I have been thinking about heaven a lot lately. The unknown, to me, is very intriguing and I often have a lot of questions about things or ideas that I do not understand; which I’m sure you do as well. I am always left in wonder when someone says something like this: “You live, if you are lucky, for 80 or so years. The amount of time you spend alive compared to the amount of time that elapses after you die, makes our lives seem rather insignificant.” Your body will spend way more time dead than alive.
This is not meant to scare or depress, I just think it’s important to contemplate what will happen when you die. “I’m not scared to die; I’m a little bit scared of what comes after. Will I get the gold chariot; will I float through the sea?”
In my recent ruminations about life after death, I have frequently pondered this thought: What if after we die, we go into a room with other people from various walks of life and discuss what we thought about life on earth. What we liked, what we disliked, what the funniest moments were, what we regretted, and so forth and how that could inform our lives today.
I think I would say I enjoyed any moment of kindness that I extended to someone else or that someone extended to me. I think I would say I enjoyed moments when I was close to a woman – like driving with my arm around a girl I was dating or snuggled with a significant other on the couch watching a movie. I think I would say I enjoyed moments when I was creative, when I was bold, when I was giving, when I was thoughtful, when I was generous, when someone complimented me or I them and when I laughed until I cried with a group of friends.
I think anything I regretted would boil down to moments when I didn’t act on something I felt strongly in my heart.
So, as I was having these thoughts on a “death discussion panel,” another thought came to me. What if there are superlatives in heaven? You know what I mean when I say superlatives, right? Back in my high school (and most other American high schools), at the end of the year, people voted on who had the prettiest hair, who was the best couple, who was the class clown, who was going to be the most successful. But what if the “awards” were more meaningful? Like, ‘most likely to help a poor man get food’ or ‘most likely to stop what they are doing and help a single mother move,’ or ‘most likely to give away their money even when they had very little to give.’
I’m not sure how everyone who is going to heaven could get a specific award, but my point is this: what do you want people to say about you after you’re dead? What do you want your legacy or superlative to be? Do you want it to be something like, ‘brought the most joy to people with his music?’ How does that thought change the trajectory for your actions today?
I think looking forward to the end of one’s life can help illuminate how to live now. R. A. Dickey, who is a pitcher for the New York Mets, said in an interview that his life and faith is a process. “God wants me to live the next five minutes well.” I believe we must think of our long term goals, what we want our legacy to be, where we stand on faith issues and have that mold the now and guide our hearts. My pastor says something like “the bigger or more powerful passions in our heart will always win out.”
For me, I think if I make loving God my number one passion then everything else that I love will filter through that and he will use my love of writing and music and laughter to bless others. But, if I place my love of music above all else, then my life will be about me: about becoming famous and selling the most records and making the most money. I will leave you with two questions: What is currently filling the number one position in your heart? And what do you want your legacy to be?