I got an email on Monday night letting me know that one of the teachers at the girls' schools had died that afternoon. She's been fighting cancer for more than a year, had wasted away to almost nothing, and was in the hospital after surgery to remove a tumor that broke her back.
And in the midst of it all, she glowed with love and faith in Jesus.
It's was hard to tell the girls. They have faithfully prayed for her healing, and it was hard for them to feel like God didn't answer their prayers. Audrey especially was touched by this, as she'd worked with this teacher on some learning issues. She's cried herself dry.
And yet as I was praying yesterday morning (Tuesday is the day I pray for healing for others--including YOU, if you've sent me a prayer request for that) I had to praise God. Because he did answer our prayers.
She is WHOLE. She is HEALED. She is WITHOUT PAIN. She is BEYOND SORROW. Because she is WITH JESUS.
Yes, I wanted her to be healed here on earth. To remain with her husband and three children. To live a long life. But what she received is so much better.
As a child, heaven never seemed quite real to me. I knew it existed, but my ideas about it were vague and murky. I didn't really want to go to heaven because it seemed so unknown. In truth, I was a little scared by it.
But the Bible tells us a lot about heaven. And I think we'd do well to think about, dream about, learn about it more than we do. As I think about it, I don't know that I've heard that many sermons about heaven. Why is that?
As Audrey and Emma and I have talked, it's helped them to realize that heaven is a REAL place. With real sky. With real ground. With real trees. With real streets. With a real city. With real people. It's helped them to know that this teacher is in a real place--a place they too will go someday. She's not gone. She hasn't ceased to exist. Her life isn't really over.
I love this song by Kirk Franklin about heaven. He wrote it in celebration after a friend of his died. And singing this song (because, let's face it, I always sing along!) makes me want to go to heaven. Really, really want to go to heaven.
Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
P.S. If you want to learn more about heaven, I'd recommend Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven. It's pretty thick and extremely repetitive if you're trying to read it cover to cover. But it's an easy resource to use to answer specific questions.