In a few weeks will be the first anniversary of Brendon Coates’s death. One of my church members in Abilene, Brendon was a Leukemia patient, who after two years of valiant fighting succumbed to death’s grip at age 5. He was a good kid, full of life and adventure and possessing an amazing confidence in God’s goodness.
In the days and weeks that followed his death, a number of remarkable things happened. One of his leukemia friends, still in the hospital, asked her dad why they didn’t tell her Brendon had died. When asked how she found out, she replied, “Brendon told me last night when he came to see me.” Then, in the middle of the night, Brendon’s mom and dad woke up to sounds of children laughing coming from their daughter’s room. She was now their only child. When they went in to see her, she was already awake. When asked about the laughing, she said, “Brendon came to play with me. He sure likes heaven, Mom.”
I don’t really know what to make of these events, but I know they are not uncommon, particularly among children. It does, however, make me wonder about the realities of our world, our ‘visible’ world. There is much that keeps me busy —preparing dinner, cleaning, laundry, playing with the dog, talking over things with Heather, helping my boys read before bed, the work of ministry—at times without thought of God’s heavenly reality. I tend to draw the lines between this world and the next with such rigid demarcation.
But what if those lines were not as stark? What would happen if we knew our actions today were intricately blurred into the realities of heaven? Or, contrarily, if heaven’s actions were purposefully blurred into our lives? How would our lives, our work, our ministry be different if we could see the host of heaven leaning over the cosmic balconies of eternity, and in full joy like children laughing, encouraging us in all we do? Oh, how I long to be there more often!
Brendon’s story reminds us that we ARE there, whether we accept it as true or not. For Brendon’s story did not end in death. Through the resurrection of Christ, Brendon’s story continues in eternity. And every now and then, those who have faith as children see glimpses of it. And for us, through the same resurrection, our stories continue. Whether it is polishing furniture, visiting the hospitalized, organizing finances, answering phones, caring for children, relating to our loved ones, we continue the work of God’s kingdom. And it makes a difference. In this world. And the next!