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Let me go ahead and just step in this little pile… I don’t peddle Heaven anymore. At least not like I used to.

Back in the day, that was my awkward question: “If you die tonight will you be in Heaven tomorrow?” That was the zinger. That was the jolt that got the conversation moving in the direction that I wanted. That was “me” taking charge of “your” eternal destination. That was back when I had the answers to most of your questions. It’s been a long time since I knew it all, and my “back then” is some of the reason why I don’t peddle Heaven in that way anymore.

Do I still believe in Heaven? Why yes I do. Very much so!

But, I don’t use Heaven like the added jaccuzzi package when checking into your favorite honeymoon resort. I don’t use Heaven while trying to convince you of the truth of how much God loves you. Jesus didn’t usually lead with Heaven either. He did mention Heaven (as a destination) while trying to calm his boys (John 14). They pretty much freaked out when he disclosed his intentions to depart this planet. They needed oxygen and a little hope. Heaven was that glimmer of hope.

Did I mention I believe in Heaven? Oh yeah, I believe in Heaven.

I do believe it’s a place. I do believe it’s real. I do believe it’s now. I do believe it is filled with people (people that most of us would never dream of being there).

Yeah, I most definitely believe in Heaven.

[This is where you need to familiarize yourself with the background for what I’m about to share with you. If you’ve not read the ’16 Update on my website, please click the provided link below and read my remarks about the Hering Family. You’ll need the data for all of this to tie together. Feel free to slide past all my preliminary remarks in the update. The Hering story is pertinent to where we go from here.]

CLICK HERE TO READ THE UPDATE

 

It’s been six weeks since Rhett Hering departed from us. A family of five is now four. Jimmy, Lorna, Ryan and Mara are probably better than they should be. It would be a stretch to say they’re good. If the truth were to be known, they are bobbing in an ocean of pain and grief. Their world has been rattled to the foundations. This earthquake has dislodged and dismantled their lives, but they’re moving forward step-by-step, minute-by-minute, day-by-day. It’s been six weeks—six brutal weeks.

Two days following Rhett’s death, I slipped into Jimmy and Lorna’s bedroom to talk through the events planned for the day. Jimmy had made the funeral arrangements the day before, and we needed to discuss the visitation and the service scheduled the next day. I was sitting by Jimmy on his side of the bed, our conversation was low, but Lorna began to question me with tears of grief, “How am I going to do this? How?” I switched sides of the bed and just held her for a bit. Finally, we locked eyes. She patted my chest and asked very quietly, “Is it real? Mike, is Heaven real? Don’t lie to me… do you believe it?” I have never felt so dug into, so exposed, like I was in that moment. This wasn’t the time for canned preacher talk. Her eyes were searching for the glimmer of hope. Every breath was a war for her. Any waiver, any uncertainty, would surely be exposed. I can still hear her say it clear as a bell, “Do you believe?”

The good and workable notions of Heaven come when your seventy-six year old father has an incurable disease and you know he has suffered enough. Seventy-six is still young, but it’s a long way from 15-years old. Any grieving widow or widower has the right to be pissed if they want to. The same can be said for grieving parents. This kind of pain is unbearable and can’t be cured with topical balms and nugatory religious trinkets.

Heaven can be a soothing notion and it is a strong promise of the Christian faith, but Heaven as the residence of anyone so fit, so active, so good, so innocent, so beautiful, so sweet, so lovable… so YOUNG… it confounds the mind. Loss without closure is an agonizing nightmare. Please never say out-loud, “Heaven must have needed another angel.” I’m warning you, if you say it, you’ll deserve that bloodied nose your likely to wear on your face.

We can understand old and sick and feeble and miserable going to Heaven, but thirty-five year old cancer patients (with three small kids)… not so much. I told you I believe, but it doesn’t always make the grief any better. It just doesn’t.

Yet, I’m convinced that the grace and hope we hold on to involves the promise of Heaven. I believe.

A few days ago, Lorna called me to share a story with me. I was blown away. I immediately asked for permission to pass it on to you. So, here goes.

The wife of a McGregor City Councilman had an amazing dream or vision and passed the information on to Jimmy. Here is that dream:

I saw Jimmy and Rhett arm and arm, walking away together. There was peace and easiness. They were like Abraham and his son Isaac. They were walking alone on a purpose for a mission.

Along with the dream, she told Jimmy that she believed that God had something for him. He needed to get alone with the Lord to seek what that word might be. Later that night, instead of going to bed after the news, Jimmy went to Rhett’s room and lay down on his bed. He stayed there for a bit to pray and asked what God might have for him. Jimmy was asking for a visitation.

After a while, Jimmy went to his own bed and went to sleep. He awoke with this encounter. (Dreams need to be interpreted. I personally believe God gave Jimmy a night-vision, and visions are mostly literal. You’re free to believe whatever you will about it all.) Jimmy recounts the encounter he had that night while asleep:

I’m at my mom and dad’s house standing in the kitchen by the table. It is around lunchtime. Mom and Dad are there, but I don’t see them. Papa (Jimmy’s maternal grandfather, died 1999) walks into the house and into the kitchen. He is dressed like he always was with tan khaki pants, a collared shirt, a sweater, and a hat. About this time I know that I’m dreaming and feel a little anxious because I know that what is going to be a good dream will end.

 Papa didn’t say much except that he had some people to show me. I was immediately excited because I knew that Rhett would be one of them. He then said, “Mary Alice is coming in.” (Mary Alice is Jimmy’s maternal grandmother. MA died 2009) I walked out of the kitchen, turned toward the door, and saw Grandma walking in. I began walking towards Grandma and just as I was about to greet her, Jan walked in. (Jan is Jimmy’s sister who was killed in an automobile accident in 1989.) Jan was beautiful. She looked twenty-one years old, she was thin with long blonde hair, and she had on “the denim dress.” I was so glad to see her! We hugged for a minute, smiled, and we were so glad to see each other.

 We both knew that who I really wanted to see was Rhett. I excitedly asked her, “Have you seen Rhett? Where is he?”

 She had her hands on both my arms and said with a smile, “Are you kidding me? I saw him the moment he got here!”

 I said, “Is he coming? Am I going to get to see him? Is he okay?”

 She laughed and said, “He’s great, but he’s not coming today; He’s too busy. He’s all over the place, but he’s great.”

END

See. There is a glimmer of hope. There is more, and Heaven is a place teeming with life, love, and activity. There really is a great cloud of witnesses. Maybe everyone is not on board with that, but I can definitely get good with it.

As amazing and wonderful as this encounter was, the ache of loss is still very real for Rhett’s hurting parents. There are too many unanswered questions—too many facets that will never change what has happened to their kid. Life itself is viewed through very altered lens. It’s going to take a while to adjust with equilibrium.

But, if you were at Rhett’s funeral, you saw what they did. Right? You saw it. They stood, embraced each other, lifted their hands, and sang from their pit of pain:

I need you Jesus, come to my rescue.

Where else can I go?

Capture me with Your grace.

I will follow You.

I will follow You.

That is where they are. That is their daily routine, and I think we all should all follow their lead.

Lord, help our belief and our unbelief. We need your help. Grant us the peace that supersedes our fragile understanding. Bless my sweet friends and their precious family. May they all tangibly feel your presence nearby. Thank you for your love. Flood them with your grace. Today… tomorrow… until we’re all together again… Amen.

Love you all,

Mike

xo

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Rene' Leus
    February 9, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Oh, wow…..and oh, yes! Heaven is REAL! I can easily relate to Jimmy’s dream……my mom passed away Dec. 10th, 2014 at the age of 80 after a horrible illness, but she was here in my living room with me that Christmas Eve morning at 4am. And she also looked so young, and all dressed up in a yellow skirt suit. She told me everything was going to be ok!

    • February 9, 2016 at 7:32 am

      Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kathy
    February 9, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Wow! Beautiful! Writing this response with tears flowing for the Hering family…..thanks for sharing Mike!! xoxo

  3. February 9, 2016 at 11:31 am

    ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Joseph Rodriguez
    February 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    good stuff Mike.. thank you for sharing…

  5. Nicole
    February 9, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Praying for our friends. Crying and praying.

  6. Toni Dodson
    February 10, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Wow Mike your story and writing are so good and i believe in everything that you said, and i believe that there is a “Heaven” and that our sweet Ronnie and Rhett are both up there busy and looking down on us until we can all be together again; and as for Jimmy’s dream i think that was straight Heaven sent to give him some peace and comfort to know that his Rhett is indeed in Heaven and okay. Thanks so much for sharing and have a blessed day..

  7. Steve J.
    February 11, 2016 at 7:37 am

    I have been following Rhett’s story somewhat, and pray the family continues to find some peace. This is a powerful story, and I am so glad you and Patti are in my life. Bless you, Mike.

    • February 11, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Thanks friend. Really appreciate the prayers.

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