Jake hadn’t talked much during the ride home from Grandpa’s funeral. Mom and Dad had both tried to get him to talk, but he’d kept quiet. By the time they got home, Craig wasn’t surprised to see Jake bolt out of the car and run into the back yard. When he got out of the car, Craig saw Mom signal to him; he knew Mom wanted him to try and talk to Jake.
By the time Craig caught up to Jake, the younger boy was sitting on a bench near the garden and had scraped a shallow curve into the dirt with his sneakers. As he came closer, Craig saw Jake holding a handful of driveway gravel; angrily pelting stones into the grass. Craig sat next to Jake and pretended not to notice the dampness of tears, on his cheeks.
He tried to get Jake to make eye contact. ”What’s up, buddy?”
Another stone sailed across the lawn, as Jake refused to meet his eyes. “Aww, nothin’. But, Craig …how come Grandpa had to go to heaven?”
Craig sighed. “Everybody’s gotta go to heaven, Joey.”
Jake’s head spun quickly to face him. “Unh unh; Mrs. Lang said in Sunday School you can only go if you accept Jesus.”
Craig was glad Jake had that part straight. “Yeah, that’s what I mean: everybody who accepts Jesus goes to heaven when they die.”
The stones kept zinging; one after another. “Yeah, well… why did Grandpa have to die? I didn’t want him to die.”
“Jakey, you know Grandpa got sick. God didn’t want him to keep being so sick. So, God took Grandpa to heaven.”
Jake gripped a handful of stones. “But I prayed, Craig.” Jake’s voice was tight and strained. “I prayed he’d get better.”
Craig hesitated, then continued: “Well… look at it this way, Jake: he did get better.”
“Aww, c’mon Craig. He’s dead; he didn’t get better.”
Craig smiled and draped an arm around his shoulders. “That’s not what I mean. Going to heaven is better than being on earth – and now Grandpa has a new, perfect body.”
“Yeah, Heaven is much better than earth – and when we go there, we’ll have new bodies that can’t get sick.”
Jake’s eyes began to light up. “That’s so cool, Craig.”
“Hey, Craig… what do you think heaven’s like? Is it really just a bunch of clouds and angels? Are the streets really made of gold?” Jake began throwing stones again, but his pitches seemed slower and less forceful.
“I don’t think anybody knows for sure, Jake. There are lots of things in the Bible about it, but some of the words are hard to understand. Mostly, it says it’s better than we could ever imagine. ”
Jake began to look thoughtful. “Well, I could imagine some really cool stuff. Maybe the clouds are softer than feather beds; and those golden streets are smooth enough to skate on. I bet the wild animals are friendly there and everybody is happier than summer vacation.”
Craig smiled again. “Maybe. It could be. I don’t think human ideas can ever be able to figure out what it will be like – because it’s God’s city. He made it better than earth and made it from stuff that doesn’t exist here.”
“That’s really amazing. And, Grandpa’s there.”
“I sure wish he could send us a picture postcard, or something.”
Craig playfully punched his brother’s shoulder. “Aww, you know he can’t.”
“Yeah, I know. But, I’ll sure miss him.”
He hugged Jake again. “I’ll miss him, too. But think: he’s with Jesus, now.”
“Grandpa’s with Jesus. That’s pretty cool.” The last stone had been thrown, but Jake didn’t seem to realize his hands were empty. “ Hey… Craig?”
“Well, God is Love, right?”
”You know it, buddy.”
Jake seemed lost in thought. “Well… then, heaven must be made out of love. Everyone and everything in heaven must be wall-to-wall love.”
“Yeah, Jake… I guess so – but, it’s even better than the kind of love we have here; it’s God’s love.”
”Wow … better than wall-to-wall love. That’s really awesome. Craig? I think Grandpa’s lucky to be there. ”
“Yeah. Me too, Jake. Now, come inside. I’m not gonna be the only one around when Aunt Margie starts pinching cheeks!”
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