It was Thursday August 4th and our immediate family all bore witness that my Daddy’s days were numbered. His heart was failing and the end of his earthly life was very near. My prayer and working agreement that I had made with the Lord was that he not suffer or be in pain, but that when it was time for him to go he would go in peace and have an abundant entrance into the presence of the Lord.
At noon of that same day I drove three hours north to hear one of God’s choice servants share his story of death and the afterlife. In going I knew full well that my Daddy might pass while I was gone. That is not what I wanted and I was tossed on whether I should go or stay. I didn’t have a green light or a red light to do either one, so I asked the Lord to hold my Daddy here until I returned two days later. Somehow in making the decision to go I was still somewhat unsettled in my spirit while at the same time feeling a divine prompting to go. This is a little difficult to explain as I usually have either a green light or a red light on important decisions I make, which in this case was simply the witness of the Spirit to go or a check in my spirit to stay, but this time it was like a yellow light. To proceed with caution seemed to be the witness, and so I left.
Fast forward to the evening’s meeting…
My spirit pulsated with life and unspeakable joy from the words of the special speaker I’d traveled three hours to hear. I sat in the front row and laughed and wept through the entire meeting as the preacher described what it was like to die and go to heaven. At one high point in the meeting when he said, “everything in heaven loves you,” I lost it. From Jesus to every saint, to the very atmosphere and untold beauties and creation of heaven, everything saturates your being with the love of the Father and the Son.
In his visit to heaven, when he looked on Jesus’ feet those feet loved him, His hands loved him, every part of Jesus spoke love to Him. My own son Daniel had a vision of Jesus when he was about 9 or 10 years old, and said that His eyes were like deep pools of love. I’ve heard that testimony repeated more than once by a few others who’ve had a vision of Him.
Knowing that my Daddy’s departure was ever so near this ministered to me immensely. It became clear that I was in this meeting by divine assignment. I was so happy inside with the overflowing love of God and fuel to take back to my family in the hour of our trial. The words from the preacher were filled with life and love and pure Jesus.
You see, this aforementioned preacher was not just another charlatan scamming people on a made-up vision he had to extract money from gullible and naïve hearers. You see, 10 years ago this brother had been declared clinically dead for an hour and 45 minutes (http://www.deanbraxton.com/). It was a miracle that he was allowed to return to his body without any repercussions and disabilities from such a long duration of lack of oxygen. I was riveted to his words with a living hope and expectation knowing that this was the realm my precious Daddy would soon be entering.
After being filled with the Spirit of God in this meeting I sat with the speaker and a handful of others in sweet fellowship around the things of God. As I listened to him I mused within, “this man is possessed with another spirit”. You would, too if you experienced the inexpressible beauties of heaven and the Father’s super-abounding perfect love that He has toward us. This man told us that he didn’t want to return to his body after he had died, and even now he emphatically restated that he doesn’t want to be here on the earth. “I’m on my way home!” he exclaimed.
Oh beloved, if we only knew what awaits us there, we wouldn’t be so caught up in the trivialities of this earthly life either! Could this experiential knowledge of heaven be the same reason the apostle Paul penned these words?
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you” (Phil. 1:21-24).
The apostle Paul knew that it is far better to depart, go to heaven, and be with Christ than to stay here. He could speak such words because he also had been a visitor to heaven.
“I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows. Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell” (2 Cor. 12:2-4 – NLT).
Paul said heaven was so real that he didn’t really know if he was still in his body or out of it, and he heard astounding things that cannot be expressed in this earthly realm with earthly terms. His experience matched up with the man’s testimony I was now hearing. He told us that he doesn’t even rejoice in yesterday’s victories because he is so focused on the prize set before him.
“I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13b-14).
After enjoying sweet fellowship with this man, I drove to the house I was staying in and went to bed. It was very late but I awoke early. Still unsettled in my mind as to my Daddy’s departure, but also still rejoicing within my spirit at the life giving words from the night before, I decided to call home to inquire of my Daddy’s condition. It was about 7:15 am. The news I heard seemed untimely. My Daddy was unresponsive. As I was on speaker phone encouraging my family and speaking almost prophetically to them my Daddy suddenly departed. Through the panic and tears I continued to speak releasing grace and life into the situation. It was difficult and gut-wrenching not to be there to help in my family’s hour of need. This is why I felt unsettled when I left. This is why I had a yellow light and not a green or a red. The Lord let me choose.
I cancelled my prior plans to spend another day with this preacher, and in a haste, headed home. With my spirit continuing to commune with heaven I inquired of the Lord. “Lord, why didn’t you hold my Daddy here until I got to the house. That was our agreement. He responded, “I was answering your first prayer and desire not to let him suffer or experience pain. He’d reached his end and he let go after seeing you and Daniel.”
Daniel is our only beloved son and my Daddy’s only precious grandson. He’s working a summer job in the south and can’t come home yet. Daniel had just spoken to him by video the day before in obedience to the witness my wife Carolyn received that he may not be here when he comes home next week. And I also had just returned from a 10 day ministry trip and was able to spend a good part of two precious days with my Daddy before leaving again.
As I continued listening to the Lord he said to me: “My angel was on standby to go and escort your Daddy’s spirit to heaven. I told him that you were going to call your family at 7:15 that morning. I commanded my angel saying, ‘when he calls, you go and bring my son home’. I was honoring your other prayer that you should be present when your Daddy departs. You had what you call a yellow light because you knew something was not quite right and that your Daddy would possibly depart when you were gone. I gave you a choice because deep in your heart you wanted to be at both places, and because your choices were based on the purity of your heart I gave you the closest thing to having both.”
When I heard and saw what the Lord had arranged for me I wept again in the car. What are the chances of my Daddy departing in a 10 minute window of a phone call? The Lord did that for me to answer both of my conflicting heart’s desires. He will move heaven and earth for those who trust Him and whose desires are pure and according to His wisdom and plan. He is involved in every detail of our lives. The way the Lord arranged my Daddy’s final days and departure were, in fact, a manifestation of His perfect wisdom and timing all wrapped up in His marvelous abounding love that He has toward each of us.
Certainly not everything is ideal in the departure of our loved ones, but those who’ve been born again and have come into a real relationship with the Lord can expect His best. Even when we don’t always understand we must trust in His perfect wisdom and plan. Certain things will be left a mystery for only our Sovereign God to know and or to be revealed to us in eternity.
Go back and investigate all the times the Lord moved in the details of your life. You will see that all the time He is working for us to answer every prayer and meet every need according to the will of God and His written Word.
Oh, how He loves us! And how excellent is His Name in all the earth and His ways past searching out!
Note of thanks: We are so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from you all during this time. This is the body of Christ – the family of God. I’ve often thought that our lives would be far better and richer if we could just love each other in life as much as we do in death. I know I’ve got work to do on this end.
My Daddy and I were very close. In-between my many constant ministry travels the last few months I’ve tried to spend as much time with him as I could. The Lord gave me the honor of sharing many intimate moments with him. We became like very close friends as he shared stories and secrets of his life. This has made me miss him all the more, and caused me to cry many sweet tears already. Yet I do rejoice knowing for a fact that he was born again of the Spirit of God (John 3:1-7) and is now in the presence of the One he loved and served.
My Daddy’s greatest wish and desire for his extended family, relatives, and loved ones is for all to truly and experientially know the wonderful Lord and Savior he had come to know. For him, it was not a religion for he had that in a denominational church for many years, but for him it was a loving relationship.
My family and I would like to once again sincerely express our love and gratitude to each one of you for your heart felt condolences and care in this trying hour of mixed emotions. Warm Jesus love and hugs to each of you. You are all so special and loved by the Lord, and it is our earnest prayer that you would supernaturally know the width, length, depth, and height of that love that surpasses our own understanding. Oh dear ones, He is so worthy of all our hearts and lives.
“Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Ps. 116:15)