Posted on Monday, March 05th 2012 at 10:15 am
I was at a memorial service for a friend over the weekend. He had lived a full life and was loved by all who knew him. His grandkids talked about how they will miss their "Tata", his best friend talked about how he became a high ranking official and his mechanical and computer abilities. His sister talked about how much he helped her financially and how she will miss his wise counsel. Then his daughter gave a tearful tribute about her love for her father and how he helped her throughout her life. Then she said something chilling, "you know my father was not a religious man so we don't know where he is". She went on to say that he will always be with her in her heart, but I was struck with her honest confession about her doubts concerning where her father ended up. So often when you attend memorials you will hear about how the person is "in a better place" or "with us in spirit", but it is rare to have someone honestly say that they don't know where he is, or if he is anywhere. It reminded me of what Stephen Hawking, the brilliant physicist, recently said about what happens when we die. You may know that Hawking's suffers from a disease similar to ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), and is steadily deteriorating and facing death. He was asked about what happens when we die and he responded that it was like turning off a computer, we are simply turned off and cease to think or exist. Dr. Hawking is one of the smartest people on the planet, and because he is so brilliant he could be right. If he is right, then there is nothing to worry about. We die and our "computer" is shut off and we cease to exist. But, what if he is wrong? What if the computer doesn't shut off and we end up in an afterlife that we haven't planned for? That is what has always troubled me. I used to have dreams where I was falling off a cliff and never hit the bottom, just endless terror. I would wake up in a sweat terrified and that is what caused me to search for God and the meaning of life. We plan for vacations, what we are going to eat for dinner, our retirement, yet many of us have made no plans for what happens after we die. If God does exist and if He has a plan for our life and our afterlife, then it might be wise to find out what that plan is. Otherwise we might end up in an alternative eternity.