The Joy of Coming Home – 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

Do the emotional videos of soldiers returning from their deployments and greeting their children tug at your heart like they do mine? I’m a glutton for happy endings.

The little girl screams, “Daddy!” and in seconds she is launching into his arms. I have watched dozens of stories like this, wiping tears from my face in wonder at a family’s joy.

They make me think of the ultimate reunion we can experience for ourselves, when Jesus comes to take us home.

Many years ago I watched my Grandma Kocher rub a dot of hair dressing in her hands and spread it through her long, thin hair. She pressed the side combs in behind her ears, making her hair puff slightly. She proceeded to braid it all the way down to her elbows, wind it into a bun, and pin it at the back of her head.

I could never figure out how those skinny hairpins could make her braids stay put all day.

For as long as I can remember, she never wore her hair another way, except when she was working in the strawberry fields or stirring jam over a hot cookstove. That kind of labor warranted she cover it with a knotted scarf, tucking the corners at her forehead.

After enjoying Grandma’s steaming chicken and dumplings and a bowl of her home-canned peaches, and yes, warm jam on freshly baked bread, we patted our stomachs and moved to the living room. One of the stories I could anticipate hearing was about how she received comfort regarding the future of her children.

She started her story by explaining it was more real than a daydream, that it certainly had to have been a vision. She slid her glasses up the bridge of her nose, lowered her cheek into the palm of her hand, and looked past us to re-play what she’d seen.

Grandma had worked hard to support her family during Grandpa’s illness and death. Two of their sons were fighting in WWII, and there were still children at home to raise. She worried about them as they reached adulthood and left home, going their separate ways.

One day, while Grandma was praying, she saw herself leaving her mortal life and rising up to heaven. She felt incredible joy and anticipation about her coming arrival, but then remembered her children. She wasn’t sure they would all join her there.

She always stopped her story at this point to explain that she didn’t know if Jesus told her to look below her, or she just did it. Maybe she thought it remarkable that she could take her eyes off her incredible destination. At any rate, she felt compelled to look down.

With her eyes sparkling, she pointed to the floor around her feet and said, “. . . and there were my children all around me, going up with me.”

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 ESV

The person who posted the soldier reunion video warned that it was a tearjerker. I’d already watched it a couple times, but it touched me to the core again. All I could think of was how I will greet my heavenly Father when I see him in heaven. Like her, I just might let loose with an exuberant “Daddy!”

Kathy Sheldon Davis

Note: the artwork in this post is a commissioned piece created by my son, Joshua Davis, which depicts our family camping trips when you’ll find me in my old red jacket. I’m not planning to wear it when I meet Jesus, but, as Grandma would say, we shall see about that.

A New Take on How to Get to Heaven – Matthew 18:3-5

Playing with four of my grandchildren this week is changing my perspective on how we get to heaven. Two of them are beside me now, so my observations are definitely fresh. Here’s what I’m learning.

IMG_0399Jesus said

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me'” (Matthew 18:2 NIV).

The disciples were concerned about who would be the greatest, and Jesus reprimanded them by telling them they needed to change and take the low position of a child – or they wouldn’t make it to  heaven at all. Wow.

Welcoming a child

It’s almost too profound for words – a strong warning. If I don’t change and become like a little child, I will NEVER enter God’s kingdom. He also said that if I welcome a little child, I’m welcoming him.

I love the idea of welcoming Jesus into my every day, so I need to get back to my grandchildren.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis