After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. - 1 Kings 19:12-13
I always enjoy reading stories about near-death experiences and other encounters people have with the heavenly realm. It encourages us in our faith, and gives us hope in a future eternity with God. I shared one such story from a friend in a previous blog entry, The Day I Touched Heaven. And I'm currently reading an amazing book, Imagine Heaven, by John Burke, which relates several incredible stories of people's miraculous journeys to heaven and meeting God or Jesus (or both).
Reading this book reminded me that I have yet to share on this site my own amazing story of meeting God (I shared it in my book); it changed my life and continues to give me confidence and hope daily, and I pray it does the same for you.
Many years ago, I dozed off to sleep one night, unaware that I was about to encounter the Creator of the universe. I dreamed I was at my grandparents’ home. Everyone in my core family was there in the dream with me - my parents, brother, grandparents, and aunts and uncles. Suddenly, someone in the group told me that God wanted to speak to me, and it was as if I knew just what to do or expected it. I had no fear.
I was in the family room, and a fog or mist, low to the ground, came out of the hallway that led to my grandparents’ bedroom. The fog came right toward me, and I somehow knew that God himself was approaching. I covered my face with my hands as He drew near, and I knew in my Spirit that I could not look.
I squeezed my eyes shut just as I was engulfed in the brightest light I had ever seen. There was warmth around me that made me so comfortable and free; the warmth may be the thing I remember most vividly. Then I felt a hand on my right shoulder, and I was aware that it was God’s right hand. As I reflected on this later, I knew this was a purposeful and orderly act, because this would not be the natural placement of someone’s right hand as they were reaching out to touch someone’s right shoulder. Scripture also confirms this:
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” - Revelation 1:17
While He was touching my right shoulder, I heard a voice in my right ear speaking these comforting words, "It's okay; it's okay." Amazingly, His voice was both different and as familiar as my earthly father's voice. The voice was speaking into my right ear. This was strange and unbelievable. Why? Because I've been deaf in my right ear since birth!
It was a perfect moment - blinded by light, enveloped in radiant warmth, a hand on my shoulder, and the familiar, paternal voice of my Father. The experience only lasted for several seconds. I was so upset when I woke up because I never wanted to leave that moment. I was so comforted and at peace.
This dream changed my life forever and serves as a foundation of my faith today. I now have the confidence of knowing that in the heart of it all, the God whose presence I experienced, whose hand touched me, and whose voice I heard, is alive, He is real, and He loves me as a father loves his child. I also no longer have a fear of death - if leaving this world means getting to be in His presence and having that same experience for eternity, I’m ready to go at any time! That’s how amazing and real my dream was.
I hope this testimony encourages you to know that God loves each of us in a very real and personal way. As you walk through life's journey, He is with you every step of the way, encouraging you with the comforting words, "It's okay." Because an eternity of joy, peace, love, and God's warm presence awaits you.
The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. - Matthew 4:16