PASTOR – I’M SO DISAPPOINTED TO SEE YOU
I walked into the coronary care unit, and when I did, Chuck immediately spotted me from his bed. He motioned with his arm for me to come over to him. Corpses don’t wave a come-to-me motion unless you are Captain Ahab-Gregory Peck roped to the back of Moby Dick.
When I arrived at his side, with a big smile on his face he took my hand and pulled me down to himself so that he could speak softly in my ear. What I was about to hear caused my brain to cramp, my knees to buckle, as well as took my breath away. He said as he tightened his grip on me with a now mischievous grin on his face:
DISAPPOINTED TO SEE YOU.”
Upon further reflection that day of the entire unsettling revelation, I thought of the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian Christians in II Corinthians 5:8,
home with the Lord.”
If you will, “No offense meant, but I would much rather be absent from you guys on earth, and be present with my Lord in Heaven.”
You see, Chuck too was so caught up in the reflections of his immense and intense heavenly pleasures, so that his return to earth was a painful come- down. After seeing, hearing, and experiencing Heaven, coming back to earth was a terrible letdown. He had stepped out of the old world, and in Heaven found all things to be gloriously new. Then he stepped out of the brand new heavenly world, and found all things to be so very stale and old again, including my face.
I have talked to people who have been of very modest means all of their lives, and in fact, a few that have been downright poor. And while their poverty was troublesome, they never knew anything else, and their impoverished state in life was manageable and bearable.
But I have also counseled those who have been well-to-do, and then went into a financial death spiral, and it was quite obvious that for them being once well-off and now down-and-out was almost unbearable. From honor to shame, from highly regarded to being pitied! Not an easy thing. In short:
PLACES AT ONCE, BUT SHAME AND HUMILIATION CAUSES
HIM TO WANT TO BE SEEN AND KNOWN BY NO ONE.”
The radical difference for him from “ascension” to “descension” was painfully emptying. It was all such a “degrading minus” after such an “exalting plus.” If you will, and the sense of it in Chuck was palpable – feel it with him just a little if you can:
NOW FOR HIM TO BE ALIVE ON EARTH WAS DEATH.”
His expressions of heavenly awesomeness, and yet at the same time his earthly plainness and sameness, is what began to draw me into faith’s vibrancy and hope’s certainty. I began to feel my faith and hope dilate into seven centimeters, and I was getting ready for the final push into unquestioning belief right then and there.
I no longer could simply give a token toss of proper respect, like someone does when he kisses the Bible after dropping it. In those moments, there was being wiped off of my face that faint but fake smile of approval. I began, for the very real first time in my life to live Heavenliness with him, while at the same time feeling the death of earthliness.
THERE IN AN INSTANT
Winston Churchill became a confessing believer in Jesus Christ. Being Winston Churchill, he plotted out his entire funeral for when the time would inevitably come. It would be in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, along with stately hymns to be sung, and a great deal of liturgy. At the end, after the benediction, there in the dome of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Churchill had arranged for a bugler to sound taps, the universal symbol of the end of a day. Then, after a moment of silence, immediately he had arranged for another bugler in the same dome to play reveille, the military wake-up song. Why would Churchill arrange that? Because as he said,
“THE MOMENT I SAY GOOD NIGHT, I WILL SAY GOOD MORNING.”
In fact, Chuck told me that he had no memory of dying whatsoever. He had no recollection of the moment of death. It was almost as if he didn’t die at all. I think that this is what Jesus has been telling us all along, when he said to Martha in John 11:26,
Well then, do we really believe this?
I could sense in those holiest of moments with Chuck, that I was being translated into a totally other world. For so many who call themselves believers, it is so hard for them to be birthed into the world of Heavenly realities and convictions. We in that process of conviction are so often positioned in that dangerous feet-first posture and kicking all the way.
That is how I came into that hospital room, but Chuck literally turned me upside down in the womb which is the required position for all of God’s birthings in our lives. I came in feet first, and now I was head first. My mind was breaking through the no-miracles-after-the-apostles barrier that I had been taught since childhood.
I was actually beginning to be convinced in my thinking that I would never die. Jesus said that whoever lives and believes in Christ shall never die. In other words:
“The believer does not have the capacity to die and
be a dead person.”
DIE AND BE DEAD AS PERSON.”
And his arrival in Heaven was not only instantaneous from time to eternity, but he instantly was transformed into a new state of being as well. I asked him, “Chuck, what is Heaven like?” The very first thing He said to me was this:
SATURATED WITH LOVE.”
Here, on this side of eternity, love is more often than not something we have, something we do, something we express, something we feel. He made it as clear to me as he could that in Heaven, love is what you fully are, and not something you just have. He said that it was such a delicious experience to become perfect love that he wanted with all that was in him to stay there forever. I could see glistening tears of wonder and longing forming in his eyes as he talked about becoming this overwhelming love.
The second instantly was that when he entered Heaven, he saw beautiful light the likes of which he had never laid his eyes on while on earth. He struggled to describe it, except to say that he was trying to say that it was so luminous that in everything and everyone it was translucent – it went right through him. It was so comforting and warming, because in that never-before-experienced translucence there was nothing to hide. Speaking of the New Jerusalem, John the Revelator states in Revelations 22:23,
“And the city has no need of the sun or the moon to shine upon
it, for the glory of the Lord illumined it, and its
The third instantly was that he heard praise to God the likes of which had never on earth fallen on his ears. It was not only the innumerable quantity of voices, but the powerful and pristine quality that made everything and everyone on earth sound distorted and annoying once again. It was infinitely more than simply the difference between monophonic and surround-sound stereophonic. Again, the Apostle John writes of this in Revelation 19:1 and 6, and as he does, note his own struggles to describe the wondrous sounds, as he uses the words, “As it were.” He writes,
“After these things I heard, as it were, a loud voice of a great
multitude in heaven saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and
“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and the
sound of many waters, and as the sound of mighty peals of
thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God,
There I was with this heavenly astronaut now returned to earth, as He tried to convey to me his first landing and walk on Heaven. I felt so backward and primitive. There he was soaring again right before my very eyes, and I felt like I was a biplane next to a Phantom Jet. Or, more like one of the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk straining over the sands of Cape Hatteras and barely making lift off.
Not only had I not walked in Chuck’s shoes, but I had not flown with his wings either. But by now I was convinced that one way or another, my time and take-off would come. I have never forgotten the sense that it could be any second now.
GOD IS NOT READY FOR YOU YET
“GOD IS NOT READY FOR YOU YET, FOR THE LORD HAS MORE
WORK FOR YOU TO DO ON EARTH. BUT IT WON’T BE
LONG AND THE LORD WILL FINALLY COME
CALLINGFOR YOU AGAIN.”
in the seas and in all deeps.”
God’s absolute sovereignty was not the only reason why Chuck lived his remaining years on earth with his bags packed and our wills submitted. Chuck’s face revealed the worst kept secret in the world, and that was like the Apostle Paul, he was literally longing to return. He was hooked, and the addiction to Heaven grew stronger and stronger.
Heaven held Chuck hostage, and therefore we all refused to negotiate. Chuck was gone, and never again fully present to us. He had been there, and because of that:
FOR HEAVEN GREW MORE AND MORE WHICH HUNGER
If you will:
WILL PLEASE FOR A MOMENT BUT THEN FADE. BUT ONE
LUSCIOUS MORSEL OF HEAVEN WILL CAUSE A
CRAVING THAT ONLY HEAVEN
CAN EVER SATISFY.”
REFLECT UPOM THEM. THEY HAD BECOME HIS CONDITION, AS
WELL AS SUPPLYING HIS HEART AND MIND WITH FRESH
PERCEPTIONS AND EXCITED EXPECTATIONS.”
HEART WITH ACTIVE REMEMBRANCES AND
I guess Jesus said it best, just like He said everything best, in those well- known words of Matthew 6:21, which exactly define Chuck’s post Heaven state:
THE PROMISE KEPT
“WE MUST LEARN TO PUT GREAT VALUE UPON THIS LIFE ON EARTH
GIVEN IT TO US SO SPARINGLY.”
FULFILLED, NOT ONE OF US HAS MORE THAN ENOUGH.”
Hear again through the voice of Chuck:
JOURNEY’S END IS ALWAYS NEAR.”
A PERSONAL NOTE TO CHUCK
My Dear Chuck:
Because of you Chuck, and the Lord’s miracles in your life, I have seen thousands of folks born again and brought to salvation in my evangelistic crusades at home and abroad. When I have told people about your double home going, often so many raised their hands to accept the Lord that I could not number them.
No Chuck, I have not kept it a secret. When you see me in Heaven, Chuck, please go easy on me. And oh yes, Chuck, when next we meet in glory, please tell me that you are glad to see me. See you soon! We are all right behind you!
All My Love