I had an amazing encounter a few weeks ago with Ace. Although we’ve talked about all these topics before, Ace has his own special filters when it comes to life. He can be completely absorbed in one topic and blissfully ignorant of many others until one day things just connect in his brain and he gets it. (For instance, after years of living with a dinosaur-obsessed older brother and watching and reading lots of things on pre-historic life, Richard found him a few weeks ago in floods of tears having just understood the concept that ‘extinction’ actually meant there wasn’t a single dinosaur left in the whole world....)
Ace: What happens when you get to infinity?
Me: What do you mean?
Ace: Like when you are infinity years old and you just keep going and going and going.
Me: Nobody gets to infinity years old buddy, we all die before then.
Ace: (stops and stares at me). What, everyone dies?
Me: Yes, one day. Some people live to over a hundred but most people die before then.
Ace: So when you get to a hundred, you die?
Me: Well, it’s different for all of us. Most people die when they’re old but some people die when they’re young.
Ace: But I don’t want to die!
Me: Everybody dies in the end, buddy, it’s nothing to be afraid of.
(pause for thought)
Ace: Do some people come back to life after they die?
Me: Well, Jesus did. And a few other people have done too, because of Jesus, but most people stay dead.
Ace: And what happens when you’re dead?
Me: People who are friends with God go to heaven.
Ace: Oh. (sadly) I don’t want to go to heaven.
Me: Why not?
Ace: Because in heaven there’s only clouds and angels and NO computer games. (following a discussion we had a long time ago about the end of the world where he asked me to make sure I kept my iPhone with me at all times)
Me: Hmm. It’s true we can’t take stuff with us to heaven. But we do get new bodies. We don’t know what our new bodies will be like, but they might be able to do anything we want them to, so it would be better than playing computer games.
Ace: What do you mean?
Me: Well, our new bodies might be able to change shape. And they might be able to fly or go through walls or something.
Ace: So it would be like being IN a computer game!
Me: Maybe, I’m not sure...
Ace: TURTLE! TURTLE! Guess what? When we die, we get new bodies that are like being in a computer game and we can fly and change shape and stuff.
Turtle: Wow, awesome!
Me: Well, I said we might be able to – the bible doesn’t say exactly. But it does say that in heaven there is no more sadness, and no more being scared, and no pain and no tears.
Ace: (stares at me completely astounded, then is suddenly overwhelmed with excitement and starts giggling with actual tears in his eyes) REALLY?! No being scared of monsters, ever? No crying? And no hurting yourself, ever? (starts jumping up and down)
Me: Yep. Nobody will be sad or in pain or poorly ever again.
Turtle: No poorliness? Alright! No more hospital!
Me: Yep. Nobody will need a hospital because our bodies will never get ill or broken.
Turtle: So like, you could crash into walls and be like ‘I’m fine!’
Ace: And you could jump off a cliff and smash at the bottom and shout ‘I’m okay!!’
(Cue five minutes of hilarity where they act out mock accidents and jump back up unscathed.)
Turtle: This is amazing! I wanna die now – let’s shoot ourselves!
Me: Woah! NO NO NO, we’ve got stuff to do in this life first, let’s not think about killing ourselves....
Ace: I gotta tell Rocky!
And then this boy, who hardly said a word till his extensive speech therapy started when he was four, and has always struggled to understand anything he cannot see, smell and get his hands on, ran upstairs shouting to his little brother:
Ace: Hey Rocky, guess what??? What we die, we get to go to heaven and we get new bodies, and there will be NO more crying, and NO more poorliness, and NO more hurting ourselves, and NO more sadness and NO more being scared of ANYTHING ever again!
Preach it, son.
I wrote this last night then today heard the sad news of Piper Jean Needham who died yesterday after a long illness. Piper’s family has a mutual friend of ours and so together Scooby and Piper have been mentioned on many prayer lists and I and several other friends have been following her family’s blog at needhamcrew.blogspot.com . A few weeks after Piper’s birth she was found to have an aggressive form of leukaemia and so, like us, they have spent a huge amount of the last two and a half years in hospital, going through rough treatments and seeing huge changes in their child, and experiencing extreme highs and lows depending on test results and physical symptoms. She had a bone marrow transplant a few months before Scooby did, but hers wasn’t successful in getting rid of her disease. Like Scooby, she is the second-born in her family but where we had six more years to expand and complete our family before illness reared its head, her parents have had to put their dreams of a big family aside straight away while they invested everything they had into getting her better. Her disease came with a name and a known treatment which brought so much hope, but ultimately it took her life; Scooby’s disease still has no name and no known treatment, but at the moment we still have that hope that he will get better.
All of which makes it seem so completely and utterly unfair.
But, like us, they trust in God and placed her life into His hands a long time ago. They are mourning and rejoicing all at once that their child is out of their physical hands now and has gone into the hands of the One who loves her even more than they do. Her very short life on earth caused many many people to spend time crying out and interceding with our God, and what better purpose can any of us have in life than to draw people to God?
To Piper Jean Needham – although this earthly life makes no sense, God does, and He is the reason we Do. Not. Fear. Death.
Hope you're having fun in your new body.