ImageWhile walking our mascot one morning, I heard a gruesome “squoosh” under my foot. Lifting my shoe, I discovered a decimated grub.  I looked up the street to discover the causal neighborhood lane was full of squirmy, moist grubs wiggling in the last rays of moonlight.  It was a twilight zone moment as I realized I stood in the middle of hundreds of grubs lying alongside the street.  They all twitched in one communal effort as the last moonbeam faded away; I felt my skin crawl. 

After my wonder and shock left me, I darted up our deck steps to “google” the phenomenon.  As my husband heard the story he bolted out in laughter.  “Maybe the grubs know something you don’t!” 

“What do you mean?”

“Jesus is coming back!”

My husband’s comment and the great grub gathering promoted this thought:  What if “the end” is not as we perceive?  On a more personal level, what if our end (death) is not what we expect? What if the afterlife is not as I assume?

This may be a blasphemous thought in most church circles, but what if we are wrong? That question causes me to take stock. 

 Aside from Biblical faith, I have noticed a few things about religion in general.  All major religions promote human transcendence, meaning we rise above our human limits and invest our energies in more spiritual living.  Thousands of generations before us have sought transcendence in some form or another.  Some religions teach that this is accomplished by following a certain ethic or spiritual practice.  Christianity teaches transcendence is accomplished by communing with God through Jesus Christ.  This is evidence for me that there is an afterlife and there is a God.  God placed a hunger in all humanity to seek transcendence.  I call this the “Eden-effect”.  We all thirst and hunger for Eden, whether we are Christian or not.  That world-wide hunger gives me faith. 

 But I do wonder how I would feel if the afterlife is not how I imagine.  From the Bible we have a few images that suggest the afterlife concept experienced a chronological evolution.  The earliest Old Testament accounts portray “Sheol”.  This is a sleepy, shadow place where souls seem to be abandoned and forgotten.  Daniel 12:2-3 is the earliest text to speak clearly about a resurrection.  Jesus argues for a resurrection in Mark 12:18-27 when challenged by the Sadducees (who hold that death finalizes our existence).  Paul prefers a sleep image (1 Cor. 15:6, 18, 20, 51; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:9-10).  Yet he also believed that the human spirit resided with Christ post-mortem (Phil. 1:19-26; 2 Cor. 5:6-10; 1 Thess. 4:14).

What if these vivid images are nothing like the afterlife? 

 

In reflection of that question, my disappointment would be paramount, but so would my curiosity.  Assuming I had memory of this present life, I suppose I would always be seeking a connection to the faith I have now.  My faith tells me that God is love because God pierced time and space to become human.  God is love because of God’s sacrifice and promise of eternal life.  Finally God is love because there are times I recount in which no human explanation can be given; I encountered God.  And the love I received and the love I gave defined me.  I hope those moments would be built upon with further lessons learned in the afterlife.  My transcendence is through Christ and my faith tells me that is what I will experience.  I am ever hopeful.  But whatever IT is, I hope that I am able to breathe deep the new breath of this future existence and find my place and be still, accepting whatever God has created for us.

 

 

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