Waiting at the Gate
Heaven is often pictured as having pearly gates at the entrance and upon arrival there, one must enter the gates. Indeed the Bible describes it as such, “twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl” (Revelation 21:21). What happens when a person arrives at the gates of heaven and they are not opened? Are the angels in charge of gates, on vacation? Is it possible to arrive during an angelic shift change? Could one arrive before their heavenly dwelling place was ready for them to occupy. (John 14:2). Such may have been the case with my brother, Bob (affectionately known in the Gospel Music world as “Breakfast Bob”). Two months ago, he was preparing for knee replacement surgery, when tests revealed multiple heart valves clogged. Heart surgery was scheduled. Due to his age and weight, plus the degree of blockage, there was some concern by the medical staff that he might not survive the surgery. So strong was this belief, that Bob scheduled a meeting with his Pastor to discuss funeral details, set out to write his own obituary, and called me to be present during the surgery (even though we live several hundred miles apart). Bob not only survived the surgery, but was doing exceptionally well in his recovery. Someone joked by saying, “I guess his heavenly mansion wasn’t ready yet.” Then last week, while he was walking with his dog, Bob took a nasty fall, landing on concrete, face-first. Surgery was scheduled with the Surgeon saying there was a chance he would not make it through the night. He did. In the days following, he was upgraded to a 50/50 chance of survival, before being downgraded again. Then the decision was made to remove all the tubes, and turn off all the machines. Once again, I was called to be present. It was not an easy experience. Musical friends sang songs about heaven at the bedside. Others came by to bid Bob good-bye. However, as of this writing, Bob is still with us. He is not alert. He is no longer squeezing our hand or opening his eyes, but he is alive. He is breathing on his own, without difficulty. His heart is healthy. His pulse is strong. He may well leave us today, but we have repeatedly sung and talked him all the way to heaven, only to wait with him at the gate. Sometimes, it is just not yet time.