I always thought there was something over the big sandy hill. My new Dad, my Mom, and I moved into a new subdivision when I was six. We were the third house in the new neighborhood. It seemed that every house built had a boy or two in it. Earl and Randy moved into their new house, and Reid, and Scott, and Murray, and Dennis, and David and Jerry. (One house had a girl. Her name was Debbie.)
We made a makeshift diamond in order to play baseball. We had an old baseball. We had long ago hit the cover off it. We wrapped it in black electrician’s tape. We couldn’t afford to buy a new one. We played at the end of my road; we used stones for bases, the outfield was a blackberry patch and everything that landed in the woods pass the berries was a home run. We were six and seven and that’s all we had.
Periodically that summer I noticed this older boy, probably about 10, walking through my neighborhood, with a baseball glove and sometimes a bat. About noon, in the heat of a Florida summer, almost every day this older boy would walk past my house and over the big sandy hill… a place I wasn’t allowed to go at 6, and then in two or three hours I would notice him walking back the other way.
For many days in a row he would walk through my neighborhood, with a glove, sometimes with a bat and always disappear over the big sandy hill – a place I wasn’t allowed to go because I was six years old. So one day after playing a game on the only field I knew, with stones for bases, a blackberry patch for an outfield, woods for home runs, and a black-taped ball, I decided to see what was over the big sandy hill.
There was this nagging feeling, this thought, this idea that there was something important over that sandy hill. Whatever it was, it was calling to me.
So one day I went to the far end of my known world. I starting walking down the road constantly looking back to see if my mother would catch me or notice that I was going past my aforementioned boundary; she did not see me. I walked up the big sandy hill. I saw two horny toads. I picked them up and put one in my right blue jean pocket and the other in my left pocket. As I got closer to the end of the woods on top of the big sandy hill, I could hear boys yelling and shouting the same baseball language that we spoke.
“Batter, batter, batter…swwwwing batter,” and using baseball poetry, “we want a pitcher not a glass of liquor,” (I was raised a Baptist. I didn’t know what a glass of liquor looked like.) and throwing horrible baseball epithets like, “You swing like a girl.” (You better not say that in front of Debbie. She would beat you up.)
And as I stood on top of the big sandy hill in front of me was this large expanse of cleared land with two large baseball fields, both with a team practicing on each one, each diamond with grass in the infield and the outfield. Both fields’ fences displayed business advertisements like “Eat at Sandy’s Hamburgers” and “Shop at IGA” and John 3:16. There was a concession stand. People were selling cokes, snow cones, and pixie sticks. Man pixie sticks were the bomb.
I walked closer to the field to investigate; I walked up to the backstop; I saw the kid who walked through my neighborhood on first base using baseball language, “batter, batter, batter, swwwwing batter.” There was one adult throwing to home plate to a kid who seemed three or four years older than I. He was much bigger than I was. After a time another kid took his place. This repeated itself several times. Finally, the coach asked for another batter, and when no one came forward quickly I, in my ignorance, ran around the backstop, picked up the bat and got ready for the pitch. The coach looked a little confused bu threw it right by me. I had never seen anything so fast or white. The catcher looked at me for a few seconds with some confusion on his face, but before he could say anything, the coach threw another ball just a little slower than the one before; I swung the bat late by at least 10 minutes. Then the catcher, finally figuring out that I had invaded their space and was not on the team, said, “Hey Coach, this kid is not on the team.”
It was then I knew I had done something wrong.
The man on the mound said, “That’s ok, I’ll throw him a couple more pitches.” I missed both by a mile. After the fourth or fifth pitch, seeing that I was no baseball prodigy, the coach said, “Ok boys, gather up.” I laid down my bat and walked away. I walked around the diamonds. I went to the concession stand and bought three pixie sticks for three cents. I put one in my right pocket and one in my left pocket and ate one. Afraid they’d eat my pixie sticks, I dropped the horny toads to the ground. I walked up to the kid who was in line for a snow cone, who had walked through my neighborhood and asked, “Can I play with you guys tomorrow?” He replied, nicely, “Your league practices on Tuesday, but you have to join; you have to sign up. Bring your Dad Tuesday with your birth certificate and after you sign up you can play baseball.”I walked home through the woods, stopping to eat another pixie stick…a green one, the one from my left pocket.
I walked down the sandy hill and back into my known world. It was late. After leaving my sand laden shoes on the carport, I snuck into the house, into my bedroom. I laid down on the bed, reached into my right pocket, found the last pixie stick, peeled the paper and tap, tap, tapped the grainy blue powder onto my green tongue while and dreaming of the baseball fields I had seen. I wasn’t sure if my buddies would believe me, believe what I had seen or even desire to investigate what I had found. And so it was that after I had begged my new Dad to sign me up, the next Tuesday I was playing shortstop for Sandy’s Hamburgers. I’ve noticed in this world that when people think about life after death they tend to believe there is something over the big sandy hill.
Some believe in reincarnation until one reaches Nirvana. The Elysian Fields, or the Elysian Plains, were the final resting places of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous. Valhalla is the Nordic belief I believe. And, modern death experiences are interesting in their information about light, levitation, and loved ones. Robert Browning wrote, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.”
What do we believe about heaven?
I think heaven is a real place. The Bible says, “After the Lord Jesus spoke these words he was taken up into heaven,” Mark 16:18. Mark is talking about a real place.“He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago by the prophets,” Acts 3:20-22. Luke is talking about a real place.
The Bible says that heaven is a real place.
So, how do you get there? The Bible tells us to “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31. We don’t need to make it complicated.
Today you can receive Jesus Christ and find a home in heaven.