Mike Waters shared with me his testimony about almost getting to heaven. He was suffering from a terrible motorcycle accident. He was in the hospital fighting for his life when God opened a portal and gave him a glimpse of glory. He said that he had never felt peace like that before. Every care, every worry, every sorrow, and heartache was all swallowed up in the beauty and splendor of heaven’s glow. He said that he wanted to go in, to be in that place where he felt at home and at rest.
He saw his mother who was there to tell him that it was not yet his time to enter. He could not understand why. She told him that he was to return to this life because he had more to do. So, he returned. He recovered from his injuries. He came home from the hospital to do those things that God had given him more time to do. But he was forever changed. He saw his life in a new way. He lived in the afterglow of glory. He lived each day anticipating what he had seen and heard on the doorstep of heaven’s promise. To Mike, heaven was more than an idea, more than a far-off vision. Heaven was for him a real and happy fact.
I believe in those kinds of things. I believe that some people are blessed to see further and look beyond what exists in this life. I believe God shows eternity to those He chooses to open heaven and let them take a peek. The apostle Paul said, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the boy I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). The “third heaven” is the closest place to Jesus and to God’s throne a person can go. The reference is not about levels in heaven, but about getting to the place where Jesus is. I believe Paul was talking about himself. He went there and he saw the Lord of glory sitting upon his throne.
I’ve heard other stories from people who have been close, but not allowed to proceed into heaven’s splendor. Doug Peppers has shared with me his story of a near heaven experience. I believe heaven is real and we go there because Jesus is waiting to welcome all those who trust in him. For Mike Waters and Janice Peters, heaven is not a vision. It is not a place to visit and then come home. Heaven, for these two faithful saints of the Lord, is where they belong. It is now their home. They are together with Jesus in heaven, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). I look forward to the victory of heaven.