“Simply awesome!” John Hanson said, gently drawing his wife, Karen, close to his side, as they stood atop Arcadia National Park’s Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the east coast. But Karen was more focused on the carefree children posing for pictures with their vacationing parents than the breathtaking view below.
“I’m sorry, John, but this trip wasn’t a good idea. Please, let’s go.” John studied her grief-stricken brown eyes and realized his plan had failed. He’d hoped a scenic Maine vacation would have brought some healing.
“Just one more night at Bar Harbor?”
“All right,” Karen agreed, reluctantly. “But, please, leave early tomorrow.”
Driving back through the park, John struggled to bring a smile to Karen’s face. But nothing he said brightened her countenance.
They settled in at their motel and arose early. It was Sunday and Karen, knowing how John never misses worship, was hoping he wouldn’t find a church before they left. Every week there was an uncomfortable silence as he would drive off to church, alone, while she stayed home. She hadn’t been back to church since their only child had died of leukemia six months ago. And he hadn’t cried since the funeral.
However, two summers ago she was never so close to God as when she’d first prayed to be filled with the Holy Spirit at a Woman’s Aglow prayer meeting. She’d also believed for her daughter’s healing. But John had refused to go with her to any of those emotionally charged Holy Ghost hallelujah parties.
Then when God didn’t come through with a miracle, she stopped going to the midweek prayer meetings, as well as John’s church on Sundays.
After breakfast, they bought postcards of Cadillac Mountain before hitting the road. An accomplished watercolorist, Karen collected postcards as references for her paintings, although she hadn’t picked up a brush since Anna’s death.
Leaving, they heard a heavenly chorus streaming from a little chapel down the street. John‘s longing gaze made her reconsider. I feel bad about shortening his vacation….I know he wants to inside…, she thought.
“Okay, let’s slip in the back, if only for a few minutes,” she volunteered, halfheartedly.
But before they could turn back, they were promptly ushered up to the front where Karen was forced to face the altar….something she’d refused to do since Anna’s death. Her eyes shifted to the cute, little ponytailed girl sitting next to her mother. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks as she mused, She looks a lot like Anna, about 8,…sweet, freckled and coloring quietly. She remembered how Anna loved to color in church.
Karen was still searching for assurance that her child’s death had some meaning and that she was enjoying heaven.
The scripture passage brought more tears to her eyes when the pastor read the familiar story where King David had lost his infant son. David said, “…..I will go to him (his son), but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:23b(NIV)
Assured Anna was in heaven, she started to feel God‘s presence, again.
Meanwhile, John squirmed in his pew, uncomfortable with the emotionalism. He sat, trembling, listening to long-winded prophesies and words of knowledge. Many came up for prayer…then, collapsed on the floor like wounded soldiers.
Extreme emotional hype…. Holy Ghost freaks that messed with Karen’s mind, promising a miracle that didn‘t happen,….. This couldn‘t be real….I‘m out of here,John, the practical engineer, reasoned, planning his escape.
Then, just as he was about to yank Karen out of her pew and sprint out the door, the pastor said, staring at a side wall, …..“Wait…. God’s showing me something ……a wall-sized postcard of a little girl skipping through breathtaking green meadows, simply awesome! …a message printed in a red crayon …”
He read slowly, deciphering each word….“I can run and play, again, here in this beautiful place…. Jesus needs me here to hug parents who died and miss their children. Mommy, here’s a picture of my new home that you can paint. I love you and miss you, but I will see you again. Love, Anna.”
The pastor gazed, tenderly at the Hansons.
Speechless, they both approached the altar. John was able to release tears for the first time since they’d buried Anna, and Karen was dripping tears of joy.
From Anna’s postcard from heaven, they both knew this was more than just emotionalism----God was still working miracles and had a purpose in Anna’s death.
He was and is and has always been---simply awesome!
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