Sunday, August 7, 2016

What does Heaven feel like?

The Feeling of Heaven

I write this after hearing a person, I know and trust would not lie, talk about this strange experience he/she(I will use "he" for ease of reading) had of going to heaven or as some would say having an "out of body experience". I am sure looking back over my writing, it is not a perfect transcript of my interview, but he said it would do. He did ask that his identity would remain a secret. 

       Have you ever had an experience which was so good that when you just think about it, your heart starts pounding a little faster, your breathing quickens, your ears are sharper, and your eyes feel brighter? I have even after forty years it happens almost every time, I think about this experience. I guess you could call it an experience. It might have just been a dream, but it wasn’t like any dream I have had before or since. 

      I hesitate even now allowing it to be put down. Somehow this doesn’t seem like it should be that if it is written then it will be diminished. Yet if it is never recorded, even anonymously, it will someday be lost to those who are living. You might think if I haven’t shared it with the world then how can it be lost, but it can. You see this experience is a part of my life. It is something that both motivates and inspires. Yet believe it or not (I know some won’t, but I can’t help them) this experience never removed the normal doubts Christians face about the existence of God and the nature of faith. I guess the words of Ebenezer Scrooge still fill my mind when he said, “I would dare say there is more gravy than grave about you,” to the ghost of his old partner. I can always say that to myself on the days when the doubts seem strong, but on most days when I am quiet and honest with myself, I know better. On the days, like today, when my heart is still, I hear the song, that is not a song but something more and my eyes start to  fill with tears for the memories of what I felt but can not now truly feel.

So why share this now? Why allow someone to record this? Perhaps because in maturity you can share things that would only sound foolish in your 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s. Perhaps now because the world needs to know that in the spotlight of Hollywood movies and blockbuster books, quiet miracles still happen. Perhaps it is because I no longer fear that I am throwing my pearls before swine (Though I am sure there are some out there. People would disbelieve and want to attack me, but anonymity protects a little, if as you promised not to tell anyone whose story this is.) But I am chasing a goose, I need to get back to the story. 

      It must have been more than 40 years ago. I was a young person who wanted nothing more than to please God. However, I felt that I really wasn’t up to the task. I cried to God one night and told him that I would give him everything. I would give him my whole life. I remember nothing after that prayer. This was unusual because I never went right to sleep. The next moment I remember was waking up unable to move. Every part of my body tingled like when you foot falls asleep. Then my body felt different, lighter and I noticed the ceiling seemed closer than before. I realized at this moment I was floating. I did what everyone does who says they have these experiences and I looked back to see my body still laying on the bed. 

      I began praying and giving praise to God. I raised my arms above my body as the ceiling came closer when I reached the ceiling I began to pass through but immediately I noticed I was surrounded by an ever-penetrating light. There was no tunnel just light everywhere. The light felt like it was even going through me. What I noticed more than anything else was this feeling. I would call it love, and it was, but it was so much more. It was God not in his presence but in His Spirit. The same spirit that I believe is what makes heaven, heaven. It was so great that I felt no fear, no worry. Even now I know I could not have worried there even if I wanted to. This love consumed me and is so much more than love that there really aren’t any words to fully describe it. 

      I admit that when I hear others say that they have been to heaven, I usually doubt it (I guess I'm a skeptic like you are). When someone says they were in heaven and worried, or were concerned about their family or friends on earth that I immediately want to dismiss them. I ask myself, “How could you? If God was there? How could you?”  I do really try and keep an open mind, but I also know that God works with some people different than me and also that some people are either dreaming or (and I know this isn't polite to say but) they're lying. 

      However, it is that feeling of “more than love” that causes my heart to quicken and my body react the way it does. It is what makes me long for heaven and maybe it's what keeps me anchored in life. The latter I am not really sure. I do know this I have never wanted to leave this life before my appointed time. It is this “more than love” I have never felt since I floated down to my body and back to sleep. This “more than love” which if I know only by a faint memory and yet I know it better than I know my spouse. 

     Sometimes in church and sometimes in prayer I can feel just the edges of it. It's hard to describe but it's almost like seeing a flower when you get the get a brief look at a color, or maybe it's more like recognizing that it is a person the kindergartener is drawing. 

      I hope that gives you what you want. It is so little to describe something so profound and yet perfect for something that seems so elusive. I don’t fear death, but I also don’t seek it anytime soon. I want to do all that I can now. 

     I will say this, C.S. Lewis is right. When God breaks forth on the stage of life, the play will be over and you will either love him or be terrified of him. You will want to be with him forever or separated from him forever. How do I know this? I just do. It feels right. 

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