After this, I beheld until they were come into the Land of Beulah, where the sun shineth night and day. Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

Allen adjusted the telescope and aimed it into the northern section of the night sky. “It’s somewhere up there,” he said. “I read about it. There’s a whole big space up there where there’s no planets or stars, but there is gravity. Scientists say it’s where Heaven is.” He peered through the lens. “Just think, Mom. That’s where Dad is right now.”

“That’s true,” I told him. “Dad is part of that great cloud of witnesses the Book of Hebrews talks about. He’s watching us, knowing that one day we’ll join him.”

“That’ll be great!” says Allen. “I’ve missed him. I have a lot to tell him, but I guess it’s stuff he already knows because he can see us.”

I nod my head in agreement and look up at the starry sky. Is Heaven an actual place? Or is it a spiritual plane? It doesn’t matter to my son, a young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome. The acceptance of his father’s death was a journey that took eight months; his easy way of talking about Ron now, with joy and not sorrow, was our endgame.

An endgame we should all be aiming for each day of our lives.

Paul Bunyan’s group of travelers in A Pilgrim’s Progress had many trials on their way to Beulah Land, enduring loss and hardship before they finally arrived at the deep river that separated them from their goal. Each person had to make the journey across on their own. With the encouragement  of Hopeful, his companion, Christian is able to make it to the other side and arrive at the gate, fully transfigured as he enters eternity.

“Dad won’t look the same,” my son reminded me. “God gave him an all new body because the old one was really sick.” He frowned. “It was terrible what Dad had to go through. I’m glad he’s not sick anymore.”

Tears began to form at the corners of my eyes. Ron’s long road to Heaven had been difficult on all of us as we tried to heal the injuries caused by a careless truck driver and find some cessation to his physical and emotional pain. “No,” I said, “in Heaven there is no more pain. No more suffering. Dad is well again.”

This is the truth that has guided Allen to this point; his dad no longer suffers. Ron’s long road ended at the gates of Heaven.

Allen packed up the telescope a half hour later, putting it in the carrying case. “I didn’t see Heaven,” he said. “But that’s alright, because I know it’s up there. And I know Dad is there.” He sighed. “Dad made it to Heaven.”

It’s the endgame, isn’t it? The reason we struggle and wrestle and continue to plod upward, one step at a time. Even if we don’t see it, we know Heaven is there. We know the sun is shining there, night and day. Each day, we come a little closer, knowing that, “Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11, NIV).

The great orator Jonathan Edwards wrote in 1733: “Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” As Christian found in his journey to the Beulah Land, we each must walk our own path.

Here are six suggestions from Edwards to help us on our path:

  1. Trade Earth for Heaven.
  2. Travel the road that leads to Heaven.
  3. Seek strength for the journey from God.
  4. It will be a long journey.
  5. Act always like a citizen of Heaven.
  6. Make Heaven your priority.

Allen carried the telescope  up to the porch. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe in things I can’t see.” He casted one more look up at the sky. “But it’s easier to believe in Heaven because now I know Dad is there.”

I gave my son a quick hug. “We’ll see him again.”

Because that’s our own endgame. 

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Linda Cobourn

Linda Cobourn picked up a pencil when she was nine and hasn’t stopped writing since, but she never expected to write about adult autism and grief. When her husband died after a long illness, she began a remarkable journey of faith with her son, an adult with Asperger’s syndrome. The author of Tap Dancing in Church, Crazy: A Diary, and Scenes from a Quirky Life, she holds an MEd in Reading and an EdD in Literacy. Dr. Cobourn also writes for Aspirations, a newsletter for parents of autistic offspring. Her work in progress, tentatively titled Finding Dad: A Journey of Faith on the Autism Spectrum, chronicles her son’s unique grief journey. Dr Cobourn teaches English as a Second Language in Philadelphia and lives with her son and a fat cat named Butterscotch in Delaware County. She can be contacted on her blog, Quirky, and her Amazon author page.