Everybody wonders about life after death at some time or another.
But, if you were raised in the church you didn’t just wonder. You practically lived the musical. Seriously. We preach, we teach and we belt out like divas on Broadway that
- Jesus died for our sins.
- When we die we will go to heaven.
- We must die to sin
- In death there is victory
Basically, nothing good happens until somebody dies. And, let’s face it, no song worth it’s notes leaves out the mystery and glory of life after death.
- Just over in the glory land,
- Some glad morning when this life is over
- I’ll meet you in the morning
were a few of the songs that practically screamed “See you later, sucker, I’m outta here”.
Made me feel kind of left out, standing in the flesh all healthy and young. But, at the same time, I was afraid. Did I really know God? When it came time to die would He even know me? That’s why I loved the end of each Church service. I could go home and forget eternity for just a little while.
One Sunday afternoon, after a consuming a feast of roast beef and mashed potatoes, I got up to help my siblings with the dishes.
“Not this time,” Dad said, “You can sweep the floor when everyone else is done.”
After my siblings put away the last plate, I grabbed a broom and swept its bristles across the linoleum floor. I swept until a long shaft of late afternoon sun slid from an upper window and fell across the floor. As dust particles swirled in the fading light, I soaked in the silence around me.
Absolute, amazing silence.
“Dad? Mom?” I yelled, “Anybody home?”
Not a sound.
“Hey, guys!” I called out again.
A twinge of fear flexed its muscles until it grew strong enough to claw over the edge of my uneasiness and pull me into utter delusion.
“The Rapture,” I gasped, “It’s finally here.”
I’d dreaded this theological peril ever since I watched one of those so-scary-cause-it-could-actually-happen-to-you types of movie, a religious drama based on the belief that God would some day pluck all Christians off planet earth without warning.
Bits and pieces of the movie whirled through my adolescent mind. .
- multiple plane crashes
- carnage on the highways
- drivers vanished
- entire families missing
- nurses and doctors gone
- bus drivers, little babies disappeared without a trace
Soldiers rounded up people who decided to believe in God after all the other Christians were gone. they tracked one new believer along railway tracks. A helicopter hovered overhead while the soldiers hunted her down.
“I don’t want to be left behind,” I sputtered. The broom slid to the floor and bounced off the edge of my dingy white sneakers. As I stood in the empty foyer, I asked God to forgive me for my sins, for ignoring my little brother, for teasing my older sister and shoving my dirty clothes under my bed and never pulling them back out. Most of all, I sobbed out my sorrow for not seeking God on my own.
The sound of a gunshot echoed through the hallway. I braced for what had to be a new world order swat team ripping off the screen door.
“No, me first!”
I figured it was some kind of strange lingo for an attack. Then mom stepped into the hallway, my baby brother balanced on her hip.
I was so relieved I started to cry. Why not? Just seconds ago I’d thought the whole world was coming to an end.
Several weeks later, I took another important step of faith. In a baptismal tank the size of a large bathtub, I stood beside Dad. My pointed chin barely reached his waist. The unheated water sloshed across the front of my cotton dress.
“I baptize you, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,” Dad intoned as he stood beside me in the water. The ancient words from the New Testament signified my readiness to follow God and his Son Jesus Christ.
Then dad lowered me into the water.
“Buried in the likeness of His death,” he said as the water closed over my face.
“Raised in the likeness of His resurrection”, Dad finished when he lifted me up to the surface.
Trust me, ‘Left Behind” the seventies version was a bit creepy. What religious movie made back then was not? And, I know my “death” doctrine was a bit convoluted. But, my dash to God was not in vain.
I still trust Him today.
The journey of a Christian is all about knowing God. Daring to trust Him. Learning to walk through the darkest of nights while speaking His name.