Just thought I would post one last update and let you know what’s been going on since I left. Well, I arrived just before 7:00 pm on Saturday night. I remember being in the hospital with my Mom and Dad and sisters. Mom and Dad were holding my hands. Mom was telling me how much she loved me and that it was ok to go home to Jesus. I had fought hard for nearly two years, my body was broken and I was so tired, I knew He was calling me and it was time to go Home. I can’t say there was a whole lot of fanfare when I arrived and I didn’t really expect any. All I wanted was to go to Him…and as He promised in His Word, He was there. When He greeted me, there was complete joy, peace and love.
It was amazing to come face to face with Him… He reached out His hands to welcome me and just held me. The coolest thing was that I recognized His hands and His embrace…I had felt them so many times in the past two years when He carried me through my toughest experiences. I don’t really know how to describe it, but it was the most pure love I have ever experienced.
Shortly after, He said we needed to go. He let me know what I was about to experience would evoke every emotion I had ever felt and with an intensity that would amaze me. He also assured me that He would not leave me. What was I in for? As we walked, my mind was so pre-occupied with what was going to happen that I nearly forgot where I was…this is Heaven, I needed to look around! As I lifted my eyes I nearly stopped in my tracks…what incredible beauty! I remember writing in my journal, after our Alpine Trip in Grade 10, that the view from the top of Mount Kerr was the most spectacular thing I had ever seen…I thought that God’s creation was amazing from an earthly mountain top, well this took things to the next level…wow!
It didn’t take us long after that to reach our destination, a small, simple, building. We climbed the steps and entered. The only thing in the room was a table and chair with a book lying in the centre of the table. He led me to the chair and asked me to sit. On the table in front of me was my Book of Life. If what I believed to be correct, this book contained everything I had ever said, thought and experienced…ok, this was a little scary, was I prepared to see who I really was? He opened the book for me and I was flooded with emotion as I watched the images flash through my mind.
I smiled and laughed at the fun times spent with friends and family, I was sad as I watched moments where people I loved were hurt or treated badly and I cried with anguish as I saw the sin in my life – times when my words and actions betrayed the love that He has always shown me. The images ended but how could I lift my eyes to meet His…I had fallen so short of deserving to be in Heaven. That is when I again felt His compassionate hand on my shoulder. The words He next spoke to me were the sweetest I have ever heard…”My dearest child, you have believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth that you belong to Me. Your sins are no more. You have been redeemed! My Holy Spirit has sealed you for an eternity in My presence.”
As we left that small building, I was again awestruck at the love He demonstrated to me, what incredible grace He extends…the punishment I deserved for my actions…He took it upon Himself on the cross so long ago. We again walked and talked until we arrived at, what I guess is, my place. His promises are faithful; He had prepared a place for me in His Father’s house.
I love Him, and He loves me…He is my Saviour.
After helping me get settled, He suggested we prepare to go to the gathering. When I asked Him what the gathering was, He simply smiled and said, “You’ll see”. Well, how do I describe what took place in those next hours? There is no possible way I can put all of the sights, sounds and details into words but please allow me to tell you what I experienced to the best of my ability.
As we walked toward the gathering I could hear the noise grow, it was not the chaotic noise one might expect when approaching a large event, but rather it was beautiful sounds coming together in harmony. We crested the final slope along our walk and there I saw them…the saints of Heaven. We stopped for just second to let the view all soak in. The mass of people were far too many to count, but there they were, encircled around a sea of glass with a throne in the centre. He nudged me and whispered in my ear, “You now belong with them”.
“Shall we join them?” He asked me as we started to move forward. As we reached the crowd, they shifted to create room for us to pass though their midst. I could hear words and songs of praise to Him, the One that I walked with, as we continued to move forward. We eventually reached the front of the gathering and there it was right before me, the most beautiful scene you could ever imagine, the throne of the Lamb of God surrounded by a sea of glass and the saints of Heaven worshiping Him.
I was hesitant, but He encouraged me to take another step forward and approach His throne. We did. I turned to Him and noticed there was something different about Him now. He was still Him, and yet there was more, he was regal. Suddenly, everything became quiet as we stood in the centre of the gathering. He turned to me and with great care placed a white robe around me and proclaimed with a voice that was quiet and thundering at the same time, “Jordan Lee Zacharias, well done good and faithful servant of the Living God. You suffered much in your life but not once did you deny me or cast me aside. Today you will receive the crown of life”. With that He placed the most intricate and jeweled crown that you could imagine on my head. Words cannot describe the majesty of that moment. He led me back to where the people were gathered and then returned to His throne.
As he sat on His throne, the entire gathering fell to their knees in worship of Him and the most beautiful music and songs where lifted up to Him. It was all I could do to take my eyes off of Him but my curiosity got the best of me. I looked around and saw the saints of Heaven participating in all forms of worship, it was breath taking.
There was something I knew I needed to do, but didn’t know when to do it…do I dare disturb this moment? The desire became too great for me and once again I approached His throne. When I arrived, I could do nothing else but fall to my knees, and in what seemed like the only act of worship I could perform that was deserving of Him, I lay my crown at the feet of Jesus.
I love Him, and He loves me…He is my King.
These gathering happen daily here and each time it as new and exhilarating as it was the time before. I will never get tired of this as more saints are added to the Kingdom daily.
In the days since the gathering He and I have gone for walks, shared meals together and talked about a lot of stuff. He has revealed answers to questions we had about why we faced such a difficult trial and has shown me how intimately present He was with us, even when it felt like we were all alone. I wish I could share and explain everything to you now, but He Himself will reveal some of the answers to you in the days and years to come and other answers will have to wait until you join me. Be assured though, that everything that has happened, and is yet to happen, is according to His perfect will and to fulfill His wonderful purposes.
Being able to spend time with Him each day has been awesome. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being in His presence in this way. Just let me say this, in the past I was so worried about how I came across to others, I too often worked so hard at trying to be who others wanted me to be. I would question myself all the time…Do I fit in? Do I measure up? Do they like me? With Him, there is complete acceptance.
I love Him and He loves me just as I am…He is my Friend.
Before I sign off for the last time I want to let you know about a few others things that have happened since I’ve been here. First off, Grandpa Zak, just need to let you know that God has been so good! Grandma and I live only a few doors down from each other and I have been hanging out lots…but it’s not really like hanging out with a Grandma. Age is a funny thing here; it just doesn’t seem to matter. When Grandma and I are together, it’s more like being with a sister, and well, I guess that’s what we are, sisters in Christ. We’ve played a whole bunch of Scrabble, and she even lets me win once in a while.
Oh, and since I’ve been here, I haven’t coughed once! I have this great new body. This one works perfectly, obviously no more cancer; I can walk, run, bend and jump. My flexibility has never been so good…and Sam, Ash and Jess, sorry to tell you but I win our little contest for being the first one with 6-pack abs.
You’ll never guess what’s across the street from where I’m living…yes, that’s right, a big gym with a perfectly polished hardwood floor and a beautiful volleyball court right in the middle of it. The first time I went in to have a look there were a few others already there just playing a little pepper. I wasn’t sure if I should, but I wanted to feel a volleyball in my hands so bad. I walked onto the court and stood in the position at the net where I’ve been so many times before. I asked one of the guys there if he wouldn’t mind tossing me a ball the same way Sam used to pass to me…about a meter outside of the attack line…make me run for it just the way she did so often (just joking Sam). Anyway, he gave me a toss and I set the ball just the way I used to, it felt so good. I could even imagine Sam floating through the air and just crushing one down the line…it was so cool!
Finally…to Mom, Dad, Sam, Ash and Jess, to my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, to Roger, Mr. Hinz and all of the people who I have been blessed to call teammates and classmates, I want to leave you one last thing…
I remember that at the time that I first got sick and was diagnosed with cancer, our club volleyball team was doing a book study at our weekly devotions. The book was full of inspiring stories and quotes from all kinds of people from the world of sport. I underlined and highlighted all kinds of things in that book and many of the lessons learned I took with me into my battle with cancer. One of my favorite stories was that of Woohitike (Bravery). As the story was told,
Woohitike, or bravery, is one of the central virtues of the Lakota Sioux. They believe we all have it within us to be brave, that each of us can defend the camp when necessary. Life will give us the opportunity, issuing the invitation to the contest, and as time goes on, we will be shaped and strengthened by our challenges. Whether we can win each time or not, we will be tempered by adversity.
The ancient Lakota hunter warriors handcrafted their own bows from seasoned ash wood. There were two ways to acquire the proper wood. The conventional way was to find a young ash tree, harvest it, and let it dry for at least five years. But hunter warriors were always on the lookout for a mature ash tree that had been struck by lightning. Such a tree had been dried and cured in an instant by the awesome power of the lightning, and any bows made from it would be much stronger. Such trees were rare, but they were preferred because they had suffered the ultimate adversity, and ultimate adversity produces the ultimate strength.
I used to think that this story was for me, to give me strength, but He has shown me that this story was for each of you. Thanks for walking with me each step of the way, the adversity we all faced has produced a tremendous strength in each of you…use it for His glory.
Until we meet again,