The Question We All Ask

Do you believe in life after death? What about eternity? John Maisel reflects on his experiences with death and addresses a question we all struggle with.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
  2. Why might it be important to have dialogue around the question of what happens when we die, even though it's an uncomfortable subject?

People ask me questions about why is it important, uh, to think about, uh, you know, when you die? Especially when we're 20 and 30 and 40, 50, 60, we, most of the time, we don't like to think about that. We just know it's something that's out there. But I, uh, I've been around a lot of death. Uh, I've been in lines at airports in which the person in front of me has dropped, and I've given him mouth-to-mouth to resuscitate him. I've gotten off buses and there have been cars that have smashed in to everybody on the bus with bodies everywhere. I, I've been on subways that I'm walking up the stairs and people drop in front of me and I'm trying to bring them back. And of course what you had, uh, in the, you know, when we were in the combat situation in Vietnam. So I have experienced a lot of different scenarios, uh, as it relates to this, this question that, uh, what most of us don't really like to talk about, but we know that it's really out there. I can make an observation, I think especially with those that I was dialoguing with, uh, before they came, uh, to a point of breathing their last breath. Um, ust about every one of those, uh, that I can remember, uh, there were questions probably in the last 60 seconds of our conversation or there were screams or there was uncontrollable pain in which young men and other people, women, and, were calling out, uh, "Oh, God, don't let me die. God, don't let me die. Somebody help me. Somebody help me." And so if we do believe in an infinite. personal God, and we do believe that he has a plan, then I don't think we're creatures of chance, uh, that there is destiny and that, uh, we have a time on planet Earth, but there's also an eternity, uh,, uh, that, uh, we will experience. And so I, I, I think everybody knows this at a deeper level. I found very few people that don't believe that there's life after death. Matter of fact, on one of the big surveys that was taken both in England or America, and, you know, they were asking all these different types of questions and, and one of the questions, "If you could ask God any one question, what would it be?" And of course there were a lot of answers that were all over the place, but the two most were, number one, uh, "Why am I here?" and the second one, "What happens when I die?" So we all think about it, and, uh, it's the subject that I, I think, uh, really needs to be addressed in a loving, tender and rational way. And as I look at the religions of the world, uh, Christianity, uh, really has the answer that the person Jesus Christ and the context of the resurrection— that's life after death. It has been promised. But I think we need, uh, uh, to be more open just to have genuine dialogue as it relates to this question. Uh, what did Jesus say? What did Jesus claim? Uh, is it true? What's the evidence related to it? Uh, because I think it's something that all of us at different times in our life really struggle with.