We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu
Many years ago, I became fast friends with a lovely elderly woman from our church. I had once laid hands on her prayed for her when she was ill and the memory never left her. She felt that she received some kind of healing during that prayer time and it cemented our friendship from that moment on.
She’d had polio as a child, and went on to live a full and happy life; now she was beginning to decline. In her weakened and fragile circumstances, she was less and less able to hold up her head, the area of her body most affected by her illness in youth. Ultimately it became necessary for her to wear a neck brace to hold her head up at all. She had a wonderful husband and daughter who loved her dearly and wanted above all else for her to be free of the ravages of her early-life illness and to be peaceful as she was dying.
One evening while I was visiting with her, walking her to the bathroom and back, she suddenly stopped. Facing me, with her hands on my shoulders and my arms around her waist, she laid her head on my shoulder and stayed perfectly still for quite a few minutes.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful If God would take me from this spot, in this way, right now?” she said. Standing there she felt safe, unafraid, peaceful and ready to leave. She knew God was close by and spoke about it often. She just wanted not to linger, to be able to leave with grace and dignity. She was so weary and ready to go to her eternal home, and I really believe she was already experiencing heaven in those precious moments. God enabled her to do just as she asked, a night or so later, in the company of friends.