Some of you may have noticed that I made no posts for several months until my last post on Christmas. In late October, I caught a serious, but not life threatening, infection. Early in the illness, I ran a very high fever, but antibiotics dropped the fever to a temperature only slightly high. Nevertheless I was ill. It was not until early December than my temperature dropped to and stayed at normal indicating that the infection was finally conquered.
A consequence of my illness is that my back became very weak. I could only stand or sit for short periods of time. By the time the infection was gone, I had lost 15 pounds and a great deal of muscle mass and muscle tone. Most significant was the loss of muscle tone in the muscles of the back that support the body. In the last couple of weeks, I have stretched and worked out with very light loads so that my back muscles are approaching a useful strength. I can now walk more than 200 yards and can sit for over two hours.
Needless to say, I had a lot of time to ponder things. Even though there was no risk of death, I pondered my ultimate demise. What if I did die within a matter of days or weeks?
In my condition, there was little I could do to change things. Fortunately, my will is in my lock box with a copy in my lawyer’s office, but other matters are unresolved. The garage would remain a mess until my widow and children took matters into their own hands. The garden needs to be cleaned up for the winter. Friends helped me there, but had they not, my heirs would have had to clean up the mess left by frozen valves. I find myself making resolutions to get the garage and shed in order once my health and strength return.
A more serious concern is what will happen to a person after they die. In my case, I have a prepaid burial so the body will be taken care of, but what about the soul? What happens to a person’s soul after death?
A few of my friends are either agnostics or atheists. They argue that everything ends at death, but the rest of the world believes that a person’s soul survives for eternity in one way or another. Thus for most of us, we need to ponder what is the destination of our soul, and what we can to direct our soul to a desirable destination. Monotheistic religions tend to offer the equivalents of heaven and hell. One will either be rewarded or punished. Most of the Asiatic religions teach reincarnation. The person’s soul will be reborn in another animal. Would you rather become a horse, a rat or a worm? At some time before death, we need to ponder the destination of our soul, and what, if anything, we can do about it.
Had I been on my death bed, there would have been nothing I could have done about the messy garage. What, could I have done about my soul? After all, eternity is a long time. If one’s soul ends in a place of punishment or in the body of an undesirable animal such as a worm, eternity is a long time to regret what one did in life.
The agnostics and atheists are in a bind. Because they believe that death is the end, there is nothing they can do. In fact, their life becomes meaningless unless by chance they did something of major benefit to mankind. Even then, they will never know how they have blessed or cursed their descendants. Personally, I believe there is a supreme deity who rules the universe. The agnostics and atheists will discover after death that they are accountable to this deity. Oh woe are they. It is interesting to note, that psychologists find that atheists have a greater fear of death than people who believe in a god.
So have you pondered your relationship to what ever deity you believe in? What destinations does your deity offer you? What, if anything, can you do to influence the deity? What have you done already? What can you do in the time remaining before your death?
In my case, my pondering consisted in reviewing and confirming the choices I have already made. I am a born-again Christian. I believe there is a God who is supreme and who owns everything. Our possessions have only been lent to us during our lifetime. There is nothing we can do to impress God. We can not pay him back because we own nothing. Even if we did, what of value could we give to the one who owns everything?
As a Christian, I believe God is beyond our comprehension. We simply can not conceive God in all His power and glory. As a result Christian theologians set forth the doctrine of the Trinity. No, we do not believe in three gods. Christians believe that this overwhelmingly grand and glorious God can be viewed in three ways. God, the father, the historical sovereign God. God the son, or Jesus, who lived among us in human form as an example, teacher and savior, and God the Holy Spirit who moves within our consciousness teaching, guiding and correcting us that we might work to glorify God.
As a Christian, the Holy Spirit urges me to do good works that glorify God, but what work can I do that can earn my way into Heaven? I do things to glorify God, but nothing I do “earns” my way into Heaven.
Some people use the metaphor of a balance with a person’s good deeds on one side and their evil deeds on the other. Others think of a celestial book keeper entering debits and credits for our good and bad deeds. Unfortunately, humanity is inherently sinful. There is no way for a person to be able to do more good than evil. We all deserve an eternal punishment that Christians call Hell. We can not buy our way into heaven with good works. There is nothing we can do that is of greater than our sins.
While many people get frustrated trying to work their way into Heaven, Christians get to Heaven on the basis of faith. It is an individual decision, but those who get to heaven believe that Jesus was born, died and rose again as payment of their sins. Only the death of a sinless man, Jesus, can atone for our sins.
You may have picked up that I said I was a born-again Christian. This means that I not only accept by faith the salvation that comes from Jesus, but I have given my life to him. He is my Lord and Savior. I strive to live my life to honor him and live in his strength and mercy.
I would hope the readers would seriously consider Christianity, but my purpose in writing this post is to get you to ponder your death and your future in eternity. Perhaps you disagree with me about Christianity, but in any event take the time now to think about what will happen after your death. If you are not sure of where your soul will go, or if you have doubts about what you have believed up to now, ponder eternity. Now is the time to look for a faith that works for you. Now is the time to change your life in a way that will impact how you spend eternity. Do not just stumble through life, and at death find yourself spending eternity in a place of punishment.
As for me, Christianity offers me the path to heaven. You are free to look for other paths, but the Bible says it is the only path.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, now is the time to consider how you will spend eternity. A sudden death could leave you spending eternity where you do not wish to be. Remember, eternity is a long time. While you are at it, you may also wish to ponder for a moment if you really believe your choice of religion. There is time to reconsider now, but not after death.
Reynold Conger is an author of fiction. He writes his books to entertain, but they are written from a Christian perspective. For information about his writing, go to Reynold Conger.com.