Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Suicide After Death (Frank Myer)

Good evening! My devotional tonight is again penned by my friend, Frank Myer. Frank and I went to Harding University together and our folks did the same several decades previously. Frank writes a weekly devotional called Friday From Frank and he has graciously loaned me several of his excellent pieces! Please continue to pray for me in Vietnam!
Good morning,
Okay, as you can tell from the title, this will be a little different. This topic is slightly dark, and I have a joke or two that may be off-putting to some of you. This is a warning. Think of it as a friendly gesture.
As you know, one of the activities of life I enjoy is chatting with people to find out what they believe. It’s more interesting to learn people’s story and hear about their world view, then to see who they think will get the final rose, whatever that is.
Here’s the setting, and the verbal interaction.
Setting:   It’s after dinner and I’m visiting with Mike. Mike is not his real name, but that is the least significant detail. If Dragnet can change names, so can I.
Mike knows dad has passed away, recently.
Mike:  I’m sorry to hear about your dad.
Frank:  Thank you. That’s very kind of you.  I know he’s in a better place and he’s better off now than a couple of months ago.
Mike: Ah, uh.
At this point, Mike gives me the look you give a 6-year-old child who walks in the room carrying a shovel, telling you he’s going to dig a hole to China.
Frank:  What? You don’t believe dad is in heaven?
Mike gets a real uncomfortable look on his face.
Mike: Weeeelll, I don’t really know.
Frank:  Tell me what you think.
Mike: I think when we die, that’s it. There is no more.
Frank:  So, there is no more dad?
Mike:  Ah, yeah. Sorry to say that. I don’t want to hurt your feelings.
Frank: I want you to be honest. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. What about your dad. What’s going to happen to him?
Mike:  Same thing. Nothing.
Frank: He will cease to exist on all levels?
Mike: Yes.
Frank:  And you?
Mike:  The same thing, of course.
Frank:  No more Mike? At all?
Mike: Correct.

Step out of the story:
Mike is not the first to think this. Zero life after death is not a new concept. As one person put it – “We are all worm food just waiting to happen.”
If that’s true, then someone needs to invent cherry flavored embalming fluid.
I digress.
Back to the story:
Frank: To be clear, you are telling me, you truly believe that when you die. That’s it. Nothing more. No more Mike?
Mike:  Yes.
Frank: Since you haven’t died yet, there is the possibility you may be wrong. You may die, and then pop up in a different existence. You will know you still exist. Then what?
Mike: I will slit my wrist.
Frank: What?
Mike: I will kill myself.
At this point I laughed out loud. Not because I was making fun, but because the light bulb went off. I got what he was saying.
Frank:  Mike, I have talked to a lot of people over the years, about a lot of different ideas. I can truly say, this is the first time I’ve heard people say they will kill themselves if they find out there’s life after death.

Let me tell you a little more about Mike. One, he’s a very good friend. Two, this is a part of a sequence of conversations lasting several years. No, we don’t get down to this level every time we talk, but we do dig deep on a semi-regular basis.
Mike is an extremely intelligent person who has a heart of gold.
Mike thinks this life is it, and if it’s not, he will commit suicide if he wakes up on the other side. That’s his plan anyway.
Here’s why.
  1. Mike knows he may be wrong. There in fact may be life after death. That’s a real possibility.
  2. Mike tells me he’s an atheist, but will acknowledge there may be a God, highly unlikely, but there may be. That puts Mike in the agnostic camp.
  3. Mike leads a good life. He makes a good friend. You would like him.
  4. Mike thinks because he’s in control now he will always be in control.

Let’s consider:   Is there life after death?
How would you prove that?
We can argue/discuss if there is or not- but it’s basic hyperbole. I say, “Yea.” And you, or Mike, or whomever, replies “Nay.”  Not very productive.
Now what?
Well I suppose we could use a little proof. There are two levels of this. One is the Doubting Thomas aspect, and the other is the parable I do have questions about.
First, the parable.
Jesus tells the parable about the rich man and Lazarus. At one point in the story, the rich man, seeing the error of his ways, and realizing he’s done for, asked Jesus if he could go back and warn his family.
Okay, it wasn’t Jesus, it was Abraham.  That’s what the Bible states, Abraham. Now I’ve always thought Abraham was the symbol for Jesus in this story, but that’s beside the point.
The rich guy wanted to go back and warn his family, no matter who he was talking to.
Luke 16: 19-31
First, of all that seems like a reasonable request. Second, maybe the rich man wasn’t such a bad guy after all, or he realized the error of his ways and wanted to warn his family. Whatever the reason, he wanted to do a good deed.
What did Abraham say?
“They have the prophets. If they don’t listen to them, they won’t listen to you.”
That’s where I have the question.
Imagine this:
Dad get’s a day pass from heaven and he goes down to visit Mike. Mike knows who dad is. He likes dad. Dad comes down and tells Mike, “Hey, buddy. I’m here to warn you. There is life after death. You need to rethink your position.”
Now if Mike asked for the lottery numbers, and dad gives them, I hope Mike would call and share the information with me. I got lost again.
The point being, if you had someone you know was buried last month, last year, or last century, come talk to you, that would have an impact, would it not?
Maybe not. Maybe Jesus knows what he’s talking about.
Maybe Mike would say, “I was dreaming. I was drunk. I was…. And come up with a way to explain away dad coming to talk to him.
I don’t know. I think I would pay attention if George Washington popped up in my living room.
Back to Doubting Thomas. Thomas said, I don’t believe in life after death unless I see someone I know is dead. Thomas asked for a little more proof, but that’s a detail.
Then this little detail struck me. Didn’t Thomas see Jesus raise people back from the dead?  He saw it. What would keep Thomas from believing?  
Maybe it was pride. Maybe he was so hurt, crushed more like it, from the pain of Jesus not turning out like he wanted, Thomas decided until I poke the holes in the hands of Jesus, I’m not going to believe.
Pride has caused a stumble or two along the way.
Next point. Let’s consider what happens to Mike?
Mike is now dead – hypothetically, I didn’t kill him, - and he pops back up in existence again. He now thinks he has control enough to “slit my wrists” as he puts it.
Okay, what if there are not physical wrists to slit? That’s what I asked him.
And if he could, if there is life after death, wouldn’t there be life after death 2.0?
Mike needs to think this through. I asked Mike these questions. He had no answer or hard and fast answers.
Frank: Mike, it seems to me you have as much faith as I do. You have faith there is nothing after death. I have faith there is.
Mike:  I see your point. I suppose that’s true.
Frank:  You decided there is no life after death, and I’m banking on there is. It’s not about life after death. It’s about believing God.
Mike: I suppose.
 And that, fellow travelers, is what it’s about. What are you choosing to believe?
Enjoy the ride, Frank Myer
P.S. – Mike told me, “I don’t talk to many people about this. Most are very defensive. I can talk to you about this. In fact, I’m glad we talk about this.”
I share that tidbit to encourage you. People are thirsty for answers to life. When you show them how much you care, and you’re not there to berate, or criticize, they tend to open up a little bit.
Encourage discussion. Let your light shine.
Someone shared with you. Be willing to spread the light. Something about a light being under a bushel or on a hilltop.  Wasn’t that in the Bible somewhere?
God bless,
Luke 18:1
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