Are you ready?
Are you ready? Are you ready for this new year just begun? Ready to actualize that new attitude…new resolve…new you? Maybe you’re like, I am so ready…bring it on…this is the year. But though you may be ready for a brand spankin’ new year, are you ready for a new status…new dimension…new existential reality?
A new calendar perennially beckons a desire for a fresh start, and we act on it in varying degrees of enthusiasm and commitment. Still, the new year comes regardless of whether we are ready for it, and all is not lost if we’re not. Each day is the first day of the rest of your life, after all.
But there is a fresh start beginning for each of us for which readiness makes an eternal, unchangeable difference. And unlike a new calendar year that begins at a known and trackable time, this new beginning often comes like a thief in the night…suddenly and unexpectedly. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? So how are we to be ready for that unknown moment when one life ends and another begins?
First of all, face the fact of your ultimate demise. Don’t be a dolt and refuse to even think about it. Do you imagine that ignoring the reality of your mortality will keep your demise at bay? You are going to die. And then what?
That’s where step two comes in. Ask someone who’s already died what this new beginning is like. Jaaaykaaay. We can’t do that of course because there are no lines of communication between this mortal existence and the immortal dimension death ushers us into, even if, as some believe, this dimension is simply one of non-existence. Our inability to traverse between dimensions means that our readiness for death ultimately comes down to faith…not only faith in a spiritual being but, for many, faith that no such being exists. We make a rational (or irrational) choice based on limited evidence to believe something about death…taking a leap of faith over the gap between what we can know with some certainty and what cannot be definitively known…and that choice itself may be instrumental in determining what death brings.
So step two, for those wise and brave enough to face the unknowable inevitable, is to search for and examine whatever evidence is available and accessible that might inform us regarding it. For example:
- Evidence of an immaterial soul. We have thoughts and feelings that cannot be equated with physical elements like brain waves or chemicals. We say things like, “My body is my own.” Who or what is referred to by “my”? because it can’t be physical since whatever it is possesses the body. If the soul is distinct from the body then the death of the body does not necessarily mean the death of the soul.
- Evidence of an all-powerful, transcendent, creator God. Some people seem to be of the mindset that if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. But of course we believe in all kinds of things that we can’t see…electricity, wind, historical events, other minds, our own mind. There are multiple lines of scientific, philosophical, and historical evidence which point to God’s existence, though he is not visible to us. To dismiss them out of hand as many atheists do is to be intellectually dishonest.
- Evidence for the resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth. The ancient documents comprising the New Testament, as well as numerous extra-biblical ancient documents, make for a very convincing case that Jesus really did come back to life after being brutally tortured and killed on a Roman cross. If his resurrection is an historical event it means, as the apostle Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15, that we also will be raised to life. It also confirms Jesus’s claims to be one with God and validates all of his teaching, including, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”
The third step then in readying oneself for the once and never to be repeated start of a new existence is to make your choice of what you believe about it, keeping in mind that every choice has consequences. Even the choice to not choose. Are you willing to gamble your eternal destiny on the notion that beliefs are merely personal inclinations that have no bearing on reality, or that death will not come until you’ve done all the living you want to do and then you’ll give it some thought? It may come tonight…or tomorrow…or New Year’s Eve 2019 as you are driving home from a friend’s party.
Unlike every January 1 for a new year in this existence, the date commencing our new reality in a new existence is unknown to us. So if we want that new “year” to be happy, healthy, and prosperous, we need to do more than merely hope for it to be so. We need to get ready for it. Let the very serious and certain matter of your eventual death, and your choice of what to believe about it, occupy a spot on your list of resolutions today. It promises much greater and longer lasting rewards than quitting smoking or joining a gym.