Pondering what lies beyond death
I don't know anything really about eternal life; neither do any of the rest of us.
In the last few weeks and months I've been thinking a lot about death and what lies beyond death.
Across the years, I've heard lots of people try to describe eternal life: 'I'm sure he's up in heaven playing golf,' or 'I'm sure she's up in heaven working in God's flower garden.'
To be honest, if eternal life involves either golf or yard work, I'm not sure it will be heaven for me.
I've read several of the books which tell the stories of people who had the opportunity to go to heaven and return, and I'm confused because none of the two describe the same experience.
In the end, I have to conclude that no one really knows what eternal life will be like. Instead of trying to make up a description about heaven based on what I think eternal life will be like, I cling to a verse from 1 Corinthians 2:9, in which Paul quotes a verse from Isaiah 64 which reads, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what has God prepared for those who love him.'
In other words, what God has planned for us is beyond our knowing. I love that thought. And I find it frustrating.
When people die, when people I love die, when I contemplate my own death, I want to know what it's like to die and what happens next. I want to know the details of eternal life. I want the iron-clad, irrefutable assurance that there is definitely an eternal life.
But I don't know anything really about eternal life; neither do any of the rest of us.
Instead, I am forced to believe that because God loves me in the here and now, eternal life will be wonderful. I am forced to believe that because I am a child of God in the here and now, eternal life will be wonderful. I am forced to leave eternal life in the hands of God, who must fill eternity.
And while I will always wish I could know the details, I am willing to trust what I don't know to the one I do know.
Walter Bruggeman said once that to 'do justice' is to 'sort out what belongs to whom and to return it to them.'