Updated: Nov 11, 2021
My mother, Olive Gwendoline Reekie, went home to be with the Lord on May 18th, 2015. At her funeral service, I described her as my ‘Ave Maria’. She was, and continues to be, the most powerful spiritual influence in my life. I sometimes see her in my meditations, going about the Lord’s business in heaven. And on certain occasions I have heard her speaking the word of the Lord to me, as it were, ‘from the other side’.
I recently had a vision of my mother in heaven. She was so full of life, so full of joy, so full of purpose — the same kind of attributes that she possessed during her life on earth, but magnified 100 times over. What impressed me the most about her was the complete absence of fear and uncertainty — rather, she exuded the deep peace and knowing that comes from living in the immediate presence of God.
In the vision, my mother said to me, “Come, I want to show you one of my favourite places here in heaven.” As we walked along, she stopped and looked directly at me. It was as though she could see right into my soul and discern my inner struggles. In a loving but matter-of-fact voice, she said: “You can’t stay here if you’ve got unforgiveness in your heart.”
I suddenly realised that in heaven, forgiveness is non-negotiable. You either forgive your brother, or you forfeit your place in Father’s house. Jesus put it this way: “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11.25-26).
Here on earth, we practice revenge … getting even … settling the score. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Do to others what they’ve done to you, and then some! Make them pay! But from heaven’s standpoint, the only thing that matters is forgiveness. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matt 5.44-45).
In the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, Jesus taught his disciples to live on earth in the same way people live in heaven. In other words, to bring heaven to earth through their thoughts and actions. Jesus’ whole discourse can be summarised in one sentence: “Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6.10).
“In heaven people show mercy to one another; act the same way on earth.”
“In heaven people extend forgiveness to one another; act the same way on earth.”
“In heaven people graciously serve one another; act the same way on earth.”
“In heaven people are kind and generous to one another; act the same way on earth.”
My friend and mentor, Gwen R. Shaw, called unconditional love “the law of the angels”. Other sages refer to it as “the currency of heaven”. In his timeless classic, Don’t waste your sorrows, Paul Billheimer says that “learning agape love as personified in Christ is the supreme purpose of life on earth” and that “agape love is an essential qualification for the exercise of authority in the heavenly social order called the kingdom of God.” Moreover, “learning to love is the great business of life because the law of love is the supreme law of eternity.”
Like Moses, we need to discover the heavenly pattern and learn to re-present it on earth (Heb 8.5). The pattern of heaven is selfless, unconditional love — a love that is quick to forgive and quick to forget.
Why is this so important? Because, as my mother said to me in the vision, you can’t live in the presence of God if you have unforgiveness in your heart.