The First Trip to Heaven
I’m not sure exactly when this happened, but I’m estimating it was around 2008. This vision was the first of my grandmother’s (Grammy’s) two experiences with heaven. The second was a near-death experience.
Grammy’s Skepticism About Visions
Grammy was baptized in the Holy Spirit long before this as a missionary to Brazil in the 1970s. She spoke in tongues secretly because the mission agency might have expelled her if they’d known about it. However, she did not believe in visions. She’d heard stories of people having visions but she was very skeptical about such stories.
Her skepticism is somewhat understandable. Some, in their zeal for visions and supernatural experiences, have quickly embraced visions which contradicted the message of the gospel. I once read a popular book about “heavenly visions” with statements such as “Anyone who wants to be with the Lord Jesus forever must work hard for his salvation every day for the rest of his life.” This book disturbed me and I eventually realized that its message could not be reconciled with gospel truths such as Ephesians 2:8-9.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NRSV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
Visions certainly do need to be tested! Some Christians, like Grammy, have been turned off to visions because they’ve heard accounts of visions which contradicted scripture. We must never zealously embrace an account of a vision as a revelation from God without properly testing it and seeing if it’s in line with scripture. Some have overreacted to the error of failing to test everything, becoming skeptical of any account of a heavenly vision. Yet God continues to reveal himself to people through heavenly visions and supernatural experiences.
One of Grammy’s friends invited her to a Christian women’s event at Black Rock retreat near Quarryville PA. The Assemblies of God denomination was hosting this event. Grammy told me that there was a preacher there who she’d never heard of, but she liked his preaching. When he finished talking he gave an invitation for people to receive prayer.
Grammy’s friends prodded her to get prayer as well. She didn’t expect much to happen and there was a long line of people waiting, but they persuaded her. She was near the end of the line.
She doesn’t know exactly what happened when it was finally her turn for prayer, but she fell on the ground. She’d never experienced anything like this before. She didn’t believe in it.
She saw Jesus come to her. His eyes were deep, full of a love that pierced her very being. He told her that he was taking her to the Father.
Jesus took her hand and walked with her until they came to the Father’s throne. Father God was big and there was so much light coming from him that she couldn’t see his face. It was too bright. He took her up on his lap and said “I love you.”
When she finally became aware of her natural surroundings again, she was laying in the grass. Quite a long time had passed. She thinks it was three hours. Grammy may have seen more, but she didn’t describe it to us, so I don’t know. I’m only sharing the part she remembered. People were talking all around her when she came to. They said “What happened to you was what we wanted to happen to us.” Grammy said “I didn’t even want it to happen. I never experienced anything like this before. I didn’t believe in it.”
Grammy told us the story when we saw her a few days later. Her face was radiant, full of light. Before the vision, she’d had knee replacement surgery. Her knee had been hurting a lot. Her knee was healed as she had the vision. No more pain. God’s love had obviously touched her deeply. I had no doubt that she’d seen Jesus, because her face was shining and she looked ten years younger. It’s beautiful to see how an encounter with God’s love changes a person.
How Should This Story Challenge Us?
We saw the effect that God’s presence had on my grandmother. If you are in Christ, you have access now to the same presence of God which she experienced. Father God loves you with the same love that he has for Jesus, and Jesus has given you the very same glory that the Father gave to him.
John 17:22-23 (NRSV) “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Even if you don’t have a vision like Grammy did, you can experience the same love and presence of God that touched her when she saw heaven. Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 teach that the true holiest place is heaven itself (9:24), and the veil that was torn was Jesus’ body. Therefore we can enter the holiest place, which is heaven, and freely approach the Father. Even if you don’t have a vision of God on his throne like my Grammy did, you too can boldly approach the throne of grace.
Hebrews 10:19-22 (NRSV) Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 4:16 (NRSV) Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Enter heaven by going boldly to God right now and receiving his love, his peace, his joy, and his mercy and grace. Your face can become radiant as well! You too can have your face shining with the glory of God as you walk in the light of his presence! That is part of God’s purpose for you and for the church. Read the following verses and meditate on them. They speak for themselves. Here’s to a radiant church, a heavenly people!
Psalm 34:5 (NRSV) Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
Psalm 89:15-16 (NIV) Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 3:7-8, 12-18 (NIV) Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?…Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:25-27 (NIV) Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
This story is from the second book of the Heaven Now Trilogy, I Will Awaken The Dawn. If you liked this post, you may want to check out my Heaven Now book trilogy. It contains many similar insights into understanding simple gospel truths and exercising heaven’s dominion on earth. It’s also filled with testimonies of what happened when I put these truths into practice. I’m sure these books will encourage you and help you learn to walk as a heavenly person. Not only that, but your purchase supports our missionary work in Brazil and in every other place we go!