Tales of Heaven, as told by a 5-Year-Old


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Friends,

In Exploring Heavenly Places, Volume 2: Revealing of the Sons of God, Rob Gross and I discuss our belief that our spirits are called “sons of God” and that we were created in Heaven and existed for a time before we came to earth. Over the years, many have shared memories of being there but it was not until recently that I heard a detailed first-hand account of a child remembering her time in Heaven. Below is the conversation that a friend had with her 5-year-old cousin about her memories. -Paul L. Cox

Tales of Heaven, as told by a 5-Year-Old

A True Story

Recounted by Gigi[1]

The beauty of the following story cannot be fully appreciated without the dramatic context surrounding it. The story begins with my grandparents, Baba[2] and Dadi,[3] who were born, raised, and eventually wed in India; the marriage was arranged according to the socially acceptable Indian manner of the 1950s. Shortly after the birth of their second son ChaaCha[4], the family immigrated from Mumbai, India to a large West Coast city, bringing with them their Hindu gods, a copy of The Complete Kama Sutra that had never been and would never be opened, and a lovely recipe for catfish curry.

It was in this environment that my father and ChaaCha were raised. Although the gods of Hinduism were not especially compelling to talk to or about on a regular basis, they did serve as the expected filler for any religious activity, and were simply part of the background for a respectable Indian. After all, our family came from a long, elite line of devout Hindus. It was therefore very upsetting to my grandparents when my father made the scandalous decision to accept Christ in his early twenties.[5] Any further mention of it was generally dismissed as the rebellious and temporary teenage phase he never had. My grandparent’s anger at my father’s conversion came to a head when he proposed to my very white, flagrantly Christian mother, and persisted long after.

Unfortunately, for literally everyone involved the unspoken responsibility to carry on the Hindu tradition fell solely to ChaaCha. Despite being only two years younger, he didn’t marry until sixteen years after my father. His union was with a perfectly lovely Indian woman from Fremont, CA, who has since proven to be what everyone hopes for when it comes to family and in-laws. Around this time began fervent prayers for the cousin or cousins for whom we anxiously hoped and waited.

My immediate family and I primarily concerned ourselves with the physical and spiritual health of the child(ren) who would enlarge ChaaCha’s family. We prayed for all the usual things; that he or she would be born loving the light, would grow up seeking the King, would hear and answer the call in a way that would bring glory to the Kingdom, etc. We had also recently been introduced to the concept of life in Heaven prior to birth and, as the idea of memories associated with life in Heaven. So whenever we remembered, we asked that the babies would not forget who they are or from whence they came.

The day that ChaaCha and ChaaChee[6] announced their first pregnancy with a baby girl, I was overwhelmed by an intensely physical, joyful response: whooping, hollering and cartwheeling around the house. Zia[7] came easily into the world half a year later, with everything necessary for life and godliness, and my sister and I had our first blood cousin. Sean arrived two summers later, just in time to celebrate my high-school graduation, with the joy of Heaven literally emanating off of him. My family agreed; he absolutely remembered and knew who he is.

To my knowledge, neither Zia nor Sean were formally dedicated to any of the family Hindu gods, but Zia’s specific interest in a God-like entity, which started to outwardly manifest around four-and-a-half, was often met with Hindu or secularized answers. That gods could be found and communicated with primarily at temple, as she explained to me one Christmas, was a little disappointing because she was interested in talking to God more frequently than that. I told her that she was in profound luck, as Jesus was accessible at any time she wished. We were quickly interrupted (intentionally or not, I’m not sure) by a call for lunch and our conversation stopped there.

Zia seemed also to be spiritually aware; she occasionally told me about the “shadow people” that lived in her room who could be seen only by her brother and her. The shadow people were neither mean nor scary, but were simply a family of people with distinct names who resided in the bed she shared with Sean. When I asked more about them, she said, “They each had different colors, and had been taking a vacation in Hawaii when a wave tickled them, and now they were not alive anymore.” This was a consistent description until recently (I asked occasionally about the shadow people), when she shrugged and said, “They just left one day.”

The first introduction Zia had to the concept of Heaven was in December 2017, very shortly after the death of Baba. In an effort to reduce chances of trauma to the kids, their parents explained it as, “a nice place where people go once they die on Earth.” There wasn’t much more to it than that, and was, I believe, the only communication either Zia or Sean received on any topic at all related to the subject of life beyond the one we experience as humans.

About a month later, Zia (then five), Sean (then three) and I (then twenty-one) were playing in my room. Zia and I were on the floor, arranging all 53 of my nail polishes on the floor between us, and Sean on the bed, making noises to accompany a dinky fire truck toy. The two of them were taking turns shouting whatever happened to come to mind: “WHERE’S THE FIRE?” “I LOVE PURPLE!” “WE HAVE TO GO PUT OUT THE FIRE!” “JINGLE BELLS…. JINGLE BELLS…” “DOWN 6th AVENUE!!” “I MISS HEAVEN.” “THE FIRE…”

Sean was abruptly cut off by me, “Sean, just a second. Zia, what did you say?” Zia didn’t look up from arranging the purple and pink nail polishes in alternating colors. “I said ‘I miss Heaven.’”

I paused. “Are you joking? I mean, are you kidding around right now?”

“No,” she assured me, “I am serious right now!”

I tried to keep my voice steady. “Well, I believe you, but could you tell me what you mean?”

“Heaven is the place we were before we came here; and it’s a lot of fun, and we all had a lot of fun.”

“We did?”

“Yes, of course, it’s Heaven.”

“Silly me. What was it like?”

“Oh, well,” Zia started to arrange the silver and gold nail polishes, “There are a whole lot of souls up there, and we were all wearing white. And we danced and sang and told jokes and there was a lot of music and the whole thing was about love. Everyone just loved and loved and loved.”

I stared at her, dumbfounded.

She continued, “And then there was the Big Soul.”

“The what?”

“The Big Soul.”

“What’s that?”

“GOD, YOU SILLY HEAD.”

“Oh! But what was He like?”

Zia smiled as she moved onto the blue nail polishes. “He was the nicest and biggest and the brightest one of them all. He was my friend. And He had the biggest love. And He was so much fun!”

Sean fumbled off the bed and plopped into my lap. Meanwhile, I tried and failed to come up with intelligent words. Fortunately, Zia supplied them for me, “And I really missed you, Gigi.”

“Wait, what do you mean?”

“You left a long time before me. Like sixteen years!”

I counted on my fingers. She was correct; the difference between us is sixteen years.

“You mean… You mean I left and came here? But we knew each other in Heaven?”

“Yes! We played all the time! And then you left and I missed you soooooo much! I couldn’t wait to be with you again.”

Suddenly, the memory of the day that her mother’s first pregnancy had been announced resurfaced. “Zia, you’re absolutely right. I remember the day I heard you were coming, and it was one of the most exciting, happiest moments of my life,” as I thought to myself, “I just had no idea that I was reacting to meeting up with an old friend.”

Zia beamed. “And now I’m here! And so is Sean! And you, and everyone!”

I started prodding. “Zia, do you remember anyone else from Heaven?”

“I remember Tayi-ji.[8] She was there.”

“Do you remember anything else about how Heaven looked?”

Zia nodded. “It’s very nice. Beautiful and lots of light and color and all the animals too. There is a sea, but it’s rainbow colored.”

Another memory, several years old at the time, came to mind. I had recently read Revelation 21, and was upset by the description of “no more sea.” [9] In my distress, I had asked God whether or not there was any ocean/sea-type body of water in Heaven. I believe He had told me, “Yes, but it’s rainbow colored,” and although comforted, I still felt like there was no “real” way to validate this interaction. Well, here sat my validation, in the form of a little Indian girl with curly hair, wonderfully thick eyebrows, and a decided preference for the color, sparkly purple.

“You’re right,” I said, “that is absolutely true.”

Zia waved away my surprise. “Of course it is. We were both there.”

“Do you remember coming to Earth?”

“Yes.”

“What was it like? Was it scary?”

“No. The Big Soul held my hand all the way down to mommy’s stomach. It was dark, and I lost my water bottle; but it was not scary.”

“Your water bottle?”

“Yes, my water bottle.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean I lost my water bottle when I came down to my mommy’s stomach.” [10]

“I see.”

“I miss God.”

“Me too, Zia. But you can talk to Him, you know.”

“Well, I don’t go to temple that often…”

“No, no, no… I mean, you can talk to Him now, whenever you want.”

“How do I do that?”

“Well,” I briefly debated just how strongly ChaaCha would scold me if he knew I was having this discussion, “You can ask Him into your heart. Just right now.”

“How?”

“You say, ‘God-’”

“God,” Zia repeated.

“Jesus,” I clarified.

“Jesus,” she smiled and looked around.

“I want You to come into my heart.[11]

“I want You to come into my heart.”

“I want to know You and see You in my life.”

“I want to know You and see You in my life.”

A heartbeat of silence passed.

“And that’s it. That’s all it takes.[12]

“That’s it? Nothing happened!”

I smiled. “That’s okay, Zia. Something happened, I’m quite certain.”

“Okay, Gigi.” She held up hot pink and neon green nail-polish bottles. “Can I paint your nails now?”

The next time Zia and I conversed directly about Jesus was about a week after Thanksgiving, 2018. I was walking the kids to the nearby park, holding their hands and generally enjoying the midday beauty of fall. Sean was predicting how many times he would go down each slide when Zia said,

“Was Jesus really born on December 25th two thousand and eighteen years ago? It’s hard to know, isn’t it? Is it just a day that we picked?”

I hesitated, considering, “I suppose it could seem that way. The thing is, that was one of the biggest days in history.”

“But it’s impossible to know, right?”

“Yeah, in a way. Personally, I think that God made sure we remember correctly.”

“What happened after Jesus was born?”

“A lot happened after Jesus was born, but the really big thing is that He grew up and had to die on the cross for us.”

“But then what happened?” she asked, as though she knew there was more I was holding back on.

“Three days after He died, He came back to life,” I answered, unsure of whether she’d accept this.

“Has anyone else done that?”

“No, not like that. He was the first and only one.”

This answer did not faze her. “Well, and then what?!”

“Then He did a lot of miracles.”

Seeing her expression, I clarified, “He did a lot of amazing, impossible things for many people, like healing them, allowing them to speak in languages they had never learned, and so much more that we don’t have records of it because it was too much for anybody to write. And then,” I faltered, “He went back up to Heaven. And I mean, we can still talk to-”

She interrupted me, “But is He coming back?”

“Yes, we believe, I really believe, that He is going to.”

“But when?”

“We aren’t totally sure, Zia. Just that He will.”

She looked at the ground and mumbled, “Well I hope He comes back soon.”

“I assure you Zia, we all feel that way.”

The next time Zia brought up Jesus was that December, and not with me. My mother received a text from ChaaChee asking for clarifying information, as Zia was evidently grilling her on the meaning of Christmas, the significance of Christ on the cross, and why did anyone want such a nice man dead anyway? It was a wonderful opportunity for Mom to share the good news with Zia’s mother, who then relayed the information to Zia.

Now four months into 2019, we continue to pray daily for the relationships of everyone in ChaaCha’s family. Sometimes it is hard to gauge how much difference our prayers make. But then I consider Zia’s unusual desire for and evident knowledge of the King, despite her upbringing, which combined with her brother’s unwavering joy, fills me with hope and anticipation for the future. Even though Zia and Sean continue to grow up in a Hindu context, their exposure to the “Big Soul” has clearly left an impact on them, and Zia’s description of what Heaven was like when we were there has made an impact on me.

[1] Hindi for “elder sister.” It is common in Indian culture to honor cousins as direct siblings.

[2] Hindi for “my father’s father,” which in English is shortened to “grandfather.”

[3] Hindi for “my father’s mother,” which in English is shortened to “aunt.”

[4] Hindi for “my father’s younger brother”, which in English is shortened to “uncle.”

[5] This is another story entirely.

[6] Hindi for “my father’s younger brother’s wife” which in English is shortened to “aunt.”

[7] For the sake of their family’s privacy, I’ve modified both children’s names.

[8] Hindi for “my father’s elder brother’s wife”, which is English for “aunt”.

[9] “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Revelation 21:1

[10] I still have no idea what she means by this. Maybe one of you, dear readers, do, and you can clue the rest of us in.

[11] My own heart was racing.

[12] In retrospect, I wish I had suggested she say more. But I was too excited to think clearly, and that’s all that came to mind in the moment.