Posted April 06, 2016:
Who Will You Meet in Heaven?

by Patrick Stewart.

I’ve been pondering heaven a little more than usual in the last few months. My mother has had a serious illness that finally seems to be overtaking her life. So with her homeward journey in mind, I have been more heaven-conscious.

And I am seeing that all of life, mine and yours, is ultimately about this passage from earth to heaven where we will be united with God at long last and share in that communion in the Trinity with the family of all humanity.

A few evenings ago after supper, I was at the basement veggie table peeling onions with a small group of staff workers. After a particularly hilarious impromptu comedy routine by one of my MH sisters, I suddenly wondered who she would meet in Heaven—who would be there because of her faithful life.

She is quite lovely—intelligent, poised, and capable of displaying silliness and profundity seconds apart. (This could describe any number of the women here, but I won’t name names.)

Who will the Lord introduce her to when she gets to heaven? Who will be waiting to thank her for her faithfulness, her many yeses given day in and day out to the Lord in and through this Madonna House family? Stand up comedians, university professors, "widows and orphans"? Who will say to her, "I am here because of you"?

Earlier that same evening, I had been telling a story at the dinner table about a man and his wife for whom I have been praying these last forty years.

His name is Johnny Taylor, and he beat me up in his mobile home. I think that if I had given him just an ounce more resistance than I did, he would have murdered me.

I was a door-to-door salesman that summer, a young guy just finished with my freshman year in university, going from house to house selling Bibles and reference books on the outskirts of a small South Carolina town.

Fortunately, Johnny’s wife, whose name I never learned, somehow managed to talk/scream him back into some semblance of sanity before he did too much damage.

He had her phone the sheriff, and two deputies arrived at the scene of the "crime." Johnny somehow convinced those two young officers that I was the bad guy, and consequently, without being allowed to say a word, I was handcuffed and driven to jail.

I can still see the men and women gathered on either side of the highway to see the excitement, people I had met earlier in the morning. I didn’t know if I should look forlorn, sheepish, or triumphant as I gave them a simple nod of the head.

The story gets a bit anti-climatic once I got to the interview with the sheriff. I had Bibles in my carrying case, my sales material, company identification, and my side of the story.

Johnny had told the deputies that he caught me breaking into his home through a window! My story seemed more plausible to them, so I was quickly released. No charges were laid, and the arrest was not recorded.

I went back to where I was staying, cleaned up, and shaved my mustache (which I thought might have made me look a bit unsavory) and changed out of my blood-stained shirt.

And then, following my grandfather’s advice, I got "right back on the horse." I drove back to the same place and went to the house across the street from the Taylors’, a house where, I discovered, Johnny’s aunt lived.

I told her what had happened, and she quite simply said that Johnny was "a bit touched." In southern English, that meant that he suffered from mental instability.

Forty years later, I am still praying for Johnny and his wife. I believe the Lord allowed that terrible encounter to happen so that I would pray for them for the rest of my life. I wonder if they remember me, and if they ever prayed for me, too.

I look forward to meeting them when, please God, I am invited into eternity with the Lord. And others too, like the hitchhiking stranger I did not pick up on a stormy north English night or the scrubby-faced old man who so kindly looked my way and said, "Good morning, young man" to me as we passed each other on a London sidewalk.

Every wonderful and searing memory of a face and of faces, of sweet and angry voices gives me the opportunity to intercede, to lift up loved ones and feared ones to the heart of the Lord.

But after pondering all of this, I am thinking that our lives are so intertwined in the Mystical Body of Christ, that I/we really won’t even think about the part we played in helping each other make their way to the Lord.

My mother, my lovely young Madonna House sister, Johnny and his wife, and the countless multitude will come to know fully the price Jesus paid through His Passion and Death for each of them, and we will just be grateful to be together, praising God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for all eternity.


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