Personally, I don't "see dead people"…nor have I ever, and I hope I never do…
But what if they could see us? Have you ever thought about that? And if you could watch them as they watch us, you would have a great idea for a book/film.
Welcome to The Lovely Bones, a film adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel, directed by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. Essentially, this is a tragic story of a murdered teenager who watches her grieving family from beyond. She is trapped in an afterlife waiting station, suspended between heaven and earth with a front row seat to life as it progresses without her.
I, for one, would not be too excited about that sort of destiny. To think that I might end up as an unanchored soul being tortured with scenes of what was taken from me sounds more like hell than "waiting to pass on."
But how do we know what will happen? There are hundreds - if not thousands - of ghost stories and tales of supernatural encounters from people who don't otherwise seem to fit the category of "nut job." Maybe that's why the plotline of The Lovely Bones is so intriguing – it's a "what if" scenario that makes your skin crawl when you really think about it.
But I have something that should go way beyond curiosity to the top of your list of concerns. It is a picture of our future and our destiny, and it is the final word on what really happens when you die:
…Each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment… (Hebrews 9:27 NLT).
It seems clear to me that the notions of reincarnation, ghost walking, and any other "in-between" theories that we've seen in fictional movies are just that…fictional. According to the passage from God's Word above, we die and then we face judgment. We are not allowed to take care of unfinished business and we are not allowed to "wait" and watch what unfolds with our family and friends.
A few years ago, there was an emergency room physician named Maurice Rawlings who became curious about the experiences of people who survived clinical death and returned to recount their experiences. According to his book Beyond Death's Door, most of those who have near-death experiences later speak of seeing light, lush green meadows, rows of smiling relatives and feeling tremendous peace. But what he discovered after interviewing 300 people immediately after they had been brought back from their near-death experience was that about 50% of the revived persons told of having gone to a place of great darkness filled with grotesque moaning and writhing bodies crying out to be rescued from this place with overwhelming feelings of eeriness and nightmarish terror. He says they later changed their story because most people are so ashamed at possibly having had a glimpse of hell, they won't even admit it to their families.
Check out his conclusion:
"Just listening to these patients has changed my whole life. There's a life after death, and if I don't know where I'm going, it's not safe to die."
If all we had to worry about after death was how long we were going to float around and haunt people, I wouldn't be too concerned about the afterlife. But when God's Word and an ER doc both tell you that you'd better be prepared for the inescapable destiny of heaven or hell, I would suggest you listen.
The Lovely Bones is a great story about working through grief and moving on past tragedy and death, but don't let the afterlife stuff fool you. If you haven't asked Jesus Christ to forgive you and told Him that you are trusting in Him alone for salvation, please do so this very day.
If you know people who are counting on a second chance or a "waiting period" to figure out their afterlife plans, tell them about what the Bible promises and Dr. Rawlings discovered.
Remember, if you've trusted Christ for salvation, you have nothing to worry about! Check out what the Apostle Paul wrote when he looked forward to his last day on earth:
Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Again, Paul is pointing out that Christians who die go immediately to be at "home with the Lord."
In other words, believers in Jesus Christ leave their not-so-lovely bones to move into their incredible homes for eternity!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Bring up the subject of the afterlife with your friends this week by asking them if they have thought about what will happen when they die. Pray for an opportunity to bring up the study done by Dr. Rawlings and to share the hope that you have in Christ.
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son (John 3:18).
But he continued, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins" (John 8:23-24).