I’ve made it a practice over the years to meet my kids at the door after school, whenever I happen to be working from home (which is pretty often nowadays, it appears).
So it’s a fairly typical weekday and I’m winding up my day as I wait for the kids to arrive. I’m on the phone with a good friend who’s offered to help market my books, and we’re deep in conversation when I hear a knock at the door. Yep, they’re home. I leave the study room, open the front door and welcome the first one in – my second-born daughter, Nimo – with a distracted side-hug as I continue with the call. I notice a bit of a frown on Nimo’s face but I put it down to the day’s fatigue. I welcome the rest in the same manner and make my way back to the study as I finish with the call.
Shortly, my son, the youngest, joins me in the study, a hot plate of food in one hand and books on the other. Exams are round the corner, I see. We’re exchanging some light-hearted mother-son banter when Nimo walks in and stands quietly in front of my desk. I turn off my laptop, trying to anticipate what might be on her mind.
“I smell a petition.” I tell her jokingly, when the silence lasts a few beats too long. ”What’s up?” Anyone raising teenagers will tell you that silence rarely portends any kind of glad tidings.
“It’s not a petition Mum,” she says, shifting from one foot to the other.
“What is it then?” I ask.
“I had a dream,” she says, eyes nervously searching mine.
“When?” I ask her.
“Last night,” she says.
Wow. As a “dreamer” myself, I have always tried to encourage my kids to speak up about their dreams, so that we can process them together, just in case. So I ask her why she didn’t tell me about it before she left for school this morning. She explains that she did come to my room but I didn’t seem to hear her knock. Ah yes, I took a rather late shower in the morning, I recall, so I was likely in the bathroom. And her dad left early for work too.
“I kept checking the time all day,” she says, “I couldn’t wait to come home and tell you…”
“So what was the dream about?” I ask.
“Well, I was sleeping and then I found myself in front of Jesus,” she starts hesitantly.
I put my laptop aside.
“Ehe?” I prod, quite intrigued.
“I was standing in front of Jesus, and then I went up and as I was going up, I realized that I was going to heaven.”
My jaw drops.
“With me were two people,” she continues. “But when we got to heaven they were allowed to go in, but I was left standing. Mum, heaven is so beautiful!”
“Wait,” I say eagerly, “when you found yourself in front of Jesus, how did He look?”
He was dressed in a brilliant white robe, she explains, with a nice red sash running from His left shoulder down to His waist, and a gold clasp holding it together. And He was seated on a large golden throne.
“Could you see His face?” I ask.
“No. I could only see His hands, His robe and His feet. He had brown sandals on His feet, and His hands were resting on the armrests of the throne. And He was huge!”
Wah! I digest this incredible turn of events, as she picks up from where she had left off.
After she had found herself in front of Jesus, she continues, she was somehow moved from where He was seated and propelled upwards via some sort of platform. That’s how she had found herself standing at the entrance to heaven. With her were the two other people, but although they were directly in front of her, she couldn’t tell whether they were male or female or even their race or age. All she knows is that when they all got to heaven, the two happily proceeded to go in while she was left standing at the spot where they had all come to a stop.
“Heaven is so beautiful,” she says again. “No one was sad and there were kids running around. I also saw some animals that looked like rabbits and beautiful flowers. Everyone was dressed in white robes, and they were all so happy.”
Her brother and I are spellbound at this point. He leaves his desk and joins us at mine.
I ask her if she recognized anybody. “No,” she replies.
“Okay, so what happened next?”
As the two people entered heaven, she explains, she was able to see a bit of the place but then immediately found herself going back down via the same route, and she was soon back where her journey had begun. From what she could see, the place appeared to be at the edge of a cliff, and at the far end was the throne of Jesus which she had seen earlier. Jesus appeared to be so big and so high above, she says, that even though she wanted to speak, she didn’t think He would be able to hear her.
“I wasn’t terrified or anything even though He looked really huge,” she tells us, “I just knew it was Him.”
The place all around her appeared dark red in color, however, and she could no longer see heaven because the portion through which she had seen it was now closed. She had only been allowed a brief glimpse of that wondrous place. But it was enough.
And she now had a question she must ask:
“What must I do in order to enter Your kingdom?” she had asked Jesus, hoping that He would hear her, high up as He was.
“Jesus replied that I just need three things…,” she says, her lip starting to quiver. She pauses. “Wait..” she sniffs, losing the battle to stay cool. She slips out of the room for a minute, comes back with a soft tissue and dabs at her eyes.
“Jesus heard me, Mum. And He knew my name!” she says, eyes wet with awe and wonder. “He said to me ‘You only need three things, Nimo, in order to enter the kingdom of heaven: trust and obey God, believe He is real and believe in the love of God.’”
She pauses, and dabs quietly at her eyes again. And then she continues.
A short distance from the throne, she says, to her left, was a dreadful queue of miserable-looking people. They were all dressed in rough, dark cloaks and all looked pale, grey and sad, even sickish. In front of them was an odd figure, also dressed in a black raggedy cloak. In his hands she could see a huge pair of scissors. And with these, she tells us, he would chop off those people’s heads, and the heads would roll off to the side, while their souls floated off into hell.
I glance at her young brother and consider leaving the room with Nimo, but I think the better of it. Intrigued, I ask how the souls looked.
“Well, they were just… they were not, like, nice,” she says. “They would float away and go into hell.”
“Where was hell?” I ask, curious.
Hell was somewhere behind Jesus’ throne, beyond the cliff, she says. She couldn’t see it clearly because it was dark, red and very foggy. But she knew it was hell. And as the people stood before Jesus’ throne, the Lord would point in the direction of the odd, cloaked figure for those who were destined for hell. But for those who were headed to heaven, Jesus would lift them with a gentle movement of His hand and place them on a platform a short distance away. And then they would be taken up and the foggy clouds would close back again, depositing them in heaven where they would immediately be clothed in white robes.
Surprised and more than a little shaken, Nimo had asked Jesus how these sad-looking people had come to be in that terrible queue.
“Those people didn’t do well, Nimo,” He had replied quietly, with a flick of his hand in their direction.
“He didn’t even mention their names,” she says, wide round eyes revealing her shock.
We all reflect deeply on that for a moment. She continues.
“After this, still in the dream, I found myself somehow back on earth. But in this part of the dream, I was in a church and the pastor was talking about the things we need in order to enter heaven. And he said the exact same things that Jesus had said to me, Mum! ‘Trust and obey God, believe that he is real and believe in the love of God!’”
She chuckles. “I had already forgotten,” she says, “and Jesus was reminding me.”
After this, she says, still in the dream, she found herself at home, the church service having come to an end. This time, she was in a room with her younger sister, Kelly. Inside the room was a wardrobe with a number of ladies’ shirts hanging on a rack. Nimo immediately noticed that three of the shirts were brightly colored, while the rest were black.
“Kelly, please remind me the three things I need to enter the kingdom of heaven,” she had asked her sister. And as Kelly began to share the three things, she says, Nimo found her gaze locked on the three colored shirts.
“I realized that each of the shirts represented one of the things that Jesus had told me,” she shares with us. “The red shirt represented ‘trust and obey God,’ yellow was for ‘believe that God is real’ and blue for ‘believe in the love of God.’”
At this point, I’m personally in awe of the astounding wisdom of God. Nimo loves modern fashion and art, and it is clear to me that He is using her interest in the subjects to cement the message He is conveying to her.
“These are the three primary colors,” she says to her brother and me, as I sheepishly admit to myself that I had no clue that this was the case. I had imagined that green was one of the primaries. Maybe even purple? No?
But Nimo continues, “I also understood that the black shirts represented sin. In the dream, I found myself separating these black shirts from the three colored ones, which meant I was separating sin from the things that Jesus said we need in order enter the kingdom of heaven.”
The dream ended at this point, she tells us. But she was so moved by the whole experience that she immediately decided to entrust Jesus with her life there and then.
“As soon as I woke up, I decided to do what Jesus had said. I held out my hands like this,” she says while cupping her hands in front of her, “and I told God that I was putting my life in his hands and trusting that He would guide me and solve every challenge in my life. That because of this, I would have no more issues and I would always be happy.”
I commence to picking my jaw from the floor.
Later that evening, the young lady gathers our entire family round our kitchen table – her dad, myself and all of her siblings – and we are amazed at the authority with which she leads us in prayer.
“Dear God,” we repeat earnestly after her, hands outstretched as she has literally commanded us to do, “From this day forward, we place our lives in your hands, and we trust that you will guide us and solve every single challenge in our lives. We choose to let you be the driver and leader of our lives, Lord. In Jesus mighty name we pray, amen!”
Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.
*Photo credit: Unsplash.com