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A Previous Virtual Church Message

I Don't Want To Go

In Room 3D of the Sunny Day Nursing Home lays Leonard Walten. Leonard is eighty-two years old. Over the last few years in the nursing home, Leonard's Christian faith has faltered. On this day, a Sunday, at about 10:00 AM, when Leonard used to be in church, Leonard sank deeper into his depression.

Leonard had a window in his room looking out over a small courtyard. The courtyard was bounded by the four wings of the nursing facility. Leonard liked to watch the courtyard and liked to watch the green grass grow day by day in the spring and summer. On this day, Leonard saw a new nurse in his room. Leonard had been at Sunny Day for over six years and he knew all the nurses and the aids. He knew about their families, their hopes, and their dreams if they had any dreams.

The new nurse spoke and said, "Leonard, how are you doing today." Leonard made no reply for a moment and then said, "OK" but nothing else. The new nurse said, "My name is Angelica and I came to talk with you. Leonard, you have not been praying as much as you used to. Leonard, are you forgetting your faith?" Leonard, whose mind was still clear even at the age of eighty-two, finally spoke and said, "How do you know? How do you know these things about me?" Angelica smiled and said "Well, it is sort of my job to know about you. I know you are beginning to be really afraid of the future. Leonard, I came to help you, to give you comfort, and to let you know there is nothing to fear." Leonard's eyes opened wider and unexpectedly Leonard said, "I don't want to go. I don't want to die. I don't want to go to heaven. I don't want to go because heaven will be too crowded, I will not have a nice place to live, I will have to live in a little room like this one, I will be lost because there are so many people, I will not know anybody, I will be away from what I have always known, and I am afraid of dying because I have never died before. I am afraid heaven will be too wispy and it will be more like a bad dream than the real thing."

Angelica smiled again and said, "Many people think as you do. Many people think about heaven the wrong way. Leonard, you have led a good life. You have led a life of quiet service to Christ. You were a faithful church worker. You opened the church doors before anyone arrived and you locked the church doors after everyone went home. You painted, you mowed the grass, you cleaned the toilets, you did every job there was to do. You did all these things without ever wanting to be noticed or rewarded. God knows you and God holds you in the palm of His hand. Let me tell you about Heaven. I don't normally tell people this, but, uh, I live there. I live in Heaven. One of my jobs is help people get ready and to help people be less afraid. You said you think heaven will be crowded. Well, there are several billion souls in Heaven but it is hard to tell because in heaven, space is unlimited. Besides, even if God ran out of space He can create more space just by thinking about it. Actually, there is a wonderful building boom going on in Heaven. We are continually renewing and rebuilding which is something most people don't think about. Heaven is never too crowded. If people want it, people can have acres of space in which to live and a whole nation of space in which to explore. Also, in heaven you will have a new home, a new mansion, a large estate to call your very own. Whatever you consider to be a perfect godly place to be, that perfect godly place is what heaven will be for you. There are no little rooms in heaven unless you want there to be little rooms. In heaven, whatever you might think of as a worry is instantly changed into a command to make things new and better. You will have a garden in which to roam and in this garden are living things of exquisite beauty. In heaven, there are no nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, doctors, or nurses. In heaven, you can never get lost. Just because heaven is infinite in size, you always know where you are. In heaven, you also know where God is. In Heaven, you can actually see God. In heaven, you will know everyone. All the people in heaven will know you and you will know all of them on a first name basis. There are no strangers in heaven. We all know and love each other in ways you cannot appreciate while you are in your regular human form. In heaven, the love between us is beyond words. The love in the air and the love in the substance of all things in heaven is also beyond words. In heaven, the love is so heavy and so real, the love is like swimming in this giant pool of love and the love has no end. In heaven, you know about everything and you know everything. In heaven, there is no fear, discontent, anger, lust, greed, avarice, or sinfulness. Heaven is the most perfect of places in every respect. Just like you, many people have fear and doubt as they get to the end of their life on earth. Fear and doubt are common. However, I have come to you today, just as I have come to others, to assure you there is nothing to fear. You accepted Christ long, long ago and He loves you. Christ knows you. Every day of your life Christ has been preparing a place for you to spend eternity. All the hours of prayer you have given to Him, all the concern for others, all the worry you have for others, all the humble sacrifice you have made, all these have given Christ a reason to work that much harder in preparing a place for you. Of all the things you know about Christ, you know, without any doubt whatsoever, He loves you and He is indeed preparing a place for you. You have nothing to fear about the future because Christ is with you now just like I am with you now. In addition, heaven is not a wispy place. Compared to earth, heaven is more real than earth. Earth is like a bad dream compared to heaven. Earth is a fleeting place that is here today and gone tomorrow. Heaven has been and will be in existence from everlasting to everlasting. In heaven there is unity in love between all the people, between all the people and the heavenly things, and between all the people and God. Heaven is more real than any real thing you have ever known."

Leonard said, "I have always known what you say to be true. In these later years I forgot. In these later years I have been building up regrets about what I could have done and what I did not do. I have built up regrets over my many mistakes, my many sins, and my many times when I did not walk in the Lord's way. When I die, I am afraid all those things will come back to haunt me and kill me." Angelica replied and said, "Leonard, none of those things exist to Christ. The grace of Christ has erased all those mistakes and sins. None of them exist to Christ because you repented and turned away from your sins and mistakes. So when you see Christ, He will not hold anything against you because there is nothing to hold against you. When you see Christ, He will wrap His arms around you and He will welcome you home. You have been a good and faithful servant."

Leonard smiled. Leonard smiled for the first time in years. Leonard softly said, "OK. I guess I am ready. Did you come to get me? I am ready to go now but I'd like to say goodbye to people. I'd like to say goodbye to people here at the nursing home and to my children." Angelica said, "OK, I will grant you a little more time. Your children will visit you later today. After they leave, I will return and your days of eternal love and glory will begin."

John 14:2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (NIV)

A facetious story giving wisdom

This story first appeared in March, 2006, in the Virtual Church web site at http://www.findthepower.com

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018