"It is a little girl named, Susana, coming home in a blaze of glory," he continued solemnly. "Beloved by her family, in love with her Savior, and greatly loved by the Lord."
"Coming home? You mean here?"
"No. To the Throne itself, to be welcomed by Jesus and heralded by the Host of Heaven. The light of her young life radiated far and wide among the people who knew of her suffering and innocent faith. The four short years of her planetary life impacted more people for good than the whole long lifetime of many others put together."
"Susana? I knew of a little girl by that name, the youngest child of missionary parents. She battled cancer for more than half her life. And in the midst of her trials, her mother and father wrote of how sweet and loving her sprit was, and although often barely strong enough to raise her arms, when she could, she raised them while singing praises to Him. My heart broke when I read of their pain."
"Our Lord's did also, but we know that the sufferings of that present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which is now revealed in her. Look, as she rises toward her King, who stands to enfold her in a loving embrace from the arms of Love Himself. He has brought her Home to be safe and in His Presence forever more. Her parents know this, and while their grief is overwhelming and beyond words, their joy in their mutual salvation is deep and profound. They are assured that their parting is only for a time."
"Yes," I said, "but they will miss out on all those precious, irrecoverable moments between parent and beloved child. They will never see their daughter grow and change and mature, and become all of what God intended. A thousand, thousand priceless memories will never be theirs. And the poignancy of the memories they have gone without hope of being repeated. I cannot imagine their pain."
"Oh but you can! That is why there are tears in your eyes. In your mind you have put yourself in their place with your own daughters, and it is not your inability to imagine that pierces your Christ-softened heart, but that you can imagine, oh so well! But you have it all wrong! The Lord promises to restore the years that the locust has eaten. He who has gone to such extremes to save, and who promises to never leave you orphaned, will not let such inconsolable loss go unanswered. They will have those moments with their sweet child. Do you think He would do less?"
Then it dawned on me, and maybe, just maybe, I was beginning to understand what he meant. Didn't I experience it myself before I knew where I was, as Dead Man? I saw him, me, my companion, flow from age to age, one instant an infant, the next a wise old man. And when I complained, he said it was my doing, not his. Then it came to me! Of course! Nothing is lost in the Lord! Nothing! Not time, not memories, not all those things that in His goodness He has chosen to bestow upon us, and enabled us to joyfully experience.
"Now you're getting it!" he smiled. "Jesus said that all that the Father gives Him will come to Him, and the ones who come to Him, He will by no means cast out. Did He not promise through Peter that a Time of Restoration of all things is coming? Has He not proclaimed that he who has lost father or mother or sister or brother or child in the life below will receive a hundred-fold in return in the life to come, here, in His Presence forever and ever?"
I began to see then, in my mind's eye, life in Heaven in ways that I couldn't have conceived of before. The Great Reunion of family and loved ones lost in the Shadowlands taking place in the Realm of His Light. IT WAS GLORIOUS! Father and daughter reunited and experiencing in timeless ways the fullness of their love and life and time together with a depth and completeness impossible in any other place, and in no other time. Infants, untimely gone, embracing their bereaved parents in glory, as adults, as children, as toddlers, as all these earthly ages at once so that NOTHING IS LOST! I could imagine my own reunion with my own parents, so long ago departed, and could almost see how they would experience my whole life again, simultaneously in the endless now, as we hugged in unspeakable joy. And this time as it was truly from the perspective of Heaven, and with perfect knowledge.
"Yes," he answered my unspoken question. "That and so much, much more than you can ask or think. The joy that awaits the saints in glory is of such quality and quantity that it cannot even begin to be exhausted throughout all eternity. The surface will not even be scratched after ten thousand times ten thousand years. Your Heavenly Father will have it no other way. That is His heart. That is His character. That is the joy of the Lord."
Now I knew the tears in my eyes were of joy and gratitude, rather than empathic grief. This is what my Lord sacrificed Himself to give me! This was the joy that was set before Him as He endured the Cross, despising the shame; to sit down at the right hand of the Father and provide delight and pleasure to His children at His right hand forever more.
At that moment, it all made such brilliant and perfect sense. His extravagant grace was the precisely appropriate expression of His extravagant goodness and love. How could it be otherwise? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also freely GIVE US ALL THINGS?
The I saw the image of little Susana again, as she raised her weakened and intravenous-scarred arms in unbridled praise to the One who loved her with an everlasting love, and I fell on my knees in wordless adoration and gratitude. If God is for us, who can be against us? How could I possibly be anxious for anything assured of an eternity with Him, in everlasting joy, never alone, and never bereaved again?
In my ecstasy, I glanced next to me and saw the he who I was to become in the same humble and loving posture of rapturous worship, and I knew - I knew - that we were fulfilling the very purpose of our creation.