“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1
At the behest of almost everyone I know, I finally sat down last night to read the book, “Heaven is for Real.” I’ve been dragging my feet about reading it for months now, knowing that it was a family whose little boy had a near-death experience, which gifted him with the incredible memories of his time in heaven.
I think I avoided it for several reasons; number one being there is a part of me that doesn’t understand why my husband’s sickness ended in death, instead of just hospitalization. I look at my baby boy and I am totally baffled as to why he didn’t get to meet his dad. So, perhaps not the most grown-up reasons not to do something, but they seemed valid to me.
And I can’t say I was totally wrong about not wanting to read the book. The description of the 4-year-old’s hospital stay had me crying for several chapters. Not only because it’s heartbreaking to see a child go through something like that, but because it took me right back to the overwhelming time my husband spent in ICU, battling bacterial meningitis.
The memories flooded fast and furious, from the first night I was there, being asked to make a choice about dialysis (the doctor wasn’t optimistic: he told me my husband would die without it, but there was a good chance starting him on it would kill him) to the kind nurse who took me aside, when she saw I clearly wasn’t understanding what the doctors were saying, to tell me that this disease could end in death.
The memory of the first time I saw my husband in ICU also surfaced, hooked up to literally every machine the hospital had to offer, with the warning from the doctor that, “he had a rash.” I didn’t know that was actually code for: your husband is purple. Meningitis is a vicious disease – one that, interestingly enough, is easy to kill with penicillin. However, as the bacteria dies, it floods the system with toxins, which is actually what makes you sick or can kill you.
These memories rained down on me, taking me right back to those awful days, wondering why God answered this family with a yes, your loved one can stay, when He answer our family with a no. I don’t know the answer to that, but I am thankful God does.
However, once I got past the awful hospital part of the book, it was incredible to read what this boy remembered of his time in heaven. Meeting Jesus face-to-face, learning from Him, meeting family members, seeing the Holy Spirit in action. It’s an incredible story, and one that lines up with biblical accounts of what we will experience in heaven. And what makes it even more amazing is to hear it told through the voice and eyes of a child – without guile, with excitement and pure belief.
While I don’t like the memory of walking through the days leading up to my husband’s death, I am thankful that the hand of God is clearly a part of that time. He has a plan and He is sovereign, and I can live life believing that He loves me more than anything. Even better, I know that my husband can still pray for his family from heaven and that someday we’ll see him again.