The single most life-changing event of my life began with what was supposed to be a routine medical procedure for my mom. Her eyelids were interfering with her vision, and she wanted to have them fixed. Her doctor, however, wanted to be sure that she would do okay during surgery. He ran a battery of tests. Everything looked good.
Sensing that he might be overlooking something, though, he ordered an angiogram. This test revealed four blockages in her heart – none that could be fixed with a stent. A four-way by-pass surgery was scheduled for the following morning.
Surgery went well. Then the nightmare began.
One thing after the other began to go wrong. I won’t bore you with the details that were burned into my memory eight years ago.
After a month of being moved from the cardiac floor to ICU and back again, that which we feared became reality.
It was the sweetest time I’ve ever had with the Lord. He thoroughly prepared me. I knew how this was going to end, and He was with me every step of the way.
On March 4, 2005, I took my Bible to the hospital and read to her from 2 Corinthians 4. She commented on my reading, we talked for a minute about the possibility of her departure. She was ready to meet Jesus, she reassured me. With a heavy heart, I went home, called my father-in-law and let him know that my mom wasn’t going to “make it.”
When I returned to the hospital that evening, I found her on a ventilator. She’d had a massive stroke that afternoon, and there was no possibility of her returning to consciousness. She’d made her Directives very clear to every medical person who entered her room: She did not want to be kept alive on life support. Everyone in my family knew this as well as we knew her name.
The doctor was summoned, and we told him to honor her request and remove the ventilator. The next morning they began to slowly decrease the number of breaths per minute the machine was forcing until there was nothing but silence and the soft sobs of my children. One by one they filed out of the room. I was the last to leave.
Those early weeks were a mixture of peace and joy over her new Home and cries to God that this was “all wrong.” The only way to describe the latter is that my mind felt like a record that someone scratched the needle across…Scritch.
At night my grief overwhelmed me. I asked the Lord to help me and comfort me.
He did – in the most amazing way!
I began to imagine my mom standing at the entrance to heaven, mouth agape at the splendor before her. Then I began to wonder what she was doing. I knew that she had several miscarriages and a three-day-old baby she’d never held with which to get acquainted. Her mom, dad, and one sister were there as well.
Her life here had been one of great sadness, guilt, and shame. Things had not been easy for her – certainly no fairy tale.
That was all behind her now, and I was so thankful to have her safely tucked away in Jesus’ arms.
Then I began to wonder what my home there would be like.
With a giggle, I began to talk to Jesus about my abode.
“Lord, I don’t ever want to vacuum a carpet again. Could I have moss for flooring instead? Maybe even a little brook that runs across the floor?
“Oh, and I really hate washing walls and painting. Perhaps instead of plasterboard You could make my walls out of vines. The flowers could bloom in different colors. Would You make them smell like plumeria? That’s the most wonderful smell You ever came up with.
“Hey! Bugs won’t bug me, and burglars won’t ‘burgle.’ That means glass windows won’t be necessary. Would You mind putting openings in the outer walls so I can look out into the yard? That would be awesome.”
Escapism, you might call this. A mental health break is how I thought of my flights of fancy.
The Bible says: But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 To me this says, “Baby, use your wildest imagination. You won’t even come close, but you’ll sure have fun in the meantime!
This may seem foolish to some, but it has a practical application for me as well.
Because of my wild imaginings, death is not something I dread or even fear. In fact, some days I feel so homesick I could cry!
Further, it altered my purchases. One day I was at the store and decided that I wanted to redecorate our second bathroom. There were some beautiful things, all with an ocean theme. Caught up in the fun, my cart was soon loaded with everything available to really deck out the room.
As I began to push the cart down the aisle, though, I began to tally up the cost of the merchandise. It was nearly $200. I thought about it a bit, then realized that this particular room is almost never used. Did I really need all this stuff? No. Would it be wrong for me to purchase it? I sensed no “check” from the Holy Spirit. I was free to buy the things if I wanted to.
Then I began to consider how many Bibles I could buy with $200; the Kingdom work that could be furthered with that amount of money, and put it all back.
Mentally turning to the Lord I said, “Jesus, I’ll tell You what. Let’s use that money to make Your name known, and…would you mind putting this stuff in the home You’re preparing for me? I can wait until then to enjoy it.”
My husband and I have both adopted this way of thinking. Instead of purchasing new furniture or clothing, we’re happy to buy second-hand stuff. It’s not that we can’t afford it – the Lord blessed my husband with a good job. We could buy whatever we wanted. The question we asked was this: “Why pay full price so we can say we were the first ones to own something?” It’s not that important to either of us.
Consequently, we live a life free of debt and, more importantly, free of stuff. We’ve learned that the more we own, the more of our time is required to be good stewards of stuff. We both have more important things to do with our time.
For heaven’s sake, people are dying and going to hell while we’re dusting, polishing, and devoting our time and attention to inanimate objects!
This is not a standard that I am holding up for anyone else. It is how I choose to live my life. It doesn’t make me any more “spiritual” than anyone else – doesn’t earn extra points with God!
The reason I share this story is because someone once told me (long before any of this took place) that I was “so heavenly minded that I was no earthly good.”
By relating this experience, I hope you can see that I was of no earthly good until I became “heavenly minded.” Up to this point, I lived life for myself and for my good pleasure. So long as I had all I wanted, what did I care how others lived? or about their eternal destination?
When we’re preparing to travel to a new place, we always do some research – find out what there is to do and see; decide where we will stay, and where we will eat. By the time we get on the plane, we are full of anticipation.
One day we’ll take our last earthly trip from this world into the next. If we’re not looking at “travel brochures” for heaven, then it’s no big surprise when we’re not all that interested in going and would rather stay home.
I’m amazed at how my perspective on life changed when I began to design…
…my dream home with Jesus!