For the Unsure
Updated: Jan 2, 2019
“I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is.” -Albert Camus
I had a conversation the other night with someone who two weeks ago was just a stranger to me, but is now someone I appreciate and adore dearly. During our conversation we talked about life, love, and loss. Hope and fear, and somewhere along the way we began talking about death. He said that he was terrified of death and the thought of eventual nothingness. This fear that, in the end, he will lose all of the people and the memories of this lifetime and that he will no longer be in existence. To have a name, a consciousness of self, deep feelings, and yet with all this, to die as nothing. I sat there trying to empathize with his fear because, although it is very common for people to fear death, I am not someone who shares in this fear- but I do understand it.
Unsure of what to say at first, I asked if he believed in heaven to which he replied, “I want to believe in it and I really hope it’s there, but nobody knows for certain. If there is a heaven, I don’t think I am the kind of person who will be let in. I do talk to Him sometimes, but I don’t confess my sins and I don’t go to church.” He proceeded to mention that there have been people, supposedly Christians, who have suggested that he is unworthy of receiving God's grace. I realized after he said all this that it wasn’t that he didn’t believe in God, it was that he didn’t think that God believed in him.
Being around him for the past two weeks or so and witnessing God’s love through him, it hurt my heart to see someone with such a kind and genuine soul feel that they are unworthy of being gifted eternal life. That he thought that he wasn’t good enough to enter into the kingdom of God because somewhere along the way, someone had told him otherwise. I am here today to tell him that this is not at all the case. I have a theory that the reason for his fear of death falls in his uncertainty of how he believes he is seen by God. That death would be less frightening for him if he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God has a plan for him far beyond the temporary restrictions of this world- so if this is him that is reading this, I hope you see the truth in how worthy and loved you are. I hope you see the life after death.
I know it can be hard sometimes and you may feel like you’re not the "perfect Christian" (whatever that actually means), but maybe you'd feel better if I told you that no one is, not even the Pope. In the Bible, "Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah was a drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody," etc. and yet God loved and chose them all anyway. Because the thing is, God is not looking for extraordinary, overqualified, gifted people- he is simply looking to know you for exactly who you are. God dwells within you, as you. The love that God has for people like Mother Theresa is the same love that he has for you- however ordinary and unworthy you may feel you are in comparison.
Jesus sees our sins more clearly than anyone and yet, he loves us more than anyone. The God that I know is not concerned by the quantity of good deeds or sins that you engage with, He is interested in the quality of your heart- the heart that He so meticulously mended and held. Going to church does not make you a Christian. Doing the right thing, loving God and loving others is what makes someone a good Christian. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve it. It is simply always there. As C.S. Lewis once said, “the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference, and therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.”
C.S. Lewis also states, "there is someone God loves even though He may not approve of what they do. There is someone God accepts though some of their thoughts and actions revolt Him. There is someone who God forgives though that person may hurt the people they love the most… that someone is me." I am a sinner, I make mistakes, I am imperfect and yet God loves me for exactly who I am, flaws and all. And not for any reason in particular. He loves me just because. And likewise, He loves you. The entirety of the Bible is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the same time we are more loved and accepted by God than we ever dared hope.
I don’t know scientifically for certain that heaven is real, but the fact that myself and billions of people have a desire for something that cannot be fulfilled on Earth is proof enough for me. If you realize that you DO have a place in heaven with your name on it when you accept God's grace, maybe the idea of life after death will become more clear. Maybe the thought of dying won't really be all that scary. Maybe it will actually excite you. Maybe it will feel like going home.
The Bible mentions the word "heaven" 327 times in the Old Testament and 255 times in the New Testament. Here are just a few of the promises we have been told about the afterlife.
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” John 6:47
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
To the person I wrote this for- The ancient Egyptians held a belief about the afterlife that when a soul reached the entrance of Heaven it was asked two questions. ‘Have you found joy in your life?’ and ‘Has your life brought joy to others?’ Only you can answer the first question, but if the ancient Egyptians are correct and one day you are asked, know that you can confidently say yes to the second. Your life has brought joy to mine and I feel blessed to have found a friend like you. If I was the gatekeeper, I would let you in and if I die before you do, I'll be sure to meet you at the door. Thank you for letting God work through you in this life, I hope you know you are so worthy and welcomed into the one after this. Whoever made you feel you weren't, they were wrong. I see God in you.