What Is For Real About Heaven?

The moment that I found out that Nick’s 10 month remission had come to an end still remains as one of the very worst moments of my life. We were in Omaha for his check-up with his surgeon. We all were expecting good news. He had been experiencing some pain, but the pain was quickly dismissed as a possible side effect from an earlier colonoscopy. There was possibly a slight laceration on his colon and septic shock could be on the way. This would indeed be a serious issue, but I knew that we could overcome it. Our specialist wanted to confirm that it was in fact an issue with his colon and we would have to monitor Nick in the hospital, so he ordered an exploratory biopsy. He assured us that he was 99.9% sure that it was NOT cancer. As he walked out of the room to go teach a lecture, he turned around to assure us again. “It can’t be cancer. It doesn’t come back this fast. Ever. If it is cancer… then….” He mouth formed a grimace, his eyes turned dark. I nodded my head. We got it. It couldn’t be cancer. It just couldn’t.

But, when I heard the word “biopsy,” my heart dropped and I called out to the Lord. Even through the assurance in our surgeon’s voice, I knew there was a slight chance of cancer. When you’re just ten months out from a life saving chemo surgery, all bets are still off. As they wheeled him out of the hospital room, Nick turned to me. “I love you, Alyssa. Remember, that no matter what this is, we will get through it.” When he was gone, and I found myself alone in that hospital room, immediate dread came over me and I knew something was wrong. When 10 minutes passed, I grew anxious. How was this happening? The procedure was supposed to be quick. A small prick and then he’d be back. When 20 minutes passed, I knew something was definitely wrong. But, it couldn’t be. He was only 25. Our lives were just getting back on track. We were having a baby for goodness sakes! A nurse walked in to let me know that the liquid was too thick to remove with a needle. She said that they had to put him under and make a small incision.

Now it was in this moment, when my last bit of resolve ripped until it was hanging by only the tiniest thread. I knew what “too thick” meant. We had experienced this last time. His mucous-y tumors were too thick to be drawn up through even the largest gage needle for a simple biopsy. I began pleading with the Lord. “PLEASE GOD. PLEASE, LET HIM BE SEPTIC.” What a hope, right? I knew what such a swift return of the cancer would mean, I couldn’t stop picturing our surgeon’s eyes and hearing his words… “If it’s cancer…” I knew there would be no way out. So, I prayed and prayed and prayed, curled up in a chair in the corner, trying to keep my sanity, that he “simply” had a hole in his colon. It took all my strength not to run down the halls screaming Nick’s name.

When they wheeled him back in and I saw him, barely conscious, I ran to his side and grabbed his hand. I saw the four incisions in his belly and my suspicions grew. They couldn’t get to the fluid the first three slices. But, maybe… Just maybe, they had to do that for septic patients too? This could not be happening to us again! We had beat this!! But, if he was septic, he wouldn’t be in here. He would be in emergency surgery. The pieces were coming together but I didn’t want them to. I refused to believe. I didn’t want to ask. I didn’t want to know. But, I just couldn’t keep my emotional 15-week-pregnant-self from asking. I couldn’t wait ten minutes for the doctors. “What is it? What did they find?!” I’m sure I looked almost frantic as I held my husbands hand with my left hand, my knuckles white; my other arm around my middle, trying to protect my unborn child; my hair disheveled, my cheeks streaked with tears and mascara.

“It’s nothing to worry about. They just found some mucous-y growths.” The older nurse responded with an almost sing-songy voice and a little grin, clearly trying to put me at ease. The look of absolute horror on my face brought immense confusion to theirs. “Don’t overreact, sweetie. Doctors find stuff like this all the time. It’s normally benign and your husband is so young and healthy. I’m sure it’s nothing…” Her confidence dissolved before my eyes as she took in my reaction.

I suddenly became very dizzy. I couldn’t breathe. I collapsed into the chair. I heard myself repeating over and over, “Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. It’s cancer. Oh my God. Please no. It’s back. God, no!” The poor nurses didn’t know what they had said, they clearly hadn’t read his chart, and shot looks of concerned shock back and forth between each other. The older nurse came and held me, someone handed me water that I couldn’t drink. They told me to calm down for the baby. They continued to tell me that it would be ok.

I had just about collected myself so that they would trust me enough to get the heck out and leave me with my still-sedated husband, when Holly (our surgeon’s Physician’s Assistant and right-hand woman) walked in.

Before she had a chance to speak, the look on her face confirmed it for me; my absolute worst fear had come true. Nick’s cancer was back and the chances of him beating it this time were slim at best…

—-

This was October 4th, of 2012. From that moment on, my world was turned upside down. I spent so many of the following months doing research, praying for a miracle, lobbying for surgeries, attempting natural treatments, and taking care of my husband as those failed and he began the systemic chemo treatments that kept him alive long enough to meet our daughter.

Nick and I discussed so many things in those months. So many hopes and dreams we had for our coming baby (whom, weeks later, we found out was a girl). There were a couple of questions that we had that we felt were important for us to answer truthfully. So, using the one and only absolute truth tool, we turned to the Bible for the answers. I wanted to share the questions we had as I feel that they may be helpful to someone, somewhere.

Nick was excited for Heaven and I was excited for him BUT these questions kept me awake at night…. God, what about us? What about Nick and I and the life we’ve led? What would we be when he was gone? When he is the one thing that made my life worth living and I was everything he wanted, how in the world could Heaven be “better?” Wouldn’t he miss me?”

These questions plagued me for months. How could he be “better than ok” anywhere without me? And, after all the time together and all the tears we shed and joy we shared, was he even going to remember me?

I read a book (that I probably already recommended to you) called Heaven by Randy Alcorn and tested it against the Bible and a few things from this book and a few others helped me form answers to some of my most pressing questions.

So, What is For Real about Heaven, anyway?

Here are some of the questions Nick and I asked and what I think about them. These are my opinions and I obviously don’t claim to be great Biblical scholar, I have no formal seminary teaching and I will never claim that I know much about anything. But, I do know that this is what has been revealed to me now. I am still working through some of these but have some peace knowing that I don’t have to “get” it all the time… because God’s got it. The Bible says that we cannot imagine the treasures that await us in Heaven. But, it doesn’t say that we shouldn’t try to imagine it. Randy explains this so fluently that I thought I would include a passage from his book below.

“A pastor visiting my office asked what I was writing. “A big book on Heaven,” I said. “Well,” he replied, “since Scripture says ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him,’ what will you be talking about? Obviously, we can’t know what God has prepared for us in Heaven.” (He was referring to 1 Corinthians 2:9.) said to him what I always say: “You didn’t complete the sentence. You also have to read verse ten.” Here’s how the complete sentence reads: “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (emphasis added). The context makes it clear that this revelation is God’s Word (v. 13), which tells us what God has prepared for us. After reading a few dozen books about Heaven, I came to instinctively cringe whenever I saw 1 Corinthians 2:9. It’s a wonderful verse; it’s just that it’s nearly always misused. It says precisely the opposite of what it’s cited to prove!” – from Heaven by Randy Alcorn, page 18

1. Will He Remember Me?

We will have resurrected bodies. Bodies that are without fault and free from sin and pain. Our minds are a part of our body so I believe that our memories will be MORE easily called upon and even MORE clear. And, yes, I think we will be able to remember the hard times too but Gods presence and the ability to see the big picture will make it so that the memories don’t hurt but simply proclaim gods redemptive forces in our lives! Hallelujah!! So, yes I believe that your loved ones WILL remember you and Nick will remember me and yet they will still be happy beyond belief.

“Memory is a basic element of personality. If we are truly ourselves in Heaven, there must be continuity of memory from Earth to Heaven. We will not be different people, but the same people marvelously related and transformed. Heaven cleanses us but does not revise or extinguish our origins or history. Undoubtedly we will remember God’s works of grace in our lives that comforted, assured, sustained, and empowered us to live for him.” – from Heaven by Randy Alcorn, page 68

2. Will He Miss Me?

I’m not quite sure how this theory would work yet but I’ve been developing it myself while looking at these books and the Bible and I think it could make sense. Eternity has no beginning and no end, right? So how can there be any form of “waiting?” There is past… There is present… And there is future. But, our futures are unlimited. They go on forever. So, my theory is that since time will NOT be like the limited time we spend here (where an ominous end looms in our future), it will seem to our loved ones that we are skipping through Heaven’s gates right on their heals. (Even if I live another fifty years down here, it will feel like the blink of an eye.) Does this make sense? I think it could even feel like we all get there at the same time, somehow. After all, what is 10, 20, 50 or even 100 years in the scheme of forever?

Our futures will be unlimited and we will no longer be tempted to “number our days” (Psalm 90:12) or make the most of our time. Time will be an unlimited, never-ending resource and we will be lost in the joys of life fully lived, making conversation with those we love, celebrating, creating and simply being with our Creator.

“Time is the mould of our created human existence. Sin led to the fact that we have no time, and that we spend a hurried existence between past and future. But the consummation as the glorification of existence will not mean that we are taken out of time and delivered from time, but that time as the form of our glorified existence will also be fulfilled and glorified. Consummation means to live again in the succession of past, present and future, but in such a way that the past moves along with us as a blessing and the future radiates through the present so that we strive without restlessness and rest without idleness, and so that, thought always progressing, we are always at our destination.” – theologian, Henry Berkhof

3. Will We Still Be Friends?

God created man and woman and saw that we were good. He made us beings that crave relationship with one another and these healthy relationships are not bad. Us sinners (each and every one of us) can aim to love each other as Christ loved us and that glorifies Him, though we are not perfect. (All of our relationships with each other are, indeed, a beautiful and tragic mess. That’s what happens when you put two sinners together. But, that’s a whole other post.) Anyway… the Heavens were created before the earth. Everything here on this earth is just a glimmer of what it was meant to be. When God created the Garden of Eden, He saw that it was good but He wanted people there alongside each other to care for it. This bit is important. God didn’t just create Adam. In fact, when He created Adam, it was the only time He created something and saw that it was “not good.” It was not good, without Eve, that is. Adam was not made to be alone. And, we, like Adam, are creatures that were made for relationship with God and with humankind. And, I believe that our relationships will matter just as much in Heaven. I do not think that we were made to be alone, ever. In Heaven, we will have loved ones and we will have beautiful relationships with our savior and those we love. There will be conversation and humor and creativity and things to do, people to see. We will celebrate and feast TOGETHER! I have no idea what marriage will mean in Heaven and I don’t think legalities will matter as much up there. But I do think that family will still exist. Nick and I will always be all that we ever were to each other. Our love will not die.

“Death is nothing at all

I have only slipped away into the next room.

Whatever we were to each other

That we are still.

Call me by my old familiar name,

Speak to me in the easy way you always did.

Laugh as we always laughed

At the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Play, smile,. Thinkg of me. Pray for me.

Let me name be the household word it always was.

Let it be spoken without effot.

Life means all that it ever meant.

It is the same as it ever was;

There is absolutely unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of your mind

Because I am out of your sight?

I am but waiting for  you, for an interval,

Somewhere very near, just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost.

One brief moment and all will be as it was before;

Only better, infinitely happier, and forever;

We will be one together with the Lord.”

-from a poem, TOGETHERNESS by Anonymous

Death does not have to change what we have. Heaven, an eternity with our loved ones and our Savior, will only make what we had that much better!!

When I think back to that October in Omaha, my heart still races and my palms still get sweaty, remembering the intense emotions that flowed through me. But, I have a peace in my heart. I look back and know that through all the tears and all the pain, the Lord was there. He heard my cries. I wasn’t alone. The Lord continues to redeem me with His love; day-by-day and moment-by-moment. He guides me. And, all over again, I find myself face-to-face with His amazing grace and His unbelievable mercy. In the end, I know that no matter what I will have to endure in this life, I will always, ALWAYS have Him by my side. Whether my theories above are right or wrong has no ground on whether or not I will see Nick again or see God. I can stand firm on what God promises us in the Bible. His love is never-ending and He has some dang good plans for each of us.

Sometimes I wonder if, for some reason higher than we could ever hope to understand, we have to experience loss in this life. Because, when everything you have has been ripped away, it is the only time we finally and completely grasp the truth. That He alone is truly all that we’ve ever needed.


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Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    Your heart and soul are so remarkable. I wish I could send so much love to you for support so just feel it and know you carry a part of him with you and you always will. God brought him to you to teach you something and he brought you to us to teach us something…. you are an amazing woman….. God Bless You

  2. Nancy Penfield says:

    Amen to what Melissa said. I felt those same emotions when I lost my dear one in 1993. I have since remarried, but those feelings of grief and loss never leave you. All of the wonderings remain in my life… what if this happened, what if that happened? I still miss my husband even after 20 years, but I am SO thankful that he knew Jesus and that we will be together again some day! Thank you for sharing from your heart Alyssa.

  3. betty says:

    These words are right and they are true. My spirit resonates. Thank you for letting us in on the torment as well as your trust in a loving God. Grappling with grief like this takes such courage. Let up a little when you get the feeling that you must do it all or manage it all perfectly. Let others in to love you and walk alongside you as you carry on. I pray for the comfort of a safe place in those dark nights which press in as you work through memories, and I pray for counsel as you live the present and plan the future. Bless you, dear one, in the name of our God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  4. You bring so much Joy through your thoughts. I pray for you and your beautiful daughter to find peace each and everyday. I believe Nick is walking beside you,and watching over you!! Keep your beautiful faith with you ALWAYS,as you keep your beautiful memories of the time you had together..You need to share alot of those with you daughter as she gets older and wants to know about her daddy.!!

    Peace be with you,
    Donna

  5. Therese Surges says:

    Amen. So much love and adoration for you – please keep this story going; a blink of an eye.

  6. Michelle says:

    I love this post and I agree with many of the things you have come to know through revelation. There have been things that I have been taught about heaven all my life that I know are true. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We believe in a pre-existence a life before we came to earth, where personalities, talents, testimonies, learning, and family ties, etc where started. Just as you mentioned this world was patterned after heaven.

    I also believe in a world after this that is called Heaven. I know that after you die you are exactly the same person you were here, you have the same thoughts, you have the same testimony, you have the same family, you have the same feelings, you have the same struggles, you have the same addictions, you have the same desires, and you have the same passions. This is why it is important to overcome the physical man, so that you are free from things that will stunt your progress in heaven.

    Heaven is on this earth, we just can’t see it. Spirits are always among us. Heaven isn’t full of relaxing and singing, it is full of work. Just as we work here we will work there. Doing what you might ask? Some will be missionaries teaching and helping those that need help progressing, building testimonies, and teaching of Christ. Others will be angels ministering to us. Others will be tying families together, genealogy work. Others are writing our books full of the deeds we do every moment of every day.

    Heaven is only a waiting place until we are resurrected, as you said, some during the first and some during the second resurrection. This is a gift to all of us, each and every one of us, we will have perfect bodies, not necessarily meaning we will have perfect minds. Our learning, progression, etc will all depend on the work we continue to accomplish after this life. Just as we progress here, we progress there through our works, faith, diligence, service, learning, etc. Heaven is not our ending place, not where we will stay for eternity. After we are judged we will receive our reward, this is where we will spend eternity. There is more I know about heaven from the things I have been taught. These are things I know for sure, because I have prayed and I have received confirmation to my ponderings! Personal revelation is real.

    Within that last 4 years or so I have really started to go beyond what I know and start studying a little deeper. I have started reading quite a few near death experience books. They all have a common theme and it fascinates me that people from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, from different beliefs, all have some of the same experiences, that isn’t a coincidence. There are a few books that while reading I feel confirmation that the things that are being said are true. I would seriously love to chat with you and tell you all the things that I know about Heaven, to share these books with you, and bring some things to your attention that will help you ponder Heaven and what’s to come. Please feel free to contact me.

    I have lost loved ones that are very near and dear to me and it is such a comfort to have the knowledge that I have. I know as you learn and feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost you will continue to learn more. Heavenly Father wants to fulfill our righteous desires and I believe learning more of him, learning of his home in the eternities, and of the things that happened before and will happen after this life are mysteries that he wants to share with you as long as you continue to study, knock (prayer), and seek for yourself.

    Thank you for sharing your testimony with me in all of your posts, I love reading the messages you write. You are such a sweet spirit and I am thankful that I’ve found you! xox

    • Fernando says:

      I agree with what was said by michele, I believe that our families can be together forever in God’s plan, and that God always has the better for us all, for they are the most difficult trials.

    • Abby says:

      I also ponder our life in the everlasting. I’d really appreciate it if you could email me the books and the knowledge you have . My husband is sick with a mitochondrial disease and suffers in pain every day. We have a beautiful 11 year old daughter together. We bbelieve strongly in God! We teach our daughter about the lord. But she has questions about where her dad will go if he passes away. I am unsure in how to properly address her question and her fears. God bless!

  7. Angel says:

    I thank you for sharing your amazing comforting thoughts! I know your making a difference for a lot of people! And I will not forget you or Nick or your precious daughter, or your beautiful story! I’m sure we will all meet in heaven one day! Till then keep writing you uplifting messages ! god has gifted you with a very special view point! Thanks again for sharing and God bless you and your family

  8. Hope Potter says:

    I love your seeking spirit and the wisdom of your words….so much understanding and so much love!

  9. Nuno says:

    “That He alone is truly all that we’ve ever needed.” Thank you! Now I got one step closer to understanding what this means

  10. kristina B says:

    Alyssa,

    Thank you for sharing your raw emotion with all of us! Your words ring so much truth and beauty. You have helped me to grow in my relationship with the Lord and to seek a deeper meaning to this life. You are such a gift to all who read your blog. I pray for continued peace and comfort for you and your family. God Bless

  11. Pat Rhoads says:

    This is beautiful, and in some ways addresses some of the very same questions I wrestled with after Aimee’s death. We can not fully KNOW the answers while still in this life, but the questioning and the rumination of what awaits us is a critical part of the hope we have in our faith, especially in our times of great loss.

    Continuing to pray for you and your darling daughter.

  12. cindy and paul adam says:

    Such a love is immortal, just as our souls are and is.your love of God. Thank.you for sharing your heaven with us. Cindy and Paul Adam

  13. Mom says:

    I love you my precious daughter! You continue to be such an amazing inspiration to me! <3 Mom

  14. Momma Linda says:

    I love you too, my precious daughter (in-law)! From the depths of my heart, I thank you for sharing this, because it opens up moments of Nick’s journey that help me to understand things more fully. It’s enormously difficult for me to let go of my hope for my son in this life. He had found the love of his life (you). and I knew what a tremendous father he was going to be. I so appreciate the love, faith and joy that you put into your writing. Thank you for the encouragement!

  15. Filipe says:

    You should stay strong and together every single second of your lives, God will bless you guys for sharing with us such a real story of love and faith. Keep movin’ on with the blog.

    Cheers from Brazil.

    😉

  16. Mel Sales says:

    7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
    2 Corinthias 4.

    I have you in my prayers, greater things are yet to come.

  17. Cynthia Naughton says:

    Alyssa,

    God Bless you, your little Austyn, and Nick! Your family and its journey through this time of earth are an inspiration to those of us who are also struggling with cancer. Nick’s YouTube post came across my Facebook newsfeed today and I was not sure what I was going to see/hear but I was drawn to it like a moth to flame. I take in a lot of inspiring blips in hopes of finding bits and pieces to keep me going. But to actually track down the website and absorb all this information is way out of the norm for me! I truly believe that the Holy Spirit is at work here…
    Thank you for continuing to reach out to strangers, such as myself, to share your insights and inquiries. I plan to get the book you quoted from, Heaven by Randy Alcorn, and share it with my family. We have our own unique cancer walk with a rare strain that has the Drs. puzzled and searching. Our outlook is grim but GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME AND ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD!
    I truly believe that Father God has added you to my life, via this blog, to help me and to give me support through your experiences…footsteps ahead of my own…Praise our Father God for His wisdom and mercy! I will close this entry now as I can hardly see through the tears…thank you for allowing me to cry…I will pray for you and that sweet one-year-old to continue to have the wonderful life that GOD has planned for you!!! Love and Hugs from a grateful new reader of your blog.

  18. Carina says:

    Hello Alyssa. Blessings to you and your family. I’m so sorry for your loss, I can imagine how you’re feeling…
    I wish to write you a message of peace and love.
    Know that Nick is always with you, not just when you leave the Earth plane. Don’t you feel him? :) You won’t find him around or anywhere outside of you but deep in your heart: that is also where God is. God speaks through Love, and the love Nick feels for you (FEELS, not FELT) is always present, as God is. The relationships with our loved ones are divine gifts from God for our soul growth. Every meeting and loss is a blessing in that way, even though it hurts so much… Nick left you in the physical plane because he had to… because he loves you deeply, like God, and now that he’s in spirit he understands the bigger picture. There’s a bigger reason for this suffering you’re going through, a wider purpose. And that must be related to reaching out other people and help them. I’m sure you know this already, even though it must be so difficult and painful. Nick’s departing is still too recent and things are still unfolding. You’r daughter is also very important in this… I’m sure she will do great things inspired by her daddy and mommy. She will reach lots of people and that wouldn’t be possible if her daddy hadn’t gone… Like Jesus, you see? God makes us suffer for a higher purpose but when we learn to overcome the suffering, greater blessings will come; not only when you die but when you’re still here on the Earth plane. It’s important that we find paradise here on Earth, not wishing to die to find it. That’s a hard lesson but it’s so fundamental for us human beings. Our healing must be done from within of our hearts where LOVE (aka God) is, and Love is part of ourselves, it’s our essence, and that’s what unite us all and makes us all One. The kingdom of Heaven is indeed inside each one of us. It’s hard work to find it. You will make it for sure. :) After the dark the light is always greater. You’re strong and Nick will never leave your side, sending you his love and support even when you don’t see him or are able to touch him physically. Don’t ever forget this, ok? You will not reunite with him when you die. You are already together and will always be connected by your Love!
    I hope this message helps a bit… Much blessings to you and Austyn – beautiful and lucky baby!

    If you feel inclined to, read the books about reeincarnation by auhtor Brian Weiss. They help us understand so much about death and ties between loved ones… so many people learn to be at peace with life’s struggles and death. I have found them so helpful… beyond words.

  19. Brittney says:

    Alyssa, that was the most beautiful and accurate depiction of what happens when someone we love passes. We live in a death fearing society and I am so happy that Nick found the truth along his journey and learned that there was nothing to fear. I have gained inner peace and undeniable knowledge through my relationship with God. And I have complete faith that life is eternal and we will be with our loved ones again. And when we are those relationships will be as strong and meaningful as they always were. The distance between you and Nick is temporary, you still have forever!

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