Three doors down from where we lived, a couple resided that drew special attention. He believed in ‘reincarnation,’ and fully believed that death meant nothing more than an entrance to another form of life. His wife was from the Islands and considered herself a ‘spiritualist.’ She was committed to communicating with those who have left this scene and gone on to the great beyond. Their house was rather spooky with red candles always burning in the windows.
After a brief illness, he died and was buried in the local cemetery.
About three weeks later, she called for a séance to communicate with her husband, and invited a number of neighbors to attend. I received an invitation and decided to go.
As usual the place was somewhat scary with red candles providing the light. There were twelve of us including our hostess and we sat together at a round table. We were instructed to meditate and look at a decorated red candle burning in a golden pot in the middle of the table. We followed the leader and put our hands palm down on the table. Our little fingers on each hand were to touch the one next to us, providing some semblance of unity. Then she began to call the name of her husband.
“Arnold, can you hear me”, she whispered. She repeated her plea, again and again, but no answer came. This went on for about 15 minutes. Her voice quivered as her volume increased, but still no answer.
Then it happened. A clear voice from somewhere answered and said, “Here I am Elizabeth!”
“Well, Arnold, how is it up there in heaven?” I never will forget what he said. “The sky has never been bluer, the grass has never been greener, and the cow’s eyes has never been lovelier.”
“Arnold, there are no cows in heaven,” she exclaimed. “Heaven, my foot, I’m a bull on a ranch in Montana!”
That’s just a good story. The following account really happened. I was speaking in Singapore, and situated beside our meeting hall was the worship house of a large golden 30-foot Buddha. The congregation had brought food for their dead relatives. The offerings were dedicated and placed on the altar. Why do you think that is funny? Simple! Dead people can’t eat. That’s true, but our customs are somewhat different. We take flowers to the grave, and dead people can’t smell. Besides, after the service they took the food home and ate it. We leave the flowers on the grave to wither. So who’s funny? It’s just a difference in custom and belief.
The first story was but a bit of fiction. The second account was true but different. This third story is one that must be entirely accepted by faith.
Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you… I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Paul wrote, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
The apostle Peter declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (John 14:1-3; II Corinthians 5:1; I Peter 1:3-4).
Take your pick. A funny story, an odd custom or a walk of faith. I echo what John said, “And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband . . . And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:2, 4).
A Pie in the sky? Take your chances. Joshua, that old warrior was faith from Old Testament times, offered the challenge in a special way. “And if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods that your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15). I’ll take that every time!