What goes in on heaven in the final hour of a person's life on earth? Do the angels run about fluffing the pillows in the mansion in glory? Does Jesus check the book of Life for that person's name? Is there a welcoming committee formed? Do those who have gone before gather to rejoice over the loved ones arrival there? Have they been holding vigil in heaven these last weeks along side those that loved him here as he grew weaker?
I don't know. I won't know until it is my turn to arrive. But in my imagination I want it to have been an ARRIVAL! Trumpets and silken robes. But then I do not think that was his style. Perhaps... Peter met him a ways outside the gates holding old Chief, his great bay horse old no more, saddled and bridled. Perhaps his son, Ricky, was waiting further on with Resheba ready to ride through the gates with him. I can see Sadie-Dog bouncing about joyfully greeting her master. I can hear his laughter and snorting as he greets her. I see him looking around and shouting "GOOD MORNING GLORY!" His frame, weakened by age here on Earth, made strong as he places his boot in Chief's stirrup. Peter opens the Gates of Heaven, and this man who spent his life showing others the way to God for so many years looks upon the face of his beloved Saviour sitting astride His charger. I imagine Jesus held out His hand and said "Well done my son! Let's go for a ride!"
"Who?" you ask. "Who is this man of whom you speak?"
I answer you with a story of faith.
Once there was a girl. She was a good girl, mostly. Life was simple and good. Her parents had a friend, an older man, a preacher, who would often stop by. So often did he stop they kept a twin bed set up in the basement in case he needed a place to rest on his travelings. The man sometimes came and went with just a note and some missing brownies as the only evidence of his visit. He was an evangelist/ preacher/cowboy all rolled together. He loved life. He loved his Lord. He showed the girl what living for God meant. He took her tears and anger when she came to him fuming against injustice or hurts. The preacher man even calmed her and helped her to find answers when she questioned her faith. He helped open the well of hunger for the Lord.
Reverend Richard M. Burns, went to be with Jesus, today, March 16th, 2010.
Jesus Lover. Husband. Father. Teacher. Evangelist. Scout. Horseman. United Methodist Pastor. Sausage maker. Mentor. Hunter. Prophet. Woodsman.
A man whose passion was sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone he met. Papa Dick became my extra "dad". I had a perfectly good Dad. But God knew I needed Dick and I felt like another one of his kids. Maybe I was one of those people who God looked down and said "ooh! That one she needs two Dads... one will never be enough."
Anyway Papa Dick was there for me. He made a special trip to Indiana to officiate my wedding and then got so excited preaching he forgot part of the service. When he would do camp meetings for a church he would get so wrapped up in his message that he would stomp and shout and carry on. He had the joy of Lord right down to his bones. Singing because his Lord was so precious to him, he couldn't not sing. Although his pitch was sometimes questionable, his joy never was. I know Papa Dick was human and had human failings, we all do. He was stubborn and could be a know it all. But I loved him. I am the Christian I am today because of his influence and obedience to witness his faith.
I know this was long. But as I grieve my loss and celebrate his gain I wanted to share my Papa Dick with you. And I wonder how heaven prepared to bring a saint home...
*** The picture above is Papa Dick with Love Bug at her dedication in 2003. The one to the right is him with Bright One in 2005 at her dedication.***