Listen to ““CAN THE DEAD COME BACK TO VISIT?” #ChurchOfTheUndead” on Spreaker.
If you ask if I’ve ever been looked down on, the answer would be a resounding YES – and thanks for rubbing it in. But in this week’s message, that’s not the type of looking down on I want to discuss. Honestly, I never want to discuss that kind of looking down on because it hurts, and I’m sensitive. But the question is this… can our loved ones who have passed away, look down from heaven and see us? And maybe even come down and visit us?
Hello, Weirdos – I’m Pastor Darren – welcome to the Church of the Undead.
Here in the Church of the Undead I can share ideas which are relevant to those who suffer with depression, need some encouragement, and for those who love (or are just curious about) the God of the Bible. And it doesn’t matter if you are a Weirdo-in-Christ or just a Weirdo – everyone is welcome here at the Church of the Undead. And I use the word “undead” because here we are DEAD to sin and ALIVE in Christ! If you want to join this Weirdo congregation, just click that subscribe or follow button – and visit us online at WeirdDarkness.com/CHURCH.
Full disclosure – I might use the term “pastor” because I’ve branded this feature as a church – but I do not have a theology degree, nor did I ever go to Bible college. I’m just a guy who gave his life to Christ in 1989 and has tried to “walk the walk” every since – and has stumbled a lot along the way – because, like everybody else, I am an imperfect, heavily-flawed human being. So please don’t take what I say as gospel; dig into God’s word yourself for confirmation, inspiration, and revelation.
That being said, welcome to the Church of the Undead.
It was more than twenty years ago when I was pursuing a career in music as a singer. Whenever I’d sing in front of a crowd I’d always think of my dad, because it was our mutual love for music that brought us so close together when I was growing up. So many great memories of driving in the car and singing together to the Little River Band, Journey, or even the greatest hits of Kenny Rogers. My dad played that record so often I knew it by heart even though I wasn’t a fan of country music.
While performing in front of a crowd – either as a solo act or in a band – even if my dad wasn’t there, I’d always imagine him to be. And now all these years later he has gone almost deaf and can’t enjoy music as he used to. But when God finally does take him home someday, I feel Dad will hear my in my car with the stereo blasting, still singing along to those same songs – and maybe even joining in with me.
But that brings up a spiritual question… can our loved ones look down from heaven and see us? And can they possibly even come down for a visit?
We are told about the thin veil between heaven and earth, and scripture bears witness to the possibility of movement from one to the other.
In the Old Testament, we read the story of King Saul, who asked to speak to the prophet Samuel. Granted, Saul made the connection through the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28), but still, God allowed that experience. Upon reaching Samuel, Samuel asked, “Why have you summoned me?” Then he and King Saul discussed the kingdom and Samuel critiqued the embattled king. Saul asked for advice and God allowed it through his deceased servant, Samuel.
We are cautioned in Deuteronomy 18:10 not to seek out sorcerers and witchcraft:
“Don’t you dare sacrifice your son or daughter in the fire. Don’t practice divination, sorcery, fortunetelling, witchery”
But the passage in First Samuel shows it IS possible for someone who has passed to revisit earth and even speak to us.
Reverend Stella Ruiz, an ordained minister and bereavement coordinator for Hospice, writes, “I have listened to many family members share how they have experienced the presence of their loved one. After a loved one dies, many family members yearn for just a touch, a scent, a sign, to know their loved one is alright: the soft smell of the loved one’s perfume, physically feeling the loved one’s arms around the family member, or lights turned off without any reason. The experiences are precious and unique, but can also be painful after the special moment has ended.”
Several years ago, Pastor RJ Thesman met a remarkable woman in a nursing home. In her 80s, Cora loved reminiscing about her life during World War II, the Depression, and the rebuilding of the United States.
Cora shared with RJ that her son, Buddy, loved his dog. They often played in the backyard, cavorting around the perimeter of the yard, jumping over a tree stump, and playing peek-a-boo under the sheets drying on the clothesline.
Cora’s precious Buddy died in the flu epidemic of 1918. She grieved long and hard. Then one day she heard the dog barking. She looked in the backyard and saw something that had not happened since Buddy became ill: The dog cavorted around the perimeter of the yard, jumped over the tree stump, then played peek-a-boo under the sheets drying on the clothesline. Cora knew the dog was playing with her invisible son, and a piece of her fractured heart began to heal.
But then, there is an argument against this…
A common argument asks, “Why would someone in heaven watch what is happening on earth? That would simply make them sad, wouldn’t it?” Good point – look at the world and the way it is. Would you be happy looking down on this mess?
But what if God protects those who have passed from the sadness, and allows only what brings them, as well as us, joy?
We all need to be encouraged. God is faithful in providing that boost of encouragement exactly when we need it. Can’t the God who knows our hearts determine when and how to send a message of hope? Can’t he “save” our souls with a glimpse into his beautiful world and the affirmation that our loved ones are with him?
Hebrews 12:1 says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.”
The use of the word “cloud” implies a different entity – possibly above us and enveloping us. Within that cloud stands those gone before, cheering us on, praising God for our progress as we “run with endurance the race set before us.”
Since we are told guardian angels walk with us and minister to us (Hebrews 1:14), is it not possible that the spiritual realm around us might also include those who have passed?
On the Desiring God website, John Piper addresses the topic this way: “God will give the saints whatever measure of knowledge they need for the greatest experience of happiness in God. If they need to know something for their fullest experience of joy in God, they will know it. He won’t withhold what is needed for their happiness in him.”
In the New Testament, we read about the rich man and Lazarus. Luke 16:22-26 records the story of how the rich man looked up and saw the poor man, Lazarus, at peace in heaven. The rich man realized too late his mistake in not believing and not caring for the poor folks who journeyed through his life. He asked Abraham to send Lazarus as witness to his family, to warn them before it was too late. Abraham declined the request, but this passage underscores the fact that a deceased Abraham did converse across the spiritual divide with Lazarus!
If those who suffer in hell can look upward, is it not also possible – under God’s tutelage – for the reverse direction – for people in heaven to look downward?
The Bible gives us another example…
In Matthew 17, the Transfiguration account underscores how deceased saints may suddenly appear on earth. Jesus is joined by Moses and Elijah, who talk with the Son of God. It is a moment of instruction for Peter, James and John, as well as a reminder to us that the saints in glory – when God wills it – can travel back to earth.
Last year a good friend of mine from college, Michelle, suffered a sudden bout with cancer and left for heaven. I grieved internally – more than I thought I would for someone I had not seen in several years.
One night, I was thinking about Michelle, and in the middle of the night – in a dream – she came to me, full of fun and joy as she always was in life. I think that was truly her way of letting me know that she was okay.
I did not actually see Michelle or feel her in the physical sense; yet somehow just knowing she was with me reminded me that our friendship continued into eternity and beyond what I could physically experience. As in life, so in death, her presence was a comfort.
We can’t know everything that happens after death – and truthfully – we probably don’t want to know everything. Yet I believe God is so loving, he sometimes does allow us to “see” or “feel” into another realm to remind us he is omnipresent and always caring.
I recently read an anonymous quote that is pretty encouraging in all of this:
“Since God is with us, and our loved ones are with Him – then our loved ones are not very far away from us.”
Meaning I probably have family members singing along in the car with me already and I just don’t realize it.
If you like what you heard, share this episode with others whom you think might also like it. Maybe the person you share it with will want to join this Weirdo congregation too! To join this Weirdo family yourself, find us on Facebook, listen to previous messages, even find out how to join me in my daily bible studies, visit WeirdDarkness.com/CHURCH. That’s WeirdDarkness.com/CHURCH. This week’s message was borrowed and adapted from an article by RJ Thesman at Crosswalk.com, and you can find the link to that article in the show notes. I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me, Weirdos. Until next time, Jesus loves you and so do I. God bless.