Diary of a Misfit

Glimpses of Heaven

This Morning I woke up thinking of a friend I had lost contact with over the years and purposed to look him up and get in touch with him. Hours later the phone rang and it was a mutual friend telling me he had passed away during the night. I knew right away he had “waved” to me from the journey.

Years ago, when my best friend died, I actually asked the Lord to let me hear from her from Heaven. Just a word, a glimpse, please Sir. To comfort my heart more than build my faith. Weeks later I woke early one morning to sense her unmistakable presence and intense, hushed whisper into my spirit: “All you can bring is Love!” There was no mistaking it was her nor that it took some sort of unfathomable effort for her to bring that message. And no denying that it meshed perfectly with what I knew from scripture.

My children and I remember when my grandmother left this world–a huge electronic pulse turned our stereo on full blast at 3:00 before the phone rang with the news of her passing. Never happened before or since. She came through to say goodbye to us on her way to her forever Home.

And I still remember the look on my dying uncle’s face as he crossed. Comatose for days, at the end he sat bolt upright in the hospital bed and reached his arms up towards the ceiling as if to be lifted up, a look of stunned awe on his face. Miraculous. Undeniable.

Any nurse will tell you people often “see” Heaven as they pass from this life, in explicable last visions or exclamations, often greeting other deceased relatives with joy.

On the other hand, I once sat with an aunt as she died and was intubated and put on a respirator. When she woke up, she told of leaving her body and going down to a dark tunnel and seeing her deceased husband who told her “Go back, go back” and motioned her away. She lived another year and spent every waking minute reading the Bible, watching Christian videos, and praying with friends and visitors.

So, it’s not that we don’t get hints all along in this life. And the older or more troubled we get, the more beloveds we lose, the more we think about Heaven. But the truth is, the Bible doesn’t give us much to go on. Lots of instructions about how to prepare for it, but hardly anything about how we will experience it. I Corinthians 2:9 puts it plainly: “…eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and it has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him…”

In a nutshell, Heaven is so fabulous, even GOD doesn’t have the words. Or He doesn’t want us to have them yet because He wants us to finish our missions here. Probably if we knew for sure, we’d buy the first ticket outta here.

Scoffers like to point out that astronauts don’t see “Heaven” up in space. And the Hubble telescope hasn’t located any distant place that would qualify. So where is Heaven? What is it?

In a nutshell, it’s not a place…it’s a condition. A “dimension,” sci-fi writers like to say. Physicists talk about the theoretical possibilities for other dimensions all the time. And scripture adds that it is where only God’s will is done all the time. No evil. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Pure “holiness” like we have never experienced in this thorny old world. Which is why Jesus has to vouch for us to get in. As Dorothy Sayers put it, “God came in the flesh and took His own medicine”.

People write books about Heaven–mostly how they died and went there, then came back. Usually kinda lame and fleshy, sometimes intriguing. Never provable, of course. Movies give it a try sometimes too.

But honestly, those occasional little “waves” from loved ones passing is more convincing to me. Probably you have experienced some as well. When you know and love a person, you understand immediately they aren’t pretending. People might make stuff up in daily life, but not when it comes to the end of their life. Dead serious, so to speak. Nobody is kiddin’ around on that last day. Going home.

Because Heaven is our real home. We always knew in our soul that this couldn’t be it. Everything there will be upside down. The poorest the richest. The famous unknown. The things our flesh strives for here banished forever there. The things our souls hungered for our crown.

I see God’s point entirely: How could you describe a place that will correct everything forever? Where perfect love transforms every crooked thing? No words. Love is like that…not what you say or feel…it’s what you do. Heaven is what God—perfect Love—does for us. Forever.

 

Here is one of the most credible accounts I have seen of “went to Heaven and came back” testimonies.

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You Just Can’t Teach God Anything

 

God Wants the Best for Us

God’s love is ruthless. Not fuzzy bunnies and heart-shaped chocolates, but the hard reality of death and justice. Not a lazy babysitter, watching us make our messes, thinking to clean up later rather than spoil our fun. No–a father who loves us too much to let us cross the busy highway. He is more than simple kindness–a consuming fire, refining us so we can be pure gold. We are infants in our cribs, totally dependent on Love to sustain us. Have you ever had to hurt a baby? Take them to the doctor for four shots that make them scream in pain and betrayal? Love knows things baby cannot know.

Misfits accept this more gladly because our hearts were already broken and what we feel or do not feel, what we want to feel or wish we could forget, is forever out of our control. We are wounded and our feelings will just not line up and behave like everyone else’s. It is more good news that God’s love is not a feeling. It is a fact. A concrete yardstick set in the swamp of shifting moods and bondage and pain and confusion. It is the one sure thing. He loves us. He loves you. He loves me. Not as a group or a race or a pair even, but each and every human snowflake. Desires a love relationship with each one of us that is unlike the one He has with anyone else. Knows us, cherishes us, loves us to infinity.

God persists in wanting what is best for us in His “forever.” We turn away, scream in pain, reject Him for shaping us. But He keeps on loving us, shepherding us toward Him, so we can live with Him forever. You’d think He would give up, since mankind has made it plain we’d rather do it our way.

Boy, you just can’t teach God anything, can you?

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The God Spell

We love stories. Movies, radio, books, chatting with friends, eavesdropping at the hospital, sobbing to a priest, sharing with someone. Stories. We have to tell them. We want to hear them. It is what we do for each other, how love behaves. We want a witness to our lives. A pattern in the chaos. Closure. Meaning. As E. M. Forster famously described it: “The king died, and the queen died,” is just the facts. Not helpful; not healing. But, “The king died, and the queen died of grief,” is a story. Now the facts are relevant. Now they satisfy our hunger, maybe even heal our souls. How else can we cope with the mysteries of life?

Perverts prey on innocent little children.

Strangers shoot into crowds.

Children and mothers starve, clinging to each other, flies walking across hopeless eyes.

Scoffers hog the spotlight.

Followers of the gospel of love and forgiveness debate with fury and scorn.

Cartoonish people preach on TV.

Seekers soon prefer smiling agnostics to Bible waving zealots.

And yet…and yet….we want to know. We wonder.

We have questions, but think maybe there’s aren’t any answers.

There are.

Or think because we are so wounded, maybe God’s love isn’t for us.

It is.

So why didn’t He prevent the horror?

Why does God let children suffer abuse, starvation, abandonment?

Why doesn’t he take away addiction?

Heal all cancer?

How can he love us if He doesn’t help us?

We are not the first to question God.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? King David asked over 3000 years ago. (Psalm 22:1)

We blame God for evil, like blaming light for the darkness. Yet we hope. Outgrow our childish expectations that life would be easy. Begin to see dimly, straining, that those who hurt us or left us or disappointed us had to go around God to do it. See that He is using our suffering to bring us closer to Him and a glory we can barely fathom.

By words, whether mental or spoken, our prayers take flesh. Like artists’ ideas take flesh in their work. And God Himself took flesh to express Himself–.His love and character and will–in Jesus. He told us the only story that could heal the world. Enfleshed the story. Became the story.

That is the “gospel.” In old English, “the God spell.”

A story that explains everything.  And never ends.

Halleleujah.

 

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Birth of a Misfit

If we are misfits, we know it by now.

People hurt us. Or left us.

Dreams withered on the vine.

The crooked path has been nothing like the straight-forward dream.

Maybe tortured, maybe blessed.

We learn our story.

And God’s.

How we came to be wounded.

And what God did about it.

The real difference between us humans is rooted in the mists of childhood. Because everything that ever happened to us is still inside, dense and convoluted like a walnut in its shell.  The seedling we once were learned everything from the very beginning, flourishing in rich soil or barely surviving among stones.  Young brains lay down pathways that only an older soul will try to understand.  That the world is harsh, confusing, frightening.  Or steady as the waves of the sea.  That we are important, secure, loved.  Or nothing to anyone, afraid for our very lives, hungry as trapped dogs.

Maybe that’s when we decide about God, when we don’t even have words.  Later, when we do, they are colored by the blood or blessings of those first years.  Life is so unfair, how can there be a loving God?  Maybe we give a weak nod, afraid to rule Him out in case He is there.  But that first idea is set in concrete.  And you just can’t kill an idea once it’s made a home.  Why would God love me?  Nobody else did…

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It’s A Miracle!

We all want a miracle.  Healing or helping or something from God.  Because life is hard.  We all suffer.  The world is fallen and that’s a nice word for a messed up place.  We wish…even pray…things were different.  But not many miracles come.  Not like Jesus did them, raising people from the dead; and not like Moses did, getting water from a rock.  But O yes, fellow pilgrim, there are miracles.  Not big, showy surprises, but quiet little Holy Spirit chances to let God in, allow Him to work in our lives in spite of everybody’s bent Free Will.  Like:

Someone hurts you…and insead of huffing away sad or mad, you look into their eyes and see the hurt or shame or devil behind them and ask them “Is something bothering you? Is there anything I can help you with? It’s not like you to be so critical. Makes me wonder what else might be going on with you.”

Or…instead of telling a rebellious child what they are doing wrong, you pray the Spirit to put into your mind the thing you can tell them they are doing right. And how precious it is to you.

Or…me!  today!…instead of crying in my room with self pity, I turn it all over to God and trust His love to “turn it to good” just like He said He does.  Whether I see the results or not.  Just to exercise my faith instead of my disappointment.  Ask for someone to come to mind that I can help instead of whining.  In spite of my burden.

Or maybe because of it?  Hmmm….

Nobody has done it for us?  Maybe not.  But we can do it for them.

And that would be a miracle.

Cha ching.  One miracle.

Are there more?

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The Long Sad

In midlife I realized that “sad” was no longer an adjective in my life, but had become a noun. An immovable piece of furniture, right in the middle of my life. What had, in the vigor of youth, seemed like periodic blues, was now a constant state of too much grief over too small a reason. Why? What are you sad about? they asked. Nothing. And yet….

Then panic attacks became crippling.   Nothing to do but go to the hospital, get tests, counseling, medication. An EEG revealed a glitch in the brain. The type, one nurse told me, they usually see in patients who were adopted or sexually abused as a child.  How about both?

The iron door to the basement rattled, creaked a little, but held. I dabbled in revealing my “secrets,” along with other willing patients. But only a little. Better to limp as quickly as possible back to “normal,” pretend everything was alright now. Soldier on. Smile. As I had been raised to do.

I know I am not alone. Why doesn’t God fix us? Why aren’t we joyful all the time? The “fruit of the Spirit” not for us? What are we doing wrong? For Christians, there are taunts from our secular world all the time. Why praise God for not being hurt worse in a wreck? Why did He let it happen in the first place? Why praise God for His faithfulness when you are crippled by a birth defect or mental illness? The lost world loves to point and sneer: Where is your God now?

Well, He is the same place He was for Job as he suffered and lost everything, and Abraham as he led the clan from everything familiar out into the desert. The same place He was when His only son was nailed to a cross. Read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 15. The crowd insulted Him, jeered: “Where is your God now? Come down from the cross!”

But, of course, they would not have believed, even then. And He would not have come down, because it was what He came for.

And we would not be better, either, if we did not have the cross we have. Suffering, sadness, trials, circumstances are how we are being formed for eternity into a holy family. Our trials shape our souls every day. You’d almost think God wants us to learn diligence and patience ha ha.  Yeah.  Just like He says in His Word.

Now, when I feel the weight, the indignities, of my own crosses, I try to think of Him dragging His down the rough road clear out of town to His own certain agony, humiliation and death.  Put up high on a hill for all to see.

 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him….I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like Him…. Phillippians 3:7-10

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Our Secret Superpower

As a child, I couldn’t decide between invisibility and flying for my super power. Slipping around unseen or flying away at will seemed like the most power there could be.

Little did I know what my secret super power really is.  The super power God gave ALL of us, completely suited to our own personality, our true self:  Free Will. 

 Choose this day Who you will serve…”  Joshua 24:15

 Our FREE WILL–“Chooser,” if you like–is the ultimate secret super power.  Maybe weakened by the kryptonite in our childhoods and environments, our wounded flesh.  But still there.  Inviolable.  A gift from God.  We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can choose how we think about it.  We can!

 I still wish I had a cape of invisibility.  Sometimes dream I can fly.  But now I base my life on REALITY, not wishes and dreams.  I choose to follow God’s will, choose to memorize and soak in scripture so I can think more like Him all the time. “As a man thinks,” scripture tells us, “so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7 

 We act like free will is nothing, when it is everything.  So important to God that He didn’t even save His son from the rejection and torture they heaped on Him.  Jesus could have walked out of the Garden of Gethsemane, saved Himself from his bloody end.  But what He DID was say “Nevertheless not My will but Thine,” and go, willingly, to the cross.  We follow His example when we “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  II Corinthians 10:5

  Renewing our  minds to this same humility and surrender is the single most powerful way we can offer ourselves to Him, make of our lives a “living sacrifice.”  Plow up our minds with scripture truth to replace the old patterns, hold our very thoughts up to our Creator:

 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:1-2

 

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