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Dying to Live

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matt 16:25)

Someone once said that airplanes are a safer means of travel than cars. The guy who came up with that line has never seen me behind the wheel of my Ford F150, barreling down the highway like I’m driving an ambulance.

Airplanes don’t scare me, maybe that’s because I simply have no fear of death. I was in an airplane once that experienced turbulence so jolting that the plastic window shades slammed shut and the flight attendants were knocked to the floor. The passengers started screaming, thinking we were plunging to our death. I calmly asked Mark to get my jacket out of the overhead bin. He asked what I wanted it for, and I said “In case we crash, I might get cold.” The passengers sitting next to us started laughing. I was glad I could offer some respite from the otherwise dire situation we were possibly facing. But the truth is, I was more worried about the minutes leading up to my death, than death itself.

I even went skydiving a few years ago, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane just to prove that I had no fear. When you jump out of the plane, you lurch upwards, unfortunately not high enough to get back in the plane. You’d be surprised at how something as simple as pulling a cord can be a real challenge while you’re plummeting 10,000 feet to the ground. All the while I was streaking toward the earth, I tried to grab a bird or anything at all to hang on to, but gravity would eventually win.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks about the after life when traveling by airplane. The thoughts of eternity go through many people’s minds the minute the wheels leave the ground. Flying thousands of feet above the earth gives one an opportunity to reflect on the possibility that in just a few minutes time your earthly life could come to an abrupt halt. Where would your soul go if your plane crashed? Do you have the peaceful assurance of knowing that you will spend your eternity in heaven?

Even if we have the blessed assurance that we’ll bypass hell and go straight to heaven, there still remains the fear of the unknown. The Bible doesn’t really give any clear cut answers to what heaven will be like. We’ll have new bodies, but it sounds like we’ll still look the same as we do down here. I guess God, in His infinite wisdom, decided against giving us the option of a new look, otherwise there would have been a stampede of women lining up to get Angelina Jolie’s face.

Another unknown in heaven, is what will we be doing? Personally, I was picturing myself sitting on a cloud, eating chocolates, and watching reruns of “Days of Our Lives,” but from the looks of Revelation 11 where John is instructed to measure the temple, it looks like we might be kept rather busy up there.

God said there will be many rooms in heaven, but that doesn’t sound reassuring to me. What kind of room will I have - can I have a fireplace in mine? What kind of food will there be up there – will there be pizza? I don’t see how I could possibly be happy without pizza. All of a sudden, I’m not feeling too peaceful about this.

The next time you board a plane, keep in mind that at any given moment, the destination you think you’re headed to might not be the one you had in mind should the plane land sooner than you expected it to. Do you know where you’re going? Better pack a nice warm jacket just in case.