Copyright © 2016 Gwendolyn Siegrist All rights reserved.
BEYOND THE GATE
Although made of pure gold, the key that St. Peter pulled from his pocket was plain and simple. It was straight and narrow. At the key’s end, one notch had been cut away. St. Peter inserted it into the keyhole, and, with a quick flick of his wrist, the gate flew open.
As God Almighty and Jesus Christ walked through the open gate, Jesus turned to Ryan and said, “We will talk again in the Great Hall.”
Ryan looked surprised at this statement, but before he could say any- thing, Christ and the Father turned and walked down a street of gold, stopping briefly to hug holy kids before they were on their way and out of sight.
St. Peter put his arm around Ryan and walked him through the pearl gates and onto holy ground. “When you hear the bell ring three times, go to the Great Hall for the celebration feast, where you’ll take your first meal. You will meet the Bible saints, and Gabriel is coming, and you may bring a guest,” he said smiling at Angela. “Afterward you will meet with Jesus, St. Andrew and Gabriel over in Crown Hall and receive the details of your mission. I know you and the others are anxious to try out your new wings now, so have fun, and remember to listen for the bell.”
Smiling and nodding his head, St. Peter patted Ryan on the back and said, “Welcome home, Ryan.” He then returned to the landing. Ryan
watched as the pearly gates closed. Several angels flew over the gate to join St. Peter.
As Ryan turned around and looked at the young choir of thousands, the angelic voices stopped singing and began cheering and whistling. This kind of sound is not found at football games or concerts on earth, it’s only found in heaven. Ryan was stepping into a real celebration!
Suddenly these holy kids were everywhere. Some ran directly over to him; some hovered above him. Others flew in circles in the sky, tumbling and spinning in all directions, some calling his name or praising God for all creation.
They shouted greetings like, “Welcome home, Ryan,” and “Ryan, we’ve been waiting for you,” or “Ryan, you’re going to love it here!”
He was surrounded by thousands of other holy kids just like him, and he stood very still, watching in full amazement. From my high tower, I could see that Ryan was excited, and probably felt filled with goodness. I saw tears gathering in his eyes as he wiggled his wings and felt the fabric of his new robe.
“Tears in heaven,” he asked out loud as one rolled down his cheek?
“But these are different.” A young holy girl caught Ryan’s tear on her finger and dropped it on her lips. “These are tears of joy, and they taste so sweet. They can only be found in heaven.”
A smile spread across Ryan’s face, and he asked, “Who are you?” “My name is Angela,” she said, smiling back.
“Oh. Well, look, Angela, I’d love to share tears with you sometime, but
what I really need right now is the instruction manual for these wings,” he said, pointing over his shoulders with his left thumb. “I’m ready for a test flight.”
Ryan watched other holy kids flying everywhere, some quite fast and close to his head. “I’m ready to do that,” he said.
“Manuals are for those in training on earth,” she explained with her eyebrows going way up and then down. “You are in heaven now, remem- ber. You’ll learn to think differently after you finish your mission. Anyway, just think about flying, and you’ll be doing it,” she said, again with those eyebrows up.
So Ryan did a little hop to lift himself off of heaven’s floor, and he was up. Then he stretched over to the right and his body moved that way. He then moved the other way, then up a little, then down and all at once and found himself whirling around in circles. Her words were true!
“Whoa!” he shouted.
Suddenly he was flying all around the sky, but he was upside down and spinning out of control. There was no slowing down for Ryan. Even as he was learning to fly, he was fast.
More holy kids joined him in the air and laughed hard as they watched him gyrate as they themselves had done at first. The laughter of thousands of holy kids bellowed across the skies of heaven as they dodged Ryan’s wild flight patterns. But Angela was always there to reach out and help him regain control and laugh along with him.
Ryan’s heavenly body was very different from the body he’d had on earth. Not only could he fly now, but he may find that even a simple jump had so much more power in heaven.
“Angela, I was a really fast runner on earth, so now I want to learn to fly one hundred times faster than that.”
“Well I can teach you everything you need to know,” she laughed. “Ready to bounce?”
The holy kids took off, Angela was in the lead, and Ryan wobbled right behind. They flew a far distance from the landing to a forest area that had a few snow-covered mountains. Angela asked Ryan to sit on a snowy, rocky ledge while she introduced what she called the basic aerobatic ma- neuvers. She flew a distance from him and began.
First she did a few barrel rolls, then spiral turns, several loops and a lazy eight. She barnstormed through some trees and came out, ending with a hammerhead stall, and circled back to get her student.
“Well, what do you think?” She asked with her head rocking and eye- brows way up.
Mouth hung open and in total amazement, speaking one word at a time, Ryan asked, “How. Did. You. Learn. To. Do. That?”
“Practice. And learning from the best teachers. Plus,” Angela smiled, “Plus, I’ve been here a while.”
A slow grin grew across Ryan’s face.
“You ready?” She asked.
“Maybe. I mean, YES!” And with that, he streaked away into the sky,
Angela right behind him.
The two holy kids flew through the skies practicing the cool moves
Angela knew. I could see that Ryan would be quick in learning to com- mand his new wings, and for the first time, I saw Ryan’s speed result in a thin blue streak across the sky.
“You’re a natural at flying, Ryan, like you were at running on earth,” Angela told him. “You have good balance and you easily keep your head in the right position. Of all the new holy kids I have taught to fly, you seem to understand it almost automatically. You’re doing great!”
They continued flying until Ryan seemed more comfortable with his new skill, then they decided to take a break.
With wings fully spread, I watched Angela take Ryan’s hand to help him gently touch down on the edge of a high cliff that overlooked a deep bay of clear water. They sat down at the cliff’s edge and hung their bare feet over the edge. Even from some two hundred feet above the water’s surface, fish could be seen. Their colors of gold, blue and orange were bril- liant against the white rocks that lined the bottom. Some swam in large schools, while others swam alone.
“Oh, my,” Ryan exclaimed. I’ve never seen a lake more clear and beau- tiful, not even in Colorado! Do we get to go fishing in heaven? On earth I spent lots of summer afternoons fishing with my brothers at a lake near our home.
“We can dive off of these cliffs and swim here anytime we want, Ryan. Let me tell you about the pure water in heaven. This is the Crystal Sea,” she began. “All the water in heaven flows from the foot of God’s throne. This particular sea is where God casts forgiven sin when people become born-again believers and give their lives to Jesus. He forgives them and throws their sin in here, where it dissolves. Then He forgets it. Their sins are forgiven forever.” Smiling, she looked at him and said, “This water is perfect, and yes, Ryan, the fishing here is really good.”
Ryan picked up a small, flat rock beside him, one perfect for skip- ping across water, and held it tightly with the tips of his index finger and thumb. When he looked back at the water, he noticed that the Crystal Sea was perfectly still except for the rings that came from fish surfacing to sip a breath of heaven’s pure air. Ryan pointed that out to Angela and said, “I remember someone telling me that those rings represent rings of love and they don’t just stop at the water’s edge. No, they encircled the entire globe and could be compared to God’s infinite love for us.” He laid the rock back down and looked at Angela.
“I have a question, Angela. Did you and all the other holy kids get to heaven the same way I did, by an accident?”
Looking deep into his eyes, she answered, “We all got to heaven the same way, Ryan, but it was not ‘by accident.’ No one gets to heaven ‘by accident.’ There’s only one way to get to heaven, and that’s by accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and believing that He is the Son of the living God. Only those born again through Christ’s blood will get into heaven. How we lived our lives and whom we chose to serve makes the difference. The way we are taken from earth is not important, but where we go afterward is!”
“I understand that, Angela. When I was six years old, I realized the difference between right and wrong. And when I was eight years old my parents took me to hear a visiting missionary teach at our church. She said that God loved people so much that He had sent His son, Jesus, to earth to offer forgiveness for mistakes. That missionary said that if people would believe in Jesus and take Him as their Savior, we would have eternal life and go to be with God in heaven when we died. So, that very night, I, and many other people said yes, and trusted Jesus as our Savior and became born-again Christians simply by believing. We were even baptized, right there on the spot. From that moment on I knew God was with me, right beside me, in me. I always felt pro- tected and never alone.”
Ryan looked far out across the forgiving water again, and then he saw it. Smack in the middle of the sea was a cross—the old, rugged cross upon which Jesus had been crucified.
“By way of that cross, I came to heaven.” Then Ryan jumped to his
feet, standing tall, spread his wings full, and cupped his hands around his
mouth, and he shouted across the sea and into the sky, “God bless my par-
ents! God bless that missionary! Bless them again and again, Father! For they took the time to make sure I learned Your ways!”
With a smile that also seemed to shout and cheeks dripping with those special tears, he took Angela’s hand and pulled her to his side. There by the Crystal Sea, they shared the tears of joy, and their laughter rolled like thunder through the heavens. The sound of a great bell could be heard ringing in the distance.