I want to share a story today of something that happened to me in 1995. This is the kind of story that sounds unbelievable, so read on, or don’t – that is up to you. But what I am writing about today actually happened to me.
When I moved to Woods Chapel in 1994, the church was split, fighting over an issue. It was rough year and I was young. I didn't have any training in conflict management, but I had a feeling in my heart. It was a spiritual feeling.... over and over I just kept hearing this little voice inside say, "love the people and preach good sermons."
During the first 9 months of my tenure there, my mother was giving me lots of advice about what I should be doing. I did not agree with any of it. I kept telling her, mom, I'm just going to love them and preach good sermons.
Now my mom was an interesting human.... very very religious, but also very manipulative. She came down with cancer in March of 95 and died in July. It was very difficult. Since she believed that she was going to be healed, she refused to talk with any of us about reconciliation. She left us to resolve our issues with her by ourselves.
After she died I actually wondered if people like her get to go to heaven. Sure a Christian, but oh, she could be mean.
So here is the story.... one night I was asleep in bed an I woke up in the middle of the night. I didn't have to go to the bathroom and it was not the pizza. I just woke up. I could sense the presence in the room and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I looked towards the bedroom door, and there was my mother, dressed in the golden robes of heaven. [there are no words really to describe how she looked, it was other worldly.] She moved without walking... gliding to the foot of the bed. She said, "love them Jeff, just love them. That is all that matters." And she was gone.
That was the first time and the only time that I have had such a visitation. I was 36 years old.
This experience told me several things.
1. Mom was in heaven. God's grace is bigger than ours. If my mom gets to go to heaven, lots of people that I wondered about are getting in.
2. All of the doctrine and ideas that we insist upon in this life, fall away, fall off as we cross over to the other side. We are lost in God and his amazing love.
3. Love them just love them. Mom was in effect validating the feeling that I had in my heart that I should love the people and preach good sermons. This was a picture of the primacy of love, that it trumps all.
So, here is the moral of the story.... If you are worried about someone who has passed, just know that God's grace is immense. And for every day that you are here on this earth..... love them, just love them, that is all that matters.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.