After hearing the voice of the Lord speak the words of the Apostle Paul, all I can remember is my eyes closing for a second (or my mind going blank!) then realizing that I was back in the same starting point I was before.
But – I wasn’t. It seemed at first that I was, because the verdant forest, with the beautiful and brilliantly colored flowers were everywhere about me, just as before. The rising sun was behind, just as before. But, there was a difference. In the confusion I hadn’t noticed the difference but it was so obvious now as my mind cleared from the traces of the previous horror.
There all about me was the beauty, wonder and amazement from the initial “get-go.” But unlike my other “awakening” there was a brightness, a pureness as it were, where before was color and contrast, here before me was a brilliance of the hues and contrasts in the colors that I didn’t see before. It is hard to explain something that someone has never seen before.
It reminded me again of my trip to Mount Rainier I told you about earlier. As I was standing on a bridge spanning a ravine and looking downward away from the ravine towards civilization I knew was miles and miles away, the colors of the forest trees, the greens, subdued and in shadow, contrasting with one another lent an other-worldly beauty. It literally (as I stated) took my breath away. My brother-in-law, whom I was with at the time noticed my reaction and he stood by me for a moment as we looked on together. “Just remember, Roland, all this beauty is tainted by man’s sin! It’s not half what the Lord wanted for us!”
I will never, I have never forgotten that statement and that was said, decades ago! I have always loved the scenic things that our Heavenly Father has created for us. Most of my pictures taken over the years, if not of family and friends, are predominately scenery of all types. Maybe, just maybe, this is why I felt “planted” in this spot.
Again, though I was aware of a gently glide along what appeared to be the same path. The sun was NOT glaring, nor was it uncomfortable as before, but the light it shone on everything was so different. Everything was awash with brilliant colors, colors I could easily recognize and see the beauty in, but what I can only describe as “perfect.” Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like what you might see in a picture where the brightness actually washes out the colors of the subject and all you see is the blurry glare of what you took a picture of. This brightness, this brilliance in no way washed out colors around me, it made them more vivid, sharp and true. Yet at the same time, nothing looked like a caricature of what it was meant to be. In all actuality, all I can say is that it was MORE beautiful.
While my eyes were noticing things, something else that was different was imprinted upon my thoughts. I wasn’t being followed by all the “beautiful” people. No, rather I was being followed by countless upon countless of people of all races, backgrounds and none of them, at least by their clothing or appearance was anything like the ones I had seen before. I can say that the one thing in common that these people had with the others, was a look of expectation and of hope. Many looked sorrowful, some actually pitiful. There were those that were sickly in appearance, while others were disabled or otherwise maimed. The word that comes to mind (and I mean no disrespect) was the “dregs” of life, of which I felt I fit right in.
Yet there was an air about them, which is the only way I can describe it. Like I stated, they seemed expectant but there seemed to be a strong air of hope. None of whom I was able to see clearly, was frowning or grimacing but rather, if not a chin to chin smile, there was a tinge of joy to their visage, despite what appeared as apparent hardships.
The other thing I noticed, looking forward again, was the path laid out straight before me and I could see many more multitudes of people on this path in front just as there were behind me. The thing I didn’t notice was converging paths from the sides, breaking the beauty of the trees and flowers as before. As far ahead as my eyes could see, I witnessed the un-breaking lushness of that most glorious forest.
Another thought that intrigued me was no glint or gleam of precious metals or jewels reflected by the sun as before, but rather, there was a brilliance of purest white radiance as I have never seen that seemed to form a dome far up ahead in the direction we were traveling. My curiosity was peaked and yet I was on my guard, ready to steel myself against what must surely be ahead of me!
It’s amazing what the unfettered human mind can and will think of when unrestrained. In my “vision” before, I was being followed by all these beautiful and presumably successful types of people and before me appeared as hideous a monstrosity as my mind can imagine or I can relate. I was then taken aback because of all the royal trappings and treasure that appeared to be all around this, “creature.” Yet here I was approaching an area in the same exact way surrounded by, not beautiful people, in the least, but rather those who in appearances seemed to be the down and out and unlucky of the world! I can only imagine what even more horrors must be awaiting the destination to which I was slowly gliding!!
If I could have slowed the glide of my platform even more, I most assuredly would, but alas I was only a spectator. There was something my Lord wanted me to see, for whatever reason, He alone knew.
As I approached closer and closer to the brilliance of what appeared to be a radiant dome (or halo?) I saw throngs upon throngs of people and unlike before, I was reminded of what our Lord Jesus Christ had said on the mountain when He stated, “the poor shall always be among you.”
The thing that struck me here though was that even though there were multitudes of people, instead of pushing and shoving to move forward, these people were actually – mingling with one another. Those with disabilities and ailments of a noticeable kind were given preference and allowed AND helped toward the front, which still appeared to me a long way off. As I watched this curious scene unfold a sound came to me then, quite clear, quite melodious and not what I had experienced before of what I described as a “din” of noise. This was singing and beautiful singing at that. As I listened closely, I also became aware of intermittent strumming of some stringed instrument, not like a guitar would make but rather like a harp or harpsicord might produce. Each note, was sharp, not piercing, but very pronounced and yet ever so harmonious with the other notes as well as with the singing.
If I could have imagined what an angel sang like, I guess I would have said it was angelic singing. It was incredibly and yet indescribably beautiful. Then I heard humming and softer singing joining in together making a beautiful chorus and I realized that all those around me where joining in if not with words, then with the humming that coalesced with main melody. As before when I heard the horns and drums, I tried to make out the song or the music, but here I realized was no hymn nor song of written lyrics; on the contrary here was praises and exaltations to God above as well as glory and hosannas to the King of Kings. In the song, you could sense the yearning and the longing for the Bridegroom, and yes, this made the very hairs on the back of my neck stand on end but for very different reasons than I experienced before.
The music came in waves it seemed and as each stanza or chorus or phrase of praise washed over me, I could sense the awe and mystery, the peace and joy that the Word of God says is without understanding and a deep calm settled my soul and spirit! Maybe, I thought this is Heaven, God’s Heaven our future home; yet, I knew deep down this wasn’t so.
It was then that I realized my little platform was moving forward straight through the middle of the mingling throng of people, people still praising in song, some with lifted hands, some with bowed heads. I was coming ever closer to what I could only describe as a brilliant white and radiant glow and then I got the first look at the banner way, way above the multitudes heads. It said in letters so big, you couldn’t miss what it stated, “Come, Let Me Serve You.”
“Come Let Me Serve You.” That was a far cry or twist on what the other banner had stated. I remember it still, “Come and Serve Me.” There were truly some astounding differences as I was beginning to recognize and yes, the initial fear that this would present itself even more hideous than the first “vision” had rapidly melted away in the wash of peace and joy that emanated from the beautiful singing of praise.
Then something else changed from the initial “vision” as well. I remember being so far back in that first one, that it was the only way I could make out any of the hideous detail in perspective. This time, there was no giant monstrosity and in fact all I could see was the multitude of people passing to and fro near the radiant dome that I had come to consider it to be.
My platform started to rise. At first it was disconcerting because it was really only big enough for me and the chair with which I rode to this destination. As I started to rise above the people though, I became more at ease as I was beginning to see the throngs of people surrounding what I considered to be a dome. I finally got my first good look and realized that no, it wasn’t a dome, but just more of that radiant, brilliant light that was not unlike the light from the sun that was giving such a clean and beautiful perspective on everything. But this light did not come from the morning sun, rather, this light was emanating from the most beautiful woman I could ever have imagined.
Now there is female (and male) beauty in the natural world and as the saying goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but there could be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was a beauty that could only be imagined by the very creative of imaginations. Again, I have to revert to something I stated earlier; how do you describe something you have never seen the likes of before?
This lady, and I mean lady in the most chivalrous sense, was perfect in form AND presence. She wore the whitest, brightest, purest gown I could ever imagine. But the radiance was emanating from her. Her skin was fair and appeared delicate, yet not fragile. As I watched trying to take in and evaluate what made her appear beautiful, I noticed that not only was she singing in such a clear and sweet tone of voice, but she was walking among those that had made their way towards the front where she was. She was going along and caressing furrowed brows, holding hand after hand, and more than once I saw her place a kiss upon the cheek of what some would call a lowly soul.
As she moved back and forth among the people in the front, those that had been touched by her, move back and let others move forward. She continued her ministrations and I was witness to real miracles as some of the disabled and obvious those that were ill, regained either their abilities or their health and it was all instantaneous and all without fanfare. Rather, the songs of praise and exaltation increased in tenor the more that she moved among the people. There was no one too dirty, or too disheveled that she did not reach out a hand too or lean to give a kiss on the cheek or forehead.
This Lady appeared tireless yet every once in a while she would step back to a plain wooden harp and gently pluck a few strings as she sang of the glories of the King and of God His Father! Instantly you could see the crowd straighten and join in the chorus of praises and it was evident that peace would wash over those still waiting to be ministered too.
Then just as it looked as if she would return to minister to those new souls thronged around her she spoke. Oh what strength, oh what authority came from her lips. She spoke simply, she spoke firmly and with conviction. The throngs would cry out “Amen” and “Hallelujah” and “Praise be to God and to His Son our Lord and Redeemer.” It was a far cry from the cries and chants I heard before that monstrosity I witnessed. There was sincerity, love, and conviction in each praise put forth. This Lady, unlike the sweet, syrupy gibberish that flowed from the monster spoke TRUTH, with simplicity and conviction and that is where I realized the real authority derived from!
There were words of encouragement, words of comfort and kindness and at the same time, words of admonishment, yet given in a gentle and loving way, firmly yet with compassion. This Lady spoke living words to the throngs and multitudes, she spoke what I finally recognized as genuine LOVE. Not the honey-laced, what you want to hear speeches, but the loving, compassionate, what you NEEDED to hear words!
As she went back to individual ministry to each and every person their I was awakened to the beauty of each hand gesture, the way each finger touched the heart of the person being ministered too. I noticed each head tilt, each smile given just at the right moment in the right amount to just who needed that. Not every person was healed I noticed, yet every person was ministered too in exactly what they needed in exactly the way they needed. There was no one, not one that I could see who walked back with a look of disappointment on their faces. Rather, there were smiles of joy and wonderment on each and every one that received a word or a touch or a healing!
I noticed that she didn’t trod about from person to person, but was lithe, graceful and tender. She was in control of every movement, every activity and directed that activity to whomever needed it most. As I was watching and pondering, it was then that she looked directly at me! For just a moment I was taken aback, but her eyes, beautiful and captivating took me in and I recognized something I never would have without the look she directed my way. They say, “the eyes are the window of the soul,” and in this case, I knew what the Lord wanted me to see.
This Lady’s eyes were soft and beautiful, beguiling almost, but not in any lurid way. For that brief moment I saw compassion, kindness, gentleness and definitely Godly love. But that wasn’t all, there was also conviction, authority and determination. It was as if she knew what she was meant to do and she would do it no matter the cost to herself. This Lady embodied in every sense, Godly love.
It took only a moment yet I knew her for who she was and then just to take away any sense of fragility or lack of strength, she motioned those closest to her to sit and repose, to rest as it were, but before she made way for them, she cleared a path for the people for they were not in some glorious temple made with hands, they were still in a part of the forest, a garden spot that had been cleared for their presence. While the people waited, she cleared a path of rocks and stones, patted the ground to make it smooth and she did this with her bare hands. The hands that were gentle enough to pluck the strings of a harp or weave fine thread into tapestries, could also reach down into the earth and remove rocks and debris so that others might find comfort! She was not fragile in the least and she was not afraid to get her hands dirty! I was absolutely in awe and wonder.
The songs of praise rose again and while the people sat and sang or hummed, she moved amongst them with grace and poise and continued to minister to each and every one. She spread hope and encouragement to every person there and not one was left without. As I watched, from somewhere, she produced some simple food with bread. Just as Jesus did by the banks of the Galilee, she broke bread and blessed it and passed it out among those who were there.
It was then that I again heard that which I knew to be the voice of the Lord speak, whether to me alone or to all those gathered there I really can’t say, but again, He quoted the WORDS penned by man and yet inspired by His Holy Spirit:
1 Corinthians 12:12-31, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.”
“If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?”
“But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” (Paragraph breaks in 1 Corinthians 12 added by me for emphasis.)
1 Corinthians 13:1-13, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
“Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”