I remember those early years of development and I smile. Sometimes I laugh when I think of the wide range of life skills I and all of my friends were learning… tying my shoes, counting, reciting the alphabet, saying please and thank you, shaking hands, keeping my elbows off of the table when eating and of course learning to pray and that included how to properly address Jesus in prayer… In my world it was always “Dear Jesus”.
Of course there were times when the wiring would get a little crossed and I would raise my hand in class and call my teacher “Mommy” or I would find myself raising my hand at the dinner table to get permission to speak forgetting that I wasn’t at school anymore and no one at our crowded table was going to notice anyway.
But, my favourite memories of those times that still can make me laugh are the few times when I would answer the phone and instead of saying “hello” I would begin the conversation with “Dear Jesus”. I was so embarrassed. But, the adult on the other end would always get a good laugh out of it and they would tease me with comments like, “Wow, you are going to make a great pastor someday!”
I also learned about the Bible and all of the intriguing characters found there. From the beginning life has been on fire for me. There has always been something to figure out and I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t have a list of things I was thinking about. It seems that God just “hard wired” it into me to want to find peace through understanding people and the world and then to enjoy the music and rhythms of life so that I could share it and make everyone sing and dance… well maybe not dance (dancing was forbidden in my religious world). It never really made sense to me that I wasn’t allowed to dance. I always wondered how Bible people got away with it and I couldn’t! Well, at least I got to marry a dancer 🙂
Needless to say I have loved stories from the beginning. I loved my imagination and I still think it is the best gift God gave to us. The best part of life for me is creating with the Creator of it all. I think one of the greatest evils in the world is the lie that God is all done with creation. I believe He is inviting us to help him create new futures and explore new possibilities.
Back to the story…
I am rambling a bit… I know, but I am sort of avoiding a very troubling and confusing subject from my first years of discovery. Learning about heaven was the best. But, hell really messed me up.
The story I was taught included an epic ending for all of us. I began to understand that not only did I need to figure out life here on earth but I was also going to have to prepare for forever. There was this thing called “Eternity” after I die and it was either going to be amazing or it was going to be pain and torment forever!
So began a journey in my imagination that continues to this day. I wonder about life after death a lot. I have thought a lot about what was on God’s mind before anything or anyone else existed. At what point did it become necessary to have a lake of fire which would become the eternal home for me (if I am not found ready for heaven) and the devil along with all of his angels? Or was the existence of that place of torment inevitable? As I already mentioned, I have been blessed or cursed with a vivid and nonstop imagination! Just be glad you don’t have to live with me!!
As a young boy I do remember cherishing deeply my friendship and love for God and feeling so secure in His hands. So, when I began to find out about my own day of judgement and that I might not be with Him forever I honestly didn’t know how to process the information.
Somehow I knew in my gut that God knew who I really was and in the end our friendship would win the day. I would reassure myself in my bed at night that even though I committed sins sometimes and technically I deserved to go to hell, God knew I was a good kid and Jesus would work things out with His Father and an exception would be made for me. I wondered sometimes if I would be the only one who gets into heaven even though I’m not supposed to be there.
to be continued…