29 04 2012

On April 29, 1932 my dear Daddy Rudolph Peter Sheptock, Sr. was born in Clifton, New Jersey.  Last Sunday, Pop would have been 80 years old. He graduated to Glory back in September of 2000 and there is still not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him terribly!  The other day I confidently and by genuine faith asked my dear Jesus to give my Dad a huge hug for me and to tell him how much I still miss him so.  Believe it or not, I dream of Dad almost every night and he is still very present in the words I speak, the things I do and pretty much everything that I am!

The reality of this truth leads me to discuss what I want to write about today.  Please permit me to spout off from the heart.  Consider these the ramblings of Pastor Rudy who was voted Class Philosopher of his senior year class in high school back in 1978!

 The other night, because of the kindness of one Denise- Denise who gave me two tickets, I had the privilege to attend the Neil Sedaka and Lesley Gore Concert at The Wildwood Convention Center and it was once again an over the top musical event that we get to experience right here in our own backyard.  I have always been a big Neil Sedaka fan since the early 1960’s.  Connie Francis who has recorded many of Sedaka’s songs, used to be on a television show out of New York City with my late Uncle Joey Sheptock.  Hence Neil’s music was very prevalent in my parents’ record collection that I raided as soon as I learned how to turn on the old stereo hi-fi!  Wanting to continue to pass on the legacy of my love for this classic era of music to my own children, I got to take my 8 year old son Joel along with me.  He already is playing the piano and writing songs of his own!  He recognized so much of the music because Joel listens to his Daddy on the radio on FUN 106.3 on Friday Night Live from 7 PM until Midnight!

OK, now that I have wandered a bit and have once again regained my focus so that I can return from my tangent, let me get back to the matter at hand and the thoughts that have been playing havoc with my brain. I do so knowing full well that I am about to step on some musical toes right now, but those of you who read this column with any regularity know me and are familiar with my need to share always and fully what is going on in my heart.

 During the performance that Lesley Gore gave during her set, “the sweetie pie from Tenafly” as Cousin Brucie calls her, sang the John Lennon classic song “Imagine.”  This Lennon song has always been controversial and has rubbed many an individual the wrong way.  I remember back at our 8th Grade Graduation we were banned from singing it for reasons at the time I didn’t really understand.  I was so much younger than and I’m wiser than that now.  Now I want to give John the benefit of the doubt and I believe that when he wrote those lyrics he was really yearning for a world where everybody would take care of one another and live in true harmony and peace.  But the opening line has caused a great disconnect in me in my latter days.  “Imagine there’s no heaven- it’s easy if you try.”  Not for me John!  Not for me at all!

Heaven is not just a fairy tale thought of some mythical paradise way out there beyond the blue and up in the sky in the sweet bye and bye.  And quite ironically, I think that the genuine Heaven is the very place and ideal that Lennon was really singing about when he longed for a world that could live as one.  Heaven is the very hope and yearning and longing in our souls for a place of reunion and redemption and true rescue from all that has gone wrong with all that was once originally so right.  It is not just an outer environmental change of our surroundings and climate- it is an inside job where we become renewed and metamorphosed into who God intended us to be when He first designed and created us- and all without sin and hate and destruction and selfishness and all those other things that have violated the original masterpiece.  No more death and no more goodbyes!

“You may say that I’m a dreamer,” and you would be right!  But I cannot imagine there being no Heaven!  For if I did what John Lennon asked me to do and if I came to the place in my soul where I was going to settle for the only utopia found being some high here on earth, I would become a man of no hope! If there is no Heaven, then I will never see my Daddy again or my 5 children who departed this world so very quickly after they were born.  My wife Terri and I have more kids in Heaven than we have here on earth.  And if there is no Heaven then it would all but extract the purpose that I have for getting up every day despite living in such a broken and hurting world.  I know that I am running a race that has purpose in every step.  I know that I have been created to love God with all my heart and to love those around me as I do myself.  I know that God has called me to let my light so shine before men and women that maybe in me they might see that this whole thing called life is going somewhere meaningful!  So I keep running, but not as an athlete running aimlessly, but as one focused on a finish line that will eventually end in me falling into the arms of my Lord and my God!

So I can only imagine what Heaven will really be like!  But this I know for sure: Heaven will be!  Heaven must be!   




One response

29 04 2012
Connie Anzelone

My faith in the one and only Jesus Christ assures me that, YES, there is a Heaven and YES, the reunion with Him and our beloved departed will be phenomenal! Thanks for your insights on that song. I felt the same way last night! But to make it an event to remember…Neil was unbelievable in voice, energy and length of concert. So glad we went!

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