The Nearness of Heaven
“In this moment when everything else is falling apart … the reality of Heaven, the hope of heaven and the presence of God in our lives seems very real to me.”
Big Daddy Weave lead singer, Mike Weaver, shared those heart-piercing words this past August in Nashville during a sit-down interview with Family Life Radio four and a half years since his father passed away from pulmonary fibrosis on Christmas Day of 2017, and only three months after losing his mother to cancer in May of 2021. And still unknown, he was mere months from losing his brother, Jay Weaver, whose health had been plagued for years by complications from diabetes.
Covid stole Jay’s final breath on January 2, 2022.
In a time of such devastating loss, it would be easy to see how someone’s faith could waiver, but that’s never been the case for Mike and his family. Before each of his loved ones passed into the arms of Jesus, he spoke of the tangible nearness of Heaven – a presence and supernatural peace so real and so palpable that he left voicemails for those closest to him, saying he just wanted to mark the day and time that he could feel the heartbeat of Jesus, the glory of an eternity he could not physically see with his eyes, pulsating in the very air he was breathing. A heavenly CPR, if you will, removing the hopelessness of death and replacing it with the reverie of the love of a Savior, boundless in mercy and gracious enough to give a glimpse into the promised healing taking place.
It can be hard to view death here on earth as the promise of healing. But being released from a body plagued by the sickness of this world is, in fact, the ultimate healing. Revelation 21:4 says that “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, for the former things have passed away” (ESV).
The passing of a loved one can be an especially hard pill to swallow after you’ve seen God do the miraculous over and over, which is what happened with Mike’s father – a seven-year stretch of deliverance from cancer, malignant tumors, kidney failure and even spiritual bondage, all miraculously removed in a single touch from Jesus, to the point where, as Mike put it, “I literally thought I couldn’t hear ‘no’ from the Lord.” When his father was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, he fully expected a healing of the earthly body would occur, and the band’s song, “All Things New” was written as a prayer over the Weaver patriarch:
You make all things new
God of mercy and love
Do what only You can do
And make all things new
When Mike’s father passed away, he found himself broken, yet simultaneously overcome with a peace. He had a hard time putting it into words. He knew God was leading him into a new understanding of:
- Who we are apart from Him
- The deficit in our lives without Him, and
- The ability to embrace God in a different way during the heartache.
When Jay’s severe health battles began in 2016 and both of his feet had to be amputated to save his life, Mike watched him struggle to reconcile his failing health with his holy expectation. Jay, a powerful prayer warrior known for laying hands on people at concerts and seeing miracles take place, always invited God in to do something awe-inspiring. But behind the scenes, the loss of his feet were followed by other limbs, and he finally had to make the decision to leave touring behind.
His hopes of healing this side of heaven crumbled right before his eyes. Still, when he was challenged by someone who didn’t understand why, under the weight of the health issues literally robbing him of his livelihood, he didn’t curse the very name of God.
Jay said, “The only way I’m getting through this day is Jesus carrying me. How am I going to be mad at the guy who’s getting me through it?”
When their father died on Christmas in 2017, they listened to “All Things New” in the hospital room as the tubes and machines keeping him artificially alive were removed, and it was Jay who looked up and said, “Today, on Christmas morning, Dad knows the color of Jesus’s eyes.” Their father, not made whole and well on this earth, was now free of suffering as he entered the kingdom of heaven – the same healing Jay would come to experience only four years later.
In the passing of their father, “All Things New” took on a different meaning. New doesn’t always look how we expect it will. New is not always something we can see, feel, hear, or touch.
New is a promise and an answer to prayer, and even though these consecutive losses have devastated for the Weavers as flesh and blood humans, who long to have those they love close by, they know that God has kept His promise to make Russ, Pat and Jay whole and healed.
And yes, new.
From the ashes, from the dust
I will rise up, rise up
Out of darkness and into the light.
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