(February 28, 1990)
This uncontrollable swing of weather from balmy thaw to bitter below zero and back again is hard on the system. My old body doesn’t know what to expect next. It would be nice to promise it a vacation somewhere in the sunny south... such a pleasant thought! But keeping that promise is beyond my present capacity. So body, you just have to take what comes. Ah, but my soul... that is a different matter.
Some people say we don’t have a soul. They usually mean there is no part of us that lives on after our bodies die. I’m not too sure why anyone would deny the existence of their own soul, but fear might have something to do with it.
The Bible talks about people who are so afraid of death that their fear has them in bondage. Death is the great unknown, but besides that, it is not easy getting away from the suspicion there is more after this life, whether more is wanted or not. Thus death - the event, might not be dreaded as much as death - the repercussions. As with a lot of uncomfortable topics, this one, some will just push aside and leave alone.
When it is -40 outside, I can easily turn my mind to anything other than going outside. In fact, I’d rather sit in front of the fireplace and look at a picture book of Hawaii and pretend I’m on Kihei beach. It doesn’t get me there nor does it change the reality of the temperature outside, it’s just easier. Maybe that is why some people prefer to convince themselves “when you’re dead, you’re dead”. That’s easier to handle than a question mark, judgment, condemnation or whatever else might be feared.
Nevertheless, just saying a thing isn’t enough. Just saying it isn’t cold outside doesn’t change the weather. Just saying I’m going to Hawaii, won’t get me there. Just saying I’m going to heaven when I die won’t get me there... nor will just saying there is no life after death make that a reality. We don’t call things into existence. Whatever I vocalize, apart from what God says about it, is mere wishful thinking.
However, He doesn’t want to leave anyone without hope. The Bible offers this: even though the issue of death and life after death are beyond our choice, we can decide where we will spend eternity! “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life...” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Eternal life is a gift for those who choose to believe what God says. He tells us that if we want to spend eternity with Him, we need to believe in and receive His Son, not cling to our own ideas, however pleasant they may seem. God says, “He who has the Son has life...” and choosing to believe in and serve Jesus Christ NOW makes the difference in what happens to our soul LATER.
The Christian hope is not based on denying realities. We acknowledge we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We acknowledge we have a soul. We know we can’t handle the issue of death ourselves. We don’t make rash promises we can’t keep. (Such as, “Oh, you’re such a good guy, after you die, you’ll go to heaven.”) We admit it is “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us...” (Titus 3:5) Such reality may not feed the ego but better that than feeding it a lie and being horribly shocked when reality must eventually be faced.
Our expectation is on the One who has the capacity to keep all His promises, the One who promised “...whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” Instead of trying to escape God by denying our soul, we ought to deny any notions of trying to cross over death without Christ. He can change fearful uncertainty into confident expectation. But the choice needs to be made now, while we can choose.
Later, we have to take whatever we get.