Cliff's Edge

The Vision

Nothing like it has happened to me since

Clifford Goldstein
The Vision

What follows is something that I have rarely talked about, and, when reading it, you will understand why.

In 1979, just before my twenty-fourth birthday, I was told by God that if I wanted to follow Him, I needed to burn the book that I had been working on for more than two years. After some intense divine-human wrestling, I put the manuscript on a two-burner hot plate in my room and burned it.

As I sat there, the smoke clearing, it flashed in, it flashed out, it flashed in, it flashed out, but God gave me a vision of heaven. I saw it. Perhaps no more than three hours earlier I wasn’t sure that God existed. I knew nothing about the prophetic gift, nothing about inspiration, and nothing about the Bible other than whatever nonsense I had dredged up from The Late Great Planet Earth. And yet I never doubted what I saw.

I then began studying with Seventh-day Adventists, and though trying to tell them what I had seen, I could never find the right word to describe it. Before long, I stopped trying. With my life having been turned upside down and inside out, I pretty much forgot about it anyway.

Until a few months later, when, still skeptical about this Ellen White woman, whom they often quoted, I was reading about her in vision, and that at times she would cry out, “Glory!”

That was it! Stretched out on a bed, I jumped up, grabbed the phone on the wall, and called my Adventist friends to tell them that I had found the word, glory, to describe what I had seen. Which was?

It was as if I were looking across a lake. I could see the horizon, and everything was shimmering—and glorious. And that was that. I don’t think the whole thing lasted four seconds.

Nothing like it has happened to me since. As far as I can tell, too, the experience has not impacted my faith in any way. When (usually during my own devotional time) I do recall the night that I burned my book, I rarely think about the vision, though it remains vivid in my mind when I do. And when giving my testimony, I never mention it.

So why, 44 years later, write about it? Perhaps because I am now 68 years old and so, with the bulk of this sorry narrative over anyway, I figured, Why not? It happened, and the Lord must have done it for a reason.

Which was? I don’t know. As I said, it has changed nothing in my life or my present experience with God. What I do know is that I am a sinner deserving eternal death, and that whatever in me reflects the character of Jesus comes only by the same grace that covers me in Christ’s righteousness, “the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:9). I know, too, that my only hope rests in what Jesus did for me, outside of me, in place of me, 2,000 years ago at the cross.

And I need no vision to tell me that.

Clifford Goldstein

Clifford Goldstein is the editor of the Adult Bible Study Guide.