Joe's weak heart had some great times before it failed. Joe was traveling back to some of those times when the paramedics arrived. "Welcome fellas. Ain’t this great?!"
Next thoughts were of his first thoughts; being held by his father loudly boasting his first son's arrival in to the world. The volume hurt little Joe's ears and made him cry as the words did when he remembered them now.
"It's a boy! Didn't I tell ya! Just like God said it would be! I just can't believe this. Mary, look what we did! Ain't my son great?!"
“I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Jones but his heart will never be strong. Celebrate each day you have with him.”
Joe saw himself growing up in a slide show of still scenes driven by an anxious sound track. His father again, "Great throw, son!" His mother, "Not bad, Joey, but look it over a few more minutes, you could do a great job instead of just a good job." A Sunday School teacher, "Little Joe, that was a GREAT song! Jesus is proud of you for that!"
Suddenly Joe lifted and for a few moments flew over houses he had lived in, valleys he struggled through, rivers he swum across, and mountains he climbed. The smell of pancakes and coffee cooking on the stove moved him, meadows of sticker bushes poked his arms and legs, and muddy river water went up his nose and made him cough. There was an ache in his arms and legs too, like he just finished a long steep climb. "That would have been great!" Joe mumbled as the paramedics continued working on him.
Somewhere a siren’s scream distracted Joe but when he came back he found himself standing weak kneed in a church looking into the eyes of the most beautiful young woman he’d ever seen.
"Do you, Ellen Marie Clemente, take Joe Allen Jones to be your lawfully wedded husband?”
Tears and joyous laughter. A kiss, an embrace, and a whisper.
"Ain't this great, El?"
Joe opened his eyes but couldn't focus on the face talking to him.
"Is that you El?” Of course it couldn’t be.
He closed his eyes. Ellen was walking out the door to church again. She never forgot ask him. "The pastor is great, Joe. You'd like him. Wouldn‘t you like to come with me tonight?" He said no again, “I just don’t feel up to it.“
A jolt made Joe open his eyes. The jolts continued but didn‘t help. "This ain't great," someone spoke, "I can't seem to wake him."
Joe closed his eyes. He was standing in front of a white stone with Ellen's name engraved on it. He felt a hand on his shoulder. The minister, "Its not your fault, Joe. You were in the hospital. El knew you wouldn't be there for the birthing. She and the baby have gone to a better place. Joe, is your soul at rest?"
A few more words, a prayer, and a splash of water, and Joe felt El's peace for the first time. He took it with him into his daily battle for breath, to every job, and right into this very moment. As promised it never left him. It was a peace so deep it greatly passed his understanding.
And Joe shared his heart with others; his next loves, his neighbors, his church family, and even briefly on the mission field. Small was his strength, but great was his faithfulness, his friends and neighbors would say of him.
Only one event was left for Joe’s heart now. In a bright flash, in a great tabernacle with a crystal sea and an eternal throne, Joe’s heart was finally made strong and totally set free.
“How great thou art!” he sung without reservation and with vigor. “How great thou art!”
And his confirmation was secured. “Welcome home, Great Heart. Welcome home.”
“To him who overcomes…I will give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” Rev. 2:17 (NIV)
How great is that?
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