An Unusual Reluctance
I hadn’t seen our former neighbor Hal in years. We ran into each other in a Home Depot check-out line and did some catching up. We talked about our families, the old neighborhood, and our golf games. The conversation was going great until I said I was working on a book about the afterlife and asked if he’d be willing to read it. His relaxed expression immediately hardened. He looked at me like I was from Mars, said a quick good-bye, and hurried out of the store.
As I watched Hal flee the scene, I was a little stunned that our nice chat ended so abruptly. We had worked our way smoothly through a number of subjects until we landed on one that he must have thought was taboo. Suddenly, the memory popped into my head of a different friendly conversation that ended quickly, and this time I was the one who fled the scene.
Many years ago, Tom and I were young engineers with ALCOA, and one day at work I asked a simple question about his Mormon faith. I wondered how often he went to church. I really wasn’t interested in Mormonism or even in God; I was just trying to be polite. He told me he went to church every Sunday, and I assumed the subject was laid to rest.
I walked into Tom’s office the next day. When he saw me, his face lit up. “Can we continue our conversation from yesterday?” I got out of his office almost as quickly as Hal left that Home Depot.
Although Tom seemed excited to talk about his faith in God, I wasn’t comfortable talking or even thinking about God. At that stage in my life, I wanted to call my own shots. I didn’t want anybody else, including God, interfering in my affairs. Maybe there was a God; I didn’t care. When Tom tried to talk more about his faith, I didn’t want to hear it. I was afraid that what he wanted to say might be true. Centuries ago, French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal noticed an attitude toward religion. He wrote, “Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true.”
I was afraid of the truth about God, and Hal’s quick exit from the Home Depot suggests that he was afraid of the truth about the afterlife. You’d think Hal and everybody else would want to explore the idea of eternal life. It seems like we’d be eager to learn about what will happen after we die, but we tend to focus on this life.
The average American will spend only eighty years in this life compared to the eternity that all of us will spend in the next life. We’re told that a glorious heaven or an awful hell awaits each person and that before we die, we can choose which place we’ll go to. If that’s true, we should do everything in our power to make sure we land in heaven.
A crucial part of our earthly existence is deciding where we’ll spend our eternal existence. But many people are unsure about making this decision; others are confident that the decision doesn’t even need to be made. Strangely, people tend to put this whole subject on the back burner.
We have an unusual reluctance to tackle vital issues such as the afterlife and God. Instead of addressing eternal matters, we fill our days with things like what’s for dinner, what will be on television tonight, or whether our favorite team will make it to the play-offs. I wondered what was causing this lack of concern about God and eternity. After some investigation, I discovered evidence that subtle forces are discouraging us from exploring deep truths and from recognizing the reality of an afterlife that exists within a spiritual world.
I learned that there are unseen powers influencing us to believe in a spiritual world and opposing, hidden powers telling us that the spiritual realm is a myth. I also found lots of clues–revealed by ancient manuscripts, science, and eyewitnesses–that the spiritual realm is an actual, mind-blowing domain featuring God, angels, demons, heaven, hell, and departed human souls. I’m not an eyewitness to the spiritual realm myself, but I’ve heard a distinct voice coming out of it twice, and I know who was speaking.