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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

And when I die?

Two news items caught me eye, yesterday.  One was, of course, the death of Peaches Geldof; the other of a less well-known Debi Gibson.

Peaches Geldof's death is, as far as I can ascertain, being investigated by Kent Police  as "non-suspicious but unexplained and sudden".  However, it was one front page that caught my eye.  Underneath a photograph of Ms Geldof and her late mother, Paula Yates, was the caption: "Together again", with its implication that, now that both are dead, they are, somehow, "together".

Debi Gibson is not dead - yet!  However, it is reported that she has only weeks to live, after refusing to wear protective goggles on a tanning bed left her with a fatal eye cancer, that has also spread to her liver.  Debi, who lives with partner Darren Gibson, said: "They told me I was going to die. It was horrendous but I came to terms with it. My daughter knows mummy is going to heaven."

Peaches and Paula are "together again"; Debi's daughter "knows mummy is going to heaven."

So what is it about death, or the onset thereof, that suddenly causes people who apparently have shown no particular interest in any afterlife to (a) assume that it is, after all, a reality; and (b) that they, or their loved ones, are all going to be in the better aspect of it?

To the best of my knowledge, every belief system that postulates an afterlife, other than Christianity, does so on the basis of the individuals 'good works'.  In Islam, for example, it is believed that we each (certainly, every Muslim!) have an angel on each shoulder - one totting up our good deeds; the other totting up our bad deeds.  If the good deeds outweigh the bad deeds then, when we die, we go to paradise.  If the bad deeds outweigh the good deeds ... ... !!!   The problem with such a 'system' is that, if we are brutally honest with ourselves, then none of us live lives that would assure us of paradise, heaven, or nirvana.

This is the wonder of the Christian Gospel.  It freely acknowledges that we are all unable to meet the standard that God has set.  (I can't even meet the standards that I set myself!).  "... for everyone has sinned;" writes Paul, "we all fall short of God's glorious standard." (Rom.3:23; NLT).   That means that I an totally unable to help myself.  My only hope is that another comes to my rescue.  And that, as many of us will be remembering in a special way over the coming days, is exactly what that same Almighty God has done, in the Persona of Jesus, the Son, the Messiah.

He came into this time-space continuum in which we live out our mortal lives, as a helpless Infant (Incarnation - the Christmas story).  He lived among us, as a Man among men.  He took my (and your) place on the cross - dying the death that I (and you) deserve, that I might know His resurrection life, here and now.  It's called grace'.

Of course, there is a 'catch'.  This is not some kind of auto-response.  I must make the conscious decision to come to Him, and accept the salvation that He offers.  This involves openly confessing my sins, and my sinfulness to Him.  It involves accepting that I am totally unable to do anything about them.  It involves acknowledging that only He is capable of doing anything about them, and that, on the cross at Calvary, He did it.  It involves submitting to Him as Lord of my life.

I have no idea as to the spiritual state of either the late Ms Geldof, or Ms Gibson.  I do know that, without Jesus, any of us go to a lost eternity - timelessness separated from God, but now aware of His existence, and of what we have missed.

If you were to die moments after you have read this post, are you certain that you would be 'going to heaven'?  Are you?  If not, then I recommend that you "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near." (Isaiah 55:6); change your ways, and banish the very thought of doing wrong.  Turn to the LORD, that He may have mercy upon you; yes, turn to Him, for He will forgive generously. (see Is.55:7).  You won't regret it - either here, or in eternity!

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