Clouds Of Heaven

Posted by Michael La Framboise on Sunday, October 25, 2015
"Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses...” Hebrews 12:1
   
    Then there were two.
    Nearly one year ago my grandmother joined my grandfather in Heaven. I stood beside her and told her how much I loved her, and how fortunate I was to have a grandma like her. But, I also encouraged her to let go of us and take that long awaited walk with her Jerry.
    In the final moments of the life of Wanda Lue Osborne I felt her bedside was far more crowded than it may have appeared to the eyes of flesh. Surrounding this beloved and faithful maidservant of the Lord were four of her grandchildren, and yet I am certain there were also missionaries and martyrs, parents and siblings, and so many she had served the Lord with over a long life of Christian service. I urged her to take Jerry’s hand; he would take her the rest of the way. And suddenly her bedroom became a bridge between worlds! We were on one end saying goodbye, while she walked across to greet the welcome party on the other side. Life entered the room to confront death, and for a moment Heaven and earth collided...and her spirit left. Eternal Life was hers as she entered the joy of her Lord!
    There was one I had grievously mourned many years earlier in 1997. My grandpa was taken from my life so suddenly, so unexpectedly; and this trauma bled into the years that followed. The void he left was so cavernous; the loss I felt was so deep and painful, I wondered if I would ever truly recover from it.
    But now there were two of them in Heaven. I might have previously imagined that this would amplify my grief, but something else happened altogether. Though her body lie still in her final moments on earth, her spirit was yet at work to the glory of God in my life. When grandma died she did something so wonderful I’m sure my words will fail to express my awe over it. She brought a beautiful conclusion to grandpa’s story, that is, she somehow wrapped up all my sorrow over his death and took it her when she died. Sharing her last moments with her was the most therapeutic event I have ever experienced. I miss them both, and I think about them everyday; but there is joy rather than sorrow. She gave me so much, but I will ever be especially grateful to her for this final gift of peace and hope. 
    I am truly surrounded by a great a cloud of witnesses. Their lives speak so clearly to me of Jesus Christ, and their legacy inspires me to serve Him in Spirit and Truth as they did.
    My cloud may seem little, just Jerry and Wanda; but the cloud that Elijah’s servant saw seemed little, too, and yet it brought such an abundance of rain that it ended a three and a half year drought. Perhaps, if those of us who knew them and their love for the Lord would seek to learn from their witness, it might just end a spiritual drought in our own lives.
    Their way of living was so simple. It was home and church, it was Saturday cleaning and Sunday worship, it was everything to the glory of God. Would to God that we would learn from this little cloud of witnesses and live as simply as they did. We need to embrace a life of simple service: service to the Lord and service to each other.
    This little cloud of Heaven speaks to us today just as the lives of God’s people have spoken in the past. They call us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, [that we might] run with endurance the race that is set before us.” But they would be quick to remind us that there is but one way to run, that we must keep our eyes up and ahead always “looking unto Jesus.”
    A few months ago my grandmother’s shed caught fire and everything in it was utterly consumed by the flames. There were some things in that shed which were very special to me, but I resigned myself to the fact that they were gone. The next day I went over to survey the damage and to see the ashes of precious loss. But my brother noticed it first. Though the trunk which housed them was burnt to a metal skeleton, Jerry Osborne’s sermons had survived the towering inferno which had blazed hot enough to melt everything around them. They were soaked from the fireman’s hose, but they were fully intact, stacks and stack of notebook paper with thousands of notes written in Jerry’s unmistakable hand. These papers were carefully dried and preserved over the following weeks, though they yet bear the scent of the fire which burned against them but which could not consume them.
    In a sermon from Hebrews chapter 12, Grandpa recounts seeing a sunset and imagining to himself if he had glimpsed the hearth of Heaven and a warm homecoming awaiting not too far off. Indeed, he and grandma have found there way to that hearth which warms every heart with Heaven’s love. They worked for Heaven and now they are enjoying the rewards of Heaven. Heaven was always real to them, and is no doubt now very much their Home. Jesus said, “Where your  treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It was true for Jerry and Wanda; their treasure was in Heaven, and thus their hearts were committed to the cause of Christ as long as they lived. And what about us? It's time to lift our eyes to Heaven, time to get our heads in the clouds. Time to make ourselves aware of the heavenly witnesses which surround us now in spirit just as they ever did in flesh. Oh, may we not be guilty of neglecting so great a salvation testified by so great a cloud of witnesses!



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