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Archive for February, 2011

Homework in Heaven

Photo Credit: Meshele Makin

There is a song called “God of This City” by Christian worship band Blue Tree. The chorus repeats, “Greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done here.” During the few days that James was kept on life support that one line continued to repeat in my head. No matter what else was going on it just kept repeating and I couldn’t make it stop. I even bought the CD along with a portable CD player during a rare moment I left the hospital to clear my head. I couldn’t let go of this song. It became my power song. I was sure this was my message from God that James would have a turn around and wake up. As the days slipped through my fingers like butter in a hot skillet, I had to face the reality that I wasn’t getting the message I wanted to hear. After that just thinking about that song was too painful, much less listening to it.

 

In my grief, I felt deceived. The song struck the chord of deception in my heart because I felt that God was telling me that ‘greater things were yet to come’ for James but that wasn’t true because he died. Even as a Christian, believing James was in heaven, I still couldn’t find any hope in “things yet to come.” I guess I had this idea that heaven is a place we go to sit around and enjoy the afterlife; A kind of retirement home for the eternal. As the months went by God slowly began to try to change that image for me because, quite frankly, it’s false. Heaven isn’t the endgame, it’s just the beginning! We are eternal, immortal beings traveling in a fragile, temporal body having an Earth experience. We are driven by our passion for love and our passion for creating, accomplishing and producing results. Those qualities came from the One who created us because those qualities are in Him!  It goes against everything we were created to be to expect to ‘retire’ in heaven!

 

As this image began to take its new form in my mind, I went through a very dark time where I was tormented by (what some might call) irrational thoughts on what heaven might be like. I began to think, “What if heaven is nothing like we’ve been taught? What if it’s another world with horrible situations just like this one?  What if, there, James is some kind of orphan, abandoned to the streets because he died here so young?” I know it might seem a little silly but these thoughts sunk so deep inside me that I couldn’t shake them. I cried uncontrollably for days. John was only a few weeks old at that time, still attempting to nurse and it wasn’t working out. I hid in the bathroom, washroom, bedroom – anywhere I could to keep the big kids from seeing anything. I would pull myself together enough to stop crying if Tim or anyone else was around. I was trying hard to fight against these ideas and felt that if I didn’t talk about them then maybe they would go away. They didn’t. I ended up on the bathroom floor spilling heart out before God, disclosing my doubt and begging Him for answers.

 One night after crying myself to sleep again I had the first dream of James I had (that wasn’t a nonsensical nightmare) since the funeral when James came to say goodbye – but that’s another story. I am standing in a kind of nothingness and even though I don’t hear anyone actually speak to me, I have the understanding that I am about to get to visit with James but there are some rules. I have to stay calm and not allow extreme emotions to take control and I’m not allowed to touch him. I’m supposed to stay cool, calm & collected and the ‘connection’ will hold. Suddenly I see his beautiful face come in to focus and he is wearing his BEST smile!  I took my time and I looked James up and down and took in every detail I could from his feet to his honey colored hair. Immediately I noticed he seemed just a little bit older with his hair well groomed. He was wearing a nice button down shirt, slacks and dress shoes but I was surprised to see a stack of books in his hand. I looked back into his beautiful blue eyes and told him how handsome he was and how he had grown. The mother in me acted without thinking and I reached out and brushed his hair back above his ear. That was it. Dream over. You might think I would be disappointed and I was on some levels but the comfort I received from what I consider a real visit with James is more than I could have ever hoped for! Seeing him well dressed reassured me that someone was surely taking care of him! Seeing books in his hand showed me he is learning. And why wouldn’t he be? We’re created to do just that – create! If this world is just a pale version of what is to come then surely we will be learning, creating and accomplishing goals throughout eternity!

Recently I read a book titled Heaven is for Real’ about a remarkable little boy named Colton Burpo. When Colton was three years old his appendix ruptured and during his surgery Colton was given the honor of waiting in heaven until it was time to wake up again. Colton has some amazing things to share about his trip including telling his parents about meeting his sister who was miscarried very early on in Mrs.Burpo’s pregnancy.  They never knew if they had a son or daughter until then. Colton said she didn’t have a name because her parents never gave her one. I was inspired to choose names for two children I lost through miscarriage over the years and I said a prayer to let God know what their names are! I don’t know if it works this way but it made me feel more at peace. Without giving away too much more about the book, I have to mention another detail that touched my heart so deeply. In the book, when Colton is asked what he did while in heaven he answered, “Homework!” I almost fell over when I read that! Here it is a year after the dream I had of James holding books and learning and this is the first I’ve ever heard of homework in heaven! It confirmed everything I knew in my Spirit to be true and all that God has been trying to show me these long nineteen months. Now I understand why the Holy Spirit continued to remind me those dark days in the ICU when time was standing still that ‘Greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done.’

 

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