One of my family's closest friends from Pittsburgh is the Lampone family. Tom was in gymnastics as a kid & when he joined the football team in High School, he out-lifted everyone on the team, having never lifted a weight before in his life. Legend has it that as a running back, he LOOKED for people to hit! I worked for Tom and his construction company for two summers, so did my brother a few years later. The practical feats of strength he performed on the job were jaw droppingly record breaking. He's a man who loves life, his family and his God like few I've ever seen.
Six years ago he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and the doctors say that they have never seen anyone fight the disease like he has and by all counts, he should no longer be living. But he's a fighter physically, emotionally and spiritually like none other.
I visited him at home yesterday with my Parents, brother, wife and boys and his physical strength has all but failed him...but amidst the tears and laughter was The Hope (assurance and knowledge!) that we will see him again! What a Hope we have in Christ! Tom said he'd be waiting for us at the gate and Nick (my brother) and I told him that the next time we see him, we want is 70's afro back, with a full 80's beard! It felt like the end of Lord of the Rings when Frodo leaves for distant shores, and his companions are sad because they will miss him...but they KNOW the reunion will come!
We can tend to lump Heaven in with fairy tales. But fairy tales are only a shadow of Heaven. "This is not where it ends...it's just where it begins."
Tom is holding on to his family for a little bit longer, and if God chooses not to heal him in this world, you can best believe he's gonna be stronger than any ox in the next...and if that's the case, he'll be talking face to face with Jesus very soon. And I'm just a little jealous.