For the first couple years after my near death experience, I was so anxious to get to Heaven, that I was suicidal. I felt I should “help God” to get me back There as soon as possible. Compared to that one tiny glimpse of God’s glory, my whole lifetime on this earth, past or future, seemed non-consequential.
Daily, I begged God to drain the intensity from my memories, just so I could manage living here, while better understanding what awaited me There. These infinite concepts are too wonderful for me to rationalize and process within the limiting confines of time. As one friend’s husband put it, after she relayed the story I shared with her, “It is God’s protection, His grace, that we don’t grasp the reality of Heaven. Every Christian would be suicidal, if we really knew!”
Paul, the human author of much of the New Testament, felt Heaven to be far superior (see Philippians 1:21-23, below) too! The difference was my longing for Heaven was not just a “looking forward” emotion, but a “can’t function here” desperation.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
It took a lllooooooooooooooooooooonnnggg time for me to become convinced that my young family needed me, to get to the place of understanding that if God hadn’t called me Home “when He had the chance,” that it was not my right to thwart His timing by taking my life into my own hands. It took years before I arrived at a certainty of knowing I would remain here for as long as He wanted me to stay.
Just because I am here now, does not mean that thoughts about death never cross my mind anymore, though they are far much less frequent, and the focus has changed, as well as how I process them. When those thoughts come, like in the dark of night, I have learned not to welcome them, not to entertain them, not to ponder or dwell on them, but to instead take them captive, straight to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Because I am convinced to re-engage into my family’s life, I was delighted when my 12-year-old invited me on a date to watch a movie together, over his school spring break, earlier this month. He picked the day and place, I picked the time and show. I chose the life story of Mercy Me‘s lead singer, Bart Miller, songwriter of the runaway hit, I Can Only Imagine.
Bear (what we have called our youngest, since birth) was deeply moved by Bart’s story. My pre-teen was especially mesmerized by the way Bart, at about his own age, began finding journaling to be a healing exercise, how Bart created a record of God’s amazing grace throughout his life. My son was in awe when I showed him the 16 hard-bound journals that lined the top of our bookshelf, chronicling our decade journey to parenthood. He has taken up journaling as a result.
It was fun to be able to give Bear the I Can Only Imagine refillable leather notebook, in order to begin to create his own library of prayers, thoughts, and questions and start to see the pattern of God at work in his life. His young heart needs to process much, as he continues to unpack the trauma that shattered his world six and a half years ago, and sorts through the emotional journey middle school creates.
I love that the leather binding will last Bear for decades, while the 128-page interior notebook is replaceable, so that he can chronicle paper notebook, after notebook, without using up this fantastic journal, nor creating the storage crisis my writing habit did. My son was stunned to be entrusted with such an adult treasure, handcrafted in Haiti. Each notebook is unique and helps to support sustainable and dignified employment.
This summer, Bear and I will together explore the I Can Only Imagine 4-Episode Video Series, featuring Bart sharing his personal testimony, containing select scenes from the movie we so enjoyed (and watched before this review opportunity presented itself – in fact I only took the opportunity to explore this package because the movie had been so powerful to us), each episode is approximately 12 minutes.
Along with the video, we’ll be exploring the companion 28-day study of Jesus’s life and ministry (that can serve as a video series participant’s guide for your small group, or be effective as a standalone study). Bear and I will embark on a journey through the Gospels to discover Jesus’ encounters with broken people. Each day will include scripture, reflective questions, and prayer—all working together to reveal God’s incredible heart for us. We are excited! Click on this banner to enter to win your own copy of this study journal:
Yes, I did receive free products from FrontGateMedia and CityOnAHillStudio, from the I Can Only Imagine line, in exchange for sharing my genuine opinions. Click on this link and use Promo Code: frontgate10 for 10% off the I Can Only Imagine Series and/or Journal for yourself!
As I watched the movie, I was blessed to realize, 6 1/2 years and close to 100-counseling-hours later, God has answered my prayers, softening my memories to the point that they almost feel “second hand” now, like an experience someone else told me about. It does not feel as if I am going crazy anymore. I no longer live fighting the weight of a wonder too great to process. My soul is finally peaceful concerning Heaven, because now, I can only imagine. Thank you Lord!
Once again, the giveaway link is blessedfreebies.com/indescribablestudygiveaway.html
And the the promotional code is: frontgate10 for 10% off the I Can Only Imagine Series and/or Journal from cityonahillstudio.com/shop-3/i-can-only-imagine/