Eternity does not start with death. We are in eternity now.
- Norman Vincent Peale
Several years ago, when one of our sons was still a teenager, he was sitting with a friend downtown near the river. A man in his mid-thirties passed by and looked at him.
Pointing to the jail nearby, he said, “Son, I have been over there in that jail for several days and I need to get home to my family in Tennessee; can you help me?” Assuming the man would use the money for drugs or alcohol, he offered to walk him to the bus terminal and buy his ticket. He asked the agent if the ticket was redeemable; assured that it was not, he purchased one. As the man approached the stairs of the bus, he turned and said, “I will never forget your kindness.” My son told me later that “it was like Jesus himself was looking right at me.”
When people have had this kind of experience of seeing Jesus, they are certain he was right there in front of them. Often, as a patient is dying, they say that they are filled with warmth, light and love, which they feel is God. They seem so peaceful and happy and are totally unafraid.
When a patient named Fred told me that Jesus had been standing in the corner of his room, looking very gently at him, his words, his description and the look on his face left no doubt in my mind that he had indeed seen him. He died a day or two later.
When a good friend’s husband died recently, she told me she got into bed a little while later for comfort and when she looked up, Jesus was standing in her room looking tenderly at her. She says the memory of that moment will never leave her. Her heart was broken at the loss of her husband and God simply came to assure her of his presence and his love.
Glimpses of heaven happen more frequently than we know. Sometimes we even try to explain them away. This is a mistake; it is like a good friend knocking on our door to bring us a gift of love and support and we simply don’t answer the knock. But they are given to us at those moments when God knows we need them most.