Eternity scares me. It scares me the most when I think about it, which usually happens in the wee hours of the night when everyone is sleeping and it is just God and me. I lie on my bed, on my stomach, and feel like it is some sort of lilting platform, careening through time and space. I think, "I'm scared of the next life. I'm scared of living forever. I'm scared of being born into eternity."
In the daylight hours I am busy. What shall we do with the mixed up files with the mixed up statements from all the utilities and credit cards? What shall I make for dinner? Are those beans I'm cooking ever going to get soft enough to mash? What time is karate? Did I remember to wash the karate uniform? How about underwear? Are we out of clean underwear? Are we out of milk? Are we out of gas, can I make it to the oboe lesson?
During the daylight hours a thousand everyday prayers go up: Please help me to remember everything I need while I'm at the store. Please help me remember to switch over the laundry. Please help me find a parking space. Please help me merge onto the freeway. Please don't let the dog be sick. Thank you for the beautiful sunshine. Thank you for the great price on grapes this week. Where is Jon? Oh please, please keep him safe. Please help me not to lose my temper. Please forgive me for losing my temper. Please help me fix the trainwreck of my childrearing. Please help me find my sunglasses.
But at night everything changes. The nitty gritty of everyday fades away and big, scary thoughts loom, thoughts that take the bottom out of my stomach and leave me falling, even as I cling to the sides of my mattress. Heaven appears to me like a gigantic medeival church of stone, imposing, beautiful, gut-wrenching. The presence of God seems like outer space, limitless and (against my better judgment) dark, cold and airless. Eternity feels like a black hole that is sucking me in.
I know that God is not like that. He is love, light and joy. In His presence is fullness of joy. Jesus came that our joy may be complete. We love because He first loved us. He is our protector, teacher, guide, comforter and friend. To be with Him is to be free from pain, sorrow, boredom, sin and death.
In the daylight hours I know that Heaven is a wonderful place and I can look forward to getting there and seeing Jesus. In the daylight hours I can say, with honesty, "I'm not afraid of being dead; I'm just afraid of getting dead."
But at night, sometimes, the thought of eternity really scares me.