What happens when we die? What comes after our last breath?
Surely there is a dividing line between now and forever . . .
Your attention: when you slip from this world, Friend, what will you find? Hmmm.
In doing what we can to be happier [as we have been discussing]*, we begin simply with getting answers for ourselves as to how we got here--origin, why we are here--purpose, and what comes after we draw our last breath--our eternal destiny. Our answers form our basic world view.
Keeping it real, I have been up close and personal as the boldest of proud humans who cared little for eternal things was face to face with dying. Suddenly, he could not help but wonder… ‘Is there something on the other side? Is it possible there is a Heaven? Wait, how do I get there?’ Standing next to the hospital bed, I looked into her eyes. Holding his hand, I saw him come face to face with his mortality and his sudden smallness.
Do not be mistaken, there is a hush as a soul exits this life…. it is a sacred moment and the rarest of privileges.
Many people do not explore the eternal until they get the fateful phone call: ‘hello, Christine, this is Dr. Johnson, we have your tests back and I’m afraid…’ There was life before the call and life after the call. ‘Hello, is this Mrs. Smith? You have a son named ‘Brian’? I’m afraid we found…’ There was life before the call and life after the call; the twain shall meet in eternity, but on this side, things will never be the same.
But here is my question: why do we wait to learn what can be known of the afterlife until the phone call? I began my quest in earnest in 2006 when my mother went to Heaven at 91 years of age. ‘What is she doing now?’ I would ask myself and get lost in thought as I drove the soccer carpool--one foot on terra firma, the other in the heavenlies.
Before then, I just took the Word of God as truth - that God loved humanity so much that he gave over his only Son, Jesus, to be the perfect covering for our sin - so that those who choose him will live forever - with him.1 But, the choice is ours.
I began studying Revelation 21 and 22 as the two chapters gave specific insight into Heaven itself - a place of light, love, color, dimension and depth - a real place with real dimensions. I read what Jesus had to say in John chapter 14 about preparing a place for us. And then science happened.
In the last two decades, more Near Death Experiences have been recorded than ever before. STOP. It is said that science is incompatible with the Bible - nothing could be further from the truth--science confirms the truths of the Bible, the supernaturally inspired Word of God. Think of it - as medical technology has improved (science), more people have been revived, after having already ‘coded’ or ‘flat-lined’, producing a brief span of time where they have experienced the afterlife, the what-comes-next.
Jesus said I am going to prepare a place for you that where I am you may be also.2
Revelation 21 and 22 describe details of that place--a river, a gold street, foundations of precious stones--sapphire, onyx, topaz . . . 12 gates, each a single giant pearl. Such beauty, praise surrounding the throne of the Lamb of God.
Want a glimpse of the other side now? In his tremendous book, John Burke3 tells the stories of more than 100 people who have experienced something of the other side - while syncing their stories/claims in the solid truths of the words of God. [Yes, the beautiful words of God hold the answers to how we got here, our purpose and our eternal destiny, even giving us pictures of life everlasting with Him]
Paul says it clearly: For the wages of sin is death, but [thank you, Father, for the but] the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.4 What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived--the things God has prepared for those who love him.5 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then
I will know everything completely,
just as God now knows me completely.6
Let us understand this together: There is no reason to fear death when we walk with the Author of Life, the One who gives and takes away7, who gifted us with life eternal in His presence. God will wipe away every tear we have cried and we will be reunited with loved ones in a place of unparalleled beauty and adventure. That truth makes me very happy indeed. We live fully this gift of life - invested in growing our relationship with God, taking care of the bodies he gave us, growing and challenging our minds, engaging in loving relationships, and seeing to our emotional well being… and yet we have one eye cast toward the finish line with a smile on our face, knowing it will be beyond what we can think or imagine. And that makes me happy.
I can imagine what it will be like! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNDEyxEMNp0
Do yourself a favor, watch I Can Only Imagine, the movie...I watched it this morning before podcasting this. Available on Amazon Prime and others.
It is the story of eternal happiness (+football and tenacity) because of the Gospel, because of Jesus.
*see Morning Briefings, www.pastorwoman.net
1 - John 3.16
2 - John 14.2
3 - Imagine Heaven by John Burke
4 - Romans 6.23
5 - 1 Corinthians 2.9
6 - 1 Corinthians 13.12, NLT
7 - Job 1.21