Are you just a little bit sad? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is out, and it really is the end of an era. If you're one of the 325 million people who has purchased at least one of the books in this series, like me you're sensing the finality of a famous fantasy that magically whisked people into a previously unknown world of muggles, mythical creatures, and missing noses.
Oh, and it got kids reading again!
So now it's over, and even though we have the whole series to revisit in the coming years, the story is very much like the portraits in Harry Potter's world… active and animated, but not able to do anything new.
And talk about going out with a bang! Super duper top secret protection of the manuscript, false leaks, and even a band of spoiler monkeys who thought they were doing the world a favor by posting the ending on-line. Thank you party poopers! Maybe consider using your abundance of free time to like, get an education or discover a thing called a "job?"
Speaking of the ending, of course I'm not going to mention anything about it, but I do want to talk about another famous ending that's coming our way sooner or later. Interestingly enough, did you notice that many of the key plot points in the Harry Potter series begin with the letter "H?" Hogwarts, Harry, Hermione, Hagrid, Half-Blood Prince, Hallows, Halloween, Horcruxes, etc. And so it is with our story as well, because when the last chapter of our life takes place and the back cover of our lives is shut, there are only two destinations possible for us:
And they both begin with "H"…
The first destination is called Hell. Most people know that word as a useful device for expressing certain emotions, others have a bogus TV/movie driven picture of Hell as the resident address for the Devil and his impish army of red-suited-crook-nosed-pitchfork-carrying demons having a par-tay in a blazing bonfire.
Then there are those who don't believe in a place called Hell, and while I'd love it if this place didn't exist, I don't get to decide whether it's real or not. No, I haven't seen it, in fact I don't even think it has a MySpace page or any videos on YouTube … but I'll take Jesus' word on it as being true. In fact, he mentions Hell more than heaven! Jesus knew Hell to be a real place because he created it as the final punishment for Satan and his demons:
Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41)
This verse comes from a story Jesus told about the end of days when we are all judged. He's pointing out that even though the original reservation for Hell was for Satan and his army, the guest list got longer when people decided to rebel against God and His message of salvation.
So no, Hell isn't a religious invention designed to scare people into being good, it's a real place that will be the final destination for every person who said "no" to God's free offer of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
But there is another "H."
Heaven is also a real place. It's mentioned over 600 times in the Bible, so we're not talking about a fuzzy concept here. People don't use it as a cuss word (what the heaven?), and oftentimes mistakenly picture it as a cloudy harp playing jam session where we just float around and congratulate ourselves on getting in to the "good" place.
Um, no. Heaven is such an astonishing, remarkable mind blowing place, the Bible writers didn't even bother trying to use specific descriptions. Sort of like when you experience a beautiful sunset or stand on the top of a mountain and then try to tell someone about it. For me, words don't even come close – and the same holds true for heaven.
So there you have it. When the last page is turned on the books of our lives, the Book of Life will be opened, we're going to end up in one of two places. There is no reincarnation, no Sixth Sense Ghostbusters, no deposit, no return, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
The great part is that you get to write the ending of your story. Jesus died on the cross and came back from the dead to rescue you from hell and offer a reservation in heaven. All you have to do is put your trust in Him alone for salvation, and your name will be written in the Book of Life. That means the conclusion of your era on earth will be the beginning of your eternity in heaven…
And that's the best ending ever written!
Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.