored Grandma Helen. She would always play board games with me when they would come and visit us, and she once crocheted me this awesome afghan that is made up of about 50 different colors that I still have and love to this day.

My Grandpa is in the middle of the back row

My Grandpa is in the middle of the back row

My Grandma Helen had started getting the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease around five years before my Grandpa’s death. My Grandpa took care of Helen for several years as her disease progressed. At the same time, my Grandpa was battling prostate cancer. He had been given chemotherapy for a few cycles, but the side-effects affected him worse than the disease so he finally elected to stop taking them. He was in his late eighties at this time and the doctors agreed that since his prostate cancer was a slower growing type, getting off the chemo wouldn’t make a real big difference anyway.

Once Grandma Helen’s Alzheimer’s started getting worse, my Grandpa decided that he needed to get them both into around the clock nursing care. He also wanted to get Grandma Helen settled before she got too much worse. He did the sweetest, most sacrificially loving thing I have ever witnessed before. Grandpa got both of them into the nursing home and got it all set up with their things. He sold their house and basically got their affairs in order. Then he slowly began to pull himself out of Grandma Helen’s life. See…he knew he was going to die and he didn’t want my grandma to become confused any more than she already was.

After they got settled into the nursing home for a few months, he moved out of her room and moved next door to her. After a few months, when Grandma Helen was used to things again, he moved down the hall. He continued to visit her but as she continued to forget things he just let her forget them. It ended up being a really smooth transition for her and my Grandpa was relieved to know that Grandma Helen would be taken care of once he was gone.

We went to see Grandma Helen the afternoon before my Grandpa’s funeral. At first she wasn’t really sure who I was but after I while I started talking about my colorful afghan and she stated that she had made one for her granddaughter Debey. I told her that Debey was me and she seemed to recognize me and become relatively clearheaded for awhile. She was very happy and chatty but seemed a little sad. When we asked her why she was sad, she replied that, “That nice man Frank down the hall had died.” She had no idea that Frank had been her husband of many years. Even though it was hard to hear that she didn’t remember that Grandpa had been her husband, I was also glad for her sake that she didn’t and also that she wasn’t confused or grieving.

The next day we went to my Grandpa’s funeral. It was really a sad thing to go through but I knew that my Grandpa was a Christian and that he was going to Heaven. Even though I wasn’t saved at the time, I knew that without a shadow of a doubt.