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GOD'S NOT DEAD
Radisson's Homecoming

"It's okay," the Christian man said. "In a few minutes, you're going to know more about God than I do... than anyone here does."

But it wasn't a few minutes. As soon as the man had helped Jeffrey confess his acceptance of Jesus, whom he had always known was Lord deep down, but could never bring himself to openly admit to until now, Everything went quiet and he was plunged into darkness; and the excruciating pain of his crushed ribs and punctured internal organs was suddenly gone. He floated in the void of nothingness, not breathing, heart not pumping blood, but he was fully aware.

Then he became aware of someone behind him. And as impossible as it would seem for someone floating in emptiness and not standing on anything, he turned to face the presence. darkness and emptiness shattered and a meadow, more beautiful than he could have ever imagined exploded into existence around him. The grass was greener than any green he could remember ever having seen, and the sky was bluer than any blue. All around him were wildflowers, some of them in colors he had no name for.

The presence he had turned to face took shape before him. A man with olive skin and dark hair turned almost white by the glorious radiance that shone round about him. A man who held out a hand towards him. A nail-scarred hand.

Jeffrey reached out a trembling hand and took the one offered him. "You are Lord"

"I am," came the reply, in a voice that came from the mouth of the man before him and from all around at the same time.

"Jesus," Jeffrey said. falling to his knees and still holding the Lord's hand. "Please forgive me for my sins. I have spent most of my life denying you. Hating you. But I have always needed you. I am so sorry."

With his other hand, Jesus gently raised Jeffrey's chin. "My child," came that all-encompassing voice. "I forgave you the moment you said 'yes' to the question that My servant had asked, about whether you were willing to take a chance on trusting in Me. With one word of acceptance, you undid a lifetime of denial. One acceptance of My love for you undid a lifetime of hatred from you."

Looking into the very eyes of Jesus and hearing His voice speaking comfort to him almost broke Jeffrey's heart. "I want to cry, Lord," he said. "But I can't. Is it just me being stubborn?"

"No, My child," Jesus said. "By My hand and by My will, I have wiped away every tear. This is not a place of sorrow for past deeds. This is a place of joy eternal. Here you will know no more pain, nor will you know any more loneliness: For I am with you, forever. Amen."

with that, the Lord was gone. Well, not gone. Jeffrey could feel Jesus all around him and within him. He turned slowly, taking in his surroundings. Off to the side, he saw a woman wearing white robes picking apple-like fruit from one of the trees at the edge of the meadow. He found himself standing next to her. He didn't walk to her. He was in the middle of the meadow one moment and at the woman's side the next. He had moved at the speed of thought.

"Amazing," he said.

"Isn't it, though?" asked the woman in a voice that was all too familiar.

"Mom?" Jeffrey asked.

She turned to him and smiled. "Yes, Jeffrey. It's me. When Jesus told me you were coming home today, I rejoiced. I have prayed so hard for you, and now you are here. And nothing will part us from each other again."

Had Jeffrey known that this would be how reuniting with his mother would ultimately be, he never would have let the bitterness that came with her death take control. But he was only twelve when God called her home. All he saw was this wonderful woman who had loved him so much and had cared so deeply for him waste away with cancer. He had once demanded of God to know why anyone should endure such suffering. But then only a few minutes ago he was laying in the street, suffering an agony he had never endured before. he tried to remember the sensation, but strangely enough, he could not. Not even the shadow of the memory of pain existed here.

After a moment, he stopped trying to remember what dying had felt like, and he turned his attention to the purple-ish fruit growing on the trees before him. "What sort of fruit is this?"

His mother smiled. "This, my son, is the Fruit of the Tree of Life. All who have come here may eat of it freely, for it is not gluttony to eat what has been prepared for you."

He reach out and plucked one of the fruits from the tree and was amazed as a new fruit grew and matured in its place. He looked at the fruit in his hand, and saw not a single blemish or bruise upon it surface. It was shiny like an apple, but as he bit into it, he found that it was soft as a pear. Blue juice ran down his chin and dripped onto his own white robe. But before he could think about having soiled the robe, the blue stain faded away, leaving him to focus on the taste of the fruit. It was like nothing he had ever tasted before. If this was the only thing in Heaven he could eat, he didn't think he would ever get tired of it, and he said so.

His mother laughed. "Of course this isn't all there is to eat. Everyone who comes here arrives in this garden meadow. The fruit here is a welcoming gift. Almost like a fruit basket in a lavish hotel room. Wait until you enjoy your first feast at the table of the King!"

"where will I be staying?" he asked.

"A place has been prepared for you by the Architect and the Carpenter of the Ages, she said. She looked to the side and smiled."

Jesus was at Jeffrey's side again. "In My Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. Come, my child. Come and see the place I have prepared for you."

"Mom?" Jeffrey said, looking at his mother, who smiled back at him, reassuringly.

"Go ahead, dear," she said. "we'll be seeing a lot of each other."

So Jeffrey followed the Lord. There were indeed many mansions here. All of them were different. In size, in shape, in style. He asked the Lord about the smaller ones, if size was representative of a believer's status.

"No, My child," he said. "Some of the souls residing in these places are content with simplicity. Every home I have built reflects the desire of their heart and I have made sure that they more that meet their expectations. This one is yours,"

It was huge. And when he entered it, he saw why. There were rooms and rooms of books. His mansion was a library. "Knowkedge has been the greatest desire of your heart, Jeffrey Radisson," the Lord said, using his name for the first time since he had arrived. "In these rooms are the writings of every philosopher who ever lived on every world I created, who ultimately placed their faith in Me. Each book written here in Heaven with the author fully aware of the Truth of all ages. Some praise with song. Others praise with the written word. This wealth of knowledge told from the unique perspective of millions of individuals is meant to meet that greatest desire of your heart."

"My Lord and my God," Jeffrey began, once again wanting to weep but finding himself incapable of doing so, "It more than meets that desire. I want to write my own book of praise."

Jesus smiled at him. "And I shall look forward to reading it."

Once again, the Lord was gone while still being present. Jeffrey wandered around the place that Jesus Himself had built for him. All of those books giving a unique perspective on personal faith in Jesus were tantalizing him. Jesus had said they were written by believers from every world He had created. He was never one to believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life. And yet the Lord confirmed its existence. But here in this place where time had no meaning, and where one could move at the speed of thought, it was not surprising to learn of it.

Three things were missing from his mansion. There was no bedroom, there was no bathroom, and there was no kitchen. As he thought about it, though, they weren't really missing at all. They were not needed. He now existed in a form that needed no sleep, no food, and no need to relieve itself of bodily waste. The mansion was about having a unique place to call one's own. There was, however a lavishly comfortable living room, large enough to be called a fellowship hall fit for entertaining a multitude of friends.

He stepped out on the balcony of the third floor of his mansion, which overlooked rolling hills and beautiful trees.

"All you see is yours, my child," the Voice of the Lord echoed around and within him. "You have a world as your back yard and in all of eternity you will never know the entire length or breadth of it. It is yours to build what you will or to simply enjoy as it is."

With the speed of thought he was back in front of his mansion. He moved to look past it and saw another mansion not more than what looked to be twenty meters behind his own. He wondered how that was possible considering what he saw from the balcony of his mansion.

"There are no limits here," came the Voice of the Lord again in answer to his unspoken question. "As I purpose it, so it is."

He looked around at the residential area of the Holy City, which the Bible referred to as "New Jerusalem." the streets were paved with gold, that was so pure that it was almost like glass. Things he always heard believers talking about, which he had scoffed at in life, were very present and very real around him. While he did not feel worthy, one thing that he could not deny was the unshakable feeling of knowing that he had come home.

THE BEGINNING