When I was a young boy growing up in Raytown, Missouri, one of my favorite memories was spending the night outside in my yard looking at the night sky.
My yard was large for being inside the city, and covered over an acre. It was the baseball field for the neighborhood boys. Every week I would mow the grass, rake it into a pile, cover it with a blanket, and spend the night sleeping outside looking up at the night sky.
Although I was only in grade school, I knew many of the constellations. The Big Dipper and the Little Dipper were easy to find. But looking at the night sky, the stars seemed to be the same distance from earth. Little did I know that in space, the stars of the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper were not lined up neatly against a black canvas. In reality, they were millions of light years apart and unless you were looking at them from the earth, they were not connected in any way.
As a young boy, space travel was science fiction. Flash Gordon was a comic book character and his travels were all fictional thoughts from the mind. But within a few years of my camping-out experiences, man traveled to the moon and space exploration began.
As it turns out, the solar system consisting of our sun and the planets is not even a speck of dust compared to the known universe. The universe that is observable from earth at the present time is 46 billion light years in radius. That means that light that travels at 186,000 miles per second, or about 671 million miles per hour, would travel for 46 billion years before it would reach from one side to the other of the observable universe. This distance is not the complete distance of the universe, but is only the distance that we have been able to observe. Every time we build a larger and more powerful telescope, we discover billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars. As incomprehensible as it may seem, there is no end to space.
A few weeks ago, I watched a debate between some of the greatest scientists of our day, and while they did not agree on everything, they all agreed on one reality – that it was impossible for man to grasp a clear understanding of the unfathomable vastness of space and time. While it may be true that our natural minds cannot grasp these things, our spirits can. The Bible tells us that the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, reveals the mysteries of God to us. The universe is no mystery to God. After all, He created it; He spoke it into existence. He understands not only the limitlessness of space, but also the nature of time itself. And because He is the creator of the time of man, He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Through His Spirit and by His Word, we can know our future.
As a pastor, I have officiated and attended hundreds of funerals. I am always saddened when I hear ministers attempting to comfort people using the logic of man. Once I attended the funeral of a man who spent his life as an electrical engineer. At the service, his pastor told the congregation that God took this man because He needed engineering help in Heaven. Another time at the funeral of a young child, the minister said God took the child because He needed another flower in Heaven. And while at one of my relative’s funeral, the minister said God always takes the most beautiful. That didn’t say much for those of us sitting in the congregation, because the one in the casket didn’t look so good!
People of God should never have to make up cute stories to explain what happens to a Christian when they die. The Bible clearly tells us where we came from, and where we are going, and when we will get there, and what we will be doing. While life after death may be a mystery to the world, it should never be for the Christian, because the Word of God clearly reveals to us our future.
In my newly-released book, The Paradise of God, you will discover where we are on the time line of man, how we got here, and where we are going. As Christians, our future is bright and full of joy. Life is an adventure and the adventure does not stop. It continues without end. For the born-again believer, our best days are truly yet to come!