Saturday, May 3, 2014

Heaven is for Real

I saw Heaven is for Real last night and I continue to be encouraged with how well Christian based movies are doing at the box office. The theater was close to capacity last night, which considering it was beginning the third week I found impressive.

I enjoyed the movie and I won't play movie critic here, though we are all movie critics, aren't we? Some are just wise enough to get paid to do it.

The part that intrigued me the most was how the same people who prayed for the little boy's recovery, also found it difficult when he began speaking about visiting Heaven. I think it removed them from their comfort zones. It is easy for us to discount what we have not experienced personally. I have heard people say they are comfortable with their church, or their particular denomination, and its routine. I wonder did Jesus die on a cross so we could be comfortable?

It is also resonated with me with an event in my own life. I have shared previously about my Damascus Road bright light moment when I was a troubled young man. I was dramatically Born Again.

Many people questioned what happened, though my life turned immediately. A story like mine, turning from a life of drugs, alcohol abuse, crime, and promiscuity, I thought the church people would receive me with open arms, and some did. Many did not. They turned their nose up at me. They balked at a story of a young man walking a street one night, and hearing, and experiencing intimacy with God. His life changing with the blink of an eye. Maybe they did not understand because it did not happen to them. They questioned whether it was real. They questioned whether I was sincere. Maybe living on probation with a suspended sentence hanging over me, maybe, just maybe I was doing it to fool the law. Secretly, I was probably still distributing pounds of marijuana. 

Now, I always thought there was a God. I didn't believe until that night He met me as I walked gazing at the stars with no destination in mind. But in my worse days I would have never tried to involve God in a ruse like that. Justify my life, sure. But proclaim to be Born Again just to hide drug dealing. No, even I was not that bad. And, I was plenty bad.

They were uncomfortable with the change in my life. Just as many of the same people were uncomfortable with my Mom, who at the age of 53, a good church attending christian woman, also had her Damascus Road moment and was dramatically Born Again. They liked her better, were more comfortable with her being like them.

I was a young man then, and I did not realize how much courage it might have taken for a outstanding member in the church to say, "I never really knew Jesus Christ. I was too prideful. I thought I was better than other people." She changed as much as anyone I know. It did not matter that she did not have a bad life behind her to turn from. She went from a comfortable Sunday school teacher to being totally in love with a Savior. 

Maybe in hindsight it was not difficult for her to be that honest. Maybe she experienced something so powerful, so life rearranging, that she could not have kept quiet about it if she tried. She knew the voice she heard when she was so broken was real. Just as I knew it was Jesus Christ who met a lost young man on a street one night. And, yes, just as a little boy visited Heaven.

The world of Facebook has many drawbacks but one great thing is I have been blessed to reconnect with people of my youth. One in particular is Nicky Pipkin. I told him this story once of what occurred to me after we lost touch. He listened about how the good religious people reacted to my conversion. He said something that I have never forgotten.

"Maybe them not believing says more about their life than anything to do with yours."

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