Getting ready for heaven

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Arnold is dead. He passed sometime Saturday night after midnight. Marie, his wife, doesn’t know when because she got the first night of uninterrupted sleep that she’s had in a long time. That’s because Arnold’s coughing didn’t wake her. Arnold’s coughing was mercifully over. He was at peace.

Knowing his condition, and that this could happen at any time, didn’t make it any  easier. Marie was hysterical when she called me yesterday morning, like it wasn’t possible. She has been taking care of him 24/7 for two years. For that whole time he has been trapped inside a body that could barely move. There was always hope that he might improve, but evidence that he might not. Still he was alive. He could listen and talk, sometimes lucidly. He could crack a joke; he just couldn’t laugh. Didn’t matter. That suited his dry humor.

And he could hear the word of the Lord — something he hungered for after rejecting it for almost 45 years, and in his trapped state, he could respond to the truth that set him free eternally. After his baptism, he told ever visitor that came in that he had been baptized. He was like an evangelist in a straightjacket. People who knew him well couldn’t believe it; it was such a change from his former self. I never had that problem, because I only knew the sweet man he became — the one who loved his wife, loved hearing about God, loved listening to George Beverly Shea sing hymns, and actually worried about what I would do when he was gone.

I never once heard him complain. And though their life was terribly restricted,

Marie could still snuggle up to him, kiss him, and still hear him say, “I love you,” which he did every day. That was worth it all for her, I’m sure.

When I think about it now, I realize that what we’ve been doing is getting Arnold ready for heaven. He’s been talking about it all along, and he’s been talking like it was just around the corner. We didn’t hear that because we didn’t want to, but he knew. Obviously, last night, he was ready. And the question he would want to know of us if he were here is: Are we?

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:1-3

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15 Responses to Getting ready for heaven

  1. gregg says:

    ” When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!!!!!”

  2. Wow! I’m sorry about Arnold’s passing, especially for Marie, but happy that he is free and rejoicing right now. Marie will really need people now, as I found out about my mom after my dad passed.

  3. peter leenheer says:

    I am sorry but not sorry about Arnold’s journey to heaven, if you get what I mean. Arnold is worshipping God. It is Marie the care giver, who needs the care and attention for the transition this creates in her life. She was all consumed with caring for Arnold and now there is that huge void or what do I do now. In all of these cases the care giver is often the one who we forget about because of the one who is in need of the special care. Please take special care of Marie.

  4. Carole Oglesbee says:

    Marie wasn’t ready. You weren’t ready. The Catch followers who have followed Arnold’s incredible story probably weren’t ready. But ARNOLD was ready and that’s the important part. Maybe when it comes to Believers, we should say, “_______s body is dead,” because we KNOW that otherwise, that Believer is more alive than ever before. Thank you, John, for allowing the Holy Spirit to use you as the vessel that carried the Gospel to Arnold, and Arnold’s triumph to us.

  5. Priscilla says:

    Thank you John for taking us along on your journey with Arnold. I feel like I’ve lost a friend, but am rejoicing that he is in the arms of Jesus right now.

  6. Mark D Seguin says:

    RIP Arnold looking forward to meeting you & sharing a cup of coffee.

  7. John A Fagliano says:

    You’ve been writing a lot about grace lately. Arnold’s story is a profound example of God’s Grace. A person can say he doesn’t want God for over 40 years and God will patiently wait until he does.

    I don’t want to forget that in spite of all the positives, and there are many, you will still be mourning the loss of a friend that you’ve grown close to for over a year. This will be very hard on Marie. If anyone is so inclined to cry over Arnold’s loss they should go ahead and do so. Jesus wept. Let mourning have its time.

    Arnold never had a body that was in working condition and the abundant life in his soul at the same time. When you see him again he will have a perfect body and more of the Life of God in his soul than ever! What a happy day that will be! I pray that you and Marie and anyone else affected by his passing will find comfort in that.

  8. Am experiencing a conflict of emotions right now.
    Just prior to opening todays Catch, I read that the 12 boys and their coach of a youth soccer team in Thailand that went missing in a flooded cave complex 9-days ago had just been found ALIVE!!! I know that many people around the planet, including myself, were praying for this sort of miracle and… it really happened!!! I rejoiced, cried with happiness, and thanked God over and over again as I read and reflected on this good news.

    Then, I read about Arnold’s passing. My eyes, again, welled up with tears but this time from sadness and loss, even though I never knew him except from what you have written.
    Please accept my condolences on the loss of Maries husband and your friend.
    I pray that Marie and you and all who were close to Arnold will find comfort in knowing that he has crossed the threshold into Shalom, Perfect Peace.

    Even though Arnolds passing was during the darkness of night, like those children will soon do from the darkness of the caves, he has emerged into the warm embrace of the bright and beautiful Daylight – no longer trapped by his body or the confinement of this world.
    He is free.

    On the night, morning, or afternoon when we’re ushered into the arms of our Bridegroom, I pray that each one of us will cross that threshold with the same prepared hearts, dignity, and joy as did Arnold and the subject of the song from Friday’s Catch.

    In the meantime, however, may we continue to help and be servant lifelines to those emerging from the caves and darkness of their own lives.
    And, like the families of those young soccer players who have now replaced fear and dread with unfathomable joy and eager anticipation, may each of us express our gratitude to the One who rescues the lost from the deep recesses of the earth and saves us for eternity in Heaven with Him and one another.

    As Gregg said above:
    “When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!!!!!”

  9. Grace Patriot says:

    John and Marti, I’m struggling to find the words, so I’ll just share that Arnold’s story, your friendship with him, his reunion with our Heavenly Father, and his and Marie’s love for each other have touched my heart so deeply. I’m holding you all in my thoughts and prayers. 🙏❤️

    • jwfisch says:

      Grace,

      I hope you were not offended by my use of your name in today’s Catch. It really helped me to make a point about how our patriotism needs to be directed so as not to let it become misdirected.

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