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What Might Be: The Hall of Pictoglyphs

The angel and Jamie walked slowly up the hill toward one of the great halls. Each one was unique, designed for a speci c purpose: to bring pleasure in a particular area—emotionally, or physically. Like the other large structures Jamie had seen from a distance, this one was on top of a large plateau, stately and majestic, with enormous pillars outside that lined the entire perimeter. As they slowly approached, it became clear that these were by far the biggest pillars and the biggest building—at least twice as large as the others—he had visited so far. Jamie realized that it would take at least ten people his size with outstretched arms to be able to reach all the way around a pillar, and he didn’t even try to count them. Each building seemed to be about the width of a football eld on the front side. As they walked up the incline toward the building, they approached at an angle, and it became evident that it was at least ten times as long as it was wide. Large trees—like giant redwoods—guarded it like sen- tinels and prevented him from seeing how far back the monu- ment actually went.
They were completely silent as they made their nal approach; the only sound Jamie heard was their own soft foot- falls on the immaculate lawn as they ascended the inclined yard that led to the steps of the structure. The lawn was lined on both sides with owers of every color, size, and shape. Their aroma alone was enough to reveal this as heaven, but the colors were richer and fuller than anything he had ever imagined. It was as if the moment would be spoiled if anyone spoke. They walked together, Jamie a half step ahead, anticipation growing stronger with each step that brought them closer to the huge, wide granite doors.

They stopped. Jamie slowly raised his head to determine the height, which had to be at least a hundred feet. The angel xed his gaze on Jamie, reveling in the moment, sharing the excite- ment with his charge, anxious to explain, but patient to wait for the right moment.

“Wow. I didn’t know anything this big could exist anywhere in all of creation. What is this place?”

“You might think of it as your personal walk down memory lane. It’s one of the great halls with your name on it. You will visit some of the others later.”

“This one is dedicated just to me? And there are others?”

“Oh, yes, Jamie, many others. This is just the rst of many. I am honored to take an image-bearer for the rst visit to one of his personal great halls. This one is called The Jamie Voigt Hemphill Great Hall of Pictoglyphs. Please follow me.”

They traveled the last few steps up the marble steps and to the entrance, past the huge pillars silently guarding the front like gentle giants smiling at the surrounding countryside. The structure smelled like a new home, freshly scented with the clean smells of roses and honeysuckle. Inside appeared to be marble, just like the beautiful walls and surrounding columns outside. A cool breeze seemed to come from out of the dimly lit hallway ahead, and the path down the center was wide enough for at least fty people to walk shoulder to shoulder.

After they had traversed about fty feet, the guide stopped and turned to face his charge with a broad smile of excited anticipation, as if he were the one who was about to be the bene ciary of the waiting surprises. Suddenly—as when you turned on a light switch in a pitch-black room—the surface in front of them rippled and disappeared, and this rst section came alive with color and light. It was a picture—a photograph of Jamie and his family. They were outdoors on a bright, sunny day, a gentle breeze wafting the intoxicating smells of nature all around them. They were all smiling and dressed up as if going to a special banquet or celebration. Behind them—making it a picture-perfect setting—was an ancient log cabin, complete with a smoking replace offering the smell of something savory, cooking slowly. It was peaceful and comforting just to gaze at it, as if somehow this scene was made just to be preserved—and enjoyed—by the family.
Mary, Jamie’s wife, was sitting on a wooden stool, back straight, smile wide, and con dent joy evident in the curves of the smile on her face. Her light pink shirt perfectly comple- mented the pastel, oor-length skirt with pink roses. A rose was in her lap, cradled gently by her left hand.

Jamie stood just behind her with his right hand resting on her right shoulder. He was dressed in a white shirt, dark blue suit, and a sporty red tie, looking dapper and friendly. His wide smile indicated the utter joy he felt in his heart, like there wasn’t a care in the world because the family was together. His bright eyes and sparkling teeth weren’t at all discouraged by his thin- ning hair. It was as if he was exactly who he should be, a perfect t to ll the needs of the many others in his life who looked up to him, respected his wise counsel on all things godly, and honored him as friend and colleague. It was like a snapshot of perfection: perfect love from above, harmony at home, and companionship cherished—all rolled into one picture.

The bookends, their two sons, Kendal on the left and Steve on the right, were also dressed up for the occasion, smiling and content, though perhaps completely clueless of just how blessed they really were. When wisdom lives in the room across the hallway, appreciation doesn’t rule the day. Taking wisdom for granted becomes the norm, and appreciation may not well up in the human heart until wisdom personi ed—Dad—makes his exit.

As he gazed at the scene, Jamie smiled. The memories of family and the love that ooded their home came rushing in like a tsunami. Picnics, camping trips, hunting excursions, long drives, family get-togethers, and a host of other thoughts ashed through his head like a cherished photo album, clean and neatly organized. The joys of this hall were going to exceed anything yet experienced.

Jamie studied the picture, and the angel studied Jamie, eyes wide with joy and wonder.

“Jamie, every picture you ever took—or that was ever taken of you—is in this building. And as you have probably already noticed, each one is now much more than just a snapshot. Sweet aromas, gentle breezes, and a variety of other enhancements are included with each unique picture. Not only will each one jog your memory of the event, you will remember details and expe- rience feelings that connect you even more deeply with each one.

“I know you must be enjoying this particular picture—the King knew it was one of your favorites—but if you will just turn toward the opposite wall, you’ll see the spiritually enhanced version. This will bring the wonders of your past life in the shadow lands of the post- ood earth into even clearer view. Just across from each picture is a version of the same picture that includes your guardians—the angels assigned to those who will receive salvation.”

With eyes wide, and with the silence of an obedient sheep, Jamie turned one hundred-eighty degrees to face the opposite wall just as it began to illuminate with the enhanced version of the same scene. His mouth dropped open, but words didn’t come.

The picture now added the unseen world to the physical reality. Enormous, muscular, stone-faced giants stood silently behind each member of the family—as if they were a perma- nent, unseen member. They weren’t smiling as each family member was. Their faces were those of battle-weary, victory- focused warriors with a single-mindedness for care and pro- tection that was unstoppable. Swords hung at their sides—tiny words like etched artwork adorning each one with the unique- ness of a painting by Michelangelo. They re ected light like polished diamonds, but this didn’t negate their erce design to defend the faithful.

Each warrior had one hand on his sword, ready to draw and defend in an instant. Then Jaime noticed more of their kind in the background, almost blending into the surrounding, but facing the other way—like a battle-trained ghting unit, these were guarding the perimeter. No one—man or beast, seen or unseen—would be catching this angelic host by surprise. It was obvious that their constant, unwavering vigilance was ingrained into their personality, like soldiers stationed on the border of an enemy nation.

All male, all muscular, these hulk-like towers of strength and power were messengers of the King, sent to guard these children of the kingdom until they left the temporary cocoon and burst into the real world, the realm of the King— lled with joys and pleasures unspeakable. And it was obvious that they were focused on the task of defending and protecting this Hemphill family.

Jamie stood there—soaking in each and every detail that this rst pictoglyph revealed. Finally, he heard his guide say, “Jamie, would you like to step inside the pictoglyph now and examine the details more closely?”

Wonders never cease.

Steve Hemphill, author / inspirational speaker
“My Search for the Real Heaven”
(Also Available In Spanish)
“My Search for the Real Heaven Workbook”
“My Search for Prayers Satan Hates”
“What Are The Stakes?” (God Markers On the Land)

robbed-at-the-theatre

Writing On Spiritual Warfare Is Dangerous

“Be careful of false prophets. They come to you looking gentle like sheep, but they are really dangerous like wolves.” Matthew 7:15 NCV

As my first book, “My Search for the Real Heaven,” began to fill my speaking schedule I called my editor one day and said, “I think I know what I want to write about in my next book: ‘Spiritual Warfare.’” She encouraged me in this endeavor, and I didn’t think much more about it.

That was on a Friday. Our youngest son, Jay, had just left for college, leaving us in the category of “empty nesters.” Now I know that I lot of parents are excited by the exit from home of the youngest child, but we weren’t really happy about that. We really enjoyed our children as well as their friends. We had a game room built over the garage when the boys were small, because we wanted our house to be the fun place; we wanted our children’s friends to want to come over and encouraged them to invite them all the time. (That way, you always know who they’re with and what they’re doing, right?)

Anyway, Jay’s departure left us feeling a little lonely and dejected, so Mary Lynn and I decided that Friday to go to a funny movie together to get our mind off the fact that Spencer, Blake, and Jay were all gone from home now. We needed a little cheering up.
At this point in my life as an author, I still owned my technology company and was quite busy with work, family, and business, not the least of which was helping Jay get everything he needed ready to depart for college. Suffice it to say that although I had done several exciting book signings in the previous two weeks, I hadn’t had the time to run the cash deposit by the bank as I had intended that day. In fact, I forgot about it completely. There was about $5,000.00 in a bright blue bank bag in the back seat of my Jeep. …

While we were in the movie—trying to laugh in order to keep from crying about our empty nest—there was a police car patrolling the small parking lot. We also took comfort in the fact that we had parked just two cars down from the sidewalk leading a short distance to the entrance and that we had parked right under a security light. But it wasn’t enough.

Everything looked fine as we got back in the Jeep and buckled up, but horror took over when I turned my head to back safely out—the back window on the passenger side was gone. I froze. Then I looked down at the items still in the back seat: books, a Bible, some folders, and an expensive camera—all still there. That led me to the incorrect conclusion that the police car must have come along at just the right moment to scare away the offender before anything went missing. But it was not to be. As I quickly took inventory—in a mild state of shock—it dawned on me that the blue bank bag was nowhere to be found. Panic rose in my throat as I remembered how much was actually in the pouch, and the fact that I hadn’t made it to the bank that day.

Then it hit me—it wasn’t an accident that it occurred on the very day I had informed my editor what I wanted to write about now: spiritual warfare. Satan and his forces were not happy, and they were sending me a message. …

After the $5,000.00 loss, I initially contacted Billy’s agent who handled the details of our policy, asking about the possibility of reimbursement. I was quickly informed that cash wasn’t normally covered, since the amount was often difficult to prove, and that companies who dealt in cash had to purchase a special rider dealing with this sort of unusual and special circumstance.

Obviously, I was disappointed, but tried to tell myself that God was good, and that He would take care of me through this crisis, just as He had through so many others. But in the back of my mind I was hearing, “Wow. This is a terrible time to lose $5,000.00, with three boys in Christian college that year,” (Spencer was getting a Masters in Accounting at Abilene Christian University, while Blake and Jay were sophomore and freshman at Harding University, both as pre-dental students). “Just trust God,” I kept telling myself—over and over and over.

In desperation, I sent Billy a email detailing my dilemma and asking him to check on it for me if possible. I got a chuckle when he did so by sending an email to one of his employees to double-check the policy for me, and added, “Now be nice to Steve, because he send out those Prayer Thoughts each day that I enjoy so much about many Bible verses, so lightning might strike you if you don’t do the right thing for him.”

Basically I had given up hope on getting reimbursed when I got a phone call from one of the ladies at HHC. “Hi, Steve,” she began, “we pulled your policy and you did have the rider that covered cash, so how much do we owe you?”

I said, “5,000.00,” and it made my day. God is still on the throne, isn’t He!

This whole event led me to an important deduction: if I am going to write about spiritual warfare, I’m going to need some prayer warriors to pray for me on a regular basis.

“My dear children, you belong to God and have defeated them; because God’s Spirit, who is in you, is greater than the devil, who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NCV

Lord, thank you for seeing that I was reimbursed for my stupidity during this transitional time in my life of service to You. Thank You for Your patience with me as I continue to learn and grow closer to You each day. When I am delivered from each new crisis, remind me that it’s You doing it. In Jesus Name, Amen.

“My Search for Prayers Satan Hates,” pages 19-25

Steve Hemphill, author / inspirational speaker
“My Search for the Real Heaven”
(Also Available In Spanish)
“My Search for the Real Heaven Workbook”
“My Search for Prayers Satan Hates”
“What Are The Stakes?” (God Markers On the Land)