The Third Heaven
2 Corinthian’s 12:2-5 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—
The thought of someone actually going to the third heaven and then telling about it sort of leaves one’s head spinning. This is not just a casual story that one hears and then soon forgets. No, our response is usually, “tell me more, I need more details, surely there is more to this story than what you have shared”.
When Paul tells this story, it leaves one with more questions than answers. We may even wonder if he was using this story to help highlight his weakness. But then we say wait a minute, I want to go back to the third heaven story … we can talk about your weakness later.
It wasn’t until I had heart surgery and lay on the operating table for nine and a half hours that I began to understand why Paul said so little about his third heaven experience. During those nine and a half hours I went somewhere in the heavenlies and saw and heard things that I cannot explain any more than Paul could. I can only say that there was no difference between sight and sound, it was all one movement. The effect of what I saw and heard didn’t come into my eyes and ears, my entire being was absorbing all of my surroundings, light, sound, power and authority. Everything about me had gone to another level and that is the reason people later responded to me the way they did.
As a result of that experience, my life was changed forever.
When I was finally taken to my room and still feeling this unusual power and authority, I began to make requests that I probably would not have made otherwise. When a nurse and an aide came into my room to check on me, I asked the aide what his name was. The aide was a very big strong black man with an extremely low voice. In his low base voice, as he stood at the foot of my bed, he said “Rodney”.
Our conversation went like this. I said, “ Rodney, do you know the Lord? Yes sir. Where do you go to church? I was the music director at my mom and dad’s church in New Orleans before the storm came and destroyed everything. Rodney, I need for you to sing me a song, What do you want me to sing? Amazing Grace”. He didn’t say another word, he just pulled out his cell phone and began scrolling until he came to the back-up music for Amazing Grace. He then began to sing Amazing Grace in his very deep New Orleans’ Cajun voice. “Amazing Grace how sweet da sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I am found was blind but now I see” …. I said “wait a minute Rodney, wait a minute, that’s it, I can see, I can see, I can see what I have never seen before, and I can hear what I have never heard before. Sing it again Rodney” and he did, but this time he was at the head of the bed with his big arms around my head hugging me and crying as he sang.
What neither of us realized until then, (because we were so caught up in the spirit), was the room had filled up with several Doctors and Nurses … and everyone was crying as Rodney song Amazing Grace again.
I never saw Rodney again … but that day God used this young black Cajun bass singer from New Orleans to minister to me and touch the heart of all the Doctors and Nurses in the room.
Perhaps Paul was changed in his very being like me, and that’s why he could not utter the things he had seen and heard anymore than I could.
Thank you for the Rodneys of this world who quietly minister and who the world will never know except through someone like me. I will forever trumpet his name in telling this story. Most of all Father, thank You for taking me to a place and allowing me to experience a taste of Your glory that is beyond words.