I have been thinking about death and dying lately. Not in a morbid way but more of a curious, I-wonder-what’s-out-there way. You see my mom passed away in December of 2011 and I have missed her more than a little lately. I remember before she passed, we talked a little bit about what was out there on the other side. She was a little afraid, because her church taught that we wouldn’t recognize each other up in heaven, that we would all just be souls up in heaven. I guess the thinking was that if we recognized each other we would be sad over the ones that haven’t made it. And since there is no sadness in heaven. Well, I get the premise I guess but I’m not sure I totally agree with it.
Then, lately, my own kids have been talking to me about dying and eternity and what it means to live forever. For them, it’s rather an abstract concept. I get that. I used to think as a child, that we would spend our days painting - think Bob Ross for an eternity. No offense to Bob Ross but that eternity seems pretty bleak to me.
But lately, I’ve begun to think of eternity as a place where the best of life is there to enjoy, while the worst that life has to offer is nothing but a distant memory. I’ve even imagined it as a place where I’ll get a chance to see all the people I’ve lost to death, including my mom and my dad - people that I haven’t seen in so long but miss so much. Maybe heaven is a little like a family reunion, where you get the chance to sit and talk about all that life had to offer and all the good and fond memoires are there to be shared with each other.
Either way, I’m not afraid to die, not like I used to be. Nor am I afraid of what eternity has to offer. The Bible says that God is creating a new heaven and a new earth. I can’t help but believe that that kind of a life is worth waiting for. A life where there will be no more death, or dying, or pain and where the old order of things has passed away.
A few years ago, I did a study on the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible, one that I had previously stayed away from. But as I began to read through the book, what happened took me by surprise: I found myself enjoying it. It gave me a gift I hadn’t anticipated; feelings of hope and peace. Hope because there is an end to this unhappy story and peace because no matter what is happening in the world around me, one day it will all be set right. Jesus is the best and greatest king of all, and his stories always have happy endings.
Quite refreshing in a world that seems addicted to darkness. I’m an avid reader, but lately I’ve been quite discouraged. A lot of the literature that’s out there these days have such dark themes. Many of them don’t end happily ever after.
Call me a hopeless romantic, or a sap, or naïve, but I love happy endings. It makes me wonder why it’s so in vogue to have all these stories with darker themes. Is it because we’ve become so jaded that we just don’t believe in happily-ever-afters anymore? And if so, how sad for us.
Personally, in my heart I’ve got to believe that this wasn’t what we were destined for. We weren’t meant to suffer and hurt and cry. We weren’t meant to go to our grave becoming nothing but dust and ashes. We were meant for eternity. Made for it, in fact.
You see, I think God’s a hopeless romantic who loves happily-ever-afters as much as we do. And even after Adam and Eve became his enemies, God had a plan to fix what had been broken - sending Jesus to pay the price to bring us home where we will truly live happily ever after.
Revelation 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse.
In some ways I wonder if dying is like the turning of a page, not the end of a book, but the beginning of a new chapter in the never-ending story of life. ‘Til next time.