We have heard from an early age that there is a heaven. We who have made our peace with God should be like those who have gone before us.
From experience during my hospice days, I cannot explain it except to say that heaven seemed to come down into the room of those who were dying. I saw it upon their faces. Many I have seen were reaching up seemingly to an unseen hand, from my eyes, but to them, someone was reaching for them.
Billy Graham, in his devotional "Unto the Hills" recounts the story of D.L. Moody, who was a famous evangelist many years ago. When Moody was aware that death was at hand, he said, "Earth recedes, heaven opens before me." It appeared as though he was dreaming. Then he said, "No, this is no dream ... it is beautiful, it is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go."
Graham continues, "After having been given up for dead, Moody revived to indicate that God had permitted him to see beyond that thin veil separating the seen from the unseen world. He had been 'within the gates, and beyond the portals,' and had caught a glimpse of familiar faces whom he had 'loved long since and lost awhile.' Then he could remember when he had proclaimed so vociferously earlier in his ministry."
In Moody's biography by W.R. Moody, he recounts D.L. Moody as saying: "Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal; a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned like unto His glorious body ... That which is born of the Spirit will live forever."
In the book "Heaven is Real" Todd Burpo tells of his son's experience of transcending the veil to heaven and coming back to describe the wonders of the actual place. The wee boy describes what the scripture reads about heaven. It is a real place with real people who have gone before. One of the sweetest stories that his son, Colton, recounts is of meeting his great-grandfather and hearing the stories of what he and Colton's dad had done many years before. Colton's dad had never told him anything, yet Colton knew intricate details. Little by little, Colton tells over the course of a year or so, of his experience in heaven.
Heaven is real and is another home. A perfect home where no one dies, becomes ill, cries or is sad.
Reading my daughter Kristin's journals and Bible I see a thirst and hunger for heaven that far surpasses anything I, personally, have experienced. She asks Jesus to hold her. She writes: "I just want to be where you are, Jesus." Over and over again she told me how excited she was to someday go to heaven. Now, in retrospect, I see He was preparing her to let go of this world. She asked me shortly before her death, "Momma, do you just want to be in Heaven?"
I replied that I did, but I had things I needed to do before I went. As if she were planning a vacation or trip she replied smiling, "I can hardly wait."
You've heard the saying, "Oh, she's so heavenly minded, she's no earthly good." I have rephrased that about my daughter, "She was so heavenly minded, she was nothing but earthly good." Though she longed for heaven, she was preparing for a long life and ministry to those who were cast aside and broken.
Graham writes concerning death: "My grandmother sat up in her bed, smiled and said, 'I see Jesus, and He has His hand outstretched to me. And there is Ben, and he has both of his eyes and both of his legs.' (Ben, my grandfather, had lost a leg and an eye at Gettysburg.)"
Martin Luther said on his death bed: "Our God is the God from whom cometh salvation. God is the Lord by whom we escape death."
John Wesley declared on his death bed: "The best of all is, God is with us."
When Joseph Everett was dying he said, "Glory! Glory! Glory!" and he continued for 25 minutes.
Death is not something that should be feared for the Christian, but rather anticipated. We have work to do on earth; but when it is finished, we can be sure we have another home and it is a perfect one.
A little boy lay dying with his mother by his side. He asked her, "Mommy, I'm afraid, what will dying feel like?" Shaken she ran from the room to the kitchen.
Sobbing, she asked, "Lord, what do I tell him?"
The answer came quietly, but quickly. The dear mother approached the bed of her son, and asked, "Son, do you remember how you always fell asleep in the living room or car, but when you awakened, you were in your own bed?"
"Yes Momma, I remember," he whispered.
The mother continued, "How do you think you got in your own bed?"
"Why, daddy carried me," the lad answered.
His mother replied, "Son, that is what is going to happen in a few minutes, you will close your eyes here and Jesus is going to carry you to your new home called heaven."
The little boy smiled, went to sleep, and Jesus carried him to heaven.
I think many people believe heaven to be some far away place with streets made of gold and a gate of pearl. Though the gold and pearl is true, heaven's not so far away. It is just beyond the veil. We are one breathe and one heartbeat from heaven. Heaven is home, in the truest sense of the word, and we will feel at home as soon as we arrive. As soon as we get to heaven, we will realize that life here is like a dress rehearsal. The real live performance begins when we slip from this life into the next.
No wonder the apostle Paul declared, "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better far". (Philippians 1:23)
Upon my late daughter's and my late husband's (her daddy) monument is the scripture her dad asked me to put when he was only 19 years old. It was seven years before his death: "For to me to live is Christ, but to die is gain." Philippians 1:21. Truly, for the believer, to die is gain.
(Kimberly Morgan, MA, is a wife and homeschool mom in Elkins. She also is a counselor with Cornerstone Christian Counseling and co-founder of Kristin's Hope. She can be reached at 304-637-1109.)