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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 65 - Heaven Bound

We're linking up with Inspire Me Monday; please give them a visit!We're also linked with Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday.

I'm also guest-posting on Norma Brumbaugh's blog today.

I have been told that if I thought more about Heaven., I would not fear death.

I don't fear death. I fear the pain that makes an elastic capacity for bearing it strain to its limits. Today I wanted to bang my head against a wall to try to make it go away - by knocking myself out. WHAT WILL TOMORROW BRING????

Earlier this evening (on the day that I write this) I heard the TV preacher Perry Stone talking about a book in which he described what Heaven is like. What we wear, what we eat, what language we speak, and so on.

Surprisingly, I found the subject uninteresting

From the perspective of one who's going to be shaking hands with Jesus sooner rather than later, I don't really care what we eat in Heaven, and even less what we wear.

I have to admit to an uncharitable thought, that it's something formulated by people who have the luxury of contemplating those questions without the Damoclean sword of immediacy.

Whatever experience they have in theology or Biblical exegesis, they're not helping...okay, not helping me. I'm sure many mean well, but (warning...second uncharitable thought) I also suspect that some of them are more concerned with trying to sell books, or DVDs, or tickets to their public appearances.

Sorry if I sound harsh. No, I'm not. These people are completely missing the point.

They are trivializing the process of dying by making it sound like taking a trip to God's Club Med.

The afterlife matters. It is everything.

The whole point of Heaven, when you're dying, is that it's really there, that the promises are true.

The descriptions in Revelation hold little but academic interest for me. It's written in a symbology that held deep meaning for John's contemporaries, but it's largely inaccessible to the modern mind, except in the most general terms.

I seriously doubt that Eternity spent with the Almighty will have the look and feel of the first century AD. If it's Heaven, it'll be adjusted to us, and won't demand that we adjust to it.

"Whoa, Jesus, the cell reception up Here sucks, Man!"

I kind of doubt that.

John's contemporaries could take it as written because they could feel the magic, and see it unfolding. We are privileged to feel the magic, but what we see will be in terms to which we can relate.

It's a bit like taking Jesus as the Lamb of God absolutely literally; no one has said He was a talking baby sheep.

And speaking of which, I'm not worried about the whole sheep vs. goats thing. We're all goats. The only thing that matters now is mercy.

It all boils down to what Jesus said to the dude on the next cross over...

"Today, you'll be with me in Paradise."

Everything else, I'll take as it comes.

Because I while I still want today here, and I sure want tomorrow There.

My thought for a caregiving spouse is simply this - know what your husband or wife thinks, and believes. Please don't try to overwrite their faith with your own. If you take a more literal view that I do (and I do respect that view, and would be as happy as ever if I were proven wrong) and your spouse does not, please...just listen.

And if your dying spouse is the literalist, accept that. Don't try to prove your own point. Doing so can undermine faith. hen you're in extremis, and holding onto hope amidst the pain, it doesn't take much to cause a landslide. And it's terribly hard to get back to where you were.

After all, when we get there, we'll be There.


  1. Amen, Andrew. Sometimes we focus on such trivial details and miss the main point entirely. Living, dying, it's all about keeping our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

    Anything less, anything else is just a sideshow ...

    1. Thanks, Linda...'sideshow' seems a very apt description for some of the things I have seen lately.

      I don't want to be unfair to people who are undoubtedly sincere, but over-specifying the Hereafter according to their own readings can tear a small hole in someone's faith...and make a bigger one later.

      Thanks for being here!

  2. I'm right there with you, Andrew! Sometimes people trying to figure everything out on this side of heaven it just doesn't interest me. I rest instead on the Truth of His promises to us. This last week I have been walking with 2 different families who have both lost someone dear to them. We don't walk with them by giving them our own description of what we think death is like or what heaven is like because they are living grief right now. So we sit, we listen and we listen again. It's not about having the answers or giving our understanding of their situation but instead just journeying with them and loving them through! Thanks for these encouraging words! I love to hear what you have to share with us! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

    1. Rachel, you said this beautifully...thank you so much. "We don't walk with them by giving them our own description of what we think death is like or what heaven is like because they are living grief right now" is a gem, and really says it all.

      Thank you so much for being here!

  3. Okay, I think we're seeing the "anger" side of the stages of grief today! Lol! I hope I'm not offending you by saying that, Andrew. I totally get how this could be so infuriating to the person who is in extreme pain and fiercely holding on to the cord of life against all odds. And by the way, I'm not so sure that John's contemporaries understood or received his writings and visions as much as you might think. I don't think we are much different than that age. Humans struggle to grasp the eternal or "heavenly" realities and probably will always struggle with that until transferred to the "heavenly realms."

    But I'm grateful that you always write with such great candor and passion, Andrew. It is what we need to see and grapple with, especially those who are walking in your shoes or your wife's shoes. My prayers are being lifted up for you and Barbara, my friend!

    1. No offense taken, my friend! And yes, it did hit the anger (or at least irritation) button. The process of dying can be awfully unpleasant, and my feeling is that the victory over the last enemy is hard fought, and can only really be treasured in the context of a bloody battle won...not as an airline departure to Aruba.

      I suspect you are right about the Johanian interpretation of symbology; the very highly educated of his peers may have had a cultural knowledge, but for most people it was like..."Dude, HOW many horns did this thing have???"

      I'll be here for as long as I can. The situation seems to be going south more quickly, vite the increased length of time it takes me to reply to comments. But this ministry is the one God has assigned, and I will keep to it.

      Thank you so much for being here!

  4. I'm glad you let that out. I can't even imagine what you are going through, but sharing so openly does bring some insight.

    1. Natalie, I'll tell you...today was not fun, and it's getting to seem like there are no 'good days' left, at least in the physical sense. The pain is very much like a gunshot wound, only it doesn't get numb, and it can't be healed ('n' was the word they used).

      Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

  5. Andrew, yes, yes, yes! It is about the promises that God makes to and for us. "Today I will be with you in Paradise." That really is all that matters as you share here today. And so much THIS: "The whole point of Heaven, when you're dying, is that it's really there, that the promises are true!" AMEN!!!

    1. Exactly, Tara. I far prefer to stay with just those simple words, that magnificent promise!

      Thank you so much for being here. I always look forward to your visit, and your comments. You inspire me.

  6. I totally understand what you're saying! Have you read The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis? It's my favorite book about heaven. I don't want to spend time thinking about what heaven will be like, I'm more worried about my relationship with Jesus now so that I"ll be able to enjoy continuing the relationship later!

    1. "The Last Battle" is one of my favourite books...I was was in my twenties before I was young enough to understand it.

      I wouldn't worry about your relationship with Jesus. He loves you, period, end of chapter. The new chapter has Him walking up to you to be with YOU, no matter how far He has to come.

  7. I fear it must be hard to be in so much pain every single day! To hear that on TV about Heaven, when you are in the throes of an illness that will surely take you away from this world and into the realms of Heaven; and not really knowing - for sure - what that will be like. No, I haven't "been there" and certainly haven't "done that" to be able to KNOW how it is for you...I hope that your pain subsides; I pray you are strengthened and given what you need for your journey...

    I continue to think about you, lift you up in prayer when I can, and pray for you and Barbara...and today I pray for comfort from the pain.

    1. Barbara, thank you so much for this lovely and understanding comment. The pain I'm experiencing is changing from something thatwas awful but familiar to something even more awful...and different not only in intensity but in kind.

      The adaptations I have learned are not working now. It's beating me.

      Both Barb and I thank you so much for the prayers. This has been a difficult few days, the last, what, 72 hours I think were really a trial.

      Thank you. Truly.