The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.Charles Dickens
Time makes heroes, but dissolves celebrities.Daniel J. Boorstin
I’m going to steal an idea from the writings of Mitch Albom. He wrote a book titled The Five People You Meet in Heaven. When I first saw that title, it sparked a cavalcade of thoughts and, if I’m truly honest, wishes. We know we shall be with the Lord for eternity, and that provides us with plenty of time to get to encounter those whom we’ve admired from a distance.
That being the case, here are nine of mine—a batting order, so to speak. Of course, these would be the ones with whom I’d love to have a conversation after reuniting and rejoicing with family, friends, relatives, and other loved ones for centuries. Since the Lord will be constantly with us, His being first goes without saying. I’d also add my guardian angels, who will probably be on leave due to the exhaustive ordeals through which I’ve put them. Nevertheless, these are my batting order of some of the first earthly ones I want to look up.
1. John the Baptist
How can one not want to meet the one who heralded the Messiah? The cousin of Jesus? The one who knew Jesus before he was even born (check out Luke 1: 41–44)? The one who spoke ultimate truth to kings and religious leaders, at the expense of his life? The one of whom Jesus said no greater one born of woman has arisen than he, John the Baptist? I deeply admire his courage in standing up to those in power and not caring about the consequences. I am amazed at his ability to see that he must decrease as Christ was increasing. I’m in awe of the fact that he got to baptize God on earth! It humbles me that he was unashamed, unafraid, and unwilling to compromise in what God sent him to do and say.
2. Tyrus Raymond Cobb
Yes, smart alecks, he will be there. The greatest baseball player of all time, he is the one after whom I named my son. Babe Ruth called him the greatest player he’d ever seen or hoped to see. I’d just love to sit and listen to him talk about hitting—for decades.
3. Ludwig van Beethoven
He composed some of the most magnificently beautiful music mankind has ever heard. He did so while suffering from, among other ailments, jaundice, cirrhosis of the liver, abdominal pain, pancreatitis, and diabetes. On top of all that, he composed his magnificent Ninth Symphony while deaf. He never heard a note of it.
4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The man who stood up to the ultimate earthly evil of the Holocaust, his writings have inspired me so much. His courage and faithful steadfastness inspire awe and admiration. One of the books he authored, The Cost of Discipleship, should be required reading for all Christians.
5. Theodore Roosevelt
The man who lived crowded hours, he packed so many brilliant achievements into barely 60 years. He’s been a hero of mine from the moment I encountered him in study, but also for one more important reason. TR wasn’t just a great man; he was a great father who loved and was adored by his children.
6. Mary Magdalene
I want to hear her full story, not the suppositions of those who think they know her biography. I also want to hear her describe how she felt and what she saw when she was the first to encounter the angel and the risen Lord.
7. C. S. Lewis
I want to thank him for A Grief Observed and Mere Christianity. There really aren’t two more impactful books, other than Scripture, in my life. If I’m being truthful here, I’d also love to sit and listen to him tell stories.
8. Winston Churchill
Anyone who loves studying the past would want to listen to the stories that man would have to tell. As the one who stood up to Hitler and inspired a nation and the world to defeat the terror of Nazism, he would be a monument to history.
9. Margaret Thatcher
The “Iron Lady” had more courage and plain gumption than all of her peers in world leadership, matched only by her friend Ronald Reagan. She brought dignity and strength to the office of Prime Minister of Great Britain. Mrs. Thatcher was an inspiration to all women and to all freedom loving people of the world.
I could easily create another roster with the many others I desire to meet. Instead, I’ll simply say how much I look forward to those joyous encounters and so many more while in the presence of the Lord.
When I finally do get together with my list, I’m bringing my late wife Moe with me.
Who’s on your wish list?