I was standing in a room with some 500 other men, as we all shouted, clapped our hands and stomped our feet. On stage, a performer danced a little jig to some inspirational music, the crowd went wild.
This was not a performance by a famous dancer, it wasn’t a risque dance by some teenage looking girl. It was a lifetime of joy brought before our eyes by a man who was in the fight to end his life well: he had been diagnosed with cancer 5 years earlier and another year later, he would succumb to that fight.
But this day we celebrated. His life, his joy, and most importantly, his restful assurance in the heart of his Father.
As you see in the video above, this was not a man who would normally inspire “Rock Star” responses. Truth be told, Craig was a little uncomfortable with how enthusiastic we were about his dance, but it was an amazing moment.
On this side of heaven, we cannot see through the curtain of death that comes at the end of our time here. But, there are holy moments where God reveals to us the hope of glory, the rest of heaven.
Craig McConnell’s dance was one of these moments. It was a culmination of a week of activity showcasing the cancer was truly in remission: out of all the Ransomed Heart team, Craig was available at every meal, after every session. While John, Bart, Sam, and Morgan often had their meals in their cabin to prepare their hearts for the tough material they were covering, Craig took delight in spending this time with the Bootcamp attendees.
The Dance of Heaven
It was amazing to see the energy he took from the Lord of Hosts and imparted to those around him. I knew nothing about Craig before attending that event, but by that last day and his dance on the stage, I was whooping and hollering with the best of them.
God showed me the joy of heaven in Craig’s dance. A man who had been at death’s door earlier and would be there again soon was showing us that God gives strength to live, and through death to come into a greater glory. This dance was not just something meant to inspire a physical response, but a reflection of the Trinity’s great pleasure in our glory.
At that moment, this unassuming older gentleman was reflecting the shekinah glory of the Father and God glorified Craig above all the others on the stage. What further amazed me was the fact that everyone on the stage with Craig truly enjoyed his presence: John Eldredge, the “man’s man”, sat humbly in the background as several other team members danced with Craig. Everyone there showcased the fact that God had brought healing so that Craig could come to this Bootcamp, enjoy another year with his family before heaven’s come, and had the strength to dance.
Tears of Longing
Even remembering this event, I start to cry. I cry because I see the Spirit that Craig tapped into, and long to be with Jesus in paradise.
This morning, Craig McConnell achieved the final earthly healing which awaits us all as he walked through death to life eternal. I mourn his passing, even though I have never had a conversation with the man. I rejoice in the life he lived so well, even though I only saw it from the periphery for four short days in November of 2014. I cry because I know the world has lost a gem, but I embrace the hope that Craig held up on that stage for each one of us: Christ within us, the hope of glory.