Visions of Heaven Help Fuel Hope
I never wrote about the September 1999 tragedy at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, when a gunman killed seven people and wounded seven others before turning the weapon on himself.
However, three months earlier I had visited Denver to talk with survivors of the Columbine shootings. In January of 2018, I went to Paducah, Kentucky to cover a prayer rally held the month after fatal school shootings there.
So I could understand the pain and anguish victims’ families and friends feel—it’s quite profound and much different than watching TV reports as a somewhat dispassionate observer.
That’s one reason a news service story about a recent memorial service at Wedgwood Baptist 20 years after the shootings caught my eye.
It told of a number of survivors describing God’s faithfulness and carrying them through days so dark they wondered if they could go on.
“God was with us,” said one woman whose husband was slain. “We experienced His glory during that time. We experienced His closeness and His Self. His glory is the most real thing of all.”
“People ask will we get over it,” commented now-retired Al Meredith, pastor of the congregation at the time of the shooting. “Of course not, but we got through it . . . even if we never understand why. The primary thing is that God is faithful. He was with us on that night.”
The comment that moved me the most came from the father of a 14-year-old girl. He saw a vision of his daughter praising God at His heavenly throne.
The Reality of Heaven
That kind of claim often prompts skeptics to shake their head and mutter comments about weak-minded people who make things up to rationalize the unexplainable.
Or, to help them get over their grief.
Except that such accounts are real.
I know because a friend—and I am not describing him further because I wish to protect his identity—had a similar vision.
His wife had died of a sudden heart attack in her mid-40s, a tragedy that left him with mind-numbing grief.
A faithful follower of Christ, one day he remarked, “Suicide’s not an option, so I’ve got to go on.”
After months of trying to make sense of it all, he attended a service at our church.
Nothing particularly special happened that day. There were no miracles, moving testimonies, particularly stirring music, or healings that often excite church folk.
Yet that day, my friend had a vision.
In it, he saw his wife sitting serenely at a lake, surrounded by gorgeous flowers and a huge smile on her face.
Then he sensed her reach down and touch him on the shoulder. That brought him an incredible sense of peace. He knew she was okay.
A Vision of Hope
If there’s one thing millions of people need, it’s hope for the future.
We live in a world that seems bent on self-destruction, whether via mass shootings that end in suicide, never-ending political sniping, or mean-spirited social media commentaries that routinely explode into controversy.
Is something better coming in the midst of such insanity?
Jesus said so: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2).
Just ask those who have seen that place.