I dreamed I saw a large department store. It was very brightly lit and the windows were full of wonderful things on display. It had enormous double doors which were thrown wide open and there were hundreds of people going in and out. To the left of the department store was a tiny little chapel. I went inside and I saw a large wooden cross in the centre which was dimly lit. Sitting underneath the cross was a man who looked like a beggar. He had his head in his hands and he was praying…
‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ‘
‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction…….but small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life…….’ (Matthew 7 v. 13-14)
Once a little girl met a man. The man held out his hand to her but she wouldn’t take it. She ran away, but a little while later she met him again. He asked her to hold his hand. She held out her hand a little way, but quickly pulled it back. Not long afterwards, she met him again and this time she took his hand. She liked the feel of his hand in hers. She walked a little way with him, but she saw some brightly coloured flowers on a bank and took her hand away, running to pick them. She turned around with her arms full of flowers and ran back to the man. The man held out his hand to her but her hands were full. They walked a little way together, but the man looked sad. Soon the flowers in the girls hands faded and wilted, and then died. She dropped them and looked up at the man’s face. He was smiling at her. He held out his hand again and she took it. They walked along for a little while, then they stopped. The man turned to face the little girl and he held out his arms to her. She lifted up her arms to him and he picked her up and carried her. He looked into her eyes, his eyes full of love, and said, “Do you know who I am?” She replied, “Daddy!”
July 2000. One morning I was lying in bed and I prayed:-
‘Lord, I just want to fulfil the plans you have for me. I want to hear you say, “Well done!” when we meet and to see your face smiling at me. I want you to put your arms around me and to put my arms around you.” His reply was this:-
‘You will; I will; I am; I do.’
I didn’t really understand this at the time. It was only later that I worked out what that meant. He also said, “Heather, you’re mine!” I cried…
October 2000. One Sunday morning, an evangelist from India came to our church. His name was Chuba Ao, from Nagaland. As a young evangelist he saw many miracles in his country and then years later, opened a Bible College there. Chuba spoke very powerfully that morning about what God was doing in his country. At the end I went forward for prayer. Chuba and Michael, our Pastor, prayed for me and I keeled over! I knew that God was doing something in me. He was dealing with pride, the thought that I had to ‘perform’ well for God to use me. That it all depended on me!! That was the first time that God started speaking to me about not being able to do anything without Him.
When I eventually sat up, God was saying to me, “Don’t rely on yourself or your works. Rely on me. Relying on yourself will only make you proud. It is I who wills and acts according to my divine purpose.” I could only come to God just as I was. God would be faithful to all His promises, even when I was unfaithful.
November 2000. It was nearly eleven o’clock at night. While I was laying in bed trying to get to sleep, Natalie came into our room and showed me something she had just written. She said something told her to write it and it just flowed out. It was beautiful and I believe it was a description of heaven. I told her God must have inspired it. This is what she wrote. I have written it in her own words:-
‘There was a village. It never was sad or unhappy. It was always full of spirit, well it was like Christmas spirit. This village was called The Happy Village. It wasn’t a fake happiness – it was a joy, the feeling you get on Christmas Eve.
When I went there were no sad faces, no tears, but it was not scary and paranormal, it was beautiful. I walked into the bakery. The bread smelt warm. It sent a tingle down my spine. Then I walked and I gazed – there were cobbled roads and the lamp light was reflecting off them. There was soft, spongy grass that I felt like doing cartwheels on. I sat down on the lovely warm bench that lay beside a letter box. Then I saw a house, a small and nice house, well, more of a cottage. It had a rose trellis climbing the wall and I looked and saw people playing charades. And ohhh, they looked like they were having such fun. I knocked at the door and said how I admired them. They asked me if I’d care to join them. I did. I had warm chestnuts and the most fun, laughing and joking. I had three mince pies and a jar of sweets and a mug of warm cocoa. We sat next to the fire. I sat there as if these people were my family. But really I’d never before seen them……..’
How wonderful. Heaven isn’t a weird paranormal place. It is home. It is everything we could ever dream of. It is a perfect place, full of everything that is good and beautiful. It is how this world was meant to be. I was so thankful that God gave that present to Natalie. I prayed she would hold on to that – a picture of her real home.
That meant everything to me at that time, because for a while I had felt like I was in a vast desert. I had felt as if God had left me. During one morning service one of our worship leaders read the first eight verses of Isaiah chapter six and they were like an oasis. As I sat there in the church, I thought about Jesus on the cross, saying, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” I knew He had gone through that for me. He knew how I felt, but He never sinned. He didn’t deserve it, I did. But the reason Jesus went through that was because we have all sinned. He is the way to our real home.
In that desert I wanted so much to be close to God again, but I found, looking back, that every ‘desert’ experience is an opportunity for learning. God wasn’t going to bend the rules for me! There were times when I just had to learn the hard way. The rows were still going on, though not all the time. I had to keep choosing the narrow way, take up my cross, daily, and follow Jesus. It was like being totally in love with someone and they are on the other side of the world. But God was teaching me to trust Him and obey Him.
‘I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.’
I had been judging God’s measure of love for me to what I said or did for Him. But I was beginning to realise that it was His goodness I needed to trust in, not mine! Anything good I said or did came from Him anyway! I needed to rest in Him and not get panicky about what I should or should not be doing. It was a time of waiting. When the time was right, He would show me what He wanted me to do.
‘I have chosen you and have not rejected you…’
‘My dear child, I have prepared a place in heaven for you that is better than anything you have ever imagined. One day we will be together forever and you will never worry again. You will see me face to face and you will know and understand.’
April 2001. One evening we decided to have a bonfire as we had a lot of wood to burn. I have always loved bonfires. I love standing in front of a huge bonfire on a cold, dark evening, feeling the heat of the flames and watching the sparks rise up in the air. It’s so cozy being cocooned in that circle of warmth, when you are surrounded by cold darkness.
When the fire was completely ablaze, two lads from our village went to get a wheelbarrow full of wood to burn. We threw the wood onto the fire, most of which was soaking wet, and it all burned! Halfway through the evening, it started to rain. It poured down, but the fire was so well ablaze that it didn’t go out!
No matter what happens to us, God’s love for us will never go out. Like a consuming fire, His love will keep us in its warmth and light. We just need to stay close to Him…
When Paul was away, even though I had our children to keep me company, I still sometimes felt a bit isolated. Our church was seven miles away from us, I didn’t have a car, and most of our church family lived a few miles away. One day I really needed encouragement and one of our neighbours knocked on our door. I opened it, and there she was, with a delicious chocolate gateau! Later that day, I went to our little post office and general store, very short of money, to buy a loaf of bread and a stamp. The lady behind the counter, without me saying anything, offered me two large loaves of bread, free, as she said they were just one day out of date! That day, I realised that there are people out there who really care! I felt a bit silly feeling so sorry for myself, and rather pathetic, but these things that came along were a sign that God cares.
April 2001. I hesitate to share this little story, as it kind of makes me look a little silly (!), but anyway, here goes…
One night, I woke up with an awful pain in my right wrist and lower arm. It was so bad that it had actually woke me up. I lay there thinking back over the day. That afternoon, the lawnmower had packed up, and my neighbour’s had broken too, but I was really in the mood for cutting our front lawn. So, I, in my wisdom, decided to find a pair of scizzors, and cut the grass with them!! It was a lovely warm, sunny day and I sat on the grass and started to snip happily away…
Our front lawn was quite big, so I didn’t manage all of it, but I did keep going for rather a long time. The reason my arm and wrist were hurting so badly was a repetitive strain injury caused by my own silliness!
As I lay there, I prayed, “Jesus, please heal my arm!” I knew it was my own fault I was in so much pain, but I knew I would not be able to sleep if it carried on. The words, “Reach out and touch the hem of my garment,” came to mind (see Mark 5 v. 27-28 and Matthew 9 v. 20-21). I thought that was a bit strange, and even though Paul was away in London, and I had the bed to myself, the thought of sticking my arm out of the bed covers still embarrassed me! What if it was my imagination? What if He didn’t heal me? But, I thought, what did I have to lose, so I stuck my arm out of the bed for a few seconds, and then put it back under the covers. Within less than a minute, the pain had completely gone!
‘Jesus is alive!’
My daily reading one day read: ‘Is there a dream in your heart? Has life buried it? Have others told you it’s too late? Don’t you believe it…’ It told me to pursue my dreams no matter how far-fetched they seem, because our dreams are like our children, they are our offspring. They are the joy of our present and the hope for the future…
The dream I had for my future was to bring hundreds, thousands of people to know Jesus for themselves. To speak God’s heart and to write. That is what I wanted to do more than anything in the world. How was that going to come about? Talk about far-fetched! It seemed totally impossible. But if God had put that vision in my heart, then He would bring it to pass in His time. The next step is the important one. Where I step now, determines which direction I go…
On another occasion, I went into town with the children. We paid a visit to the opticians, and decided to have lunch at McDonalds. After our lunch we were intending going on the March of Witness from Scarborough Spa to the Castle, as part of the Easter People celebrations. We never got there.
I started walking down the steps in McDonalds and when I got to the bottom, my back gave way and I couldn’t move! I was in agony! Someone called my neighbour who very kindly took my children home and an ambulance came for me. I was carried out of McDonalds on the arms of two paramedics with a gas and air tube in my mouth!! I went to casualty and they gave me an injection for the pain and three days’ supply of anti-inflammatory tablets.
My brother-in-Law drove me home and when I got there I found that my lovely sister had stayed with the children. Before I went to sleep that night I asked Jesus to heal me. Just before midnight I woke up and felt that He had answered my prayer as my back felt much better. I asked Him for a verse from the Bible, and I opened my Bible next to my bed and these words ‘leapt’ out at me!
‘Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy!’ (Isaiah 35 v. 6)
I slept well that night…!
Two days later, I was still in pain, but hopeful. The following day I went to the doctor, who referred me to a physiotherapist, but that night, as I was reading the Bible, these words jumped out!
‘…..I have heard your prayers and seen your tears; I will heal you.’ (2 Kings 20 v. 5)
The next morning I was dancing with Chloe to a worship CD with no pain at all! Thank you Jesus!
All these things were to reassure me that Jesus was walking with me on my journey and that my Heavenly Father would finish the work in me that He had begun…