One of the things I love most about our ministry is that our staff take the time to respond to people who contact us. I have been told by countless people that in times of need they reached out to their church and didn’t hear back, or that they wrote to a ministry and didn’t hear anything. Or worse, they got back a form letter, reminding them to financially support the ministry.
I do not want in any way to jump on the bandwagon of anti-church sentiment. I love the local church. I understand that pastors and churches get overwhelmed sometimes by all the needs in their midst. More people could sometimes be trained to respond as our staff does. There are legitimate reasons why a response might have fallen through the cracks in situations such as these, but I also know that it communicates something important when a hurting person receives a personal answer.
Heidi McLaughlin is one of our Eternal Perspective Ministries staff members who responds to emails. Recently she replied to a reader, and what she wrote was heart-touching, beautiful, and biblical:
A reader wrote:
To anyone who might be willing or able to help: I’ve always enjoyed Randy’s novels and perspectives, until my adult son died earlier this year. …grief aside, the worst for me is…the potential terror of the “intermediate state” that my son is in now. For, wherever he is now, and whatever he is now...he is not a complete, integrated human—body and soul. He is a disembodied spirit, lacking eyes, ears, hands...and along with it the (assumed) capacity to laugh and love as a human would. I am in terrible grief over this, dare I say, agony.
I’ve spent the past months reading every book, article and summary on “the intermediate state” that I can get my hands on... I know the resurrection has not yet occurred. What then, is my son? How can he possibly enjoy life as a “disembodied spirit”? …If anyone knows of any literature on this subject, and has any time to attend to a personal cry, it would be appreciated.
I am so sorry for your loss. I have sons and I can only imagine the terrible grief and pain that you are going through.
Here is where Randy has addressed the “Present Heaven” (he prefers using the term “present” rather than intermediate).
Please read the whole article, but I want to highlight two sections that I think speak to your concerns directly:
Though the present Heaven is not our final destination, it’s a wonderful place, and it’s understandable that those who have had loved ones die in Christ wonder what life is like for them there. Based on the Bible’s teaching, we know several things: the present Heaven is a real (and possibly physical) place. Those who love Jesus and trust Him for their salvation will be with Him there, together with all who have died in Christ. We will be awake and cognizant. And because we will be with Jesus, it is “better by far” than our present existence.
Given the consistent physical descriptions of the intermediate Heaven and those who dwell there, it seems possible—though this is certainly debatable—that between our earthly lives and our bodily resurrection God may grant us some temporary physical form that will allow us to function as human beings while in that unnatural state “between bodies” awaiting our bodily resurrection. If so, that would account for the repeated depictions of people now in Heaven occupying physical space, wearing clothes and crowns, carrying branches, and having body parts (for example, Lazarus’s finger in Luke 16:24).
I really hope that Randy’s words are comforting to you. No matter what though, please know as Jesus said to the thief on the cross as he was dying, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Your son is not at all miserable. There is no misery in Heaven whether we are talking about the present Heaven or the New Earth to come.
Have you considered grief counseling? I just wonder if some of what you are going through is grief fatigue. Sometimes when our brain is so busy with grief we can’t think clearly. It sounds like your mind is spinning and unable to find rest. I would highly recommend finding a grief counselor or a grief share group at a church near you. You can search for a group near you at this website.
I’m praying for you today that you will feel the peace and comfort of the Lord as you walk this difficult path of grief.
The reader wrote back:
I’m flabbergasted that anyone, gatekeeper or staffer, actually ANSWERED my plea for help. I sometimes feel like a wounded animal howling into the wind in my pain, wondering if I’m heard at all.
So…bless you…in every sense that God can…
I’ve never found this article Randy wrote…how I missed it, I don’t know. But thank you beyond words for pulling and sending it to me.
Only in Heaven…will you know how much your time and small effort helped this grieving mom.
Randy again: Jesus said, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42).
The same is as true for you as it is for our staff: our Savior will not forget a single one of the countless acts of kindness each of us do for others, through work, church, and in our own personal lives with neighbors, friends, and strangers (one of whom may be an angel or Jesus Himself).
I’m deeply grateful for the servants’ hearts of our staff, and also for their wisdom. I’ve said this before, and it’s still true: daily we are humbled and amazed to see remarkable responses from people worldwide who are being touched by this ministry.
I want to also say a special thanks for the ongoing support of our donors. You are the backbone of this ministry and enable us to keep serving in Jesus’s name. I am profoundly grateful for your kind support!
If you’d like to be part of our efforts to reach out to people in Christ’s name and to keep producing quality resources, we invite you to consider making a one-time or recurring donation. It’s the generous support of our ministry partners that enables us to continue our eternity-shaping work. (I encourage you to start by giving to your local church where you are taught God’s Word, enjoy the fellowship of God’s people, and collaborate to take the Gospel to the world. Secondarily, you may choose to support other church groups such as EPM.)
We’re here to serve everyone without cost, so please don’t feel obligated to give to us. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). It’s our privilege and joy to share freely what God has so graciously given us.
(If you do wish to make a year-end, tax-deductible donation, please note donations postmarked no later than December 31, or received online by 11:59 p.m. PT on December 31, will be included on this year’s tax receipts.)