Archive for the “Heaven and/or Hell” Category

The father of a friend died last week and we went to the funeral service yesterday. It’s my third funeral in six months. But it was the first of the three in which I didn’t have a role and I wasn’t overwhelmed with grief. I was able to participate in the service without being consumed by the content of it. It gave me an opportunity to hear some “new” things from God. (Granted, these may not be new to you, but they are new for me.)

On Heaven
The service began with worship because the man had loved God and loved to worship. The church was arranged with two sections of pews and a center aisle. As the crowd began to clap, I had a vision of those clapping around the finish line of a marathon, cheering the runner on to victory and to completion. What a different way to view our entrance into heaven! I had always thought of it as being met by Jesus or an angel or perhaps one or two family members who have gone before me. It was a “slow, gentle” welcome. But this “new” pattern is more exciting to me. Not because I’m looking for adulation, but because of the joy that it holds — the “welcome home, hero!” kind of feel it has to it. It’s a celebration at the finish line with friends and family who have gathered to share my joy and cheer me on as you make my final steps. And everyone in heaven is my family and friend, even those I don’t know yet. We are kin in the Spirit.

Of course, the difference between this finish line and the finish line of the marathon is that as you approach the finish line of this life, you are restored with each step. No longer pulled down by the things of earth, you are stronger, lighter, healthier, happier. You are whole in every sense of the word. Can you see the scene in your mind’s eye?

I want to hold this new perspective on entering heaven in my mind. It is much more encouraging to me than the quiet, gentle leading by a loved one talking softly to me as we enter the Gates of Heaven. You may prefer the soft, gentle entry into heaven and that’s fine. But I’m looking forward to the celebration! Fortunately, Our God is not a one-size-fits-all kind of God. He is unique and creative in every way. I’m sure He’s arranging the entrance into heaven that is beyond best for each of us, just as He is creating mansions unique to each of us, and just as He creates a life — and purpose in life — that is unique to each of us.

On Hell
As the funeral service progressed and the father of the deceased spoke, I remembered the very difficult days after my dad died. What struck me the hardest at that time was the absolute separation. How very strange it seemed to me that the separation should be so painful when in a way separation from my dad was normal — we lived 50 miles apart, so we were only “together” about once a week. But it “felt” different. This was an “absolute separation.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is some kind of spiritual connection among the living and when someone dies that connection is broken. When Phil’s mom died, he came up with this analogy: when a computer network is turned on, the system is always sending out impulses to other computers, checking to see if they are still connected. This is called “pinging” and it’s a continuous process. Without us being aware of it, it seems that our spirits “ping” for the spirits of those we love constantly and we receive an unconscious knowing that they are there. When someone dies, that ping goes out from us but is not returned. At an unconsious level there is a brokenness, a void, a missing connection that pushes itself into our consciousness and alerts our brain that “something is very wrong here.” Our brain then transmits that information to our emotions.

That missing connection creates a kind of darkness (a void, a black hole), of internal pain that doesn’t go away quickly or easily. It’s a very strange pain because it really hurts, but there is no physical attribute to it. In other words, you can’t say “my arm hurts” or “my head hurts.” I guess saying “my heart hurts” would be the closest, but even that misses the mark because I’m sure it’s not like the physical pain of a heart attack.

As I thought about this during the funeral, I had a greater insight into hell than I’ve ever had. Hell is eternal separation from God. I’ve known that for years. But now I have a greater understanding of the pain of it. Hell is that absolute separation from the Giver of Life for all of eternity. It is the constant pinging that is never responded to. It is the darkest of darkness, the largest of black holes. And as time passes, it doesn’t lighten or soften as the pain of separation from a loved one who has died. Instead, it deepens, it grows because there is never hope of escaping it. There is never a lessening of it.

On Hope
I’m reminded of two passages of Scripture:

Romans 7:24-25 (NLT)
“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:51-58 (NLT)
51But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed…. 53For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.
54When this happens—when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die—then at last the Scriptures will come true:
“Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory?O death, where is your sting?”
56For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!
58So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Comments Comments Off on Three Funerals and a Blog

© copyright 2009-2013, Data Designs Publishing and Sandra J. Hovatter