TITLE: Absent from the Body: Face to Face with the Lord
By jack Doepke
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
SEND ARTICLE TO A FRIEND
I woke up in a fog. Something wasn’t right. I didn’t know where I was and Judy wasn’t next to me, nor was our dog, Sophie. I felt chilled and frightened, like I was in the middle of some weird dream, and then I heard someone call out my name.
“John, are you awake? Do you feel alright,” someone asked from what sounded like the other side of the room? It was a sterile room, with odd lighting, misty, almost like a steam room, but cool not warm. I shut my eyes and tried to think. Am I dreaming this or what, and what did I do last night? Perhaps I’d forgotten to take my meds or mixed them up - taking a double dose by mistake, but I was usually very careful about not doing that, so I didn’t think so. Perhaps, I thought, I should just try go back to sleep, and maybe I’d feel better later.
And then I heard the voice again. “John, I need you to wake up now. Do you hear me? I’d like you to wake up now so I can talk with you.”
I forced my eyes open again and stared at what seemed to be a figure standing down near the end of the room. I couldn’t quite see a face because no light was shinning on him. I could tell it was a man by the sound of his voice. This time he frightened me and I thought this was for real so I reached for the drawer where I keep my gun- but it wasn’t there! Nor was there an end table!
“John, you died in your sleep last night,” the voice said and shocked me awake.
I heard what he said but I didn’t believe it –Oh my God what’s going on, I heard myself saying under my breath. Then I yelled out, “Is this some kind of joke -if it is its not funny!”
“I’m afraid not, John, this is not a joke. You’re on your way to heaven, and I need to go over some things with you. Do you understand me”?
“I heard what you said, but I’m having a little trouble believing it. I think I’m in the middle of a bad dream!”
“I’ve heard a lot of people say the same thing, John, and your reaction is understandable, perfectly normal, but I assure you – you’re no longer among the living, at least the way you once knew it. You’ve moved on. You’re not really dead either; you’ve just left your old body behind
and now your soul will get a glorified body which you’ll have for eternity. I know what I’m saying is difficult for you to understand, but that’s why I’m here, to help you get through this as easily as possible. My job is to prepare you to go on to the next phase, so can you please wake up now and talk with me?”
I heard what he was said, but I still didn’t believe it. First of all, I wasn’t excited. I’d often thought about how wonderful it would be to go to heaven – to meet all my loved ones, to see Jesus, to see if what I imagined heaven to be was really true, but this was a far cry from what I’d expected. “I suppose so,” I answered with little or no enthusiasm still doubting this was really happening.
“We take things slow at this juncture, John; but I promise you I’ll answer any and all questions, okay?”
“Where’s my wife, Judy and my dog, Sophie?” I blurted out and heard how perturbed I sounded.
“They’re both still a sleep, exactly where you left them; they haven’t woken up yet. But when they do, you can bet both of them will be shocked and saddened, but they’ll get through it; they always do, and then one day they’ll join you here in heaven, John- that I can assure you.”
“I wish I could say that eases my mind, but it doesn’t!” Right now I feel very alone and abandoned, and this isn’t anything like what I expected.”
“I fully understand John; but like I said, we take things one step at a time here and you’ll just have to be patient with us. We know what we’re doing. If you’d have died in a car crash, we’d be treating you very differently right now, but you didn’t – you died in your sleep, so that’s why I’m here - to help you wake up so we can prepare you for entrance into heaven. Okay”?
“Yeah, if you say so.”
“Do you remember back when you had your open heart surgery, John? When you woke up from the anesthesia you were very agitated. You were trying frantically to write a message to the nurse telling her you wanted to talk to your wife, Judy, to find out if you were okay? The nurse couldn’t understand you and you got more and more agitated. She eventually called the doctor in and he figured out what you wanted. You just wanted to talk to your wife, Judy, so he summoned her. You wouldn’t listen to anyone else; you needed to talk just to her, to hear her voice. She was the only one you trusted; and you knew she would tell you the truth. You just had to hear her voice. Do you remember that?”
How could he know what I thought? Am I dreaming this, or is this for real? “Yes, I remember,” I said wondering where he was going with this.
“Well basically that’s what’s happening to you right now. I know you’d like to have her here telling you everything’s going to be okay; only she can’t be, so I have to do it for you, John. So please let me help you get through this. Think of your self as being back in kindergarten with Miss Ash; I know you remember her. I know you liked her a lot and you trusted her. Just like then, you’re just stating out here. It will take you some time to get used to it. Some folks move along rather quickly when they arrive here and adapt nicely to heaven, while others take a long time. You’re lucky in that you have a lot of loved ones waiting for you; people who will be able to help you to adjust to your new surroundings. Am I making any sense to you?”
I tried to look at him but all I could see was a dim figure in a pure white robe. His face was shaded by a hood. He actually appeared to glow in an ethereal sort of way floating down at the end of the room.
“Why don’t you come closer,” I asked him?
He didn’t answer but began gracefully moving towards like he was floating on a cloud. When he got close enough I could make out some facial features and was surprised to see he look familiar.
“Do I know you,” I asked him?
“You do, my name is Lance, and I was one of your biology students many years ago.”
“Yes, I remember the name,” I said, somewhat shocked while desperately trying to remember things about him. I suddenly recalled he had a brother, and I said, “You had a brother named Brent, didn’t you?”
“Yes I did, and another named Randy. That’s very good, Mr. Doepke – you remembered. He’s doing just fine, as is my youngest brother Randy - thank you. Is it alright if I call you John?
“Of course it is, Lance he said trying to remember more about him. He was a handsome young man, stocky with well defined features, a pleasant smile light brown hair cropped short, and had a wild eye that gave the impression he could focus on two different things at the same time. He remembered he was left handed and strong both physically and morally. What happened to you; why are you here? You were so young.”
“I was killed in the Vet Nam war, and luckily I was chosen to come here.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Lance,” I said meaning it.
“Why? I’m not.”
“But you missed out on so much.”
“Oh, but it’s so much better here –you wait you’ll see.”
“What do you do here, Lance. Are you an official greeter or something?”
“I’ll go into that in good time, but right now I have to focus on you – we need to get you ready, okay?”
“I suppose, but I have to ask – why you? Why were you sent to meet me, and not Jesus, or my mother and father?”
“Probably because I asked if I could be your greeter a long time ago because you were one of my favorite teachers. That may be part of the reason, but don’t worry you’ll get to see your mother and father and many friends and relatives in due time. I don’t really know what goes into the process of how they choose to introduce people to heaven, but I do know God knows exactly what He’s doing- He never makes mistakes – every one is different - unique. I’m sorry if I, in any way, screwed up your welcome.
“No, no, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean it the way it sounded– that’s was very thoughtful of you, Lance; very nice of you indeed and I appreciate it. What made you like my class so much?”
“I guess it was on account of some of the things you taught in your biology class which really excited me and when I got up here I was fortunate to be chosen to work on some of the ideas you presented to us in your classes.”
“Oh really; why don’t you tell me about them?”
“Okay, well the main one I got to work on was the one where you talked about the relationship between the chloroplasts and the mitochondria - how they were made for one another, almost like a marriage you said. One captured and harnessed all the energy from the sun and the other efficiently burned the energy to keep all living things moving. I remember you saying the mitochondrion was the most efficient furnace anyone could ever imagine. In essence, I remember you saying, the two of them, the chloroplast and the mitochondrion working together, was the key to all life on earth- running everything, storing and providing all living things with fuel and energy. I remember you saying the two were made for one another by the greatest architect of all time. You also said you’d love to see life size models of them made big enough for people to walk into so they could view their inner workings, where some little voice would come on at each stage of the process and explain automatically what the role of each of the parts plays in the process. Like, for example, if they’re looking into a giant chloroplast and focusing on the grana with their stacks of thykaloids that magically use the sun’s energy to split the water molecule brought up from the roots and releases the oxygen out into the atmosphere so it can be used for all living things to breath and, then just as important, it then combines the left over hydrogen with carbon dioxide it took in through the leaf to make sugar from which all animals eventually derive all of their food. Do you remember saying that to us?”
“Yes, I sure do, but go on.”
“Well, we built them, not just the chloroplast, but also the mitochondria which does the exact opposite by burning the fuel that the chloroplasts made for us to give all things their energy to move. We built them in our theme park here in our temporary heaven. I even got permission to I place a plaque with your name on it dedicating it to you – saying you were the inspiration for the exhibit.”
“Oh Lance, I’m very flattered. It is indeed a great honor, and I really want to thank you.”
“I’m happy you’re pleased. I remember you saying to really understand how they work you’d have to imagine them the size of huge building where you can walk right into and see each part in a size large enough to see what it really does. I remember you said it would be so magical to see them working; that it would just blow our minds, so when I got up here one of the things I asked my counselor if it would be possible to actually build them, and sometime later he came to me with a team of experts, and put me in charge of the project. So yeah - we did it, we built them, and you were right, they’re a big hit at our theme park. Everyone who sees them is impressed; they not only like them but the year we built them they were voted them the most informative exhibit in the park. One of my jobs is to take groups through and explain how it all works.”
“That’s excellent Lance. I’m pleased and very happy you learned your lessons so well. So, I take it the project is done, but you’re still the tour guide? ”
“Yes, I’m one of them. I try to make my self available whenever a new group wants to take a tour of our theme park. We also get a lot of repeats. We have a few people who come every year.”
“So what other interesting jobs do you work on?”
“Well right now I’m helping out in the monitoring sector. It employs a lot of people up here, and it’s also an interesting job, especially if you’re a busy body.”
“Oh yeah, how so?”
“Well, its massive eavesdropping.”
“You mean like being a bunch of peeping Toms?”
“Well not really, but we’re constantly monitor pretty much everything that happens down on planet Earth twenty four seven.”
“Oh really, and what kind of things do you monitor?”
“You name it - we monitor it. We’re especially interested in the wars that go on, but also the storms, fires, we pretty much watch what’s happening on in the whole planet.
“That’s amazing! And just how do you go about doing that?”
“We use sparrows and insects mostly. Flies, bees, ants, cockroaches, whatever critter is available in a given sector. They take in the visual information with their eyes and other sensors, compound eyes in the case of the insects, and transmit the data back to our central receiving center here. So around the globe we’re able to see pretty much see everything that’s going on just from their normal activity, but if we need specifics we can force them to go into places for us. Flies, for example, can be programmed quite easily to go into buildings, caves, pretty much anywhere we want them to go to survey what’s going on; cockroaches also.”
“Wow, that’s high tech!”
“Oh yeah, and we also use porpoises in the oceans and seas to do the same thing, only they just report anything interesting directly to us as they are very intelligent, as I’m sure you know. Those chirping noises they make are actually their language.”
“So you understand their language.”
“Well, most of us just run it through the computers to get it translated, but some of our guys know it, but I don’t. I think sometime in the future I’ll take the course to learn it; but I’ve heard it’s a real challenge.”
“Wow, I’m beginning to like Heaven already; it’s beginning to sound like a very fascinating place. So what do we do next? Do I get to go in to get my wings?”
“Only Angels have wings – but you’re going to love the Angels – they are so cool. You’ll see.”
“I can’t wait.”
“John, I’d like you now to look into the mirror at yourself; if that’s okay?”
“Sure, no problem, where is it?”
“I’ll get one for you,” he said as he turned towards the wall, and then he spoke: “I’d like to have a mirror on the south wall please,” and instantly a large mirror appeared on the wall.
“That’s amazing – so how’d you do that? But now I know I’m dreaming, as that’s not me!” I said as I looked at the image. I recognized myself, but it was back when I was about twenty five; “Not now anyway.”
“It is you John. Put your hand up to your face,” he said to me.
And as I did so I could see myself touching my face, as I smiled into the mirror. Then I turned to Lance and said, “That is me back when I was twenty five years old.”
“Thirty actually, and that’s the age you’ll be forever- it’s what we call your prime age. Everyone in heaven goes to their prime age.”
“Really, I don’t understand? What about children who die?”
“They age here in heaven to thirty, but when you die older you go back to that age. There are exceptions made, but you have to formally request them; and those that are granted are quite selective. If for instance, say you were a great athlete and reached your prime at twenty four. If that person puts in a request to remain at that age so he or she could continue to play a competitive sport here in heaven they would probably be allowed to do so.”
“Wow, you mean you have competitive sports up here? That’s awesome!”
“Oh yes, we have the best teams ever, and it’s really fun to watch some of these great athletic teams play. But after a time many move on to do other things, and then they too return to age thirty. They receive no pay here, as you might expect. No one does. You work for pleasure and for food. Basically anything and everything is provided for you – within reason, of course. So the athletes that keep playing their particular sport are doing so for the love of the game. God is very generous with most requests, but since He’s omniscient and can see into the future, whereas we cannot, He may refuse the request if He sees the request may not be a good idea –not in the best interest of the person, I mean. He sees the future and knows everything.”
“You’re telling me He actually takes the time to deal with each person on individual matters? I’m dumbfounded by what I’m hearing.”
“He does; you may have to wait awhile, but yes, He does. He prioritizes responses, depending on the importance of the request. Frivolous requests may be ignored forever, but over time people learn. God is always teaching us. We are the sons and daughters of God – He tells us that all the time. It makes us feel pretty important, but He wants us to grow, and develop, I mean – towards perfection. He knows our talents, our strengths, our weaknesses, even our moods, and He knows them better than we know them ourselves. He continues to guide us in the direction He desires for us to go, but at the same time, He always allows us to follow our own path. Eventually most learn that He knows best – always. And when you think about it, we are a very elite few. Out of the billions of people who’ve ever lived, only a select portion ends up here. He doesn’t come right out and say it, but most feel that we’re being groomed, so to speak, for a role to play, not only in the millennium, but after as well – whatever that entails no one has a clue.”
“You’re telling me I’m really in heaven, and I’ll live here forever? This is for real – not a joke or a dream.”
“Well you’re not quite in Heaven yet; this is an intermediate heaven, but yes, you will indeed live forever and become an interregnal part of it. Do you remember Roman’s 8:35 - 38 and 39 that says: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?...Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus our Lord.”
“Yes, of course, but I can’t believe it, Lance, but I think I’m beginning to, and suddenly I’m not feeling so bummed.”
“Good, then why don’t you put this gown on,” he said handing it to him, “and we’ll get you ready to go and meet your loved ones?”
“Do I get to see Jesus? Oh how wonderful that would be – to see His face, to hear His voice, to see and feel the scars on his hands. I can’t imagine it’s going to happen, but I’m not near worthy of this! I’m far too much of a sinner to be granted His audience.”
“Someday you will indeed see Him – perhaps even today. He died on the cross so you could have eternal life, and you wept for him. I actually was permitted to see an account of your confession- how you wept and humbled yourself and asked Jesus to save you. You asked Him to come into your heart and He did – He saved you because of your humbling confession. He wiped away all your sins – took them all on himself, just for you because of your confession. No, you’re not perfect, but here in this place you will have a chance to work on that because of what Jesus did for you. He wants you perfect, and someday you will be because you are now a son of God, and meant to be perfect in His eyes.”
“I can’t believe this is happening, but you know it sounds like everything I ever did, even thought of doing, is on record for everyone to see.”
“It is, at least sort of, but then again it’s rather private; we don’t go around looking for it unless there is a reason to do so. That’s God’s business. I was granted a look at your life because, as I mentioned, I was chosen to be the first person you’d meet in heaven. Everyone should know that everything they’ve ever done is indeed recorded in your own brain, which is like the finest computer ever designed – it stores everything, and can be read. That’s what will one day be used to hold you accountable for all of your actions, and you’ll be asked to look at your entire life and then be asked or made to make restitution for what you’ve done to others. As you may remember from your reading of the scriptures it called the great white throne judgment and is the final judgment prior to the lost being cast into the lake of fire. We know this judgment will take place after the millennium and after Satan, the beast, and the false prophets are thrown into the lake of fire. The books that are opened contain records of everyone’s deeds, whether they are good or evil, because God knows everything that has ever been said, done, or even thought, and He will reward or punish each one accordingly. Those books are actually stored in our own minds.
Also, at this time, another book is opened, called the “book of life” It’s this book that determines whether a person will inherit eternal life with God or receive everlasting punishment in the lake of fire. Although Christians are held accountable for their actions, they are forgiven in Christ and their names were written in the “book of life from the creation of the world”. We also know from Scripture that it’s at this judgment when the dead will be “judged according to what they had done” and that “anyone’s name” that’s not “found written in the book of life” will be “thrown into the lake of fire.” You will eventually need to redeem yourself and you will. We will all have to at the great white throne judgment; we’re forgiven, but that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. In some cases it might mean you need only to seek out fellow Christians whom you’ve maligned and simply ask for their forgiveness; perhaps it will be in the form of an apology, but sometimes it may be more than that. It may mean you’ll have to pay restitution to the person you maligned in an equitable way. As for myself, I wished I would’ve know about this fact when I was living, and maybe I should have, but I was young and foolish and didn’t take the time to figure things out, but for some reason God spared me anyway.”
“Well, I can’t use that excuse; I’m old, or at least I was when I left. Do you think we can just stay here and talk some more, I don’t think I’m quite ready to face my family just yet; let alone face God.”
“Sure if that’s what you really want to do; we can wait. We don’t set things in stone here very often; we can be as very flexible as is necessary. After all we have all the time in the world.”
“I never thought about it that way, but it makes sense - having eternity to work with changes everything.”
“Yes and no; no in the sense that we’re preparing to deal with a large group of people who are still living; those who have only a finite amount of time to get it right, but yes to those of us that are here. Many of us are deeply involved with those still on Earth, such as I am right now with the monitoring I’m doing on the Earth, listening to their prayers, channeling them, so to speak in the right direction, sending out angels to deal with those living souls who may need our intervention. Those still on Earth are a major consideration for us, as I mentioned, as many of our loved ones are hanging in the balance, and we, of course, take our jobs very seriously. But we fear it will soon be coming to end. There isn’t much time left for the world, as you’ve probably guessed.”
“Can you share any of what you know about that?”
“I don’t see why not. For one thing, it’s not that you can go and tell anyone.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s right.”
“Well as you might imagine, only God knows for sure, but all you have to do is focus on what’s happening in and around Israel to make a estimation. It’s been made pretty clear to us, both in the Bible, and here in our temporary heaven, that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people, and in my humble opinion, deservedly so. Most, but not all, have been very loyal to their religion, even though many have still not converted to Christianity. Still they are a cut above most in intelligence, and other attributes that perhaps only God sees. Many suffer, some for not accepting Christ as God’s Son, but some here think that suffering is used to cleanse them. God promised all along that He would not let them be annihilated by the radical Islamic extremists or anyone else, and that works if you take death out of the equation; and as you know now none of us really dies so it’s easy for us to see what I’m saying, at least up here. We have to believe that what the Bible says is true, of course, and what the Koran or other religious beliefs teach is false, and it’s Satan’s doing to steer them away from the one true God, but that does not necessarily mean all must parish. Children, for instance, we’re quite sure will be spared. As for the others, no one knows for certain, but we’ve come to realize that God is totally just – only He knows the heart of all men and will make perfect choices of who joins us in eternity, and who will not; so to put it bluntly it’s not for us to judge. That said, there is no shortage of conjecture– even here.”
“Strange! Here I thought that when I got up here I’d find out all the answers.”
“No, we don’t have all the answers, but we will – we’re guaranteed of that. What’s happening right now is a temporary holding of souls in our temporary heaven. When this phase comes to an end God promises us a new heaven and a new Earth. The unfolding of knowledge about God and His glorious power will also be done, and the mysteries of life, energy, the universe, will be open to us to explore and develop. We will never tire of our job ahead and we’ve been chosen to be a part of it. From my discussions with others we speculate that the Earth and perhaps the whole universe was created for this sole purpose - of creating our group – those of us who have made it to heaven will take on the role of becoming emissaries for God. We’re the sons of God; perhaps not the same way as Jesus is, but we’ll assist Him in the new world and in the new Heaven. The work to be done will never end.
When He made us with a free will He knew in advance it would create a scenario where a kind of sorting would have to take place – similar to what Darwin called the survival of the fittest, but instead it was to be the sorting of souls so to speak; for picking the chosen. Darwin’s theory of evolution was flawed by the way, as was his prediction of the age of the Earth, but that’s for another time. He was, however, a brilliant thinker who was close to seeing there had to be a way to sort the wheat from the chaff – to make a better and stronger species which could adapt to the changing world; so he was partially correct, but just pushed it a bit too far. There was no process to create new genera and what you biologists called species was also a bit flawed. But I know you’ll have fun talking with all the biologists here about how it all works. They’ve pretty well worked it out and can explain it much better than I. From our group discussions we believe a similar thing seems to happen with soul selection - at least to a certain degree. As I think I mentioned only a small portion of all the people who’ve ever lived on the planet Earth actually make it to Heaven. The whole idea of God creating us in the first place with a free will set the stage, and just as Darwin thought such things as sharpness of sight, smell, and strength sorted out the weak from the strong, so too did our freedom of choice play a role in the sorting of souls. The choices we make matter, and matter a whole lot. When God gave us freedom of choice, as apposed to instincts, he set man up to not only be shaped by the forces of nature, but also by the moral and ethical choices made. In other words choices have consequences, not only for us, but also for our children. Do you know the passage Exodus 20:5 that says “God punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and the fourth generation”?
“Yes, I remember reading that verse.”
“Okay, so then you realize when you’re young, your parents make most of the decisions for you, but when you get to the age of reason and start making your own decisions and choices, it’s important to know that the choices you make have lasting consequences. To those born and brought up in Christian households the teachings are often ingrained in them to follow Christian teachings, but if you’re born into a Muslim household, for instance, the Muslim children are taught quite differently. The two are basically diametrically opposed to one another. Christians believe we’re born into sin and can only be redeemed by the blood of Christ and thus realize there’s nothing we can do to attain God except confessing to Him that we’re sinners and ask Him to rule our lives. Muslim households, on the other hand, from the beginning teach their children they’re born good and evil influences can and will corrupt them so they must shun evil in every way possible. They have a very difficult, if not impossible way to be redeemed. Thus, it seems that when God allowed Satan to tempt all of mankind, that temptation, along with our free will, ended up acting much in the same way on our souls as did the physical forces of nature act in sorting of animals through their strengths and weaknesses.”
“That’s an interesting way to look at it.”
“It is isn’t it? And on the individual scale, as I was saying, sin has consequences that spreads down through family lineage.
But that said, we also must realize all races and creeds are God’s children, and only He knows what’s in their hearts and minds. And just because things can get to be so skewed and so horribly different just because of where and to whom you might be born to, makes some of us think that God may use a totally different way of judging that is far beyond our comprehension or our need to know.”
“Boy, I never thought of it that way before! Are there any Muslim’s here now? And if so have you spoken to them?”
“There are Muslims here, but only those who have converted to Christianity, but this is not the final judgment. There will be a final judgment day at the end of the millennium, and others will be judged there – at least, that’s what some of the scholars here tell me. We have these discussion groups all of the time. I think you’ll enjoy them, as there are some of the very best biblical scholars ever, but it’s very interesting to see and hear their heated arguments – they can be rather amusing, but they make it clear that God’s in charge, and all of our conjecture is nothing more than that. It doesn’t really influence anyone, but we all seem to have fun trying.”
“Oh, I’m sure I’ll enjoy hearing them, but here I thought I was going to get all my questions answered as soon as I got here.
“I think everyone thinks the same thing, but that’s not the way it works. God does not reveal what’s happening or why. We all think that will come in good time, but it is what it is. One thing we do agree on is that we were made in His image. To us that means we can look at ourselves to see the nature of God to a certain degree. But first you have to eliminate sin – take it out of the equation totally. Now I’m not talking about the sin that Christ took upon himself for us to get here, I’m talking about what’s been ingrained in us. We have to learn how not to sin, how to make sure we don’t sin anymore. So we’re not nearly out of the woods. Sometimes a sin can be committed by doing nothing – not acting when you should have. These things you will be taught to you and how well you learn, will in turn determine what your chosen purpose will be. When you learn to let only love rule your life, pure unselfish love of your fellow man, then and only then, can the goodness in you be measured. You proved you have that potential to reach that level or you wouldn’t be here. You’ve made it thus far, but you have a long way to go. Some say you’re here and that’s all that matters, but most of our scholars believe the final determination will not be decided until The Great white throne judgment. After all God kicked Satan out of heaven, so that should give you something to think about. In other words – make the best of it.”
“That does give me pause.”
“Yes, as it should to all of us.”
“So, not to change the subject, but do you think God will eventually make many more earths or places in the universe where this cycle will be repeated?”
“That seems to be the consensus here, but that said, only God knows for sure and He’s not saying. It seems logical to most of us. Some of the Biblical scholars here speculate that we, being the first, may play a very important role in what happens in the future.”
“The universe seems so huge now; maybe there are other places in the universe where this same thing is already happening with other planets, with other civilizations?”
“We’ve had many discussions about that possibility as well, but it’s pretty clear from studying the scriptures that after this phase is over, when we leave this temporary heaven, or what we call our holding place and return to Earth for a thousand years, we will then be returned here while a new Heaven and a new Earth are made for us, so that scenario doesn’t seem to fit with what the scripture says.”
“No, you’re right it doesn’t fit, but then again maybe He just didn’t want us speculating.”
“Perhaps; there’s really no reason for us knowing; and when you think about it it’s counter productive as it doesn’t change a thing either way.”
“You’re absolutely right – God’s in control, and if and when He wants us know He’ll tell us.”
“That’s the way we see it. By the way, I know what your job will be in the new world during the millennium- do you want to know what it is?”
“Absolutely, tell me.”
“Teaching biology, the same thing you did for forty eight years; but you’ll have a thousand to go, but first you’re going to start a church.”
“Oh really! Starting a church, that ought to be a trip, and teaching for a thousand years seems horrible. Maybe I’m being punished. That seems overwhelming – for a thousand years?”
“That’s what I’m told, as that’s how long the millennium lasts. You may, however, be allowed to change at some point in time.”
“I can’t fathom teaching that long, but then again if I stayed the same age, had the same stamina, perhaps it wouldn’t matter – I’d be doing what I do best and what else would I do? I’ll do it if that’s what God has chosen for me. I loved teaching biology in the past, but you know, after awhile I just loved teaching kids. It was the students I eventually focused on – watching them get excited about life, about the way it works; how infinitely marvelous we’re made; which reminds me - I had Doctor Paul Brand, the author of: “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” and “The Gift of Pain” come to my classes to talk to my students and have wondered if he’s here? What an honor and inspiration he was to all of us.”
“Interesting, and yes he is here! I’ll make it a point to see to it that you get a chance to visit with him,” Lance said proudly.
“Oh, I’d love that. I remember him saying he worked with Philip Yancey on his books, or perhaps it was the other way around. Is Philip Yancy here as well? He’s also a wonderful writer. ”
“Not that I know of; I believe he’s still living.”
“Oh, right, well as I was saying, biology, at least at the level I was teaching, got to be somewhat mundane so I found myself getting more and more involved in trying to shape the students – watch them get excited about learning and giving me the opportunity to gently mold them. In the later years I probably preached to them a bit more that I should have, but I told myself it was more discussing various moral issues they could be faced with; but I’m not telling you any thing new, am I?”
“No your not, Mr. Doepke, and I, for one, appreciated you taking the time to talk to us. You were like a second father to many of us, and we could tell you really cared about your students, and we respected you for it. I had to chuckle to myself when I learned what all the kids at your school called you.”
“Oh yeah – Papa John, that was funny. I have to tell you the story about how that came about. My youngest daughter, Tera, brought her two boys up to school one day to bring me something, and when they walked into my room they yelled out in front of all the students, “Papa John!” They then ran to me and jumped up into my arms. I picked them up as always, giving them each a big hug, and the name stuck. At first I thought of trying to squelch it, but changed my mind, and after a while I decided I rather enjoyed the nickname, and eventually even the faculty began calling me Papa John. So no, I don’t think I’ll mind a bit teaching biology again. It does sound like a long time however, but I’m sure it will fly by. I’ll certainly have to get up to speed on the new developments in biology.”
“Yes, you probably should, and you’ll be pleased to know there are excellent schools here - you won’t be disappointed. As a matter of fact you’ll probably be required to take some classes if you’re going back down to earth to serve. You’ll find many of us spend a good deal of our time going to school when we’re not working. Oh, I also know what you’re wife is scheduled to do when she gets back to Earth if you’d care to know. She’s going to be offered a very important position, not that yours isn’t.”
“Well of course I want to know – what is it?”
“She’s going to be asked to help judge, but that’s all I know. I don’t know any of particulars of where or when.”
“Oh really- you know that’s perfect for her, but I’m not surprised. God certainly knows what He’s doing! I’ve told her a hundred times she should have gone into law. She’s one of the fairest minded people I know, and I’m not just saying it because I’m married to her. She’s not only smart, has a wonderful sense of right and wrong, but is a great listener, and is also very wise and sensible; along with being nice to everyone; and I mean everyone. Whether it’s the governor or the garbage man, she treats them with the same amount of respect. I’m really happy for her; she’ll love doing it.”
“She may, but it may be much different than the way judges works on Earth. I’m guessing, but I think people’s lives will be an open book for the judges to see and those helping God directly will most likely be used to help sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak. God, of course, will make all the final decisions - but I’m just repeating what others have speculated on what might happen. But for sure, those picked will undoubtedly be playing a very important roll in God’s process, and to be chosen must mean she indeed must be something very special.”
“Oh she is indeed, and it’s not just me saying that. However it works, she’ll do it very well. I’m happy for her.
Before we go I’d like to ask a more personal question, if I may?”
“Sure, ask whatever you’d like.”
“Do we remain sexual or is that over?”
“No, that’s part of your life is over, I’m afraid. God’s has taken away pretty much all of our drives. You’ll still know when you should eat or drink, but even those internal drives aren’t nearly as strong as they used to be. Nor will you have to eat nearly as often; as you’re body will be quite different – much more efficient. It’s highly advanced over your old one.
“Even the animals here no longer procreate at the same rate, and their instincts have been greatly modified in some cases where in others not so much. Lions and tigers for example, no longer hunt or are even carnivores, while sheep and cows are about the same. So it all depends you see. Not to change the subject, but do you feel like you’re up to meeting your friends and family now? We’d probably better not keep them waiting too much longer.”
“I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
“Okay then just follow me.” He said, and then he turned and said, “Door please”, and a door instantly appeared on the wall where the mirror had been. We stepped out onto a porch over looking a beautiful yard garden of flowering shrubs and trees. A cobblestone path led from the porch and meandered through the garden to a road lined with trees that looked to be Hawthorn trees decked out in deep red. The forest floor, covered with maple leaves, pine needles and cones creating rich fertile soil for new undergrowth was apparent. As we walked I noticed a bird pecking at the bark of one close to the edge of the garden, and the smell of fresh flowers made me think of our home in summer. Off in the distance I could see quiet streams and flower filled meadows. The air was warm and only a few wispy cirrus clouds floated high in the azure blue sky.
“Is this real,” I asked as we stepped off the porch?
“Oh yes, it’s more of God’s creation – His way of displaying His wonders of creation, and do take notice there are no weeds in His garden. Although this only a temporary Heaven, He still wants to create beautiful things for us to marvel at, but I’m told this won’t hold a candle to what’s going to be on our new earth – our final home.”
“After the millennium- correct?”
“Yes, that’s correct. As I mentioned, we will return to Earth for a thousand years to do our work to save more souls and to teach them. Some, of course, will stay here, but those of us chosen to work there will stay down there until the millennium is over, and then return here for a short time when a new heaven and a new earth will be created which will be our home for eternity.”
“Now let me get this straight. This is a temporary Heaven, an intermediate Heaven where God, angels, and humans’ dwell- correct?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“And then God is going to make a new Earth where we will live eternally – just the Christians I mean, and that will also be called Heaven. Is this right?”
“Yes, that’s correct. I know it gets confusing. The new Heaven will be the recreated Earth. God will reign there with us for eternity. The new Earth will be once again like the Garden of Eden. Just like here, there will be no brambles, the animals will not be wild, you’ll see. Even here no flesh is eaten by man or animal. You will learn to eat monocots and dicots in equal quantities to get your essential amino acids and you won’t need or want to eat as much. I know you know about monocots and dicots, but when I talk about them I always think of what the indigenous people of China eat like rice and bean sprouts -rice being the monocot and bean the dicot, and by doing so it provides you with the eight essential amino acids needed for the production of the rest. Did I say it correctly?”
“Yes, you certainly did. I probably taught you that! The other example is the main stay of people of Mexico who traditionally eat beans and corn, again a dicot and a monocot. But people seem to prefer meat, when they can get it.”
“They get over it – you’ll see. Soon you’re craving of food will dissipate greatly and you won’t be focusing on it. You’ll learn to eat just what you need. God even reprogrammed the wild animals so they won’t desire to eat meat as I mentioned. They no long hunt or kill for their food. And, yes, you will probably see lions lying down next to lambs here because of it. Some of the animals are sterilized so they only live out their lives and the species will eventually be eliminated; but very humanly. That will be the case of most of the predators. God also changed the breeding habits of many animals like rabbits, for example. Without the predators their numbers would escalate very rapidly, too rapidly as you can imagine, but God has a plan for everything you see.”
“I’m beginning to.”
“It takes time to see the whole picture, but you will. Well, are you ready now to meet your friends and family?”
“Yes, I’m very much looking forward to it, but at the same time, I’m a little nervous.”
“That’s understandable, but just remember, we’re all one big family here. People will make you feel at ease very quickly, and you’ll feel at home in no time. Okay then, right around the next bend there will be a park and that will be where everyone is waiting for you. But before we go there I’ll need to take you to the tree of life. You remember that God said, ‘To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ Well you must first eat of the fruit before we go to your gathering as it will sustain you.”
“Is this the same fruit that Adam and Eve were told to eat?”
“Yes, the very same,” he answered as the walked towards the sound of running water. “They could eat of the tree of life but not from the tree of good and evil. They were told if they did they would surely die, and you know the end of that story.”
As they rounded the corner the tree came into their view. It was a beautiful fully grown tree, and next to it was a beautiful artesian well with a rock mote around it. In the middle of it the water gushed up through the center portion of what appeared to be some sort of shoot made of precious stones which glistened iridescent aqua blue as the water tumbled and cascaded down from its opening at the top and spewed down into the pond below. He also noticed a hole or opening in the side of the rock moat surrounding the pond water which let the water steadily flow out into a rivulet and then disappear under the road. A number of what appeared to be some kind of apple hung from the lower branches of the tree and John was about to ask what they were but Lance spoke first.
“This is the tree of knowledge of which I spoke. You will need to consume one of the apples before we proceed, but I caution you not to swallow or chew any of the seeds as they are quite poisonous.”
“Really –okay I won’t,” he said as he reached up and pulled one off the stem and bit into it. He immediately felt a tingling sensation on his tongue, and mentioned it to Lance, “I just felt a weird tingling on my tongue when I bit into the apple. Is that supposed to happen?”
“It’s quite common; just make sure you don’t bite down on a seed.”
He immediately felt the tingling sensation again and it moved throughout his entire body as he ate the fruit. At first it frightened him, but as he continued eating the apple he began to feel stronger and stronger and more alert. His mind seemed to be clearing out old cobwebs and was being replaced by a new sense of acuity that was totally and unequivocally amazing. Then as quickly as the cleansing started it ended.
“How do you feel,” Lance asked?
“Like a new person. I feel great – energized, and my mind is so clear. Wow, I’m amazed.” he said.
“That’s because you now officially have your heavenly body. It will last forever. No more pain or weariness, you will not only require about one tenth the amounts of food and sleep you’ve been used to having, but you will have five times more energy and stamina. And the most important improvement will be you’re mind. You will now have, what some here call a photographic memory. Everything that you’ll ever see, hear, smell, touch or read, you will remember forever and you’ll be able to instantly recall it. ”
“That sounds pretty amazing to me; as a matter of fact it’s utterly wonderful. I’m truly overwhelmed and full of joy. Let’s go and meet my family and friends – shall we?”
“Yes we shall indeed.”
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.