As a child, I used to wonder where people go when they die? When the body is placed in the coffin and the final nail is struck, and all seems to be over, what if the person inside opens his/her eyes again? Won’t the person feel suffocated and afraid of the darkness inside? What if s/he wants to come out? There would be no one to hear his/her cry for help from where s/he is buried deep down in the earth! Such thoughts often scared me.
A child’s mind is not developed enough to fathom the deeper truths of life. Nor can it rise up to the higher levels of cognitive functioning. Hence, my wondering continued to wonder. I was told that when people die, they go to God. But I wasn’t really able to gather this abstract reality much, as a child.
As the truths about life and death sunk deeper into me gradually, I realised how transient earthly life is! And how perpetual the future eternity is!
The concept of eternity still doesn’t mean much to many, especially because it is too abstract to imagine and understand. To explain in simple terms – ‘eternity is endlessness in time’ – no count of years or months or days or hours or minutes. And, eternity is what awaits the human spirit once the earthly stint gets over.
Life on earth is for a few decades at the maximum. Even the person with record-holding life span, ultimately dies. One wise writer writes thus – ‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.’ True enough, generations have come and gone by all across the world. No one stays on forever.
So if the earthly life is temporary, and eternity is everlasting, don’t we need to prepare for it? If we decide to holiday out-of-station, how much in advance we prepare and wait with excited anticipation! This involves preparation for a few days or may be for a few months at the maximum. What then ought to be the magnitude of preparation for eternity!
Life on earth is a preparation for what is in store for eternity. Each day each moment of our lives on earth takes us one step closer to eternity. How carefully ought we to live our lives on earth, then!
How do we then, prepare for eternity?
To answer this, we must first be sure of what is in store for us in eternity.
Eternity comprises of eternal life and eternal death. Eternal life is life in the constant presence of God. How blissful! The thought itself excites the mind! And, eternal life (a life that never ends) is in store for all those who confess their sins while on earth, repent for them, seek forgiveness from God and strive to live a life for the glory of God. This is because, if we are to spend eternity with a Holy God, we need to be holy as well. Eternal death, on the other hand, is a total abandonment from the fellowship of God. Those who choose to continue with sinful lives without remorse, regret, repentance or seeking forgiveness from God, those who do not acknowledge the existence of God are banished to eternal death. This is because no one can thrive in the companionship of God without being cleansed from sin.
Eternal death is horrible. That is why, even for a joke’s sake or even for one’s most hated enemy, one never ought to say – ‘Go to hell!’ – which is often considered a casual statement when one is angry or is in a light mood.
Eternal life is what we all ought to strive for and encourage all around us to aspire for. None should be left behind from savouring the eternal bliss to which God invites each of His handmade human beings. The pains, tears, anxieties, sorrows and sickness of this earth will be brought to nought when one enters eternal life. Words cannot do justice to describe what eternal life would be like. To explain the wonders of eternal life, the Bible says – “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
An eternal life of bliss invites us all. Are we prepared?