There’s nothing like reaching half a century and feeling your heart palpitate or hearing yourself wheeze after climbing a few stairs to make you contemplate your own mortality.
Most of my life I have thought of death as a friend I will welcome when he comes knocking because he will bring an end to the trials and tribulations of life. Whilst I am no longer longing to hear his knock I am still not afraid of hearing it either.
As a Christian I do, of course, believe in Heaven and an afterlife but I have never really looked forward to them. I never wanted to live forever. The closer I get to the time of my departure from this world, however, the more I wonder what it will be like after I die.
The stereotype of heaven with its wings, harps and halo’s and hell with its fire and brimstone never seemed realistic to me. I’m not sure what, if anything, the bible says about those places but I can’t imagine a loving God being able to tolerate demons torturing people with fire and pitchforks for eternity. I also can’t imagine a heaven that does not include things like children, music, art and other enjoyable things.
Over the years I have gradually been forming a picture in my mind of what heaven and hell will be like. I could be wrong. It is always a possibility. When this life is over there may be nothing more but, if that is so, I don’t have to worry about it because I will never know.
The first place to materialise in my imagination was hell. I am quite certain it is nothing like it has been painted. No flames such as we know them, no demons jabbing pitchforks in us, nobody punishing us from without.
No. I imagine hell as a place we create for ourselves with flames of regret searing us and blades of guilt stabbing us as we punish ourselves for all we have done wrong in this life.
If I am right, and everything in creation has been made from the substance that is God, then judgement day will be the day we are all reunited and become one with God.
On that day we will know everything He knows. We will know just what we have done and what effects our actions have had. We will feel what others have felt at our hands. We will see ourselves as He sees us and have the same opinion of our actions as He has.
I think God was giving us a clue about Heaven and Hell when he said “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I think the day will come when we will have to live through what we have done to others.
The serial killer, for example, will spend the first few years or so of eternity experiencing everything he ever did to his victims.
He will be tortured by his own actions and die as many deaths as he inflicted. He will also have to live through what he did to the families of his victims and anyone else his actions hurt so he will have to live through the physical and psychological pain as well as the grief etc. If he left a child an orphan he will have to live through that child’s pain for instance.
Afterwards he will spend eternity punishing himself for what he did and living with the memories of how it felt to be his victims as well as the horror of self-loathing.
He will call to Christians and ask them why they did not tell him because he will be in agony and his only defence against his own self-loathing will be that nobody told him he was doing it all to himself. Even as he asks why, however, he will know it was his own choice. He will know he didn’t want to know then, didn’t want to believe in God, and didn’t want to do right by others.
There is nothing more agonizing than self-loathing and nothing more bitter than guilt and regret. I have spent the best part of my life hating myself and trust me – the punishment we mete out to ourselves is more hellish than anything any demon could ever do us!
It is also something God could never stop. He could stop a demon from attacking us but he cannot now, and will not be able to ever, stop us from attacking ourselves.
The people who do awful things to others have no idea what it feels like to regret their actions or to hate themselves for who they are and what they have done so it will come as complete shock to them.
The less empathy a person has had for others during this life the greater their pain will be when the empathy of God becomes part of them in the afterlife. They will suffer a thousand times more than their victims did because they will only have themselves to blame.
Only those who have been a victim of their own self-loathing can ever even begin to imagine how awful such a hell will be! Like everything, however, the way it is now is only a pale imitation of how it will be then.
As for heaven, that was harder to imagine, everything I could think of sounded boring but I have some theories now.
In heaven, I believe, all those babies who were aborted will be given a chance to live. The souls exist and they will be given the option to be born and grow or to spring forth full grown.
Those souls who want to experience being born and being raised will be given to the souls who want to give birth and raise a child. In my idea of heaven all those infertile people will have their dreams come true. They will become parents.
There are people in this world whose idea of heaven would be to have a child that never grows up and there are others who long to be children forever. These souls will be matched with each other.
Each child will be perfect and so will each parent. No rebellion, no lies, no abuses. There will also be no stresses. No fear of a child molester getting his hands on the child if it is not closely watched. No fears of a fire or wild animal harming it either.
If mother wants to go visit a friend and the child wants to stay home – no problems. There will be no childish fears – the child will be happy to stay home alone. If it gets lonely a passing lion or person will sense its need for company and drop in to play.
People who like houses will be able to create the house of their dreams to live in. Those who don’t like houses will be able to sleep on the clouds or under a tree – wherever they like. That is, of course, if they like sleep.
We won’t NEED sleep but, if we like it, we will be able to choose to do it. Same with food and sex. We won’t NEED them but they will be available if we like them and want them. All things will be available but minus the negatives.
In heaven nobody will eat too much, there will be no “wrong” food, nothing will lose its life to feed us and the only fat people will be those whose idea of heaven includes being fat!
My body, in heaven, will look exactly how I want it to look but I won’t have to have a body if I don’t want one. If I choose to have a body I will also be able to have sex but it will be sex as God designed it to be. No rapes, no lust, no using others sexually for selfish gratification. Those things won’t happen in heaven because nobody will want them to happen.
The people who like using others will be busy stabbing themselves with guilt and self-loathing for what they did to those they used.
Here is how I imagine a day in Heaven will go for me. It will be a day tailored to my preferences.
I love sleep so I will choose to continue doing it therefore I will wake up after a wonderful sleep in a comfy bed. I like beds so I will have one.
I haven’t decided if I want to give birth to the child I aborted in the afterlife. God has forgiven me for the abortion but I may decide not to undo that choice. The child may decide he would prefer to skip being born. He may decide he would rather be born to someone else too but, if he decides he wants to be born and be born to me, I have no doubt I will decide I want to have him when the time comes.
If we have decided to be mother and child I may get up and find him playing in the garden with a wild animal. He may have decided not to sleep because sleeping is not his thing.
Nope. I think he is not going to want to be born to me. I just can’t imagine heaven with a child depending on me.
So I will wake up, get up, and do my own thing.
I love computers and the internet so I think they will be available in heaven too. Minus the porn, the cheats, the scammers, viruses and other negative things.
So I will get up and, today, I think I would like it to be a little chilly so I can snap my fingers and watch a fire spring to life in the fireplace. It will burn without fuel and it will not move from the fireplace to damage anything.
I will get on the computer and interact with others whose idea of heaven includes computers and none of us will have to worry about computer malfunctions or glitches or electricity costs. There will be no power points in my house. The computer will run because I want it to.
Maybe I will decide to eat but I won’t have to. There will be no hunger in heaven. I will only ever experience hunger if I decide I want to eat and hunger would make eating more enjoyable.
I’m one of the lucky ones. My son and daughter have both accepted Christ so they will be with me in heaven. I will probably spend some of this imaginary day with them. Maybe my daughter and I will go to a movie and then to a restaurant.
There will be restaurants and movie theatres because there will be souls whose idea of heaven includes being an actor, making films, owning a theatre or restaurant and so on. Their fee will be our appreciation of their work so we will be sure to pay them well.
After the movie and dinner we might decide we would like a swim so we will click our fingers and arrive at a gorgeous natural swimming spot with a waterfall and some other people who also felt like swimming today will be there.
No need to change clothes. We will be naked or clothed, depending on personal preference, by simply deciding what we want. As we swim someone who has been there longer may decide a BBQ would be nice so they will snap their fingers and one will appear complete with all the food traditional at a BBQ but minus the death of any creature to supply it.
My daughter and I will decide we want to join in the feast so we will decide to be hungry and we’ll get out of the water. As we get to the table we will see our favourite food, prawn cocktails, is missing so one of us will add them to the spread while someone else adds a curry.
We will mingle and chat to each other and someone, probably me, will add music to the gathering so we can dance. After some fun I will probably want to spend some time with God so I will leave my daughter to continue dancing and whisk myself into Gods presence where I will worship and commune with him for a while before going to bed again.
In heaven, every day will be perfect for every soul. There will be someone for everyone in heaven. The person who likes fixing things will be matched with the person who likes breaking things hehehe.
Heaven would only bore people who like negative things like hurting others, using others, or seeing others suffer. Those people will not be bored in heaven though. They will be far too busy suffering in hell.
Their inability to forgive themselves for what they have done will keep them in hell for eternity. I will only be able to escape my own hell of self-loathing because I know Jesus paid for my sins and I have accepted Gods forgiveness. God has enabled me to forgive myself already. Those who enter eternity unforgiven will remain unforgiven. Not by God. By themselves!
Anyone who thinks this means they will be able to escape hell after death by choosing to forgive themselves has clearly never felt true self-condemnation! It has taken me a lifetime to forgive myself and that’s with God’s help!
There is a cut-off point beyond which God cannot help us and that point is death. If we die without having accepted the sacrifice of Christ we will have to go to hell ourselves because Christ will not be able to take our place and go there for us then! It will be too late.
Anyone who plans to die without accepting Christs sacrifice and his offer to go to hell in their place had better be sure to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” because that is their only hope of escaping at least some of the agony of hell!