Ray and I were closing the shop around midnight after a very busy Friday night’s business. I had just seen the last employee leave and was locking the front door when the “enforcers” returned.
They pushed the door open, knocking me to the floor and this time they were carrying large guns that were not concealed. When I looked at the largest and meanest of the two, I knew that I was looking into the eyes of my killer.
After he locked the front door, he snarled at Ray and I, “You two, into the cooler and on your knees.”
“Please, mister, give Ray a chance,” I pleaded. “I’ll sell my business. You can have everything.”
“Sell your business? In this economy?” he laughed, the gun pointed straight at the back of my head.
“Please, I beg you, don’t kill Julie. This isn’t her fault.” Ray was crying, “I’ll work twenty four hours a day for the Mob. Please don’t do this!
“We have our orders, Ray, we gotta get this over with.” It was too late. There was nothing that could be done now.
I ripped the locket from my neck that contained the photo of my son and his family. I looked at my granddaughters’ beautiful faces one last time and began to pray The Lord’s Prayer. The last thing I heard as I was uttering, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth…” was the deafening roar of the 9-millimeter that would catapult me from this world to my eternal home.
What happened next involved the most exhilarating ride I had ever experienced. I was flying through a tunnel that was completely surrounded by flashing, almost psychedelic lights. It was as if I were inside a kaleidoscope, safely tumbling like colorful rocks. The rush was unexplainable.
I felt infused by exquisite music and I could hear the beckoning call of my parents’ and my husband’s voices. Rather than feeling terrified, I felt intense joy and anticipation, similar to the birth of my son. I could see a light up ahead that seemed to burn with the intensity of a thousand suns. It was heaven and I knew I would soon pass into its glory.
Before I tell you anything more, I would like to share exactly what led up to this phenomenal happening.
My name is Julie and this is my story.
Julie Enters Heaven Chapter 7
“…as it is in heaven” I heard myself say as my exhilarating tunnel experience came to an end. I had landed.
I had passed from my former life to a new one and found I couldn’t open my eyes. The brightness was too much for me.
I knew instantly that I was in heaven and “the peace that passes all understanding”…the peace that I had always heard about throughout my life, was now a part of me. The instant calming effect I experienced was worth the amazing ride I had taken to get here.
“Have no fear, Julie. Open your eyes…..slowly.” It was a commanding yet soothing voice that had to come from an angel and it conveyed strength, comfort, and assurance. I felt I had heard it before.
Once I timidly opened my eyes, I gazed upon the most exquisite creature I had ever seen standing before me. Its shimmering presence dominated my sight and I held my breath for almost as long as I had when I told my parents I was leaving college to go live in a commune. I was speechless with excitement and incredulity.
This angel had to be at least ten-feet tall and wore a robe of fine-spun gold, encrusted with gems including sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, and rubies. His translucent skin was milky white and his long, white hair hung down his back, flecks of gold sparkling throughout it. I saw kind, pale, blue eyes like those of my father gazing back at me and I was happy to be in the presence of such a beautiful being. There were constant waves of golden light emanating from him and I could not tear my eyes away from such beauty. Truly, everything else within sight of him paled to his glory.
Once I slowly sat up, and found my voice I grasped my chest and said, “Wow, now that was a ride! And you, sir, are magnificent; however, had I seen you on earth, I most certainly would have fainted. Please tell me I’m in heaven and you’re an angel, or else I’m having a very strange day.”
A hearty laugh issued from his mouth and, with eyes that already knew me, he said, “Julie, I am Wisdom, your guardian angel. And, yes, you are now in heaven.”
At the mention of that name, a huge grin spread across my face and all I could say again was “Wow!” I knew why something about him had felt familiar and I felt immense love and tenderness for the guardian angel that had protected me forever. While in prayer, I would sometimes feel his presence and, a time or two, I swear I felt the flutter of feathers.
“Wisdom,” I said with great fondness while checking the back of my head to see if it was still there and I felt thankful when I realized it was. “I don’t know how to thank you for what you’ve done for me. I know I put you through the wringer a few times.”
He nodded his head and replied, “Yes, indeed, but thankfully we will have all of eternity to catch up. By the way, you have no idea yet what interesting is. On earth, you only get a taste of it. Here, you will learn more than you’ve ever imagined. Oh yes, and since the shooting in the pizza shop, the back of your head is back in place, as well as the eyeball, and good as new. So, how are you feeling, Julie?”
“How am I feeling?” I laughed. “Well, as you know, I have just been on the ride of a lifetime! As I was passing from my earthly existence to my heavenly home, I heard my life’s story being played inside my head from the time I heard the sound of the gunshot until I arrived here.
“The physical sensation I was feeling during the “great ride” was as if someone had poured melted honey all over my body, totally relaxing me, yet I was being pushed to a heightened revelation. At the same time, I felt myself being pulled to a radiant light that seemed to burn with the intensity of a thousand suns. I was totally infused with spiritual and soulful music I had enjoyed a lifetime while flashes of color turned and twisted and darted all around me.”
“Actually, those were welcoming angels, sent by the Father, to guide you safely home,” Wisdom commented while I caught my breath, thankful I was still seated.
“I could hear my beloved husband and parents’ voices calling to me, ’Julie, Julie, come home. We can’t wait to see you. We’re waiting. We love you.’ My grandparents, uncles, and aunts, and other family members and friends also beckoned to me and I knew something incredible was going to happen. It’d been so long since I’d seen them in person and I had wondered with much sadness at times if I would ever be a part of their lives again. I was overcome with joy at the thought that soon I would see those who had been such a wonderful part of my life’s journey.
“Now that I’m here, I thought I would feel incredible sadness at leaving my family and friends on earth but, for some reason, I cannot for the life of me conjure up any bad feelings. I feel no regrets, no apprehensions, no sorrow, or pain. It’s as if those emotions never existed. What I am feeling is even more love for them. I know my prayers here can do even more for them now.”
“And, you won’t have those feelings anymore, Julie. Heaven removes all bad thoughts and feelings the moment you arrive. These are immediately replaced with complete joy and utter contentment. You may equate it to some of the happiest days of your life, such as yours and Bobby’s wedding day, or the birth of Bobby, Jr. and your granddaughters, except it’s yours for an eternity.”
I recalled the scripture in Revelation that said God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away. It was all true.
As Wisdom helped me off the table, he said, “I have been a part of your life from your conception. As your guardian angel, sent from God, it has been both my duty and pleasure to protect you, guide you, and help you through life’s harsh times. It was I who covered you with my wings at times when you were scared and dismayed and too tired to go on.”
“I knew you were there, I could feel it. Wisdom, I am so glad to meet you.”
“Here, take my hand and let’s begin your new journey in heaven.”
Before we moved out of the building I had arrived in and knowing that I was a curious sort, Wisdom encouraged me to look around. The cavernous room was pure white and had the consistency of warm velvet. It was comforting.
Several hundred white marble tables were scattered around the room exactly like the one I had found myself on when I arrived. Every few seconds humans of all backgrounds and ages appeared on these tables and they were immediately assisted by angels like Wisdom.
Beautiful murals surrounded the room and stories of the Bible were presented with actual moving parts and full-sized live characters. On one wall God’s parting of the Red Sea was enacted, with water held back while, in faith, Moses stretched his staff out, allowing the squabbling Jews to pass through to the other side. The weariness etched on the brave leader’s face reminded me of how difficult his job had been, and there would be worse problems ahead for him to handle.
Close on their heels was Pharoah, the Egyptian emperor, and his vast army of dedicated soldiers, all bent on destroying the fleeing Israelites after the God of Abraham had struck down their firstborn sons at Passover. My mouth dropped open when I watched fish and marine life of all sizes swimming around in the parted water, curiously watching the human parade passing through safely to the other side. It was quite the spectacle and, to Wisdom’s amusement, I clapped when God released the water, drowning the pursuing Egyptian army.
Another mural showed an outmatched five-foot-seven shepherd boy, David, bravely facing Goliath, the mighty Philistine giant. His courage was magnified when one compared his small size to the nine-foot warrior who was covered in bronze: a helmet, a coat of scale weighing over one hundred twenty-five pounds, shin guards for his legs, and a javelin slung on his back. The point on his spear shaft weighed fifteen pounds alone and his armor-bearer stood by his side, poised for battle.
Armed only with his faith in God, his staff, a slingshot, and five smooth, small stones David kept in his shepherd’s bag, the future king of Israel, who had bravely ventured even closer to his enemy, defiantly shouted to the giant, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied….”
Then, the young shepherd, who had protected his father’s sheep by killing lions and bears in the past, slung only one stone through the air with all his might. It found its target, burrowing deep into Goliath’s forehead. When he fell facedown to the ground, it actually shook the building, and, I, again, enthusiastically clapped.
The third wall portrayed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. The three Israelites had been thrown into the flames because they would not bow down to the golden image of Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar. Courageously, they had stood before him while the king pressured them to deny their God. They said, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up."
Nebuchadnezzar was so furious, he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal. I could almost feel the heat’s intensity which was so ferocious, it instantly killed the soldiers who had bound Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the flames. There was nothing left of any of them, not even a bone. To have read about this account in the Bible was one thing, to witness it was another. I marveled when King Nebuchadnezzar peered into the furnace and marveled at what he saw: "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods." Jesus, the Son of God, was that fourth man.
The fourth mural depicted Daniel in the lion’s den. Through a life of hard work and obedience to God, Daniel had risen through King Darius’ political ranks as an administrator. Other government officials, now jealous of him, could find no concrete reason to remove him from office and began plotting his death. They used Daniel's faith in God against him and tricked King Darius into passing a decree that stated that anyone who prayed to another god or man, rather than the king, during a thirty-day period, would be thrown into the lions' den. Daniel learned of the decree, but he ignored it. As he knelt down, praying to God, the wicked administrators caught him and turned him into the king. King Darius loved Daniel and the look of dismay on his face was unmistakable. He couldn’t save Daniel; his own decree could not be revoked.
Daniel was thrown into the den of lions, standing and calmly facing them without fear. I could see four enormous, six hundred pound, hungry lions circling Daniel, licking their chops, and sizing him up for their next meal. He never flinched when they opened their huge jaws and loudly roared, razor-sharp fangs only inches from him. As I watched in wonder, Daniel turned his head toward heaven, lifted his arms into the air, and their ferocious roars ceased. The four lions then calmly lay down on the floor, now showing no interest in Daniel. God had shut their mouths, protecting him from harm.
I saw the anxious king run to the lions' den to see if God had saved him and his relief was evident when he saw Daniel untouched. Daniel replied," My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king." I wondered more than once over the years how I would have reacted to facing a slow and painful death by these lions, and if I would have had Daniel’s courage and faith to calmly face them.
I finished watching the scenes unfolding around me and noticed that my jaw had dropped in amazement.
“Look at it and weep, Walt Disney,” I thought, and then I remembered how very much I loved going to Disney World in the summer of 1976 with my crazy family. We had all crammed into Dad’s brand new, baby blue, Chevrolet station wagon, loaded with Dad, Mom, four of us six kids in the very back, our cat, and my aging grandmother who had to stop every hour on the hour to pee, preferably at any place that sold pecan logs and snuff. Add to that, enough luggage and food for a month in Texas, and, well, you get the picture.
Wisdom watched me as I was mesmerized by the creative murals and said, “He really likes to make a good first impression.”
“Good? I don’t think that’s the correct word for this, Wisdom. It’s more like unbelievable!”
“Julie, now that you have arrived, our next stop is the Pearly Gates.” As I looked at him in amazement, he grinned and asked, “Why does this always bring that look? Yes, Julie, there are Pearly Gates and Saint Peter will be there to hopefully (and here he crossed his fingers) locate your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life and welcome you home.”
“Wisdom, you ARE kidding, I’m in there, right?” I pleaded and he just laughed. His smile was dazzling, and I again felt the sweet spirit of this splendid and kindred angel.
Now I was starting to feel a bit giddy and I felt like dancing a jig. Wisdom laughed and said, “Dance, Julie, dance!” And dance I did, thankful that one of the best parts about me still remained the same.