I remember I was looking into my dad’s eyes as he told me, “We have so much to talk about, so much to catch up on. Tim, it’s all so incredible …” My dad stopped mid-sentence. His eyes were being drawn to someone behind me. I could tell by the look on his face—a look of excitement, joy, and anticipation—that it was again someone he could not wait for me to see. A joyful, holy hush fell across the crowd. Dad looked back into my eyes and deeply smiled. “Tim, he’s here.”
I turned, and there he was. Though I had never seen him, I knew him with certainty. For the first time I looked into the eyes of the Lord Jesus. He had the same look of joy, gladness, welcome, and anticipation that my dad had on his face. Opening his arms, HE RAN TO ME. He embraced me, lifted me off my feet, and spun me around, saying, “You’re home, you’re home, Tim … you’re home!” He grabbed my face and looked deeply into my eyes and said, “I’ve longed for this moment.”
Spontaneously, my Uncle Jim shouted out, “What eyes have not seen, what ears have not heard, so has he prepared for those who love him!” Then came another shout of joy and laughter from what was now a growing multitude of people. The Lord embraced me repeatedly, and WE BOTH laughcried for what seemed like a long time. I could hardly believe it; he was not only touching me, but he was joyfully, sincerely, and repeatedly embracing and kissing me on the cheeks, forehead, and hands. It was as though he really had longed to see me.
I kept saying “You’re real, this place …”
“PARADISE!” he exclaimed. “It’s real, it’s real … it’s real!!” he said with a deep soulful laugh.
Shortly thereafter, however, it hit me. I REMEMBERED. I stepped away from him and fell to my face before him. I remembered what I had done …
I remembered what I had done—what I had not done—time wasted on my own interests and the people I so deeply hurt. I remembered who I was, things I had said, not said. I thought of those whom I should have told of him … of the Gospel.
“This is all real. I should have lived so differently.” I wept bitterly, repeating to the Lord, “I am so sorry. I am so sorry.”
The crowd around us came to a hush, all of them but Jesus falling to their knees, looking at me with eyes full of compassion. It was as though they knew this moment was coming. They watched as Jesus gently lifted my face with his hand and said, “Tim there is something I want you to see.”
I looked deeply into his understanding and compassionate eyes. In that moment he somehow opened my mind. In a blink of an eye I was there! I was standing before the cross and there he was, naked and his flesh torn with blood flowing from his precious frame, being hung on wooden beams by three nails. I was sickened by such cruelty. There I was in the midst of the crowd watching his crucifixion. The majority of those around me sneered and mocked him. I was filled with horror and panic as I saw him, the one whom so warmly welcomed me and embraced me, the one whom I knew … but now knew deeply, suffering … being mocked and ridiculed. Then he looked down from the cross, and even though I was in a crowd of people below him, it was though he looked just at me. He said in a foreign tongue, yet my mind understood, the words, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” In that moment I felt such agony; in that moment I felt such shame and guilt. I cried out, “NO, NO, bring him down! Do you not know whom this is?”[Artwork Credit: AngelsLightWorldWide.com]