Monday, November 8, 2010

THE HERE AFTER

JOB 14:10-15

10 But man dies and is laid away;Indeed he breathes his last and where is he?
11 As water disappears from the sea,And a river becomes parched and dries up,
12 So man lies down and does not rise.Till the heavens are no more,
they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep.
13 “Oh, that You would hide me in the grave,That You would conceal me until Your wrath is past,
That You would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change comes.
15 You shall call, and I will answer You;You shall desire the work of Your hands. 
What happens when we die? How do we come to terms with our own mortality? At this point I have not found any reliable information except what is found in the scriptures. As a matter of fact, the scriptures devote 75% of information presented; detailing what happens to us when we die, or rather, when we die, it is not the end.

A very sweet and dear friend died last week. It is still a surreal fact to me because I was with her on 2 occasions the week before, even the previous Sunday. We were at choir practice and then we left together for the drive home. We were all laughing and talking and telling stories. I remember her laughing so hard, that she told me I should write my stories down. Another occasion was the last girl's night out I went to. This was the first time I had seen her there. It's funny because, even though she was "there", none of the ladies who went could remember seeing her. Was she a ghost already? So it was a big surprise when last Saturday, I got a call from another friend telling me that she had died. It's funny, but when someone tells you that a friend or relative has died, the words don't really stand out. So you have to ask again.
So I went to the viewing with 2 other friends. I have spent my life avoiding death, or rather the appearance of death in the form of funerals. When I was a kid, I think that I spent a good part of my formative years in shot gun churches in backwoods Louisiana. I seem to remember a lot of relatives dying and also that my grandmother was a serial churchgoer. She was a professional mourner. I am sure that she loved the Lord. I think that I finally put my foot down and drew the line when my cousin died, and we were the same age, 15 years old. My father died about 14 years ago. It was an interesting experience. I brought my great Aunt Ruby to the viewing. She lived in a nursing home. She was very sad that "her boy" my dad had died before she died. So I tried to comfort her. As we were walking into the funeral home, she asked me in a loud whisper, if I thought that the neighborhood was safe. I told her sure, I think so. She said OK, but then she pulled something out of her purse and said, I got some protection. She had pulled out a small "Saturday night" special. A small pistol. It was hilarious, I told her to put it back in her purse so that no one would see it. I wondered if they knew about this at the nursing home. My dad would have appreciated this, I am sure, he was laughing somewhere.
So my friends and I went to the viewing of our dearly departed friend. We walked in to the viewing room, and it was very noisy, almost like a party. The conversation was loud and animated, some high pitched laughter. It was almost like happy hour, but without the drinks.
I have only been a "Mormon" for 3 years, so I am not familiar with the "mourning" customs of this people. I asked one of my friends if this was normal, she said yeah, sure in some cases.
I don't know about that. I suppose that if you have prepared yourself for the death of loved one due to a long illness and everyone has their "house" in order, then you could probably have a well adjusted reaction.
I come from a long line of Southern Baptists. It's usually quiet and then hysterical as the service goes on and by the time it's over, it can be a three ring circus; send in the clowns.
At the graveside service of my Dad, I had words with my brother, and I remember grabbing a chair to bop him over the head with. Lucky for him the officiator came to his rescue. Its funny, 3 guys were holding him back and I was the one swinging the chair.
I am very sad about my friend. I saw the movie "Hereafter". It was directed by Clint Eastwood, so I thought it would at least entertain me. It was based on the premise of a man who had psychic abilities or maybe pre-cognitive abilities. He wasn't happy about it, he called it a curse. Apparently as a kid, the character had an illness that caused a fever that caused him to "die" legally. How can you be legally dead? But he was resuscitated and was never that same. He could touch someones hand and "receive" impressions of their dearly departed. So you can imagine it was not good for his social life. Imagine shaking a dates hand and then knowing everything about her. The movie also featured 2 other main stories; one was a woman who survived drowning during a tsunami and a young boy whose twin brother had died. This was a long and drawn out movie. The elephant in the room was the question: "What happens when you die?" and the subtext was that "God is in the details". This movie does not acknowledge God or even death. Matt Damon, the central character is a really hostile Ghost Whisperer. His character is looking for love, but is incapable of feeling it for others.
I don't know about "psychic" abilities. In my life I have experienced quite a few supernatural things. I have experienced dreams, and have heard noises and saw furniture moving. But in my heart, I knew that these experience's are not of God. I know that God will show you things. When I was baptized, I was also confirmed with the Holy Spirit and the gifts that He brought. Jesus Christ said that the Holy Spirit would "bring all things to our remembrance". The Holy Spirit is our guide, our comforter and counselor in our life. He knows our heart but will not take advantage of our grief and sorrows with counterfeit information. I don't believe in "psychics" or ghost whisperers. But I know that when we die, our spirits go back to God. Our bodies will lie in state until the return of Jesus Christ, we will all meet him in the sky, we will all have our bodies resurrected and reunited. We will have a new and improved and everlasting body.
John and Jeannette
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