Yeah, it’s been a wierd start to the year. Lemmy, Bowie and Rickman have all packed their bags and shuffled off their mortal coils. May they rest in peace, and may God surround their family and friends with His peace, grace and comfort as they grieve. But with the deaths of these prominent figures, it’s started me thinking …
I have a mental “immortal” list. A list of people who I can’t get my head around the fact that they too will one day die. Parents, family, friends. But also many others. Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, the blind guy near us who we see walking his 40km a day .. even me, one day. Hard to think that one day my heart too will slow to a stop, and my chest will cease to rise for a new breath. With the sudden spate of public figures dying, it does raise the thought that “Yeah, we all die eventually.”. Really puts a perspective on things (“A little too much f***** perspective if you ask me.”. Points for knowing the quote -> comments).
Life, death .. and then what? I become nothing, with only those left behind to remember me? I ascend to a fluffy cloud with a spectral electric guitar? I spend eternity driving the rolling green hills of paradise in the ghost of my old T Reg. Simca? I
guess hope that on balance people would say, “Yeah, Alex was a nice guy. I’m sure he’s in a better place now.”. Because the nice guys, people we like or admire, get to go to heaven and the toe-rags who make our lives a misery (the tax-man, the angry neighbour, the wife beater) don’t get to go to the ‘better place’. Because that’s how it works. Right?
Am I nice guy?
Depends who you ask. The guys at work? My customers? Some of the folks at church? I’m sure they would say “Yeah, nice guy, thumbs up”. Those closer to me, those who see me on my kitten-kicking* days might generously decide my fate on the toss of a coin. To be honest, there are some days when I feel like deciding my fate on the toss of a coin too. Heads, heaven. Tails, hell. Is that really what I believe?
When I was 18 I started on a long slippery slope.
I had made a deal with God that if He got me through some fairly hairy surgery then “I would become a christian.”. Seemed like a fair trade to me. I woke up after 8 hours with my feet more or less pointing in the right direction, breathed a woozy sigh of relief and promptly passed again out for another few hours.
About a year later, when coming out of the dentists, I noticed the Vicarage over the road and remembered my “hospital trolley prayer”. So, dressed in my army boots, combat pants, Iron Maiden t-shirt and leather jacket with hair half-way down my back, I knocked on the door to the let the guy with the dog-collar know that I wanted (kinda) to become a christian, or something. His face was, I have to say, a picture.
Anyway, the guy (Rev. Stephen Foster) invited me in to make sure I wasn’t pulling his leg and then, after the obligatory tea and biscuits, invited me to the confirmation class which was starting the following week. Go figure. God seems to work like that.
Anyway, at some point between then and now, this Jesus thing got real for me. It started off with trial and error praying, seeing prayers answered and then following things to their logical conclusion; that prayers to Jesus / in His name can only be answered if what the bible says about him is true.
In terms of this life-after-death thing which I’m going on about, John 3:16-18 pretty much sums it up for me:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Sure, that’s pretty black and white, but that’s Jesus for you. But, I understood then that for me to gain access to this eternal life/heaven/life-after-death, I need to have faith in, and by extension a relationship with, Jesus.
There are still days when I hope this is all real, that I will get to heaven why I die. Reassuringly, I recently read,
Since their is nothing we can do to earn our salvation [apart from having faith in Christ], there is nothing we can do to lose it either.
So .. I know who Jesus is. I believe in Him. I guess it’s all good.
(There is a thing about faith and action, but that’s for another post.)
* I don’t kick kittens. Ever. Just wanted to clear that up …