In early 1994, I attended a friend’s funeral in Illinois. What was so unusual about this funeral is that I had two encounters with the Holy Spirit while I was inside the church. The one experience, I wrote about in My Journey Out (Part 12). This is the other one.
My parents and I walked up to the church together, but just as I was ready to open the door and go inside, I head a low voice behind me. “Larry, is that you?”
I turned to see a friend whom I had not seen in twenty years. “Yes, it’s me. How are you, Eugene?”
We spent a few minutes talking and promised to talk more after the service. In the meantime, my parents had gone on ahead without me. When I finished, I walked inside.
Because it was a small church, there was only a center aisle which led directly to the pulpit; and of course, pews lined each side of the aisle. The casket stood at the front of the aisle and was closed. Some pictures of my friend sat on it.
Now, I do not recommend Christians asking the Lord whether a particular friend (or relative) makes it into heaven or not. What if you don’t like the Lord’s answer? What can you do about it? Complain. Pray him out of Hell. Depart from the faith. Your options are nil. So, it’s best to leave questions like that unasked and understand it was between the Lord and your friend…and not you.
But I did not heed my own advice this time. I asked the Lord over and over on the trip home from Iowa if my friend had made it into heaven.
As I approached the casket, a voice spoke to my heart. “Your friend is not in the casket. He’s with Me.”
I could have shouted and danced. I was so happy.
Then, at the casket, I turned left and headed toward a reception line with my friend’s wife, children and family. As I slowly inched forward, a tremendous grief came over me. It was overwhelming.
I began crying and wailing and whooping aloud. I was out of control. There was nothing I could do to stop myself. I wanted to die!
When I finally reached my friend’s wife, she consoled me. “Oh Larry, he’s out of his pain now.” She continued on and on. Finally, she introduced me to her sons and my friend’s sisters.
The whole time I cried and blubbered aloud. What an embarrassing mess I was!
Then, as I headed toward where my parents were sitting on a pew, the grief lifted. I was somewhat normal again.
Sitting next to my mom, I asked the Lord, “What was that all about?”
A gentle voice spoke to my heart: “Your friend was called to be a prophet and he did not make it into his calling. What you felt was just a fraction of the grief I feel when a person does not make it into his divine calling.”
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)
(Continued in Part 2.)