Vision of Hell

When my son had his vision of heaven, that wasn’t the only thing he saw. He told me that God also showed him hell. The reason was that he would then see why missionary work was so important.

Hell wasn’t like the popular depictions we see in cartoons or movies. It had streets, and there were rich people and poor people. There were demons, however, and there was torture.

In some ways it sounded a lot like earth, only with the evil and pain made more visible.

He saw a divide between heaven and hell. He told me that people could cross over from hell to heaven.

“How do they do that?” I asked.

“The people who are in heaven LOVE them until they can cross over,” he said.

I’m aware this is not considered to be a biblical concept. However, in recent days I’ve thought about that vision. Whether it is literal or not, it contains truth.

vision of hell

If we love people here on earth, they too can learn to love and be a part of God’s kingdom. And it’s really hard for people to love others if they haven’t themselves been loved. So we have to show them.

It has a snowball effect.

If everyone loved like Jesus said for us to, there would be no more war, no more gangs, no more bullying. All kinds of hell would be wiped out.

I think this is the main thing we need to remember. All this arguing people do about how to worship God and so on is ridiculous. The command is simple.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”

I believe Jesus was God made visible. He showed us how to be. Then He left. He gave us the task of being him in the world. Therefore, we have no excuse for being anything but loving — loving people out of hell and into the Kingdom.

Vision of God or Schizophrenic Hallucination?

rainbow around the throne of God

This will never look the same.

I will never ever forget what my younger son told me when he was twelve. He said that he had visited heaven and had a talk with God. God had even given him a tour.

He went into a lot of detail. He described how God’s face cannot be seen because it is such bright white light. He said he saw Jesus, and that there were marks on his wrists. He told me how there are colors that can’t be seen in this world, and that there is a feeling of such indescribable peace that there are no worries or fear whatsoever. He talked to my Uncle Bob, whom he has never met. He saw hell because God wanted him to know it was real. God let him know that Love saves people from hell.

At the time, I was understandably thrown for a loop. Sage grew up fairly obsessed with Pokemon cards and being read the stories of Brer Rabbit, not the Bible — a fact I am not proud of. I had no idea where all this was coming from. It seemed odd content for a hallucination that would arise out of prior knowledge or interests.

I told his doctor about it, and he told me about the book If Heaven Is for Real. I told my mom about it, and she mentioned the same book. I bought it.

It is about a 4-year-old boy who sees heaven during a life-threatening surgery. I’ve always been pretty skeptical about these things, and it wasn’t on my reading list.

The book was a quick read, and after I finished it, I remember lying on the bed feeling almost paralyzed. I called Sage into the room. Having read about how the boy saw a rainbow around the throne of God, I asked, “Did God sit down?”

My son said, yes, he was sitting on a throne. “What did it look like?” I asked. He told me about how a rainbow went around it.

At that point, I my mind did a flip and I started to feel really afraid. My son said, “There is a dark presence in this room. God wanted me to tell you that we are going to be in a very large spiritual battle.”

Note that I don’t recall discussing things like spiritual battles with my son at that point. I remember I had just started attending church, after the dream he had where he was quoting the Book of Revelation to me.

So there it is.

I’m convinced this was a true spiritual vision — God forgive me if I’m wrong. I really think that if all this was only neurologically based, then the vision would have been of something else entirely. Like Pokemon characters. But no, his visions have never had that sort of content. It is always God, Jesus, angels, demons, and things like exploding nuclear bombs and parched earth.

We don’t watch the news and never have. We don’t have television since I discovered that watching it was causing him to stutter several years ago. So I can’t attribute this to something he had watched a few days prior.

I am so thankful for this. This vision caused me to completely desire to follow Jesus, to give my life to God. I count myself as very fortunate, as my intellectualism had set up many arguments against much in the Bible being literally true. Being a part of this experience has forced me to put my feeble human arguments aside and simply praise God that he permitted me to see.

And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. Revelation 4:3

A Tiny Touch of Grace

drawing

My husband.

There’s nothing quite like a yelling match with the person you love the most to make you feel like a piece of slime that needs to be cleaned out of the refrigerator’s bottom drawer.

The morning started out with my younger son telling me that no, he could not go to the “bamboo forest” on the local trail with his best friend because he felt too anxious. I’ve wrestled with agoraphobia for years, and this was not welcome news. No one wants their child to live in a box of their own mind’s making.

My mood dark, my husband and I got into a disagreement within seconds of his having got out of bed. It was the kind of disagreement where after about five minutes, one person goes outside and angrily smokes a cigarette while the other person cries and slams doors for sheer physical release.

After I finished slamming doors — yes, that was me, I don’t smoke — I got into the shower. I said a prayer. I was still crying and I didn’t say much. I did ask God to help me not to give in to hopelessness.

Then I went into the back room to draw with markers. I am like a child that way. Darkness recedes when I am using the creative part of my brain, as opposed to the mean tormented part of my brain, say.

I tried to draw a tree. It didn’t go very well. I turned the tree into a face. It turned out to be my husband’s face, and I made it into a card for him.

I think this is how miracles work — most of the time, anyway. It’s like God touched me with a bit of His grace, saying something like “It’s okay — now here’s some love you can give your husband.”

Because believe me, I was not feeling very loving when I was making scribbly marks on the paper.

The hand of God works in little ways that end up being quite big, really.

Answers in Front of My Face

raising chickens
I want to be a farmer. Seriously. I’d like to move to a few acres, build a hobbit house and plant pomegranate trees and snow peas, raise chickens and goats, become a regular at the farmer’s market.

I’ve had this desire for a while, although it seems so ridiculous that I don’t usually talk about it. I do, however, own a collection of books on alternative building, herb gardening and the like — the result of years of vicarious living.

My younger son shares this desire. He is always talking about how he wants to grow vegetables, and in fact, uses our meager front yard to grow a variety of shockingly hot peppers.

We would do more, but our backyard is a nicely landscaped brick patio, and is entirely shaded. So to implement this dream even a little bit, we’ve got to do something different. Hence my post on Facebook about how I had my eye out for three or more acres close to town.

I’m serious.

Here’s why I mean it.

Last week, my mind was stuck in a rut. I was engaging in either/or thinking and driving myself bats. I was beating myself up for looking at endless medical research and not trusting in God to help with the S disease. My talented and thoughtful friend Kelvin, however, provided some needed perspective by basically asking me why my mind was not open to God’s answers in all aspects of life — including medical research.

I have a complicated answer to that. I am an educated person who is aware of the genetic basis and many of the environmental triggers for the S disease, but am still convinced there is a spiritual component. I won’t go into it right now.

Nevertheless, Kelvin is right. His response made me think.

Of course I pray for understanding and healing of the S disease. Yesterday, I realized that God has indeed provided some answers and continues to do so.

You see, a couple of years ago, my younger son went on an extended campout with his scout troop. I remember how he came back looking tan and trim, with none of the “Aspie” affect and behaviors that he usually had. There were no dietary changes that I’m aware of, unless you count eating worse foods — like endless hot dogs and pop tarts — as a change.

The positive effect had to have come from being outside almost continuously. Being free from electronics was no doubt a factor, but it wasn’t the only one, as we’ve experimented with this at home, and have found it helpful, but nowhere near a “cure.”

We’ve even went so far as to not use electricity for a week or so, reading by candlelight in the evenings like Abe Lincoln. We thought perhaps electric lights were part of the problem. That experiment didn’t have much of an effect.

No, the outdoors is the deciding factor. I’m sure of it. Nature has a healing effect. God made us to live among the trees and in the fields, not in particleboard boxes.

So I think of my son’s request to move to the country and my own increasing desire to do so as well. And I realize that this desire is likely God’s way of nudging us towards healing. Towards eating a natural, organic, non-GMO diet. Towards getting enough sunshine and vitamin D, in which almost all people with the S disease are deficient. Towards getting more exercise. Towards health.

I do not know how to make this happen right away. I shared this epiphany with my husband, and he asked me to inquire about buying some land across the street. I did, and discovered it had already sold. But if it is supposed to happen, it will. I will keep looking.

I like how the answer to my prayers is likely already embedded in my heart.

Getting Called Out as a Hypocrite

faith in jesus touching his robe
My younger son simply can’t stand his new counselor. The last time we went, he asked if I would sit in on the session with him. He wanted me to understand why he was dreading his counseling sessions.

As I sat in the office listening, and listening, and listening to the counselor drone on and on in a guru sort of manner, I understood what my son meant. There was no dialogue, and the guy was using jargon far above an eighth-grader’s understanding.

So he won’t be going to that counselor anymore. But I’m thankful to have met the man, because out of his mouth came the words that God has been trying to get me to understand for the past two years.

I had just finished explaining why I didn’t want my son being taught yogic philosophy*, and was stammering a sort of apology for seeming so “fundamentalist” when he said, “You know, I see so many Christians who don’t practice their faith.”

I felt smug for a moment, thinking of course I wasn’t THAT kind of Christian.

“These people don’t trust in God like they tell other people to do. They don’t hand it all over to Him,” he continued.

The comfortable feeling I had quickly went away and was replaced with unease. The next day, after letting his words simmer for a while, I realized that he had been talking about me, whether he knew it or not.

Psalm 40:4 points out my error.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.

This verse hit home in three ways.

First of all, I have not been trusting God. During the past three years, I have read at least 1,000 studies, articles and abstracts about the S disease trying to find answers. I enrolled in a counseling program trying to find answers. I’ve emailed countless experts trying to find answers.

No answers from these sources have been forthcoming.

Second, I have been looking to the proud. Smug people who are 100 percent certain that their education has provided them with all of the knowledge they need to deal with an illness, if not cure it. If there was a picture next to the word “smug” in the dictionary, it would be of the counselor we saw last week.

Finally, I have been giving import to the sayings of a false god. The field of psychiatry has become a false god in our culture. We look to it for answers, but diagnoses are more forthcoming than cures.

Don’t think that I’m the only one who thinks that psychiatry is a god. A few months ago, I received a copy of Counseling Today, the publication of the American Counseling Association. I had become a member of this organization when I was in the counseling program.

One of the articles said that “counselors are the new priests.” In other words, people turn to counseling for their problems instead of God. The writer seemed perfectly okay with this idea, and gave advice on how to counsel people from religious backgrounds that counselors might feel uncomfortable with, like Christianity.

God's eyeGod is big. The S disease is not. [/caption]All of those articles I read were the equivalent of praying to our society’s version of Baal for help. Why should I be surprised that help never came?

Here is the thing I have been having a hard time wrapping my head around, and I’m not sure why.

God is the creator of the universe. He made us. He can handle the S disease.

I don’t get to choose the outcome of the S disease — God does. But I can trust that He knows what he’s doing. I can pray. I can live my life in a manner that Jesus tells us will get results when we ask for things in His name. (More on that later.)

I know that the whole thing is confusing and controversial. But I’m trusting God to give me the eyes to see clearly.

Amazing colorful artwork is over here.

*I have very, very good reasons for being mistrustful of Indian religious teachings and practices, including yoga. If you are wondering why, feel free to contact me and ask.

Rambling Angry Stuff That May or May Not Have a Point

homeless
Sometimes the pain is so great I feel as though I can’t speak.

Yesterday we endured another visit to the psychiatrist, where once again the S word was tossed about liberally. There were also words like “lifelong,” “chronic” and “disability.”

I am ashamed to say that I have been feeling sorry for myself. I know it is like holding the door open so that the long-toothed depression beast can stroll right on in and make himself good and comfortable. I struggle to maintain a sense of reality.

People do not like to think about the S word. I’m one of them, since I don’t even like typing it. My own parents don’t call and ask how my son is doing or how I’m holding up. I suppose it is painful for them, so they, like almost everyone else, pretend it is not happening, that it does’t exist.

I’m so angry I could spit. Obviously, I’m angry that both of my sons, as well as my brother, have fallen victim to this disease or whatever it is.

I’m angry because I asked for support and didn’t get it. Well, not from the people I asked, anyway. The thing is, I’m well aware that I have no right to my anger because no one owes me — or my son — a thing. And I am blessed because God sent someone into my life who personifies His love, and that person also loves my son and played an instrumental role in our not going to the ER a few days ago for a psych eval.

I don’t know what to do with the anger, though. I want to say hurtful things. I want to blame someone else for this pain.

I feel like I could just explode, I really do. I’d like to see the fake constructs of our society made into visible strips of paper so I could tear them apart and the truth would lie there naked for all to see — and deal with.

We are all like blah, blah, blah. Love others. Love people with mental illness. Love unlovely people. Behind the words “Jesus loves you” are often “but I don’t, not really.” I think this has made it easy for people to mock my savior, this hypocrisy he’s so often associated with. And we all know how Jesus felt about hypocrites. That’s one thing I love about Jesus. He was not fake at all. He lived what he preached.

There was a catalyst to this anger.

My good friend Gen and I were at Starbucks a few days ago, sipping coffee on the patio. There was a man restlessly pacing the sidewalk, muttering to himself. Gen went up to him and asked him if he was okay. I followed.

It turned out he wasn’t okay, which was no surprise. He had suffered the loss of three family members in the space of two months. He was either manic, on drugs or both. We prayed with him.

I have to say that two months ago, this would have been completely outside my comfort zone. I’ll never forget the time Gen and I were in Java Jacks and she said, “Well, let’s pray about that.”

I was thinking, “Here? Now? In front of people?” but kept my mouth shut as I furtively looked around the room to see if anyone was watching.

I’m over that now.

At any rate, this guy was surprised. He said that he wanted to attend church, but didn’t know of one where he wouldn’t be judged. This was a valid concern. I figured some folks wouldn’t be able to get past his wearing swim trunks in public in January.

I realized that I didn’t know of a church I could invite him to, although some Facebook friends had some ideas. I thought about how my son doesn’t fit into most churches and how I couldn’t go to a church that couldn’t embrace people with the S disease, drug addicts, and even criminal histories, even though most probably have good intentions.

Sometimes things are messy.

Sometimes things aren’t safe. That’s okay. Jesus never says that we are supposed to stay safe. He says this instead.

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. — Luke 14:32

I interpret this verse to mean that we may be called to literally give up everything — up to and including personal safety and even our lives, especially in light of this verse:

Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. Luke 17:33

What a hard teaching. To me it is clear, though, that hanging onto socially respectable behaviors and ideas about the lifestyle we feel we are entitled to is the wrong path.

I don’t want to attempt to fit the gospel into the lifestyle that I want to have.

Anyway, so Gen and I got into the car and I started to cry. Our encounter with this guy just hurt my heart so much. So many people are lonely and have such awful lives. We have to show them love, we just have to! Love in action is it, it is everything. It is the only way to defeat the devil that I can see.

And I’m thinking, what if there were more people like Gen who were willing to put whatever they are doing on hold to comfort a stranger, to cheer a friend’s son out of suicidal ideation, to randomly warm people’s hearts for no reason other than to lift them up?

Can you imagine the type of world we’d live in??

We’d all see the kingdom of God every day.

Not Knowing

I don’t like not knowing things. If I have a problem I don’t know the answer to, I Google it. This worked very well when I discovered that banana peel would work to rid my younger son of warts when nothing the doctors did was at all effective. Lately, though, I’ve found myself doing bizarre things like Googling “why the voices my child hears are always mean.”

Trust me, Google does not have the answers to these sort of questions.

I’m sad. I’m confused. I’m searching under the bed, looking inside cabinets, dumping out my purse — searching for my joy. I am a person who finds a measure of security in having information, and there are some situations that no amount of human knowledge can touch. This bothers me. Becoming a snowflake is difficult.

There are so many things we just don’t know. This verse comes to mind:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25

uncertainty god universeWe are like the blind men arguing about the elephant. Remember? One guy is holding the elephant’s tail, and swears up and down that the elephant is a skinny, sorta hairy creature — somewhat like a rope. Another has a hold of one of the elephant’s legs, and vehemently disagrees. The elephant, he says, is like a tree trunk. And so on.

I think we have less knowledge of God and how the universe works than these deluded guys did of the elephant. But most people tend to think like me. They like to have the facts so they can feel secure. So they grab onto what they think they know and defend it relentlessly, refusing to consider what other information — mysteries — might exist.

When I took my younger son to the psychiatrist, the good doctor asked to speak to me alone. Once the door was closed, he scooted his chair closer to mine, fixed his eyes fiercely on mine and said, “Now do you believe me? This is real. He needs to take the medicine.”

But what he thinks is real and what I think are real are two different things. The truth, though, likely lies somewhere in the middle.

I intend to keep searching for it.