Yesterday I told you about a man named Walt who I had the thrill of leading to Jesus along with his wife. Mary. They are both now in glory enjoying the presence of Jesus. I can’t help but be overwhelmed at the thought that God would use someone like me to help someone else find the truth about heaven. I will never forget the first time that someone that I had a part in seeing come to know Jesus was taken to heaven.
Her name was Karen. Karen was a sweet teenager who started coming to our Youth Group through our bus ministry where I was the youth pastor in West Milton, Ohio. Karen was overweight and a bit backwards. Yet, she immediately won over the hearts of everyone in the youth group and ultimately everyone in the church. At one of our youth activities to King’s Island Amusement Park, Karen gave her heart to Jesus. She was the only believer in her family. Yet, she was so faithful. She never missed Sunday morning. She never missed Sunday night. She never missed a Wednesday or a youth activity.
Karen loved to talk. She really could talk your ear off. She would get a rambling about 100 miles per minute and then she would suddenly stop, get a silly look on her face, and ask, “Am I talking too much?” Of course she was, but nobody ever told her that. We loved Karen.
I had the joy of baptizing Karen. She had such a soft heart. Every Sunday morning, Pastor Steve, our Senior Pastor at the church, would give an invitation and every Sunday morning Karen would go forward and say, “I just want to love Jesus more!” Some people in the church suggested to Pastor Steve and I that we should tell Karen to not go forward every week as it looked bad to others. I loved Pastor Steve’s response. It was very simple. He said he just wished everyone in the church would have as soft a heart for Jesus as Karen did. As usual, he was exactly right.
After I had left Ohio to take on the Senior Pastorate of the Grace Brethren church in Osceola, Indiana, we got word that Karen had passed away. She had gone into the hospital for a very simple procedure, but as I remember it, her lung collapsed and she died. That was the first time I had ever had it happen to me. Someone that I had helped to introduce to Jesus so that they could one day go to heaven was now actually there. I can’t describe to you what that day was like for me.
Somehow I could just picture sweet little Karen getting to heaven and standing next to the throne of Jesus just talking a mile a minute. And I chuckled as I thought of Karen suddenly stopping and getting that silly look on her face and saying to Him, “Jesus, am I talking too much?” Of course she was, but I doubt Jesus would tell her that. He would just listen and love her. After all, her goal every Sunday when she came forward was to just love Jesus more! I can’t wait to get to heaven and see Walt and Mary. I can’t wait to get to heaven and see Karen. And there are many, many more names I could give you. But most of all, I can’t wait to get to heaven and see Jesus! The best is yet to come!!