It was one of my first times on an airplane. Me and my daddy were flying to Oklahoma to visit his family. I was probably about six years old. I got the window seat, and was so excited as the plane took off. We went up to the clouds, and broke through them. I looked around, totally certain that I would see heaven. I fully expected to see pearly or golden gates, a wall and and maybe a castle. I looked and looked, and even tried to look out the windows on the other side. I couldn’t see it, and was very disappointed. It just didn’t make sense to me. I’d seen drawings in books, and it just resonated with me that I’d see heaven up there.
So I told my dad that I didn’t understand why I couldn’t see heaven. He said something about how if people could see it, then we would have photographs of it and everybody would know about it. That made sense to me, but I was still disappointed. As years went by, the disappointment faded and was replaced with a sense of joy and thankfulness at having a very simple, innocent faith.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, on Friday, September 2, 2016. I’m sitting on an airplane, going to Oklahoma to visit family. We have taken off, and are heading up to the clouds. I think back to that memory of when I was a child, remembering how it was on a trip to Oklahoma that I thought I’d see heaven, and it makes me smile.
To pass the time, I brought a book to read. It’s called, “How Can I Get To Heaven,” by Robert Sungenis. I turn to where my bookmark is, page 34, where I read the following. I’ll bold the relevant parts:
“Paul prefaces each of these instances with ‘By faith Abraham…’ and the closes with the following statement in Hebrews 11:10: ‘For he was looking forward to the city whose architect and builder is God.'”
OK so now I’m a bit bewildered about the timing of this sentence and the memory I just had. I look out the window and we’ve broken through the clouds. The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful morning. Continuing to read, it says:
“Unlike the Genesis account which merely provides the rudimentary facts of Abraham’s faith, Paul penetrates into the mind and motivation of Abraham, making us privy to an insight we would never have have gleaned from the Genesis account alone. We learn an astounding truth. We discover that Abraham did not just blindly obey; rather, he had a vivid vision of the future heavenly kingdom and of the whole plan and purpose of God’s dealing with him.
OK, there’s that idea again, a vision of a heavenly kingdom. It occurs to me that maybe God has orchestrated what I’m reading at this moment, and I get a little teary. I keep reading:
Abraham’s vision anticipated not merely owning a piece of land on earth, but also his ultimate entry in heaven in the future, ‘a city whose architect and builder is God.’ What kind of faith is is required to envision one’s entrance into the heavenly kingdom for eternity? Surely more than some crude or rudimentary understanding; rather, it is a faith that comprehends the whole purpose and meaning of existence, and that trusts God implicitly for its eventually fulfillment. According to Paul, Christians possess this same faith, since he says in Hebrews 13:14, ‘for here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.'”
I’ve got some serious tears in my eyes at this point, to the point where I don’t want anybody to notice. I put the book down in my lap with the cover up.
I glance down at it, and notice something that I had not seen before: the sunlight peeking over the clouds. See it?
I was so full of emotion at this point that it was hard to take it all in. God orchestrated this moment to let me know that he remembered my simple faith and he was there with me and my dad. I felt very strongly how much he loves me, how he sees everything and remembers everything, all my pain, sorrow, and prayers. He sees all; nothing escapes his observation, and there will be an accounting, for everything.
The night before, while I was packing, I had intended to pack the book in my underseater bag but ran out of room. So I left it on my nightstand. As I was almost walking out the door the next morning to go to the airport, I felt very strongly a sense that I should bring it, and I almost resisted the feeling since I would have to put the book in my purse and I didn’t want to do that. I was in a cult for 22 years, so I know very well how easy it is to be deceived by promptings and thoughts that seem OK but are not. So unfortunately, my first reaction to such promptings is suspicion. It has been difficult to allow myself to be led by the Holy Spirit. But I decided to listen to the prompting and bring the book. I’m glad I did.